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.
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.