Job descriptions

Keeping up with Growth: Building a Modern Tax Administration in Vietnam, 2004-2015

Author
Leon Schreiber
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

As Vietnam gradually became a middle-income country during the early 2000s, its tax agency struggled to keep up. In the decade and a half following the Communist Party–led government’s 1986 decision to establish a market-based economy, local entrepreneurs launched businesses, foreign investors poured into the country, and the average annual rate of economic growth soared to 7.5%. But during the same period, tax revenues declined as the General Department of Taxation (GDT), which previously collected almost all of the country’s taxes from a small group of state-owned enterprises, strove to keep pace with the economic dynamism. In 2004, the department established an internal reform team and adopted a strategy to make sure those who could pay covered their fair share of the cost of government services. The GDT worked with the finance ministry’s tax policy department and the parliament to implement a raft of legal changes. The department then reorganized each of its 758 tax offices along functional lines, rolled out a new IT system, improved staff training, and created a unit to bolster taxpayer compliance. It later adopted a personal income tax and tried—sometimes unsuccessfully—to close exemptions created earlier to attract foreign investors. Although its collection levels began to plateau after 2010, in the decade or so from 2004 to 2015 the GDT increased the number of registered taxpayers in the country to 15 million from 2 million and tripled the amount of taxes it collected annually, maintaining one of the highest tax-to-GDP ratios in East Asia.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Hanoi, Vietnam in May 2018. Case published in August 2018. 

To view a short version of the case, please ckick here

The Foundation for Reconstruction: Building the Rwanda Revenue Authority, 2001-2017

Author
Leon Schreiber
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

After the 1994 genocide that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, Rwanda’s tax collection collapsed to $132 million in 1996 from $225 million in 1990. Aside from its desperate need for money to pay for reconstruction, the new unity government, led by Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front, was also determined to break its dependence on foreign donors by becoming entirely self-funding. To do that, Kagame’s government had to convince a traumatized and distrustful public to pay its fair share of taxes. In 1998, the government replaced the existing tax and customs departments with the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), a semiautonomous tax agency. The RRA overhauled tax collection procedures, increased staff capacity, improved information management, and launched a massive and sustained public education campaign in an effort to build a new social contract. As a result, in 2017 Rwanda collected in three weeks the same amount of tax it had collected annually a dozen years earlier. From 1998 to 2017, Rwanda’s tax-to-GDP ratio improved from 10.8% to 16.7%, and total tax revenues collected grew more than 10-fold to $1.3 billion. Moreover, from 2007 to 2017 alone, the number of registered taxpayers grew 13-fold—from 26,526 to 355,128—though Rwanda was one of the world’s poorest countries and most of its labor force of 6.3 million still had incomes below the threshold that made them tax eligible. By 2017, the government financed 62% of its annual budget from domestic tax revenues, up from just 39% in 2000. The country was on its way to ending donor dependence.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018. Case published May 2018.

To view a short version of the case, please click here

Filling Skill Gaps: Mobilizing Human Resources in the Fight Against Ebola, 2014-2015

Author
David Paterson and Jennifer Widner
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

At the end of March 2014, the nongovernmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières warned that an Ebola virus disease outbreak on the border between Guinea and Liberia could unleash an epidemic of unprecedented scale. Its capacity still limited after a 14-year civil war, Liberia’s government was struggling to mobilize and coordinate the extra assistance its health ministry needed to respond. How to recruit, train, protect, and pay a labor force that included government employees, temporary workers, and many international volunteers were central concerns. In the best of times, coordinating this kind of skills supply chain would be challenging. But from June to the end of August, conditions became increasingly difficult. As the infection spread, many health workers died. In the absence of facilities and equipment that could provide protection, fear slowed recruitment—a problem made worse by severely constrained medical evacuation services and reduced airline access. Mobilizing personnel to respond raised questions about how to fulfill a duty of care toward employees, adhere to commitments to equality, and promote longer-term institutional sustainability. The Liberian government, UN agencies, and a wide variety of other organizations worked together to identify and deploy essential skills, develop shared practices, and find ways to pay Liberian temporary workers whose support was essential. UN organizations alone recruited and deployed 19,367 staff during the crisis, including Liberians, but questions remained about how to best meet the ethical and practical challenges that arose.

David Paterson and Jennifer Widner drafted this case study with advice from Béatrice Godefroy.

Princeton University’s Grand Challenges program supported the research and development of this case study, which is part of a series on public management challenges in the West African Ebola outbreak response.

 

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (poster infographic)

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (page version)

 

Changing a Civil Service Culture: Reforming Indonesia's Ministry of Finance, 2006-2010

Author
Gordon LaForge
Country of Reform
Abstract

By the mid-2000s, Indonesia had recovered from a devastating economic crisis and made significant progress in transitioning from a dictatorship to a democracy. However, the country's vast state bureaucracy continued to resist pressure to improve operations. In 2006, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tapped economist Sri Mulyani Indrawati to transform Indonesia's massive Ministry of Finance, which was responsible not only for economic policy making but also for taxes and customs. During four years as minister, Mulyani introduced new standard operating procedures, raised civil servant salaries, created a new performance management system, and cracked down on malfeasance. Her reforms turned what had once been a dysfunctional institution into a high performer. But ongoing resistance illustrated the difficulties and perils of ambitious bureaucratic reform in Indonesia.

This case study was drafted by Gordon LaForge based on research by Rachel Jackson, Drew McDonald, Matt Devlin, and Andrew Schalkwyk and on interviews conducted by ISS staff members from 2009 to 2015. Case published May 2016. Other ISS case studies provide additional detail about certain aspects of the reforms discussed in this case or about related initiatives. For example, see Instilling Order and Accountability: Standard Operating Procedures at Indonesia's Ministry of Finance, 2006-2007.

Kakha Bendukidze

Ref Batch
J
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
6
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Kakha Bendukidze
Interviewee's Position
Faculty
Interviewee's Organization
Free University, Tbilisi
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Georgia
Town/City
Tbilisi
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Kakha Bendukidze outlines his experiences and personal views about downsizing Georgia’s civil service and reducing the number of government agencies, functions and employees. He argues that the traditional model of civil service promotion and tenure is not appropriate in the fluid political and economic context of Georgia. He suggests that reforms cannot be sequenced formally. Rather, the opportunities for reform fluctuate with political circumstances and must be seized when they present themselves.  He explains how budget reforms were used as instruments to reduce the size of the civil service and the functions of Georgia’s government.    

Case Study:  Delivering on the Hope of the Rose Revolution: Public Sector Reform in Georgia, 2004-2009

Profile

At the time of this interview, Kakha Bendukidze had returned to the faculty of the Free University in Tbilisi (February 2009) after serving four years and nine months in the government of Georgia, most recently as head of the state Chancellery.  Before assuming that position in February 2008, he served as minister for reforms coordination and minister of economic development in 2004-2005.

Full Audio File Size
44 MB
Full Audio Title
Kakha Bendukidze - Full Interview

George Pessima

Ref Batch
A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
3
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Summer Lopez
Name
George Pessima
Interviewee's Position
Secretary to the Cabinet and the Head of the Civil Service of Sierra Leone
Language
English
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

George Pessima describes his central role in the efforts to reform the Sierra Leonean civil service. Pessima argues that though the Sierra Leonean service was once one of the best in Africa, it has been in rapid decline, in large part because of its unnecessarily massive size, the under-qualification of many of its employees, and the rates of pay, which he describes as being some of the lowest in Africa. Pessima emphasizes the importance of fair and open recruitment through the publication of openings which include full job descriptions. He goes on to identify the promotion system and the lack of extensive training facilities for a number of sectors as the major areas which require immediate attention and reform. 

Profile

George Pessima was the Secretary to the Cabinet and the Head of the Civil Service of Sierra Leone, as well as the Chairman of the Steering Committee on Good Governance. He entered the civil service in 1975, and has worked in a number of ministeries and offices in his career. As the leader of the civil service, he has been one of the most central figures in the efforts to reform it. 

