Development
September 18, 2013

The reviews are in: Public sector management reform

Decades of reform in developing countries point to four enduring dilemmas:

1. Reforms focus on changing rules and behaviour by design rather than on changing practices during implementation;
2. Reforms rely on brokering the politics of special interests rather than on serving greater interests for lasting results;
3. Reforms that work in one place do not always work the same way in another place; and
4. Reforms have a long results chain, where a weak link anywhere can undermine implementation.

Nick Manning of the World Bank says that, “Lessons learned from past reform efforts suggest that the notion of ‘best practice’ needs to be replaced by ‘best fit’, where more pragmatic, context-sensitive solutions replace grandiose, comprehensive reform designs.”

Rather than starting from scratch every time, there is inherent pressure to adopt “best practices” from donor countries and international consulting firms in the absence of solid evidence to debunk claims. To adapt on the basis of evidence means tailoring reforms using rigorous diagnostics and extensive stakeholder consultations to specify problems. Reforms must be implemented with agility, learning on the go and sharing knowledge about what works.

The 2013 IPAC National Conference probed the general case under the theme of “Reinventing Public Administration.” The organizers asked: “Why do so many reforms disappoint or fail, while others mark an entire generation? We seek to identify and understand the factors responsible for this, with case studies drawn from here and elsewhere.”

Joe Eshun shared highlights from Deloitte’s 2013 study of East Africa reforms:

• Focus – public service, local governance, financial management, health, education, and justice;
• Challenges – governance, accountability, and corruption topped the list at 72.8%, followed by resources, implementation, government commitment, timing, and publicity; and
• Keys – behaviour change, execution capability, tapping into youth, and a solution economy.

Maria Barrados, former President of the Public Service Commission of Canada, stated that reform is simply “managing change to achieve a desired end state.” Drawing upon her international project experience, she observed that often there is “too much study and not enough action.” She called for clear direction — political support, stakeholder consultation, legislation when necessary — on what is to be done.

Canada has a moderate tradition of incremental reform, featuring interrelated initiatives. It has much to learn from comparative study of international development, as well as from cultural responses to approaches like index rankings, peer reviews, self-improvement tools, and south-south cooperation.

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Development
 
Thanks to the development of new technologies that make previously unimaginable...
 
Since debuting in 2000, Survivor has traversed the world and humanity...
 
In late March the ONS detailed the occupations in the UK...
 
In the next year, one in three US federal government workers...
 
Despite a rapid expansion in digital democracy initiatives around the globe,...
 
In the show, J. Richard Jones talks with Colin Earp, Partner...
 
Deforestation interventions in Latin America and Asia may be more effective...
 
Below is a piece of design fiction focused on what it...
 
Service delivery is an integral part of the work of governments...
 
In recent years, growing evidence about the importance of early childhood...
 
In the past 18 months or so, new governments have taken...
 
Could robot doctors be on the horizon? A study published February...
 
We are excited to announce that the February/March 2019 issue of...
 
The use of “nudges” in policymaking has been a major trend...
 
There is an interesting paradox playing out with the public sector...
 
Last week, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based financial services company, announced...
 
Canadian Government Executive, in collaboration with Dalhousie University, is seeking your...
 
Imagine your favorite world class service provider replacing the Board of...
 
Lately, all levels of the Canadian public service have devoted much...
 
We have been hearing quite a lot about superclusters. The Government...
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones talks with...
 
In 2017, identity theft cost Americans $16.8 billion, and, in just...
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones interviews Alex...
 
It is time to reboot democracy. This year, the French constitution,...
 
We are excited to share with you the October/November 2018 edition...
 
Ontario Northland is a crown corporation that provides transportation solutions to...
 
Canada’s international reputation for welcoming and integrating newcomers is unparalleled. At...
 
In the three years to 2020, Canada will welcome almost a...
 
Mining embodies progress. Mining provides civilization with the materials required for...
 
