transparency

All In: Vietnam’s War Against COVID-19, 2019 – 2020

Author
Gordon LaForge
Focus Area(s)
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Abstract

When SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, Vietnam’s scientists knew their country was in grave danger. Vietnam, a country of 97 million, shared an 870-mile land border with China, its biggest trade and tourism partner. Adding to the risk posed by the virus, Vietnam was a lower-middle-income nation with limited resources and an already overtaxed health-care system. But in the years after the 2003 outbreak of SARS, a deadly respiratory ailment that traumatized East Asia, Vietnam had built a robust pandemic-preparedness system that swiftly mobilized to confront the threat of SARS-CoV-2. After Vietnam recorded its first case on January 22, 2020, the prime minister declared all-out war on the virus no matter the cost to the economy. The government moved swiftly to implement border closures, extensive contact tracing, targeted lockdowns, and a strict quarantine protocol. Relentless and creative communications based on accuracy, transparency, and timeliness built public trust and compliance with public health measures. After more than three months with no community transmission, the country experienced an outbreak in Da Nang that spread across the nation and threatened to spiral out of control. But Vietnam’s authorities carried out a massive testing, tracing, and quarantine program that halted the contagion. As of December 31, 2020, Vietnam had recorded only 1,465 cases and 35 deaths—and it had posted the highest annual GDP growth of any economy in Asia.

 

Gordon LaForge drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in March and April 2021. Case published June 2021.This case study was supported by the United Nations Development Programme Crisis Bureau as part of a series on center-of-government coordination of the pandemic response.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, including UNDP, or the UN Member States.

Information for the People: Tunisia Embraces Open Government, 2011–2016

Author
Tristan Dreisbach
Core Challenge
Country of Reform
Abstract

In January 2011, mass demonstrations in Tunisia ousted a regime that had tolerated little popular participation, opening the door to a new era of transparency. The protesters demanded an end to the secrecy that had protected elite privilege. Five months later, the president issued a decree that increased citizen access to government data and formed a steering committee to guide changes in information practices, building on small projects already in development. Advocates in the legislature and the public service joined with civil society leaders to support a strong access-to-information policy, to change the culture of public administration, and to secure the necessary financial and technical resources to publish large quantities of data online in user-friendly formats. Several government agencies launched their own open-data websites. External pressure, coupled with growing interest from civil society and legislators, helped keep transparency reforms on the cabinet office agenda despite frequent changes in top leadership. In 2016, Tunisia adopted one of the world’s strongest laws regarding access to information. Although members of the public did not put all of the resources to use immediately, the country moved much closer to having the data needed to improve access to services, enhance government performance, and support the evidence-based deliberation on which a healthy democracy depended.

Tristan Dreisbach drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Tunis, Tunisia, in October 2016. Case published May 2017.

C. William Allen

Ref Batch
B
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
7
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Blair Cameron
Name
C. William Allen
Interviewee's Position
Former Director of Civil Service Agency
Language
English
Town/City
Paris
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, C. William Allen reflects on how the President’s Young Professionals Program boosted the quality of the civil service in Liberia. For background, he describes the strategy and programs that improved the civil service in the aftermath of the Second Liberian Civil War. He highlights the PYPP’s uniqueness in identifying young talent, heavily recruiting women, and offering placements in rural areas. He analyzes the pay scale’s role in strengthening the program. He compares the PYPP with alternative paths to working for the government, as well as the Young Professionals with other civil servants.  He champions the PYPP’s transparent and meritocratic recruitment process as a model for the rest of the civil service while presenting the steps necessary to sustain the program.

Case: Graduates to Government: The Presidents Young Professionals Program in Liberia, 2009-2016

Profile

At the time of this interview, C. William Allen represented Liberia as the ambassador to France and permanent delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). From 2006 to 2013, he served as director-general of the Liberian Civil Service Agency, where he chaired the steering committee of the President’s Young Professionals Program. In his prior post as minister of information, culture and tourism, he was the chief spokesman for the National Transitional Government of Liberia. He also worked as a journalist and taught journalism and mass communications at several universities. Allen earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Franklin College, a master of public administration from California State University at Sacramento, and a PhD in mass communication from Syracuse University.

Full Audio File Size
61 MB
Full Audio Title
C. William Allen Interview

A Blueprint for Transparency: Integrity Pacts for Public Works, El Salvador, 2009–2014

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

When Gerson Martínez became head of El Salvador’s Ministry of Public Works in 2009, the organization was notorious for corruption that contributed to poor-quality construction, unfinished projects, and frequent lawsuits. Working with a prominent nongovernmental organization (NGO) and industry representatives, Martínez introduced integrity pacts as monitoring mechanisms intended to prevent corruption. The agreements publicly committed officials and companies to reject bribery, collusion, and other corrupt practices and enabled NGOs to monitor bidding and construction. Although limited capacity and resistance from some midlevel ministry staff hindered the monitors’ work, integrity pacts focused the attention of both the government and the public on problems in major public works projects; and participants said the pacts helped deter corruption in those they covered. In 2012, integrity pacts became part of El Salvador’s Open Government Partnership action plan, in implicit recognition of the tool’s contribution to reform. As of August 2015, the ministry had signed 31 integrity pacts involving five projects worth a combined US$62 million. Although sustaining the initiative proved a challenge, integrity pacts served as a foundation for increased collaboration between government, civil society, and the private sector—and as a first step toward a new institutional culture at the Ministry of Public Works.

