computerization

Embracing Disruption: Transforming Western Australia's Land Agency, 2007–2017

Author
Maya Gainer
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In January 2007, Western Australia’s land agency began a top-to-bottom overhaul of its structure, management, and service delivery. A booming property market, fueled by the state’s extractive resources industry, had overwhelmed the public agency’s aging technology, but budget constraints hindered its ability to upgrade the systems. To provide financial flexibility, the state government created a statutory authority called Landgate—a public institution with some private characteristics. Landgate could keep the revenue it generated from regulated services such as property registration and engage in for-profit commercial activities, which provided resources for investment in better services. But making the new model work was not easy. Landgate’s management team had to win the trust of skeptical staff, reduce delay, and contend with a sharp drop in revenues only two years into its existence when the 2008 global financial crisis struck. To surmount the challenges, the agency created an innovation program, explored ways to commercialize its spatial data, restructured to speed up registration and cut costs, and after one failed attempt, developed an automated registration system. By 2017, Landgate had become financially stable, had drastically reduced processing times, and had won acclaim for its innovative products and management practices.

Lessons Learned

  • Fusing public and private. The statutory authority structure exerted financial pressures for efficiency and the flexibility to invest revenues and pursue commercial opportunities while maintaining government control over key services such as registration. However, to make the hybrid model work, Landgate’s managers had to overcome certain inherent challenges—from bridging public- and private-sector cultures to running commercial activities under government human resources and finance policies.
  • Getting software development right. Learning from the initial, failed attempt to develop an automated registration system, Landgate changed its approach to establish a joint venture with the IT provider, emphasize business process reviews early on, and break up the project into manageable pieces.
  • Learning and adaptation. Experimentation and changing course were crucial to Landgate’s strong performance. The agency overhauled its software development process, shifted from developing its own spatial products to supporting and investing in other companies, and restructured after the 2008 financial crisis. The innovation program set the tone, but managers also encouraged people to think creatively and learn from missteps in their daily work.

 

Maya Gainer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Perth, Australia, in March 2017. Noel Taylor, at the time CEO of the Cadasta Foundation, assisted in interviews and drafting. The Omidyar Network funded the development of this case study. Case published May 2017.

A 2017 workshop, Driving Change, Securing Tenure, profiled recent initiatives to strengthen tenure security and reform land registration systems in seven countries: South AfricaCanadaJamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Australia and Tanzania.

Watch the video of Jodi Cant - CEO, Landgate (Western Australian Land Information Authority).

    Cleaning the Civil Service Payroll: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2008-2011

    Author
    Jonathan (Yoni) Friedman
    Focus Area(s)
    Country of Reform
    Abstract
    Shadi Baki and Alfred Drosaye confronted a civil service in disarray in 2008, following a devastating 14-year civil war during which 250,000 people were killed, Liberia’s infrastructure was all but destroyed and government services collapsed. Despite the disintegration of the government, the civil service payroll more than doubled to 44,000 from 20,000 before the war, saddling the government with an unaffordable wage bill. Furthermore, the government had little sense of who was actually on the payroll and who should have been on the payroll. Rebel groups and interim governments put their partisans on the payroll even though they were unqualified or performed no state function. An unknown number of civil servants died or fled during the war but remained on the payroll. After delays due to an ineffective transitional government and moderately successful but scattered attempts to clean the payroll, Baki and Drosaye at Liberia’s Civil Service Agency set out in 2008 to clean the payroll of ghost workers, establish a centralized, automated civil service personnel database, and issue biometric identification cards to all civil servants. Cleaning the payroll would bring order to the civil service, save the government money and facilitate pay and pension reforms and new training initiatives. This case chronicles Liberia’s successful effort to clean up its payroll following a protracted civil war and lay the foundation for organized civil service management.
     
    Jonathan Friedman drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Monrovia, Liberia during December 2010 and on the basis of interviews conducted by Summer Lopez in Monrovia, Liberia during June 2008. Case published October 2011.
     
    Associated Interview(s):  Shadi Baki, Alfred Drosaye

    Deependra Bickram Thapa

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    7
    Country of Reform
    Interviewers
    Andrew Schalkwyk
    Name
    Deependra Bickram Thapa
    Interviewee's Position
    Secretary of Education
    Interviewee's Organization
    Ministry of Education and Sport, Nepal
    Language
    English
    Nationality of Interviewee
    Nepali
    Place (Building/Street)
    Ministry of Education and Sport
    Town/City
    Kathmandu
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract
    Deependra Thapa describes the successes and failures of civil service reform efforts in Nepal before, during and after civil conflict. He reports successes in downsizing the bureaucracy and combating corruption. A Web-based personnel information system was installed. However, its use was inhibited by the resistance to change within the bureaucracy, which persisted in doing most transactions on paper. Because of a lack of support from top leadership, installation of a performance management system, with pay and promotion dependent upon outputs, was stymied for similar reasons. When Parliament was suspended during the civil conflict, training for parliamentarians and senior civil servants and officials also came to a halt. Thapa expresses concern that tensions under the coalition government at the time of the interview meant that little attention and few resources would be paid to achieve the ambitious civil service reform goals the government originally set for itself in 1999.
    Profile

    At the time of this interview, Deependra Thapa was Nepal's secretary of education, a position he had held for less than a year. Earlier, he was secretary of the Ministry of General Administration, where he had served for two years as national program officer in charge of the civil service reform program.  Since entering the civil service in 1997, he also served in the ministries of tourism, environment, operations, transportation and labor and in the office of the prime minister.

