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Who Chooses to Sell to the Government? Screening and Barriers to Entry in Brazilian Public Procurement
Last registered on July 20, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
Who Chooses to Sell to the Government? Screening and Barriers to Entry in Brazilian Public Procurement
Initial registration date
July 20, 2016
Last updated
July 20, 2016 5:20 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
Columbia University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
Oberlin College
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We will study the effects of lowering transaction costs to participating in public procurement on the number and types of firms that compete in the procurement auctions, the types of firms who win contracts and the value-for-money of government purchases. We will focus on procurement reforms introduced by the state of Amazonas and its capital city, Manaus. Both governments are taking actions to reduce the excess of bureaucracy and foster competition in procurement processes. In collaboration with these governments, we will introduce random variation in the implementation of these reforms to learn how different components of the reforms can affect the selection of suppliers and the cost-effectiveness of public procurement.

Within Brazil, governments utilize a variety of different procurement methods. While the use of online platforms for auctions (i.e. eAuctions) has been adopted by the federal government and a few state governments, at the municipal level, public procurement is still largely based on in-person auctions. In both types of auctions, firms are currently required to submit physical paperwork along with their bids. During this upcoming year, both the state government of Amazonas and the municipal government of Manaus plan to reform their respective procurement systems. The state of Amazonas already has an eAuctions platform, and plans to introduce an electronic system for submission of the related paperwork (i.e. eDocuments). The municipality of Manaus, meanwhile, is moving from an in-person auction system to an eAuctions system, with plans to introduce eDocuments as well. In this project, we will evaluate separately these two components to study how they affect firms decisions to sell to the government.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Best, Michael et al. 2016. "Who Chooses to Sell to the Government? Screening and Barriers to Entry in Brazilian Public Procurement." AEA RCT Registry. July 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1437-1.0.
Former Citation
Best, Michael et al. 2016. "Who Chooses to Sell to the Government? Screening and Barriers to Entry in Brazilian Public Procurement." AEA RCT Registry. July 20. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1437/history/9500.
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Experimental Details
We will examine the effects of two interventions: eDocuments and eAuctions. The eDocuments platform allow potential suppliers to submit, sign, and keep track of procurement-related documents online, replacing the existing paper-based system. Several documents will be available in their “supplier cadaster” online profile, reducing the cost of submitting documents, and aiding management of legal documents (e.g. document checklists in preparation for biding). This intervention is intended to reduce transaction costs associated with participation in public procurement. The eAuctions platform changes the venue of procurement auctions: allows firms to submit their bids online and allows the procuring agency to review bids and select the winner online. This reform replaces the existing system, in which auctions are conducted in person with all bidders and the auctioneer together in one room. The goal of eAuction is to increase transparency and participation in public procurement. Similarly to the eDocuments intervention, the introduction of eAuctions reduce participation costs, but also raises the cost of sustaining collusion among bidders and/or between bidders and the auctioneer.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
participation in public procurement processes, as measured by number of potential bidders who participate. Types of firms that participate in procurement. Competitiveness of auctions. Prices paid by government. quality/delivery/default after contract signing.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We will conduct experiments at both the state and municipal government level. The experiment has a single treatment arm at the Amazonas state government - the implementation of the eDocuments platform - while the Manaus municipal government evaluation has two treatment arms - the implementation of both an eDocuments platform and the eAuctions platform.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
The design is a randomized rollout in which product groups are randomly assigned to waves of the rollout.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
64 product groups
Sample size: planned number of observations
40,000 purchases
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
15,000 treated purchases, 25, 000 control purchases
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
bootstrapped power calculations available from the authors on request.
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)