This study examines public perceptions of potential overseers charged with ensuring that relief packages are distributed to the intended audience. In an experiment, we assess perceptions of trustworthiness and fraud reduction ability between government and public accounting firm employees in the context of relief package oversight. While actual ability is important, public perceptions of overseer ability is also essential for relief packages to be fully effective. We find that people, regardless of their political party affiliation, rate public accounting firm employees as more trustworthy and better able to reduce fraud than government employees. For government oversight, participant political party affiliation influences perceptions of employee ability and is mediated by general trust in government. These findings suggest public accounting firms are a viable alternative to increase public perceptions that relief packages are distributed effectively. Initial evidence suggests educating the public on the role of career government employees may raise public opinion.
Data Availability: Data are available from the authors upon request.
JEL Classifications: H12, H84, M41, M48.