Improving Bureaucratic Effectiveness during the COVID-19 Crisis

Last registered on May 13, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Improving Bureaucratic Effectiveness during the COVID-19 Crisis
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005827
Initial registration date
May 09, 2020
Last updated
May 13, 2020, 3:48 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of California at Berkeley

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Universidad de los Andes
PI Affiliation
IDEICE and PUCMM

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-05-08
End date
2020-12-31
Secondary IDs
information; reminders; social media
Abstract
We study whether positive and negative reinforcement messages to supervisors can help improve bureaucratic outcomes in times of crisis. In many parts of the developing world, it is difficult to get bureaucrats to complete tasks. Focusing on school principals’ supervisors in the Dominican Republic—school district officials—and the urgency to get detailed information on curricular completion prior to the COVID-19 health emergency, we randomize reinforcement mechanisms to get district officials to incentivize the principals under their supervision to complete a task. After the official deadline for the completion of the task has passed, we create information channels (WhatsApp groups) to each district in which we provide them with a list of complying and non-complying schools. For districts in treatment group 1, we provide a positive, reinforcement message with the list, and for districts in treatment group 2, a negative, reinforcement message.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Morales, Daniel, Catherine Rodríguez and Carlos Schmidt-Padilla. 2020. "Improving Bureaucratic Effectiveness during the COVID-19 Crisis." AEA RCT Registry. May 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5827-1.0
Sponsors & Partners

Partner

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-05-11
Intervention End Date
2020-05-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcome measure is schools' completion of a status report on their curricular offering prior to the start of the COVID-19 health emergency. Since the unit of analysis is school districts, of particular interest, is the percentage of schools in a district that completed the report.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary outcomes in our study include: (i) whether district officials and principals open the emails related to the campaign, including the number of times they interact with different aspects of the messages, (ii) the quality of the status reports, (iii) interactions with the Ministry of Education (i.e., whether they ask for help), (iv) post-campaign survey responses, among others.

Most of our secondary outcomes aim to measure possible mechanisms to explain the primary outcome results.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This project coincides with efforts by the Dominican Ministry of Education to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of classes on 12 March on schools’ curricular completion. On 28 April 2020, the Ministry of Education launched an information gathering campaign and gave school district officials the directive to coordinate with schools to obtain a detailed status report of the curriculum covered prior to the suspension of classes. School principals also got a message about the necessity to complete the status reports on 30 April 2020. District officials and principals were told to submit the reports by 8 May 2020. However, prior studies (e.g., Morales et al. 2020) suggest completion of similar tasks is low in the Dominican Republic (roughly 30%). After the deadline, we will compile information on the completion statistics for each school district in the country.

Each school district has a supervisor and curricular technicians for each subject matter (Spanish, math, etc.). We randomize the 122 school districts into three groups. Per district, we will create a WhatsApp groups to relay information to the supervisors and subject matter technicians. The control group (42 districts) will receive a list of complying and non-complying schools by the deadline. Treatment group 1 (40) will receive the same list, but also get a positive, reinforcing message on the necessity to complete the reports. Treatment group 2 (40 districts) will also receive the list of complying and non-complying schools by the deadline accompanied by a negative, reinforcing message.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computer-based randomization
Randomization Unit
School districts
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
122 school districts
Sample size: planned number of observations
122 school districts
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Group 1---Control group: 42 school districts: WhatsApp group + list of compliers and non-compliers by deadline

Group 2---Treatment group 1: 40 school districts: WhatsApp group + list of compliers and non-compliers by deadline + positive feedback message

Group 3---Treatment group 2: 40 school districts: WhatsApp group + list of compliers and non-compliers by deadline + negative feedback message
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Instituto Dominicano de Evaluación e Investigación de la Calidad Educativa (IDEICE)
IRB Approval Date
2020-05-08
IRB Approval Number
N/A

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials