Bangladesh

Mohammad Mohabbat Khan

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10
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Mohammad Mohabbat Khan
Interviewee's Position
Professor of Public Administration
Interviewee's Organization
University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Yes
Abstract

Mohammad Mohabbat Khan details the challenges facing the civil service in Bangladesh at the time, chief of which was to restore credibility in the mind of the public.  He details some attempts at reform, which he characterizes as somewhat disjointed. He identifies the various commissions formed to assess and make recommendations for reforms, and describes their perceived failings and the obstacles they encountered.   He assesses the challenges to reform when high-ranking politicians and civil servants are comfortable with the status quo.

Case Study:  Energizing the Civil Service: Managing at The Top 2, Bangladesh, 2006-2011

Profile

At the time of this interview, Mohammad Mohabbat Khan was a senior professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was appointed to the post of professor in 1983. He earned an honors degree in political science, a master's in public administration from the University of Dhaka, a master's in public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a doctorate from the University of Southern California.  He served on the Bangladesh Public Service Commission and taught at universities in Jordan, Nigeria, Singapore and the U.S.  He has written 16 books in the areas of governance and public sector reform.

Full Audio File Size
17.4MB
Full Audio Title
Mohammad Mohabbat Khan- Full Interview

Farooq Sobhan

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Focus Area(s)
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11
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Farooq Sobhan
Interviewee's Position
President
Interviewee's Organization
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladesh
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Yes
Abstract

Farooq Sobhan talks about the work of his Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, which specializes in training civil servants.  The institute was undertaking to train a core group of mid-level bureaucrats in order to help them develop key management and budgetary skills.  He emphasizes the importance of job stability. Under the system prevalent in Bangladesh, people were transferred between positions frequently and did not get the opportunity to specialize.  Sobhan stresses his belief that those who receive training must be encouraged to stay in positions that will allow them to use their new skills.  He also identifies the problem of students who study abroad and never return, and the need to make the civil service more attractive.  He also reflects on how a politicized civil service is damaging for a country, and shares ideas for depoliticizing a bureaucracy.  He concludes by looking forward to the day when the Bangladeshi civil service has pride of place in society.

Profile

At the time of the interview, Farooq Sobhan was president of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, which specializes in providing high-level training to Bangladeshi civil servants. He had an extensive career in the diplomatic service of Bangladesh, beginning in 1964. After a two-year training program, he was posted to Cairo and then Paris. In early 1972, he returned to Bangladesh to join the newly established Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as the first director for North and South America as well as the Asia-Pacific region. He then served as counselor in Belgrade and in Moscow, director-general for multilateral economic affairs and the United Nations, and ambassador deputy permanent representative to the U.N. in New York, followed by ambassadorships in Malaysia and China. He served for three years as high commissioner to India and concluded his career as foreign secretary from March of 1995 until September of 1997. After that, he served as chairman of the Bangladesh Board of Investment and also as the special envoy of the prime minister. He co-founded the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute in 2000. 
 

Full Audio File Size
24.1MB
Full Audio Title
Farooq Sobhan- Full Interview

Humayun Kabir

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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Humayun Kabir
Interviewee's Position
Secretary of the Election Commission Secretariat
Interviewee's Organization
Bangladesh Election Commission
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Humayun Kabir, a secretary at the Bangladesh Election Commission Secretariat, shares his experience in the 2008 Bangladeshi election.  He talks about many aspects of the electoral process and how the newly constituted Election Commission dealt with them between February 2007 and December 2008.  He details the voter-registration and boundary-delimitation processes and the multiple challenges the commission faced in accomplishing these tasks.  He also highlights successful innovations such as the photographic voter registry and the use of transparent ballot boxes, which he credits with limiting post-election violence in 2008.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Humayun Kabir was a secretary of the Bangladesh Election Commission Secretariat.  He joined the commission in 2007, shortly after it had undergone a significant restructuring exercise in response to the postponement of the 2007 Bangladeshi election.  Prior to joining the Election Commission he was the managing director of the national insurance corporation, Sadharan Bima Corp.  He also worked as joint secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, as deputy secretary of the Cabinet and in various capacities at other Bangladeshi ministries.