On today’s show, J. Richard Jones sits down for a chat...
 
We are excited to share with you the May/June issue of...
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones speaks with...
 
As the world grows more digital – and increasingly mobile –...
 
Throughout Canada, healthcare systems are challenged by population growth, aging, and...
 
Over half a billion children live in countries that are falling...
 
According to a recent McKinsey study there is a potential for...
 
On the global scene, technology has revolutionized and automated the work...
 
Today on CGE Radio, we speak with Craig Szelestowski, President and...
 
The adoption of new technologies provides many opportunities, poses unique challenges...
 
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This quote from management specialist Peter...
 
On a recent visit to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to...
 
Professional development is tremendously important to members of Canada’s public sector....
 
Over the last two years, an ever-growing number of organizations around...
 
Ships docked in a harbour may not be going anywhere; however,...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) and CATAAlliance , Canada’s one voice for...
 
Do Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) make a difference? Our evaluation...
 
The design needed and practiced in government departments and the broader...
 
As social media becomes ever-more prevalent in the lives of today’s...
 
Evaluation is performed for a range of reasons:  to improve programs,...
 
Radical candour sounds rather outré as a prescription for government executives....
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones is joined...
 
Behavioural Insights (BI) is a multidisciplinary approach that uses principles and...
 
In March, the Canada Revenue Agency’s website was shut down by...
 
How does a mandate for innovation challenge evaluation? Increasingly, the public...
 
As the face of the Association of Professional Executives of the...
 
One of the writers in this month’s issue started a note...
 
Excellence in leadership is instrumental in serving the public interest. New-age...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) announced last Friday, that George Ross...
 
We are thrilled to offer the July/August issue of Canadian Government...
 
At this time a year ago, the 88,000 displaced people of...
 
“Former Metro banker stole $73,000.”  “Enbridge sues ex-employee.”  “Woman stole $51,000...
 
The recent introduction of the new Government of Canada (GC) IT...
 
So, what can be said about Canada’s public administration as the...
 
The way forward to engaging Millennials in the public sector Passionate,...
 
We are happy to share with you the May/June issue of...
 
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA Alliance) is Canada’s One Voice...
 
Since Confederation in 1867, more than 17 million immigrants landed in...
 
In today’s world of heightened focus on good governance and accountability...
 
Orchestrating the transition from present to emergent leadership Millennial is the...
 
As ‘month 13’ for Canada’s Syrian refugee arrivals comes and goes,...
 
As governments around the world move towards the digital transformation of...
 
The way organizations recruit, shape and manage their workforce to find...
 
The promise of web 2.0 was the emergence of a user-driven...
 
Commodity Management (the official term for life-cycle asset management of goods...
 
During the past decade, the international university-level student population in Canada...
 
We have all heard the sayings: “Home, sweet home”; “There’s no...
 
Imagine a Canadian government that shares best practices in service delivery....
 
There is a new buzz in policy circles. Advances in data...
 
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 28 independent member countries...
 
The internal audit function in the Canadian public sector finds itself...
 
As Canada’s government agencies strive to improve delivery and efficiency under...
 
To boldly go where no one has gone before STAR TREK:...
 
In recent months, Canadians have borne witness to a new cycle...
 
Professionals, managers, and executives in the cost estimation industry can gain...
 
Canadian Government Executive kicked off its CGE Leadership Series for 2017...
 
The rapid advances in digital technology, demographic and societal shift even...
 
The critical challenge facing the public service is changing its culture....
 
Having the right talent is critical to delivering right results. But...
 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are part of the new global “Agenda...
 
An Interview with Larry Ostola, Toronto’s Director of Museums and Heritage...
 
For all its subtleties and mysteries, the Westminster system of government...
 
When Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message”...
 
Laskey Hart guest hosts CGE Radio this week with a summary...
 
The non-profit sector is operating within an era of increased accountability,...
 
Earlier this year the Ontario Ministry of Health announced that it...
 