    Full Audio File Size
    76MB
    Full Audio Title
    Deepndra Thapa Interview

    Nasouh Marzouqa

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    1
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    Interviewers
    Deepa Iyer
    Name
    Nasouh Marzouqa
    Interviewee's Position
    Former Director
    Interviewee's Organization
    Civil Status and Passports Department
    Language
    Arabic with English translation
    Nationality of Interviewee
    Jordanian
    Town/City
    Amman
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract

    Nasouh Marzouqa discusses major reforms in Jordan’s Civil Status and Passports Department during his time as its director.  He describes how he improved the physical infrastructure of the department and streamlined the process for issuing passports.  Marzouqa also worked to institute a system of national identification numbers and began the process of computerizing the department.  He also discusses his efforts to motivate employees.    

    Case Study:  Creating a 'Citizen Friendly' Department: Speeding Document Production in Jordan, 1991-1996

    Profile

    Nasouh Marzouqa served as head of Jordan’s Civil Status and Passports Department from 1991 to 1996, during which he oversaw massive reforms to the department. He previously served as director of the police departments in Irbid and Amman, and was director general of the Department of Public Security from 1985 to 1989.

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    207 MB
    Full Audio Title
    Nasouh Marzouqa - Full Interview

    Fatbardh Kadilli

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    13
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    Interviewers
    Jona Repishti
    Name
    Fatbardh Kadilli
    Interviewee's Position
    Adviser to the Prime Minister
    Interviewee's Organization
    Albania
    Language
    Albanian
    Nationality of Interviewee
    Albanian
    Town/City
    Tirana
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract

    Fatbardh Kadilli, adviser to Albania's prime minister on anti-corruption policies, presents his views on the efforts to reform public administration. He says that the country adopted Western models for reform legislation and implementation, but that breaking old habits acquired under the former communist system was difficult. He believes that protecting civil servants from arbitrary firing impeded efforts to modernize the government because so many administrators were still in positions where they could not perform. He describes the difficulties of trying to institute a successful performance management system because Albania had few leaders who understand management. He reports on initiatives to downsize and consolidate ministries and to install Internet-based systems to reduce corruption in procurement, licensing and a number of other public services.

    Profile

    At the time of this interview, Fatbardh Kadilli was adviser to the prime minister on anti-corruption matters, a position he had held since 2005.  Prior to that he served for four years as a consultant on anti-corruption with an American firm financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Prior to that he led a program on integrated services for children at UNICEF. From 1998 to 2005, he was also a consultant with the Institute for Contemporary Studies, where, among other tasks, he advised the government on decentralization reforms. Earlier, he served in the State Secretariat for Local Governance, where he was in charge of the Refugee Office and drafted the law on asylum seekers.

    Full Audio File Size
    78 MB
    Full Audio Title
    Fatbardh Kadilli - Full Interview

    Alfred Drosaye

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    3
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    Interviewers
    Jonathan (Yoni) Friedman
    Name
    Alfred Drosaye
    Interviewee's Position
    Principal Administrative Officer
    Interviewee's Organization
    Liberian Civil Service
    Language
    English
    Nationality of Interviewee
    Liberia
    Place (Building/Street)
    Civil Service Agency
    Town/City
    Monrovia
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract

    Alfred Drosaye describes the push for pay and pension reform in 2006 after the inauguration of the new president, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson. He talks about the strategies to clear the civil service payroll of ghost workers. He describes the make-up and training of the teams sent into the counties to vet each worker and enroll the workers in the Biometric ID system which, among other benefits, enabled workers to receive pay via direct deposit.

    Case Studies: Cleaning the Civil Service Payroll: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2008-2011 and Building Civil Service Capacity: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2006-2011

    Profile

    At the time of this interview, Alfred Drosaye was the principal administrative officer in the Liberian Civil Service and the project director for the Biometric Program in the Human Resource Management Services Directory of the Civil Service.  His position required him to manage three directories in the civil service: employment, human services management and career and training.  He joined the civil service in 1997 as an analytical secretary and rose to assistant director and then director of Classification Selection Standards.  As the principal director, he was in charge of the review of public employment.