Full Audio File Size
101 MB
Full Audio Title
George Pessima - Full Interview

Policy Leaps and Implementation Obstacles: Civil Service Reform in Vietnam, 1998-2009

Author
David Hausman
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

This case study offers an account of civil service reform efforts in Vietnam between 1998 and 2009, which yielded substantial formal policy changes but produced only modest practical changes to Vietnam's public employment system.  Before 1998, the Vietnamese civil service lacked standardized competitive recruitment and promotion procedures, offered salaries that did not cover the cost of living, provided insufficient and often irrelevant training, and included ministries that duplicated functions.  By 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs had standardized and then devolved recruitment and promotion exams to line ministries and provinces, doubled civil service wages while giving agencies autonomy to raise wages further, expanded the enrollment of the National Academy of Public Administration by a factor of 20, and merged six ministries.  Nonetheless, government and donor officials reported that recruitment continued to be driven often by corruption, that even doubled salaries often did not cover the cost of living, that training was rarely relevant to civil servants' work, and that tasks continued to be duplicated in most of the merged ministries.  In order to concentrate on human resource management reforms, this case study does not consider other aspects of the Public Administration Reform agenda, including, for example, the institution of so-called one-stop shops designed to simplify administrative procedures.  Because public sector reform remained a sensitive topic in Vietnam in 2009, many interviewees asked that their names be withheld.

David Hausman drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Hanoi, Vietnam, in August and September 2009. 

Associated Interview(s):  Clay Wescott

From Central Planning to Performance Contracts, New Public Management in Mongolia, 1996-2009

Author
David Hausman
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In 1996, Mongolia’s newly elected government, led by a group of market-oriented politicians, decided to reform civil service on the New Zealand New Public Management model, which required managers to sign contracts promising results in exchange for freedom to spend their budgets as they chose. The reforms were intended to modernize a civil service that, while legally changed since democratization in 1990, retained many of the characteristics, and staff, of the previous Soviet-modeled system. Reformers confronted a lack of robust accountability procedures, salary arrears and a lack of central control over local expenditures. The Democratic Coalition government, led by an economic team strongly committed to market-oriented reforms, settled on the contract-based New Public Management model as a way of preserving agency-level decentralization while making agencies’ managers directly accountable to the national government. When enacted, the system met with difficulty at every stage: in specifying outputs for agencies and individuals, in measuring performance, and in rewarding good performance. By 2009, thirteen years after the reforms started, officials reported that the contracts remained largely a formality.

David Hausman wrote this case study based on interviews conducted in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in December 2009. 

Associated Interview(s):  Mendsaikhany Enkhsaikhan

Rebuilding the Civil Service After War: Rwanda After the Genocide, 1998-2009

Author
David Hausman
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract
After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda’s government ministries, desperate for staff, went on a hiring spree. By 1998, the civil service had grown, but it consumed too much of the country’s limited revenues and lacked many of the critical skills essential for effective service delivery. Between 1998 and 2009, the Rwandan Ministry of Public Service and Labor led reforms that slashed the number of staff in central ministries by about 90%, tripled salaries for those who remained and decentralized basic service-delivery functions. Personnel cuts occurred in two major waves, one in 1999 and another in 2006. In 2006, the Ministry of Local Government rehired some civil servants fired under these reforms to staff district administrations. Those local governments began to deliver services, ranging from the issue of passports to road construction, that the government had earlier directed from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. Following retrenchment and decentralization, the government set up a Public Service Commission in 2007 to standardize and oversee recruitment throughout the civil service. Results of the reforms were ambiguous. In early 2010, civil servants reported that the changes had improved overall staff quality but that ministries had too few people to carry out essential functions. They also said decentralization had improved service delivery in some cases but had overtaxed local administrations in others. There was some agreement, however, that the Public Service Commission recruitment system was effectively based on merit. 
 

David Hausman drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2010. Case published in July 2011.  Two separate cases, “The Promise of Imihigo: Decentralized Service Delivery in Rwanda, 2006-2010” and Government Through Mobilization: Restoring Order After Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide," provide additional insight into the processes of restoring and restructuring governance in insecure areas.

Associated Interview(s):  Angelina Muganza, Protais Musoni

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