Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS) assess (often diagnostically) the issue of leakage of public funds or resources prior to reaching the intended beneficiary. Beyond measuring leakage of funds, data from these surveys can be used to analyze incentives for and the performance of frontline service providers in government and the private sector. Below is a good example of this kind of work.
Contact: Ritva Reinikka & Damien de Walque
Uganda (PETS I) - Primary Education
In the mid-1990s the first public expenditure tracking survey was implemented in Uganda. The purpose of the survey was to collect information from frontline education providers (primary schools) to gauge the extent to which grants actually made it to their intended destination. The survey revealed that during 1991-95 on average only 13 percent of the grants made it to the schools. There was a slight improvement in the last years of the survey period, still in 1995 for every dollar spent on nonwage education items by the central government, only about 20 cents reached the schools.
Case study evidence and other survey data showed that the school funds were not going to other priority sectors. The disbursements were rarely audited or monitored, and most schools and parents had little or no information about their entitlements to the grants. Most of the funds were used for purposes unrelated to education (to fund the local political and bureaucratic machinery) or for private gain, as indicated by numerous newspaper articles about indictments of district education officers after the survey findings went public.
Poor students suffered disproportionately because schools catering to them received even less than others. In fact, most schools in poorer areas received nothing. Smaller (rural) schools and schools with a higher share of unqualified teachers also received significantly less of their entitled grants. These results suggest that rather than being passive recipients of flows from government, schools use their bargaining power relative to other parts of government to secure greater shares of funding. Thus, the extent to which funding reached the intended beneficiary had little to do with conventional audit and supervision mechanisms, but on the schools’ opportunity and ability to voice and exert political pressure for the funds. Consequently, funds were not allocated according to the rules underlying the government’s budget decisions, with obvious equity and efficiency implications.
The Uganda case illustrates the possible impact that collection and dissemination of quantitative data on public spending and services can have as a tool to mobilize “voice”. Individual complaints about services or characterizations about services offered based on isolated experiences tend to be brushed aside as anecdotal evidence or at best partial evidence. However, when systematic comparative data support public feedback, it is difficult to ignore and can provide a spark for (public) action. As evidence of the degree of leakage became public knowledge in Uganda, the central government enacted a number of changes: it began publishing the monthly transfers of public funds to the districts in newspapers, broadcasting information on the transfers on radio, and requiring primary schools to post information on inflows of funds. The objective of this “information campaign” was to promote transparency and increase public sector accountability by giving citizens access to information needed to understand and examine the workings of the capitation grant program for primary schools.
A preliminary assessment of these reforms shows that the flow of funds improved dramatically, from 13 percent on average reaching schools in 1991-95 to around 80 percent in early 2001. Work is currently underway to rigorously evaluate the impact of the information campaign. (See PETS II project below.)
(Note: The following surveys offer guidance about the types of questions that may be most useful to your particular situation. However, it is likely that the instruments will have to be adapted in light of the issues that require attention, and the institutional context in which the survey is to be implemented.)
Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda, by Ritva Reinikka and Jakob Svensson, The Quarterly Journal of Economics 119(2): 678-704, May, 2004. Abstract Recovery in Service Delivery: Evidence from Schools and Health Centers , Ritva Reinikka, Chapter 11 of Uganda's Recovery: The Role of Farms, Firms, and Government sheds light on service delivery in education and health using unique survey data from Uganda, 2001 Adobe Acrobat (PDF) [113 KB]. The Power of Information: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign to Reduce Capture , Ritva Reinikka and Jakob Svensson, Policy Research Working Paper 3239, World Bank, Washington, D.C. March 2004. Explaining Leakage of Public Funds, Ritva Reinikka and Jakob Svensson, Policy Research Working Paper 2709, World Bank, Washington, D.C. November, 2001. Do Budgets Really Matter? Evidence from Public Spending on Education and Health in Uganda, Emmanuel Ablo, Ritva Reinikka, Policy Research Working paper 1926, World Bank Washington, D.C., 1998. Uganda (PETS II)- Information and Voice
Recent studies confirm that bureaucratic or political capture of public funds can be a serious obstacle to improving basic service delivery in many developing countries. Practical evidence suggests that information campaigns using mass media can reduce leakage by mitigating the problem of asymmetric information. This research project evaluates the impact of informational innovations on leakage in non-wage education spending in Uganda. Key research questions are: Are better-informed schools, holding other determinants constant, more likely to receive their entitlements? Is it possible that by raising some schools’ knowledge (information), other schools will also gain? The project assesses the relationship between individual schools and the government, as well as possible externalities in the acquisition of information across schools.
The Power of Information: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign to Reduce Capture,R. Reinikka and J. Svensson, Policy Research Working Paper 3239, 2004.
Public expenditure tracking surveys in education: Peru, Uganda and Zambia
by Ritva Reinikka & Nathanael Smith, Ethics and corruption in education.
Paris: Institute for Educational Planning, 2004. Adobe Acrobat PDF [1606 KB]. Public expenditure tracking surveys, or PETS, now implemented in a number of countries including Cambodia, Ghana, Peru, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia have proven to be key instruments in determining how much of education resources originally allocated actually reach the schools.
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The following policy research working papers are drawn from the World Bank's institutional archives. Each link opens a page with an abstract of the document and several download options. Other related documents not stored in the institutional archives.