 

Maya Gainer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in San Salvador in July 2015. Case published in October, 2015. This case study was funded by the Open Government Partnership.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

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EX
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
1
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Jennifer Widner and Gabriel Kuris
Name
Sri Mulyani Indrawati
Interviewee's Position
Managing Director, World Bank
Language
English
Town/City
Washington, DC
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

As a follow up to her 2009 interview, Sri Mulyani Indrawati revisits her years as Indonesia’s minister of finance to discuss the challenges of building her economic reform team and institutionalizing performance management at the ministry.  She describes how she worked closely with key members of the KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission) to cultivate motivation and teamwork among government employees.  With the support of her reform team, she established institutional mechanisms to reduce corruption and raise the credibility of the government.  And although Indonesia’s bureaucracy proved to challenge the reform team at times, she explains how performance indicators and standard operating procedures were instrumental to identify and overcome weaknesses in the Ministry of Finance.  In conclusion, Sri Mulyani reflects on the more personal attributes required to move sustainable reform forward: a strong vision along with the trust and commitment of her fellow reformers.   She describes the practice of public asset disclosure as one of the most sustainable reforms her team implemented at the ministry. 

Profile

At the time of this interview, Sri Mulyani Indrawati was managing director at the World Bank.  She has extensive experience in financial reforms to reduce corruption and strengthen economic growth.

Listening to the Public: A Citizen Scorecard in the Philippines, 2010-2014

Author
Maya Gainer
Country of Reform
Abstract

Citizens of the Philippines were used to receiving poor service in government offices. Activities as basic as obtaining a driver’s license were slow and complex, and the tortuous processes created opportunities for public employees to solicit bribes for faster service. In an effort to improve service delivery, Congress passed the Anti–Red Tape Act in 2007. But, getting civil servants to comply with the act from civil servants presented a big challenge. In 2010, the Civil Service Commission began to conduct annual social audits to assess both the public’s satisfaction with frontline services and the degree to which offices adhered to the Act’s provisions. For the audits to succeed, the commission had to both persuade skeptical citizens to cooperate with the survey, and find ways to motivate civil servants to improve in response to poor ratings. Because budget constraints limited the use of financial incentives, the commission linked the results to other oversight programs and used social pressure to prod civil servants to improve the quality and efficiency of their work. During the survey’s first four years, the commission oversaw improvement in citizens’ ratings of public services but still faced challenges in raising awareness of the law and using it reshape public expectations.

Maya Gainer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Manila in November 2014. Case published April 2015.

Associated Interview(s): Jesse Robredo

Edmundo Perez Yoma

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K
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
16
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Robert Joyce
Name
Edmundo Perez Yoma
Interviewee's Position
Former Minister of the Interior
Language
English
Town/City
Santiago
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, Edmundo Jaime Pérez Yoma, the former Minister of Interior under the Bachelet Administration discusses the 2010 presidential transition process in Chile, specifically how they transitioned from one coalition to another, from President Bachelet’s left-wing coalition to President Piñera’s right-wing coalition. He argues that the main responsibility of an outgoing government to an incoming government is to make the transition as smooth as possible. He mentions that to accomplish this, he gave his team a list of instructions on how to effectively handle the transition. Some of the instructions included to not hire any more government officials and to communicate and schedule meetings with President Piñera’s appointed ministers. Moreover, Perez Yoma acknowledges that some ministers were very reluctant to work with the Piñera administration, given that they belonged to a different coalition. He claims that to address this issue he met with those ministers and told them that working with the Piñera administration was in their benefit because it would prevent the incoming officials from blaming them for lack of information. Perez Yoma mentions that the transition process went very smoothly until the February 27th earthquake. Once the earthquake struck, he argues, President Piñera and his administration became very proactive and wanted to manage the situation by themselves. In addition, they lost support from people, like the commander-in-chief of the army, who decided to follow Piñera’s orders because he already had a position secured in his administration. As a result, communication and cooperation between the two administrations worsened after the earthquake. He concludes by recommending to Ministers of Interiors facing a similar transition to the one he handled to prioritize the interests of the country over the interests of both the outgoing and the incoming government.

Case Study:  Transferring Power in a Crisis: Presidential Transition in Chile, 2010

Profile

Edmundo Jaime Pérez Yoma is a well-known politician from the Christian Democrat Party of Chile. He served as the Minster of Interior for President Michelle Bachelet’s first administration and helped ease the presidential transition process from President Bachelet to President Piñera. Prior to this position, he served, twice, as Minister of Defense during the administration of President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle. In addition to his political career, in the 1990s, he was president on the board of Petrox and Chilectra Metropolitana, oil and electricity companies, respectively.