Gladwell made Anders Ericsson famous—or, at least, his research work. A...
 
Canada’s top soldier said the Armed Forces continue to be locked...
 
BC Hydro said it is pushing through with it $9-billion, hydroelectric megaproject on...
 
Yesterday, Federal and Atlantic Provincial Ministers of the environment met to...
 
After writing the book “Megatrends: The Impact of Infrastructure on Ontario’s...
 
Governments around the world are seeking to tap technologies such as...
 
Signaling a realignment of Canada’s involvement with NATO, Prime Minister Justin...
 
As an executive you’ve probably experienced frustration when you ask for...
 
The Public Health Agency of Canada has long been aware of...
 
Dispersed organisations can be very powerful structures. There is ample evidence...
 
By Nicole Verkindt Despite growing up in a small town in...
 
Canada, today, became a full supporter of the United Nations Declaration...
 
A research project at that explores the design and feasibility of...
 
A landmark Supreme Court ruling has paved the way for some...
 
Years and years ago when I was unemployed, being able to...
 
Local job figures blew away expectations as records indicated that 41,000...
 
At first glance, the title may seem counterintuitive. By their very...
 
The Liberal government’s first federal budget laid out $11.9 billion over...
 
The Liberal government is expected to announce on Tuesday a new...
 
A leader’s credibility begins with personal success. It ends with helping...
 
Monday was the final day for Canadians to donate money to...
 
Huawei is bringing back to Canada and expanding its information communication...
 
Many women entrepreneurs in Canada struggle to access capital, technology, networks...
 
Written by Tim Wacker Almost a quarter century ago, when most...
 
Written by  Brady G. Wilson You may not realize it, but...
 
Continuous, life-long learning is the future of the public service. Building...
 
Mega-ConnEX is an annual speed networking event organized by the Health...
 
Canada’s contribution to development and humanitarian assistance is recognized around the...
 
Deliberations and negotiations in the United Nations are intensifying on what...
 
The UN consultations on the post-2015 development framework are focused on...
 
At the turn of the millennium, the international community made a...
 
Budgets are statements of political will and power. They are performance...
 
Decades of reform in developing countries point to four enduring dilemmas:...
 
The Lough Erne Accountability Report states that the G8 has played...
 
While there can be no singular solution for good governance, building...
 
it’s not the most original saying...
 
With the demographics of an aging workforce and a significant number...
 
Shakespeare’s “dark comedy,” Measure for Measure, deals with the issues of...
 
Reform is almost always about developing the capacity of government to...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Assembly of First Nations National Chief...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.5 May 2008 Before dawn on Monday, 18...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.4 April 2008 “What is a Foreign Service...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.3 March 2008 Most observers expect more than 40...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.3 March 2008 The Commonwealth Secretariat convened the first...
 
If you want to understand someone else’s position, walk a mile...
 
What makes a perfect mentor? Is it age and seniority? Perhaps...
 
Often, decisions about how to recruit are made based on habit...
 
It has been said that if everything is important, nothing is...
 
The Mosaic Index, by Professor Richard Florida, which measures the percentage...
 
Government policy agendas have long been fraught with complexity....
 
Looking at all the engineering diagrams overlaid on maps on the...
 
Gérés efficacement, les conflits peuvent favoriser la résolution conjointe des problèmes,...
 
Popular wisdom holds that the public service will need to recruit...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.2 February 2008 As I mentioned previously, one cannot...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 What is the toughest job in...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Growth can mean opportunity. Significant increases...
 
The subtitle of this report, prepared by the U.S. National Governors...
 
We can learn from archetypes. They can help us lead, if...
 
Improving leadership development is widely recognized by HR leaders and senior...
 
Natural Resources Canada is accustomed to nurturing, protecting and growing Canada’s...
 
In an increasingly competitive and complex global marketplace, both employers and...
 
The transition from the private sector into an executive role in...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
Thanks to the development of new technologies that make previously unimaginable...