Information Technology and Provision of National Identification Cards by the Bolivian Police: Evidence from Two Randomized Natural Field Experiments
32 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
This paper investigates the potential of information technology to improve public service delivery and empower citizens. The investigation uses two randomized natural experiments in the renewal of national identification cards by the Bolivian Police. The first experiment arises from the random assignment of police officers and applicants to a manual or digital renewal process, which is identical in all other aspects. The second experiment arises from technical failures in the digital renewal process, which allow police officers to change from the digital to the manual renewal process randomly across renewal days. The efficiency of public service delivery is measured in renewal success rates (which average to a strikingly low rate of 72 percent in the sample) and the time it takes to renew an identification card. The findings show that applicants who were randomly assigned to the digital renewal process were on average 12 percentage points more likely to complete it, compared with those who were randomly assigned to the manual process. Further, successful applicants who were randomly assigned to the digital process took on average 31 percent less time to complete the process, compared with those who were randomly assigned to the manual process. The investigation finds that information technology significantly lowers barriers to accessing national identification cards, and promotes more equitable provision across the population. The findings suggest that information technology might achieve these goals by introducing efficiencies (such as reducing administrative shortcomings and transaction costs) and limiting the exercise of discretion by police officers in the renewal process.
Keywords: Non Governmental Organizations, Economics and Institutions, Public Sector Management and Reform
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