Humberto Falcao Martins offers his perspective on the Brazilian civil service reforms of the 1990s. He credits Bresser-Pereira for single-handedly putting civil service reform on the agenda. As a specialist on state an institutional issues in the Secretariat for Strategic Affairs, he was involved in the initial review of the Plano Diretor, or blueprint for reform, produced by Bresser-Pereira. Martins says he was impressed with the decentralization scheme that would create a strategic core, a second group of activities handled exclusively by the state, a third group that would perform activities through partnerships with NGOs and social organizations, and a fourth group focused on market-oriented service provision by state-owned agencies. Although he recognized the potential of the proposed initiatives, Martins was concerned with reduction of political interference in the implementation stage. He identifies economists in the government as one of the main sources of opposition, which translated into generalized resistance to the reform. Divergent views on managerial reform within the executive branch also contributed to resistance. Martins further argues that consensus building during the drafting process would have circumvented opposition within the civil service. Operational and legal obstacles plagued the implementation stage as well, but were somewhat successfully addressed in the social organization initiative in which Martins participated personally. Specific strategies involved passage of constitutional amendments to restructure the civil service, but they came at the cost of increasing opposition. Martins emphasizes the role of the reform in bringing about a paradigm shift in public administration rather than in effecting specific change. In that sense, the ultimate result of the Brazilian managerial reform was to inspire other reformers across the country, with the state of Minas Gerais emerging as a paradigmatic success. In the end, Martins attributes failure of specific implementation to fragmentation arising from concomitant and somewhat divergent views on state reform that were happening at the same time under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Case Study: Strengthening Public Administration: Brazil, 1995-1998
At the time of this interview, Humberto Falcao Martins was the managing director of the Instituto Publix, which focuses on consulting and corporate education in public management. He served as a specialist on state institutional issues in the Secretariat for Strategic Affairs under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and he reviewed initial proposals for national reform. Inspired by the potential of the Plano Diretor, he joined the Ministry of Administration and State Reform himself as a member of the social organizations team.