HKS Authors

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Using a biometric technology to monitor the attendance of public health workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in staff presence, particularly for lower-level staff. The monitoring program led to a reduction in low-birth weight babies, highlighting the importance of improving provider presence. But, despite the government initiating this reform, there was ultimately a low demand by the government to use the higher quality attendance data available in real time to enforce their existing human resource policies (e.g. leave or salary deductions) due to logistical challenges and a not unrealistic fear of generating staff discord or increase in staff attrition, especially among doctors, who showed the least improvement in attendance. While we observed some gains from this type of monitoring program, technological solutions by themselves will not improve attendance of government staff without a willingness to use the data generated to enforce existing penalties.


Dhaliwal, Iqbal, and Rema Hanna. "The Devil is in the Details: Experimental Evidence on Bureaucratic Reform in India." Journal of Development Economics (January 2017).