Past Event

Guardians of Accountability: A Field Experiment on Corruption & Inefficiency in Local Public Works

June 12, 2018
2:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Ministério da Transparência e Controladoria-Geral da União (Setor de Autarquias Sul (SAS) – Quadra 01 – Bloco A – Edifício Darcy Ribeiro – Brasília/DF)

In the construction of public works, the lack of accountability manifests as corruption and inefficiency. Will civil society oversight that is explicitly supported by the relevant authority strengthen accountability? Or will it demoralize and frighten officials, thus causing delays? To answer these questions, the study builds on a sample of 200 urban and peri-urban district governments in Peru. Half of the districts were randomly selected to enter into a control group. The other half received letters indicating that specific public works under their charge were being monitored by a civil society organization with the support of the country’s leading anti-corruption agency. The results suggest that, even as districts in the two groups completed public works at a similar rate, the intervention lowered the cost of these public works by a substantial amount. The monitoring intervention resulted in efficiency gains.

Please, RSVP by June 10.


>> This event will NOT have simultaneous translation




Paul Lagunes is Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. His research on the political economy of development examines the issue of corruption, especially as it affects subnational governments in the Americas.

Two questions motivate Lagunes’s scholarship. First, how does corruption actually work in practice? And second, what tools are available for limiting corruption’s harmful effects? Mainly through the execution of randomized control trials in diverse contexts, such as Peru and Mexico, Lagunes offers insights on corruption’s regressive impact on society, the factors maintaining a corrupt status quo, and the conditions under which anti-corruption monitoring is most effective.

He serves as a voting member of Evidence in Governance and Politics, the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, and the Museum of Political Corruption. He also teaches three master’s-level courses: Local and Global Corruption: Maneuvering Toward Good Governance; Comparative Urban Policy: Cities Beyond the Western Core; and Methods in Development Practice.