Box 3: Electronic procurement for improved governance

Governments spend billions on public procurement and yet processes and procedures often function poorly. In order to reduce costs, electronic procurement (‘e-procurement’) has become a significant focus for policymakers and the subject of a number of pivotal IGC research projects. Research in India, Indonesia, and Pakistan has started to show the benefits and impacts of these systems. Faupel et al. (2016) show that the quality of public works increases after e-procurement is introduced, leading to improved road quality in India and reduced delays in awarding contracts in Indonesia. In Pakistan, research by Bandiera et al. (2017) looks to remove obstacles associated with inefficient procurement by introducing the Punjab Online Procurement System (POPS). The new system and approaches tested under the research have directly decreased the prices being paid by government. Providing another example of how public service incentives mediate the efficacy of ICT reforms, providing more autonomy for procurement officers was an important determinant of these results.