Strengthening Public Administration: Brazil, 1995-1998

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Abstract 
In 1995, when Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira took charge of the Brazilian ministry responsible for administration and reform, problems plagued the nation’s public sector. Laws and regulations prevented ministries and public sector organizations from working efficiently. Payrolls had ballooned because of rapidly rising retirement costs. Irregular recruitment and a lack of proper training had eroded the talent pool. Soon after taking office, Bresser-Pereira put together an ambitious plan to overhaul public administration. He proposed amending the constitution to loosen constraints on hiring and firing. At the same time, he pressed for a new model of governance that relied on restructuring ministries and public sector organizations as contract-based “executive agencies” and “social organizations.” Under his leadership, the Ministry of Federal Administration and State Reform (MARE) collected and centralized payroll and personnel data, recruited successfully to fill crucial policy and management positions, and set up regular training programs. By 1998, MARE had guided the constitutional amendment through Congress and set up pilot programs for executive agencies and social organizations. While some efforts stalled after MARE merged with another ministry in 1998, the ideas and principles put forward by its team continued to inform subsequent changes. This case offers insights into the challenges of building accountable services.
 
Rushda Majeed drafted this policy note on the basis of interviews conducted in Brasilia and São Paulo, Brazil, in September 2010.
 
Keywords 
accountability
performance management
training
New Public Management
NPM
agencies
Downsizing
inter-ministerial coordination
coordination
bureaucratic structure
change in leadership
institutional capacity
management capacity
corruption & patronage
coalition building
commitment
capture
Focus Area(s): 
Civil Service
Critical Tasks: 
Civil service recruitment
Downsizing
Inter-ministerial coordination
Performance management system
Sequencing reform
Training
Core Challenge: 
Principal-agent problem (delegation)
Country of Reform: 
Brazil
Type: 
Case Studies
Author: 
Rushda Majeed