To identify the causal impact of social audits on MGNREGS program performance, we collaborated with Bihar's Social Audits Society to implement an RCT that leveraged the state's ambitious audit expansion plan in FY 2019-2020.
1) First, the state set targets for the number of panchayats (the lowest level of administration in rural India, typically comprising 4-5 villages) it wanted to audit in each block.
2) Then, we randomly selected the panchayats to be audited in blocks where less than 100% of locations were targeted for an audit.
3) Thus, our randomization was stratified on the block, with different probabilities of treatment driven by the implementation agency’s audit target for each block.
4) The experimental sample includes 3,437 panchayats across 178 blocks. Of these, 2,178 panchayats were assigned to be audited (treatment), while the remaining 1,259 panchayats served as the control group.
The aim of our endline data collection is to assess whether administrative data-based reductions in work reflect reduced corruption or reductions in actual work. To understand whether workers may be discouraged from seeking work under the program due to audits, we will also incorporate a salience experiment into the endline. In this add-on survey experiment, we will inform a randomly selected subset of survey respondents in audit GPs of social audit findings. We will only conduct the audit salience experiment within our main RCT treatment GPs, randomizing at the individual level, and then collect data on interest in work and willingness to officially register work requests across all study locations.