Remaking a Ministry: Managing Finance at the Palestinian Authority, 2002 - 2005


When Salam Fayyad became finance minister of the Palestinian Authority in June 2002, the interim government was starved for cash and faced strong internal and external pressure for reform. To ensure the government could manage revenues and expenditures with fidelity, Fayyad had to improve the functioning and the professionalism of the ministry. He moved quickly to revise core procedures and change the organization’s culture. As he did so, he also began to transform the ministry from an organization based on personal allegiances into one based on institutional policies and standards. Success in that arena during the next three years depended on building coalitions to maintain support for reform as well as marshaling capacity within the ministry itself—by reshaping expectations, centralizing control, unifying geographically divided operations, and fostering talent.

Jennifer Widner and Tristan Dreisbach drafted this case study based on multiple conversations with Salam Fayyad in Princeton, New Jersey, during 2019, as well as other interviews conducted in the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, and Jericho in June and July of the same year. The case is part of a series on state building in Palestine, 2002–05 and 2007–11. Case published March 2022.

Salam Fayyad
Focus Area(s)
Financial Management
Critical Tasks
Budget laws & practices
Building capacity
Financial controls
Core Challenge
Capacity (capability traps)
Credibility (trust)
Institutional traps (spoilers)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Jennifer Widner and Tristan Dreisbach