Increasing Transparency and Improving Project Management: South Africa's National Roads Agency, 1998-2011

Following the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa experimented with ways to improve ministry effectiveness by separating policy-making functions from operations. The Department of Transport introduced principles of New Public Management and public-private partnerships to improve service delivery. The South African National Roads Agency Ltd. (SANRAL), led by Nazir Alli, reconfigured the procurement process and financing models for planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the country’s national road network. Increasing transparency in the tendering of contracts led to greater accountability on the part of project managers and contractors. This case study chronicles the steps that Alli and his staff took to build the agency and to deliver results on a large scale, culminating with the upgrade of the freeway connecting the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria during the final months before the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 
Richard Bennet drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Pretoria and Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2011. Case published July 2011.
Associated Interview(s):  Jeremy Cronin
user fee
project management
performance management
independent agencies
New Public Management
Focus Area(s)
Civil Service
Making Markets Work
Critical Tasks
Diversity management
Inter-ministerial coordination
Performance management system
Core Challenge
Contracting out (creating semi-autonomous agencies)
Principal-agent problem (delegation)
Country of Reform
South Africa
Case Studies
Richard Bennet