This started as a research project of The Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University, in 2012. The first four years (2012-16) were focused on designing and testing tools for last-mile accountability. After several iterations, the project arrived at a toolkit that could be used by CSOs to (1) Make public services more transparent to the beneficiaries (2) Collect timely feedback from the beneficiaries for grievance redressal (3) Analyse data proactively to identify problems and (4) Build a community to redress grievances collectively.As the access and usage of mobile phones in rural areas increased, it served as a useful medium to use these digital tools. LibTech intervention was then focused on smaller geographies, primarily in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh state.
The project demonstrated promise and was scaled up through a collaborative venture with CORD, several grassroots CSOs, and independent researchers. The two year project on Combating Corruption through Mobile Phones was supported by the Tata Trusts for two years (2017 to 2019). The focus was on building infrastructure and processes so that the team could work with a large number of partners with limited overheads per partner. In-built components in the project monitored progress and evaluated impact. Work at this stage expanded to Jharkhand, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
We worked extensively on NREGA processes and payments. We developed tools and user friendly reports for our partners to support their information needs on the field. We experimented with a combination of paper-based reports, a messenger based chat-bot and an offline field app.
Our work played an important role in the discovery of the Stage 2 delays in NREGA payments. The aided the Supreme Court case which resulted in the central government accepting and acknowledging the deliberate flaw in calculation of wage payment delays.
We studied Rejected Payments in NREGA very closely and worked with the state governments of Jharkhand and Rajasthan to reduce payment failures. We conducted several grassroots campaigns with our partners, developed guidelines and held training programmes with several stakeholders to reduce rejections. As a consequence, there was a significant reduction in rejections in the two states in the aftermath of our work.
In addition to this, we have organised action oriented internships with students from across India on NREGA and Maternity Entitlements.