Crowdsourcing Accountability: ICT for Service Delivery

41 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2017

See all articles by Guy Grossman

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania

Melina Platas

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Jonathan Rodden

Stanford University

Date Written: August 27, 2017


We examine the effect on service delivery outcomes of a new information communication technology (ICT) platform that allows citizens to send free and anonymous messages to local government officials, thus reducing the cost and increasing the efficiency of communication about public services. In particular, we use a field experiment to assess the extent to which the introduction of this ICT platform improved monitoring by the district, effort by service providers, and inputs at service points in health, education and water in Arua District, Uganda. Despite relatively high levels of system uptake, enthusiasm of district officials, and anecdotal success stories, we find evidence of only marginal and uneven short-term improvements in health and water services, and no discernible long-term effects. Relatively few messages from citizens provided specific, actionable information about service provision within the purview and resource constraints of district officials, and users were often discouraged by officials’ responses. Our findings suggest that for crowd-sourced ICT programs to move from isolated success stories to long-term accountability enhancement, the quality and specific content of reports and responses provided by users and officials is centrally important.

Keywords: Political Communication, ICT, Government Responsiveness, Public Service Delivery, Africa

JEL Classification: D02, D04, D73, D83, H41, H75, O33

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Guy and Platas, Melina and Rodden, Jonathan, Crowdsourcing Accountability: ICT for Service Delivery (August 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

133 S. 36th Street
Perelman Center for Political Science and Economic
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-4209 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://

Melina Platas (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates


Jonathan Rodden

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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