George Yambesi draws upon his experience in the President’s Office for Public Service Management to trace the history of civil service reform in Tanzania. He describes some of the challenges and goals involved in implementing reforms. The major theme of these reforms has been improving performance results and accountability. Within this, there has been a focus on policy development, systems for appraising performance, improving human resource management, and leadership development. Yambesi notes that one of the main motivations for reform was a public outcry for better services. He goes into great detail about retrenchment and staff size, delineating specific goals set and the methods used in achieving those goals. He also describes changes to pay policies, performance management systems, and in the promotion and recruitment systems at some length. He speaks about the effect of the shift from secretive to open performance evaluations and stresses the importance of strategic thinking as the basis for annual plans and budgets. He also discusses training programs and capacity building. Finally, while he acknowledges the role played by international donors in establishing the reform agenda, he maintains that the reform agenda was driven largely by Tanzania itself.
At the time of this interview, George Yambesi was the permanent secretary in the President’s Office for Public Service Management in Tanzania. His involvement with the reform program in Tanzania began in 1993. He joined the program as a national expert on redeployment and subsequently worked as a national expert on capacity building for ministries, departments, agencies and other institutions. He then served as director of policy development, responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Public Service Reform Program in Tanzania. Immediately before being named permanent secretary, he served as deputy permanent secretary.