Sequencing reform

Reducing Inequality by Focusing on the Very Young: Boa Vista, Brazil, Deepens Its Investment in Early Childhood Development, 2017 – 2019

Author
Bill Steiden
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

Narrowing the gap between rich and poor was a top priority for Teresa Surita, five-time mayor of Boa Vista, Brazil. Surita had long viewed early childhood development services as crucial for improving life chances and attaining that goal, and she had partnered with several programs to expand parent coaching and other opportunities. As her fifth term began in 2017, she turned to a program called Urban95, which called for making a top priority the needs of young children and their families in all of the city’s planning and programs. Building on work the city had already done, Surita and her department heads undertook projects that included adapting a neighborhood to the needs of young children and their caregivers and building a cutting-edge data dashboard and alert system designed to ensure citizens would get help when they needed it. The city sought to keep those efforts on track while also extending assistance to families among the refugees fleeing deprivation and violence in neighboring Venezuela. As the term of the initial phase drew to a close in September 2019, municipal officials began to take stock of progress and results. Despite some philosophical disagreements and some uncertainties about the future of vital federal funding, the city was on track to achieve its project goals. 

Bill Steiden drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Boa Vista and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in July and August 2019. Case published October 2019. The Bernard van Leer Foundation supported this case study to foster early-stage policy learning.

 

Bolstering Revenue, Building Fairness: Uganda Extends its Tax Reach, 2014 – 2018

Author
Leon Schreiber
Country of Reform
Abstract

After a decade of reforms to boost tax collection, in 2014 the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) faced up to one of its biggest remaining challenges. Although the agency had significantly improved its internal capacity—along with its ability to collect taxes from registered taxpayers—large numbers of Ugandans paid nothing because they were unregistered or because inadequate compliance monitoring enabled them to underpay. The holes in the system undermined public trust and bedeviled the URA’s efforts to meet the government-mandated target to raise tax revenue to 16% of gross domestic product. The URA then joined other government agencies to bring millions of unregistered citizens into the tax net, and it tightened the oversight of existing taxpayers who were paying less than their fair share. Prime targets were millions of Ugandans who worked in the informal economy, which the government said accounted for nearly half of the country’s economic activity. At the same time, the URA set up operations to go after wealthy and politically connected individuals who avoided paying their full tax load, and it created a separate unit to press government departments that failed to remit to the URA the taxes they collected, such as withholdings from employees. The URA’s program achieved strong gains on all three fronts and thereby helped increase the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio to 14.2% in the 2017–18 fiscal year from 11.3% in 2013–14. Just as important, the program made significant progress toward a fairer distribution of the tax burden for Ugandans across all economic levels.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kampala, Uganda, in January and February 2019. Case published April 2019.

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

See related Uganda Revenue Case Study: Righting the Ship: Uganda Overhauls its Tax Agency, 2004-2014

 

Righting the Ship: Uganda Overhauls its Tax Agency, 2004 – 2014

Author
Leon Schreiber
Country of Reform
Abstract

In the early 2000s, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) faced a crisis. Even after adopting a modernized legal framework that made the agency semiautonomous—able to operate much as a business would, though still accountable to a public board—the institution remained paralyzed by corruption, outdated technologies and procedures, and a toxic organizational culture. In 2004, to begin righting the ship, the URA’s board appointed 43-year-old Allen Kagina, who had served the agency for more than a decade, as the new commissioner general. Kagina engineered a radical overhaul that required all 2,000 URA staff members to reapply for new positions under a revamped organizational structure. A new modernization office overhauled tax procedures, upgraded the URA’s technology, improved anticorruption measures, strengthened the tax investigation and prosecution function, and enhanced staff capacity. At the same time, the URA was working to smooth its customs procedures and improve cooperation with partner countries in the East African Community. 

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kampala, Uganda, in January and February 2019. Case published April 2019.

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

See related Uganda Revenue Authority Case Study: Bolstering Revenue, Building Fairness: Uganda Extends its Tax Reach, 2014-2018

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

From the Ground Up: Developing Jamaica’s National Land Agency, 2000-2016

Author
Maya Gainer
Country of Reform
Abstract

In 2001, registering or transferring land in Jamaica was an uphill battle. Four separate departments handled different aspects of land administration, leading to weak coordination and delay. Even straightforward transactions dragged on for weeks, simply getting information was a struggle, and fraud was commonplace. In April of that year, Jamaica established the National Land Agency, charged with merging the four departments, speeding up services, and improving their quality. As the new agency’s CEO, Elizabeth Stair led a team of managers that had to oversee the consolidation, design systems to prevent fraud, improve performance, and implement new procedures and technologies to increase speed and transparency. During its first decade and a half of operation, the National Land Agency significantly reduced processing times and won acclaim for its customer service and innovative use of technology. Despite these successes, there was still room to improve land tenure security. Stiff documentation requirements, high costs, and limited awareness of the process meant that registration and related services remained out of reach for many Jamaicans.