Full Audio File Size
49 MB
Full Audio Title
Edmundo Perez Yoma Full Interview

Instilling Order and Accountability: Standard Operating Procedures at Indonesia's Ministry of Finance, 2006-2007 (Bahasa Translation Available)

Author
Rushda Majeed
Country of Reform
Translations
Language
Bahasa
Abstract

Studi kasus ini juga, Menerapkan Aturan Dan Akuntabilitas: Standar Operasional Prosedur Di Kementerian Keuangan Republik Indonesia, 2006-2007, tersedia dalam Bahasa Indonesia.

In 2006, Indonesian economist Sri Mulyani Indrawati took on a huge and knotty problem: bringing order and efficiency to the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, an organization of 64,000 employees. At the time, many Indonesian citizens viewed the ministry as corrupt and unaccountable, exemplifying the failures of the entire government. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had appointed Mulyani because of her reputation as a tough-minded reformer and a savvy manager. Mulyani ascribed the ministry’s weak and inconsistent handling of taxes, customs and other services to a shortage of clear and consistent procedures for the many tasks employees handled. A key element of her strategy was to simplify and standardize ministry processes in order to improve employee performance and accountability. During the next two years, Mulyani and her team initially focused their efforts on 35 priority services that citizens used heavily, and then they expanded the reforms to include other activities. By 2007, the ministry had developed and implemented nearly 7,000 standard operating procedures. The changes significantly improved public services and earned popular acclaim for both the ministry and the Yudhoyono government. This case shows how a strong leader and her reform team introduced new ways of working to achieve significant gains in service efficiency, quality and fairness.

 

Rushda Majeed drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Jakarta, Indonesia, in November and December 2011, and on a 2009 interview of Sri Mulyani Indrawati by Matthew Devlin and Andrew Schalkwyk. Case published April 2012.

Associated Interview(s):  Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Robert Pakpahan

Managing the Political and Practical: Nepal's Constituent Assembly Elections, 2006-2008

Author
Michael Scharff
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract
Appointed chairman of Nepal’s Election Commission in October 2006, Bhojraj Pokharel faced an uphill battle. One month after his appointment, a peace agreement between major political parties and Maoist rebels ended a 10-year conflict and set the stage for elections to a Constituent Assembly that would write a new constitution. An interim government would choose a new electoral system and set the rules for the contest. With the Maoists threatening to resume hostilities if the elections did not take place on schedule, Pokharel, a former civil servant with no previous experience managing elections, had to work quickly. His main goal was to ensure the elections were maximally inclusive, free of fraud and peaceful so as to avoid giving the parties reason to pull out of the electoral process or boycott the results and send the country back into chaos. Pokharel worked closely with the interim government, providing valuable information and counsel on electoral rules and requirements. He oversaw the updating of voter lists, hired poll workers and helped assemble a special police service. Political squabbling forced the commission to delay the elections twice, yet as the chief architect of the process, Pokharel managed to keep the parties engaged. In April 2008, Nepalese citizens finally went to the polls. Although there was violence during the campaign period and on election day, as well as reports of voting irregularities, the election strengthened the fragile peace. The Maoists joined the government, and democratically elected representatives began the difficult task of drawing up a new constitution. In 2012, the peace continued to hold even though persistent disagreements in the Constituent Assembly had stymied efforts to produce a constitution.
 
Michael Scharff drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kathmandu, Nepal, in December 2010 and using an interview conducted by Rushda Majeed in July 2011. Case published in June 2012. Most ISS case studies rest on large numbers of interviews. This case study was informed in large part by an interview with Bhojraj Pokharel, who served as chief election commissioner of the Election Commission of Nepal from 2006 to 2008.
 
Associated Interview(s):  Neel Kantha Uprety

Disseminating the Power of Information: Kenya Open Data Initiative, 2011-2012

Author
Rushda Majeed
Core Challenge
Country of Reform
Internal Notes
Updated case study drafts on 2.1.13 to include Ndemo quote at end. posted by ST.
Abstract

When Bitange Ndemo became permanent secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications in 2005, he was well aware of the difficulty Kenyans faced when they tried to get information from the government. He knew that easier access to government data on topics ranging from demographics to education could help spur innovation in business and technology and help drive the country’s economic growth. The Official Secrets Act under former President Daniel arap Moi had long prevented civil servants from sharing government data, and for the most part, the trend had continued since the 2002 election of President Mwai Kibaki. But in 2011, Ndemo won Kibaki’s approval to create an Internet portal that would serve as a one-stop shop for government census, economic, health and education data. With Kibaki’s support, Ndemo persuaded other ministries to allow access to the data, and he assembled a volunteer task force of computer programmers, data experts and ministry and World Bank officials to build the website and upload information. After the site—opendata.go.ke­—went online in July 2011, the ministry started taking crucial steps to ensure the system’s effectiveness by training journalists in how to use the data in their reporting, by encouraging software developers to build applications that manipulated the data to explore trends, and by working to streamline the continuing flow of information to the site from government institutions. The case highlights Ndemo’s efforts to open Kenya’s government to the country’s citizens and the world.

Rushda Majeed drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Nairobi, Kenya, in June and July 2012. Case published September 2012.
 
Associated Interview(s):  Bitange Ndemo