People and Machines--Building Operational Efficiency: Document Processing in Jordan, 1996-2005


When Awni Yarvas took over as head of Jordan’s Civil Status and Passports Department in 1996, he was in an enviable position in many ways.  His predecessor, Nasouh Muhieddin Marzouqa, had moved forcefully to deal with inconsistent and time-consuming service delivery that had angered citizens who depended on department documents important to their daily lives.  However, despite Marzouqa’s achievements on several fronts, the department was still inefficient in many ways. The department’s training system had to address low levels of computer use in processes, while the performance-management system required extension and systematization. High levels of data-entry errors by employees continued to vex citizens. During his nine years as director general of the department, Yarvas, a former intelligence officer, significantly improved departmental efficiency, accuracy and public credibility by further simplifying processes, bolstering employee performance and capitalizing on technology. In both citizen and government circles, the department gained an even stronger reputation as a highly visible service delivery success by the end of Yarvas’ tenure.     

Deepa Iyer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Amman, Jordan, in November 2010. A separate memo, “Creating a Citizen-Friendly Department,” covers Marzouqa’s efforts from 1991 to 1996.

Associated Interview(s):  Awni Yarvas

Focus Area(s)
Civil Service
Building a Reform Team and Staff
Critical Tasks
Computerization of records
Performance management system
Single agency turnaround
Core Challenge
Principal-agent problem (delegation)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Deepa Iyer