Former IRS Commissioner David Adom describes the organizational changes that helped improve revenue collection at the Ghanaian IRS between 1986 and 2001. He focuses on changes to human resource policy and organizational structure. On his watch, first as deputy Commissioner and then as Commissioner, the IRS became autonomous from Ghana’s civil service regulations. Using that freedom, the organization tripled salaries and hired a large new cohort of professionals—mostly lawyers and accountants. In order to integrate these new hires into the pool of existing employees, Adom kept retrenchments to a minimum, applied salary raises equitably throughout the whole organization, and spread new hires across different units in order to give new and old staff a chance to mix on the job. Finally, in an attempt to target the small number of taxpayers who accounted for more than half of Ghana’s revenue, Adom introduced an elite Large Taxpayer’s Office, which offered better service—and more careful enforcement—to wealthy individuals and firms.
At the time of this interview, David Adom was a consultant at AA&K Consulting. He was deputy commissioner for research and planning in the Ghana Internal Revenue Service between 1986 and 1996, and he went on to serve as commissioner of the organization from 1996 until 2001. Before he joined the IRS, he worked as a chartered accountant in Nigeria.