Kithinji Kiragu talks about the challenges facing the Tanzanian civil service over the years, including inefficiency and overstaffing. He describes the wave of change that began under President Mkapa in 1995 and the difficult decisions he made, such as pushing through unpopular but necessary downsizing processes. Kiragu identifies the importance of high level support for reform efforts, in this case a powerful coalition consisting of the president, the head of the public service, and the secretary of the cabinet. He recalls the focus on installing a meritocratic system within the civil service, and he highlights the concerns and considerations surrounding decentralization attempts. He reflects on how the security of tenure allowed permanent secretaries to oversee long-term reform efforts: Some permanent secretaries remained in office for 10 years. He concludes with some thoughts on how advisers, including local advisers, can be more successful in their interactions with partner countries.
Kithinji Kiragu was trained as a management consultant, earning a master's degree in business administration from the University of Strathclyde, U.K., after a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Nairobi. After receiving his master's in 1979, Kiragu joined Coopers & Lybrand, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, as a management consultant. He rose through the ranks and became a director before founding his own firm, KK Consulting Associates. At the time of this interview, he was chairman and director of Africa Development Professional Group Ltd., an independent consulting firm. He had worked on a number of public sector reform projects in Kenya and Tanzania, including the Kenya Rural Access Roads Program, and he served as the chief technical adviser for public sector reforms in the Office of the President of Tanzania from 1995 until 1999. He also was a certified public accountant in Kenya.