One Stop Shops for Public Services - Evidence from Citizen Service Centers in Brazil

Anders Fredriksson (University of São Paulo, Brazil)

Abstract : One Stop Shops for public services, or Citizen Service Centers, have been implemented in at least 70 countries. We evaluate the impact of such centers on a range of citizen related-variables: the time it takes to undertake a typical licensing errand, the physical displacements involved, how information is obtained, and other variables representing transaction costs, red tape and transparency in the citizen-state interaction. The questions are addressed through a novel data collection on one of the most common errands at the Brazilian bureaucracy, driver´s license renewal. We also evaluate if the quality of the socially relevant components of the licensing procedure is affected. Using a Difference-in-Differences methodology, the study evaluates a program that has inspired One Stop Shop reforms in several countries, developed- and developing. We find large reductions in the time expended by citizens and in proxies for transaction costs, suggesting the reform is a good idea, but less encouraging results for the socially relevant variables. We discuss the extent to which incentives to speed up may have prevailed where other steering instruments would be more appropriate, and potential remedies. Based on our data on actual citizen-state interactions, we also discuss limitations to establishing a true One Stop Shop.

Civil Service Reform, Self Selection, and Bureaucratic Performance

Daniel Gibbs (Princeton University)

Abstract : I use a formal model to analyze the effect of civil service protections on bureaucratic performance. In a repeated two-period model, a public manager observes a bureaucrat's actions for a period and decides whether to retain or attempt to remove the bureaucrat. Bureaucrats vary in terms of their intrinsic motivation and choose between careers in government or the private sector. I show that bureaucratic performance is greater in any equilibrium in which motivated bureaucrats choose government than in all equilibria in which they do not. Stronger civil service protections reduce the amount of effort that motivated bureaucrats must exert to distinguish themselves from their unmotivated peers in order to ensure retention. This strengthens incentives for motivated bureaucrats to choose careers in government. Stronger civil service protections, however, also reduce the ability of public managers to remove unmotivated bureaucrats. These competing effects yield a non-monotonic and discontinuous relationship between civil service protections and bureaucratic performance. This main result explains inconsistencies in the empirical literature on civil service reform. I use the model to analyze recent reforms to U.S. state and federal personnel management that have significantly rolled back traditional job protections.

Did Scrubbing the Government Clean Up the Air? Polluter Responses to China’s Anticorruption Campaign

Valerie Karplus (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Shuang Zhang (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Douglas Almond (Columbia University)

Abstract : We examine whether targeting city mayors during a nationwide anticorruption campaign in China affected the concentration of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a major air pollutant, emitted from local coal power plants. Using the quasi-random timing of mayor investigations in an event study design, we show that investigating a mayor led to substantial reductions in SO2 concentrations at private coal power plants, but not state-controlled coal power plants. Private plants are less connected politically and receive less state support; for them, forming relationships with officials may be a low-cost alternative to environmental compliance. We find suggestive evidence that environmental improvements resulted from an increase in plants’ operation of SO2 pollution control equipment. Our results show empirically that efforts to improve local governance can sustainably reduce pollution.

Matching Problem of Civil Service

Ashutosh Thakur (Stanford GSB)

Abstract : Using a matching theory perspective, I analyze the extent to which existing and alternative Indian Civil Service state assignment mechanisms can yield balance across three dimensions of interest: quality, embeddedness, and quota. I find that a recent change in the matching mechanism in 2008 has systematically skewed assignments by assigning relatively poor quality bureaucrats to disadvantaged states: regions with external foreign conflict, states with internal political strife, and newly-formed states. This paper i) analyzes the causes of these imbalances, ii) assesses the impact of this mechanism change on state capacity, development outcomes, and bureaucratic performance, and iii) highlights trade-offs in implementing alternate mechanisms. Global balance in quality across states is a unique constraint which arises when applying matching to political economy settings, as the mechanism designer is a paternalistic central planner. Thus, less is left to the market compared to most canonical matching applications. On the other hand, the use of matching in political economy is also novel, and careful understanding of how different matching mechanisms address underlying correlations in the data has far-reaching consequences for bureaucratic performance and development outcomes.