revenue service

Judy Parfitt

Ref Batch
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
Country of Reform
David Hausman
Judy Parfitt
Interviewee's Position
Former General Manager of Human Resources
Interviewee's Organization
SARS (South African Revenue Services)
Date of Interview
Reform Profile

After Apartheid, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) underwent a significant transformation in becoming a more inclusive, transparent and efficient organization. Largely behind this effort was the Human Resources management team under the leadership of Judy Parfitt. The human resources challenges upon her arrival were significant, as the existing procedures were largely outdated and inappropriate. However, thanks to the fact that SARS had administrative autonomy, the HR department was able to change everything from the grading system to the performance management system to the remuneration system. This case study details the challenges involved and the remedies they underwent to ensure a sustainable and well-received transformation. Throughout the interview, Ms. Parfitt stresses how the organization underwent a shift in formal procedures but also a shift in the organizational culture as an emphasis was placed on competency and performance rather than previous loyalties. There was a significant need for good black talent and in the search for these individuals to fill new positions, the HR team looked for specific job knowledge but also generic competencies that would foster a positive and collaborative working style. Additionally, the interview stresses the importance of working with the unions through the Siyakha protocol where a shared strategy was devised and discussed in detail in order to take into account the structural changes on personnel. These collective agreements were essential to organizational reform, and despite significant disagreements between management and the two major unions, there was a general commitment to creating a better life for all.

Case Study:  Reworking the Revenue Service: Tax Collection in South Africa, 1999-2009


At the time of this interview, Judy Parfitt was General Manager of Human Resources (HR) at the South African Revenue Services (SARS). She began her career in journalism. But, in the wake of state censorship exercised in South Africa during the state of emergency declared in the late 1980s, Parfitt returned to school and obtained a Master’s in International Relations in Warrick, United Kingdom (U.K.). She then worked for Volkswagen South Africa, and later helped set up the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in South Africa, specifically the Eastern Cape region. In 1998, Parfitt was recruited by SARS.

A Change Agent in the Tax Office: Nigeria's Federal Inland Revenue Service, 2004-2009

Richard Bennet
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform

In 2004 Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, a management consultant with no previous government experience, took on the challenge of fixing Nigeria’s corrupt and dysfunctional tax system. As executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, she was responsible for reforming a weak and ineffective organization to meet the needs of a changing country. To reduce its heavy dependence on oil, Nigeria needed to diversify its revenue streams beyond the petroleum sector. Improved tax administration offered an avenue toward achieving that goal. In overhauling the tax system, Omoigui Okauru had to overcome entrenched opposition from private consultants who earned high pay under the existing system, defeat the institutional inertia that characterized the revenue service, and curb the corruption that fueled citizens’ distrust and hampered tax collection. To advance her vision for modernized tax administration, she recruited talented professionals and instituted specialized career tracks for employees, alongside additional training modules for existing staff and a reorganization of departments and functions. This case study chronicles the first five years of Omoigui Okauru’s efforts to improve tax collection in Nigeria and offers an example of how an outside leader working with a team of experienced professionals can build the coalitions necessary for legislative, policy and administrative reforms.

Richard Bennet drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Abuja, Nigeria in September 2011, and interviews conducted and text prepared by Itumeleng Makgetla in September 2009. Case published January 2012.