Full Audio File Size
39.2MB
Full Audio Title
Humayun Kabir- Full Interview

Manzoor Hasan

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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Manzoor Hasan
Interviewee's Position
Director
Interviewee's Organization
Institute of Governance Services, BRAC University, Bangladesh
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Manzoor Hasan identifies three main challenges for the Bangladeshi civil service: lack of sufficient training, structural problems arising from a colonial legacy of extensive hierarchization and growing politicization leading to corruption and decreased accountability.  He discusses the curriculum and admission policies of the Master’s Program in Governance and Development at the Institute of Governance Services, which aims to address these concerns.  Its multi-step applicant selection strategy aims to increase representation across genders and sectors of civil service, and to identify candidates who are innovative and willing to forego financial and career advancement objectives during the length of training.  The program thus contributes to a growing pool of qualified Bangladeshi civil servants who will be ready to implement reform when the necessary political vision comes about.  To this end, networking capacity is one of the target skills.  Hasan points to a need to increase governmental commitment to training and reform by  relying on state funding rather than donor funding.  This would counteract a trend toward superficial reform measures by which commissions are set up to issue policy recommendations but few concrete steps are taken.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Manzoor Hasan was the director of the Institute of Governance Studies at BRAC University in Bangladesh.  A lawyer by training, Hasan was the founding executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh in 1996.  He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2003 for his service to Transparency International Bangladesh.  After seven years, he assumed the post of Transparency International Regional Director for Asia-Pacific in Berlin.  Upon returning to Bangladesh, he joined the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and its university.

Full Audio File Size
50 MB
Full Audio Title
Manzoor Hasan Obe - Full Interview

Rizwan Khair

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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Rizwan Khair
Interviewee's Position
Academic Coordinator
Interviewee's Organization
Institute of Governance Studies
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Rizwan Khair reviews the reasons he thinks civil service reform had not taken place in Bangladesh. He argues that the mindset of government leaders and the senior civil servants was risk averse and that Bangladesh was stuck in the mindset of the old colonial civil service, with its emphasis on seniority rather than performance. He believes that the development of Bangladesh in a globalized world economy requires that a premium be set on performance, accountability and innovation in the civil service. He suggests that international donors had not been persistent enough in pressing for civil service reform in Bangladesh. More importantly, he calls for his country to look at reforms in Malaysia and India to see why Bangladesh must follow suit in order to build its long-term future.    

Case Study:  Energizing the Civil Service: Managing at The Top 2, Bangladesh, 2006-2011

Profile

At the time of this interview, Rizwan Khair was academic coordinator at the Institute of Governance Studies in Bangladesh. He was seconded from the civil service in 2006 to oversee the Masters in Governance and Development program at the institute. After working in a private bank for four years following his graduation from university, he entered the civil service, where he worked initially in the field before joining the Ministry of Finance's Economic Relations Division. He then transferred to the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre, where he worked for six years before moving to the institute.

Full Audio File Size
74 MB
Full Audio Title
Rizwan Khair - Full Interview

Mohammed Mokhlesar Rahman Sarker

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6
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Mohammed Mokhlesar Rahman Sarker
Interviewee's Position
Director, Electoral Training Institute
Interviewee's Organization
Election Commission Secretariat, Bangladesh
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Mohammed Sarker discusses the role of the Electoral Training Institute—a sister organization to the Bangladesh Election Commission—in training all electoral management staff in Bangladesh. He explains the founding of the institute, and the role of the government of Bangladesh, international organizations and donors in strengthening the institution. Sarker reflects upon the training methods and curricula used by the institute, as well as its highly successful administrative structure.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Mohammed Mokhlesar Rahman Sarker was the director of the Electoral Training Institute, a sister organization to the Bangladesh Election Commission that is responsible for training the entire electoral staff in the country. He had held the position for two and a half years. Some time after the interview, he became deputy commissioner of the Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh.

Full Audio File Size
41MB
Full Audio Title
Mohammed Sarker Interview

Zahurul Alam

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10
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Zahurul Alam
Interviewee's Position
Director
Interviewee's Organization
Election Working Group
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Zahurul Alam discusses the role of the Election Working Group—a coalition of 33 nongovernmental organizations—in voter registration, voter education, and election observation in Bangladesh. He begins by discussing recent events in Bangladeshi politics, including the boycott of most political parties of the 2007 elections and the imposition of a state of emergency. He speaks about other challenges to fair elections, especially the existence of 15 million false entries in the voters list. The working group and the Bangladesh Election Commission together created a new voters list. He elaborates on the efforts of the working group to mobilize voters for registration, including voter education, advertising and information dissemination, and the organization of rallies across Bangladesh. Alam discusses specific efforts to provide information to rural and minority voters. He further reflects on the organization and management of the working group, and speaks at length about support from the election commission, other NGOs, the media, and the army. Finally, Alam speaks about the subsequent role of the working group in election observation in 2008. 

