The many studies currently underway to evaluate and synthesise the lessons learned from efforts to make government more efficient and effective are testimony to the complexity of this challenge, and the recognition of its importance in making sustainable development gains. Well-intentioned reforms may fail to take root - sometimes as a result of the adoption of an inappropriate approach, sometimes as a result of insufficient commitment to reform, or sometimes due to a range of factors beyond government’s immediate control. So how can you drive long-term change in public administration, when there is little certainty about what works?
OPM have developed a range of OD methodologies and tools but as experience proves, there are no guarantees that a methodology that has made one public sector organisation more efficient will do the same for another. Variations in structures, processes, capabilities and culture - even within the same country and overall administration – will call for differing and nuanced responses. For example, in Rwanda a reform programme sought to introduce a common operating structure across all government ministries and agencies. Evaluation revealed that while the approach worked well in some of these agencies, there were others where it was incompatible with the individual agency’s purpose and functions, and created significant imbalances in workload and authority.
Clearly, the most successful efforts to streamline public administration are rooted in a firm understanding of an organisation’s statutory framework, its mandate, responsibilities, resources and existing ways of working. Successful interventions require a robust analysis of the barriers to reform within that organisation, and a clear leadership commitment to supporting and driving through the change. They also are likely to adopt an approach rooted in a clear set of strategic objectives, robust planning and a results-based management system.
Political economy and organisational culture can be powerful forces: one issue that repeatedly inhibits change in public administration is poor compensation and benefits for civil servants. In Cambodia, for example, a review of pay and grading represented a critical enabling component in successful health sector reform: a simple performance management regime, linked to enhanced but affordable wage rates for Ministry of Health staff, was developed as the basis for increased productivity.
OPM’s approach to organisational development is built around rigorous evaluation frameworks to derive accurate and objective evidence of capacity and capability, in order to plan public service reform. Administrative change can then be designed not on standard models, but on the real capacity needs of the organisation to drive performance change.
Client: Government of Bangladesh
Completion Date: June 2014
Client: Social Fund for Development
Completion Date: July 2011
Client: UN Relief and Works Agency(UNRWA)
Completion Date: December 2010
Client: DFID Tanzania
Completion Date: June 2009
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