Rodrigo Carril
Job Market Candidate

Stanford University
Department of Economics
579 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305

Available for interviews at:

  - European Job Market in Rotterdam (Dec 18-19)
  - ASSA Annual Meeting in San Diego (Jan 3-5)

Curriculum Vitae

Primary Field:
Public Economics

Secondary field:
Industrial Organization

Expected Graduation Date:
June, 2020

Dissertation Committee:

Mark Duggan (Co-primary):

Liran Einav (Co-primary):

Matthew Gentzkow:


Rules Versus Discretion in Public Procurement - Job Market Paper (Draft coming soon)
I study the effects of procurement regulation in the context of US federal acquisition. Below an arbitrary threshold amount, contracts can be awarded using procedures that are subject to significantly fewer rules and less oversight. I document three key empirical findings. First, there is pronounced bunching of contracts at this regulatory threshold, suggesting that the rule generates strong responses by market participants. Second, leveraging a change in the threshold value, I show that the added scrutiny of regulation distorts the award amount of some contracts, while discouraging other purchases altogether. Specifically, I estimate that raising the threshold from $100,000 to $150,000 in 2011 increased overall spending on affected contracts by 9.1%, with both intensive and extensive margins playing an important role. Third, I show that highly-regulated contracts exhibit worse performance ex-post, as measured by a variety of quality proxies. I propose a stylized model of public procurement that is consistent with these findings: by introducing compliance costs, regulation prevents some wasteful spending but also distorts purchases. I use the model to estimate that while approved legislation set to increase the threshold to \$250,000 would lead to an additional spending increase of 8%, this policy change will leave the government better-off. Moreover, my estimates suggest that the optimal regulatory threshold is even higher.

The Impact of Industry Consolidation on Government Procurement: Evidence from Department of Defense Contracting (with Mark Duggan) - R&R at Journal of Public Economics
We study the relationship between market structure and public procurement outcomes. In particular, we ask whether and to what extent consolidation-driven increases in industry concentration affect the way in which the government procures its goods and services. We focus on the defense industry, by far the largest contributor to federal procurement spending in the U.S. This industry experienced a sharp increase in the level of concentration during the 1990s, driven by a series of large mergers between defense contractors. Using detailed microdata on Department of Defense (DoD) contract awards, we estimate the causal effect of industry concentration on a series of procurement outcomes, leveraging the differential impact of these mergers across product markets. We find that market concentration caused the procurement process to become less competitive, with an increase in the share of spending awarded without competition, or via single-bid solicitations. Increased concentration also induced a shift from the use of fixed-price contracts towards cost-plus contracts. However, we find no evidence that consolidation led to a significant increase in acquisition costs. We infer that the government's buyer power, especially relevant in this context given the government is often the only purchaser, constrained firms from exercising any additional market power gained by consolidation.

Publicity and Competition in Public Procurement (with Andres Gonzalez Lira and Michael S. Walker) (Draft coming soon)
We study the effects of intensifying competition for public procurement contracts through advertising. Publicizing contract opportunities promotes bidder participation, potentially leading to price reductions. Yet extensive advertising could exacerbate adverse selection of bidders on non-contractible quality dimensions. We study this trade-off in the context of procurement contracts for the U.S. Department of Defense. We use a Regression Discontinuity Design, leveraging a regulation that mandates agencies to publicize contract opportunities that are expected to exceed a certain threshold. Our results show that advertised contracts receive considerably more bids and are more likely to be awarded to geographically distant vendors, who have less prior history with the office. However, we find that the post-award performance of publicized contracts worsens, resulting in more cost overruns and delays. The latter effect is driven by goods and services that are relatively more complex, highlighting the role of contract incompleteness. We complement our reduced form results with a model to recover public buyers' preference parameters over price and quality. This model is used to further study the extent to which advertising interacts with adverse selection.