Case Study:  Energizing the Civil Service: Managing at the Top 2, Bangladesh, 2006-2011

Profile
At the time of the interview, Zahurul Alam was director of the Election Working Group, a coalition of 33 nongovernmental organizations, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He had held the position since 2006. Previously, he managed another electoral project at the Bangladesh Election Commission. Prior to that he had been employed by various international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, U.K. Department for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency.  
Full Audio File Size
87 MB
Full Audio Title
Zahurul Alam - Full Interview

Syed Tanveer Hussain

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5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Syed Tanveer Hussain
Interviewee's Position
Founder and Consultant
Interviewee's Organization
Climate Change Company
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Place (Building/Street)
Ideas Manzil
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Syed Tanveer Hussain discusses a report on Bangladeshi government downsizing and restructuring he authored for the Office of the Prime Minister in 2002.  This document examined the implementation status and relative urgency of recommendations issued by 17 prior administrative reform committees and reorganization commissions.  Hussain describes a number of reasons for unsuccessful or incomplete implementation: lack of political will across party lines, insufficient explanation of reform rationale, finger-pointing at civil servants that generates built-in resistance, a reform committee system that fosters procrastination, and a distribution of power that at times favors the interests of a stable bureaucracy.  Hussain characterizes his ideal for the bureaucracy and describes a four-step process to achieve that ideal through planning, structural reform, capacity building and constant monitoring.  He then explains in detail each of his concrete proposals.  Among successfully implemented recommendations he counts separation of the Supreme Court and judiciary from other branches of government, and the establishment of quotas for civil service employment of the handicapped. Pending recommendations include administrative downsizing through elimination of function redundancy and outsourcing of some tasks to the private sector, appointment of an ombudsman, creation of financial incentives for civil servant relocation to remote areas of the country, computerization of ministries, employment of local manpower at Bangladeshi embassies for efficiency, retirement age increase in response to improvements in life expectancy, a constitutional mandate for a Civil Service Act, division of civil service into functional clusters to facilitate competition for awards and promotion, and creation of a senior-management pool.  While the government forwarded the report to the Establishment Division for implementation, it neglected its recommendation to streamline reform through an Administrative Performance Services Division modeled after its Malaysian equivalent and set up under the Prime Minister’s Office. Hussain believes centralization is key for successful administrative reform.  

Case Study:  Energizing the Civil Service: Managing at the Top 2, Bangladesh, 2006-2011

Profile

An economist by training, Syed Tanveer Hussain was trained for the civil service in Pakistan in 1970. He worked for the Bangladesh national government for 34 years. He held various high-ranking positions in the ministries of finance, planning, housing and public works, textiles and environment.  He served as census commissioner in 2001, and retired from public office as environment secretary in 2004.  He went on to work as a consultant for the World Bank and other international players through his firm, Climate Change Company.    

Full Audio File Size
56MB
Full Audio Title
Syed Tanveer Hussain Interview

John Wallace

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Focus Area(s)
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6
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
John Wallace
Interviewee's Position
Consultant
Interviewee's Organization
Tribal-HELM
Language
English
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

John Wallace, team leader of Bangladesh's Managing at the Top 2 (MATT 2) project, identifies lack of accountability as the major challenge to Bangladesh's civil service.  Wallace introduces the rationale behind MATT 2 and differentiates it with its predecessor, MATT 1.  Whereas the first stage of the MATT project (1999-2002) focused on the training of individuals but not on the culture of the organization itself, MATT 2 (2006-2013) sought to create a critical mass of reform-minded civil servants and enable a reform environment.  Wallace says, "It is all about giving skills to senior civil servants, giving them experience with reforms, actual experiences of reforms."  He addresses the relationship between the U.K. Department for International Development and the government of Bangladesh, particularly regarding reforms in governance and human resource management.  Wallace highlights the need for donor coordination for distribution of resources so as not to duplicate efforts and work at cross-purposes.

Case Study:  Energizing the Civil Service: Managing at The Top 2, Bangladesh, 2006-2011

Profile

At the time of this interview, John Wallace was team leader of the Managing at the Top 2 (MATT 2) project in Bangladesh.  As a consultant with Tribal-HELM, a Northern Irish company, Wallace was charged with the implementation of MATT 2, a project funded by the U.K. Department for International Development to develop and advise civil servants.

Full Audio File Size
87 MB
Full Audio Title
John Wallace Interview

Delwar Hossain

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4
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Delwar Hossain
Interviewee's Position
Secretary
Interviewee's Organization
Ministry of Land, Bangladesh
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladesh
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Delwar Hossain recounts his personal experiences as a participant in Bangladesh's Managing at the Top 2 (MATT 2) program, financed by the U.K.'s Department for International Development.  As both a ministry secretary and a MATT 2 participant, he provides a step-by-step account of the participant experience in this training and development program for senior civil servants as well as reflects on the application of knowledge gained in the program to the workings of government offices.  Hossain makes recommendations for improving and expanding the program, including expanding the pool of eligible participants, adding a master's or Ph.D. component for a select few and broadening the selection of countries visited by those in the second stage of the program.  Hossain advocates for the continuation of MATT 2 and expresses optimism that outside funding would help the program continue past its 2013 end date.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Delwar Hossain was the secretary of the Ministry of Land in Bangladesh and a past participant in the Managing at the Top 2 (MATT 2) program.  A career civil servant, he worked in a number of government ministries.

Full Audio File Size
75 MB
Full Audio Title
Delwar Hossain Interview