    Full Audio File Size
    89 MB
    Full Audio Title
    Alfred Drosaye Interview

    Rose N. Kafeero

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    2
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    Interviewers
    Andrew Schalkwyk
    Name
    Rose N. Kafeero
    Interviewee's Position
    Deputy Secretary of the Public Service Commission
    Interviewee's Organization
    Uganda
    Language
    English
    Nationality of Interviewee
    Ugandan
    Town/City
    Kampala
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract

    Rose Kafeero describes the challenges she faced to implement “results-oriented management” reforms in the Ugandan government. While she believes that the mindset changed over the years and that budgets were prepared on the basis of outcomes, she says the impetus for outcome-based performance weakened when some of the managers leading these reforms left agencies. She also did not have full backing from top officials. She believes that other civil service reforms such as downsizing and divestiture of functions have been more successful. She outlines the merit-based selection process at both the national and district levels. She says that universities do not produce skill levels that match government requirements in some categories. She describes the difficulties of recruiting or retaining civil servants in some categories because of low pay and a failure to provide core benefits such as housing.

    Profile

    At the time of this interview, Rose N. Kafeero was deputy secretary of the Public Service Commission in Uganda. Upon graduation from university, she was appointed as a personnel officer and subsequently was promoted to higher positions. In 1992, she was elevated to head of department in the Ministry of Public Service and subsequently to her position at the time of the interview.  In that position, she also headed the Department of Monitoring and Guidance, which served as the secretariat to the Public Service Commission.

    Full Audio File Size
    78 MB
    Full Audio Title
    Rose N. Kafeero - Full Interview

    Humberto Falcao Martins

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    6
    Country of Reform
    Interviewers
    Rushda Majeed
    Name
    Humberto Falcao Martins
    Interviewee's Position
    Managing Director
    Interviewee's Organization
    Instituto Publix
    Language
    Portuguese
    Nationality of Interviewee
    Brazil
    Town/City
    Brasilia
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract

    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

    Profile

    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.
     

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    80 MB
    Full Audio Title
    Humberto Martins Interview

    Paul Acquah

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    Itumeleng Makgetla
    Name
    Paul Acquah
    Interviewee's Position
    Governor
    Interviewee's Organization
    Bank of Ghana
    Language
    English
    Nationality of Interviewee
    Ghanaian
    Town/City
    Accra
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract

    Paul Acquah discusses his work in reforming and refocusing the Central Bank of Ghana. He outlines his goals to focus the Central Bank on inflation targeting and to shift emphasis from accounting to economics. Acquah details his success in restructuring and streamlining the organization and reforming its institutional culture, particularly by trimming down the staff, making selection procedures more competitive, and computerizing and mechanizing many jobs. He discusses the success and challenges of a voluntary departure program to cut down excess staff and the role of communication with the government and public in building credibility and support for reform.   

    Profile
    At the time of this interview, Paul Acquah was in his second term as governor of the Bank of Ghana. Acquah’s leadership of the central bank is credited with averting an economic crisis and bringing growth rates to over 5%, stabilizing the Ghanaian currency, and reducing inflation. He also cut the staff of the central bank by more than 1,000 workers in three years and increased price stability. Before assuming the role of governor of the central bank in 2001, he worked as an economist and a deputy director at the International Monetary Fund. In 2005, he won the Emerging Markets Award for Africa Central Bank Governor of the Year. He received his master’s degree from Yale University and completed his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania.
    Full Audio File Size
    60 MB
    Full Audio Title
    Paul Acquah Interview

    Howard Tytherleigh

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    8
    Country of Reform
    Interviewers
    Summer Lopez
    Name
    Howard Tytherleigh
    Interviewee's Position
    IT Consultant, Civil Service Verification Project
    Interviewee's Organization
    Public Service Reform Unit in Sierra Leone
    Language
    English
    Nationality of Interviewee
    British
    Town/City
    Freetown
    Country
    Date of Interview
    Reform Profile
    No
    Abstract

    Howard Tytherleigh describes his role in public sector reform efforts in Sierra Leone.  Sponsored by the U.K. Department for International Development, Tytherleigh’s team began a payroll-verification project that involved interviewing all members of the Sierra Leonean civil service.  The aim was to correct the payment anomalies, inefficiencies and abuses that were wasting the government's money. The reform was hugely successful, in large part because of strong communication efforts, effective project management, executive involvement through presidential decree, and stakeholder support.  Tytherleigh emphasizes the importance of stakeholder involvement, technical capability and physical preparedness for the success of the reform effort.     

    Profile

    At the time of this interview, Howard Tytherleigh was an information-technology consultant for the Civil Service Verification Project of the Public Service Reform Unit in Sierra Leone.  He came to Sierra Leone from England in 2008 through a volunteer position with VSO (Volunteer Service Overseas).  His first project in Sierra Leone was with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and was designed to help develop its communications and IT sectors.  In England, Tytherleigh worked as a contract technical manager. 

    Full Audio File Size
    37 MB
    Full Audio Title
    Howard Tytherleigh - Full Interview