This article examines how and to what effect the scientific ideal and practice of replication is adopted by a Mexican federal government agency charged with measuring poverty. The commitment to replication among state poverty experts is traced to their self-conception as democratic reformers working against cultures of state opacity associated with an authoritarian past. These experts deploy the ideal of replication as a bureaucratic ethos and the practice of replication as a public-facing and legitimating strategy. Replication successfully performs transparency and generates trust by appealing to, and strengthening ties with, elite academic and policy actors. Ultimately, the article shows how scientific ideals and practices adopted by state actors are cast as democracy enhancing even as they produce elite closure and limit public participation.

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