Lessons Learned

  • Advantages of functional consolidation. Merging four divisions into a single semi-autonomous agency allowed the government to streamline service delivery, standardize procedures, and reduce processing times.
  • Overcoming resistance and curbing graft. A strong, unified management team and a consistent message helped answer internal opposition and external critics of the transition. Staff retraining, individualized targets for performance tied to financial incentives, and new procedures and technologies helped establish a new operational culture.
  • Additional barriers remain. Despite the agency’s successes, Jamaica’s overall experience also demonstrates the range of additional barriers to land registration, including stiff documentation requirements, high costs in the form of fees and taxes, and limited awareness of the requirements, that can prevent many property owners from formalizing their claims.

 

Maya Gainer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kingston, Jamaica, in June 2016. The Omidyar Network funded the development of this case study. Case published January 2017.

A 2017 workshop, Driving Change, Securing Tenure, profiled recent initiatives to strengthen tenure security and reform land registration systems in seven countries: South AfricaCanadaJamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Australia and Tanzania.

Watch the video of Elizabeth Stair - CEO and Commissioner of Lands, Jamaican National Land Agency.

C. William Allen

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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

Graduates to Government: The President's Young Professionals Program in Liberia, 2009–2016

Author
Blair Cameron
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In 2005, when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Liberia’s first democratically elected post-conflict president, she found her country’s government in shambles. Years of cronyism under military rule and a 14-year civil war had left behind a bloated civil service corps riddled with unqualified employees, most of whom did not have a university education and some of whom could not read or write. The president needed more-capable employees at every level of government. Externally supported capacity-building programs helped fill top and middle management roles with Liberians who had fled abroad during the war, but Sirleaf also wanted to attract the most-talented and most-ambitious young graduates from Liberian universities to work in the public service. With assistance from international donors, Saah N’Tow, a Liberian working at an international consulting firm, set up a fair and transparent recruitment process and coupled it with strong training and mentorship to create the President’s Young Professionals Program. Beginning in 2009 and annually thereafter, the program placed 10 to 20 Liberian youth into government ministries for two-year fellowships. By 2016, 72 young professionals had completed their fellowships and about 75% were still working for the government. Many stood out as some of the top performers in the civil service and several had been promoted to positions as divisional directors and assistant ministers.

Blair Cameron drafted this case study based on interviews he and Pallavi Nuka conducted in Monrovia, Liberia and Paris, France, in March and April 2016. This case study was funded by the Open Society Foundations, which in 2015 donated $250,000 to the program profiled. This case draws from a variety of sources including an independent evaluation ISS conducted in 2016. Case published July 2016.

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.

V. Ravichandar

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V
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
0
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Michael Woldemariam
Name
V. Ravichandar
Interviewee's Organization
Bangalore Agenda Task Force
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Bangalore
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

V. Ravichandar recounts his time serving as a member of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) from 2000 to 2004. He describes urban issues within India, how he secured his position with BATF, and various city initiatives in which he played a large role. The BATF worked to improve living conditions for the lower middle and middle classes. Among other things, it reformed the public toilet system and transportation. Ravichandar also helped to implement the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), a government program that allocated 12 billion dollars of grant funding to 63 Indian cities. He speaks extensively about the presidency of S.M. Krishna and how crucial he was in providing political support for the BATF. Ravichandar emphasizes the importance of political capital, how it only declines after an individual is elected, and why it is critical to enact change quickly and early on in a presidency before political capital runs out.    

Case Study:  Keeping Up with a Fast-Moving City: Service Delivery in Bangalore, India, 1999-2004

Profile

V. Ravichandar served as a member of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) from 2000 to 2004. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) and an M.B.A. from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM). Prior to working with BATF, Ravichandar was a consultant with MICO-Bosch. In 1988, he founded Feedback Consulting, a research and consulting company that assesses business opportunities in India.  Since leaving his post with BATF, he has been associated with HR Trust, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to enable human capital in India. At the time of this interview, Ravichandar still worked for Feedback Consulting    

Full Audio Title
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Protais Musoni

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Q
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
4
Country of Reform
Interviewers
David Hausman
Name
Protais Musoni
Interviewee's Position
Cabinet Minister
Language
English
Place (Building/Street)
Office of the Cabinet Minister
Town/City
Kigali
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Protais Musoni, current Cabinet Minister, describes his experience in building institutions, first as deputy secretary-general of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, then governor of Kibungo province, and finally as Minister of Local Government for Rwanda. Musoni initiated a community-building exercise in which communes were invited together for seven-day workshops to discuss ethnic and class divisions, and then ten-member commune committees were elected, with representatives for each group. After Musoni pioneered the workshops in his province, they were implemented nationwide in 1996. The initial state-building efforts laid the groundwork for an ambitious program of decentralization that Musoni later oversaw.  In the first stage of decentralization, sectors and cells gained the right to elect representatives; administrative decentralization followed with a massive recruitment effort at the district level, counterbalanced by large-scale retrenchment at the central ministries.

Case Studies:  Shifting the Cabinet into High Gear: Agile Policymaking in Rwanda: 2008-2012, Improving Coordination and Prioritization: Streamlining Rwanda's National Leadership Retreat, 2008-2011Enhancing Capacity, Changing Behaviors: Rapid Results in Gashaki, Rwanda, 2008Rebuilding the Civil Service After War: Rwanda After the Genocide, 1998-2009Government Through Mobilization: Restoring Order After Rwanda's 1994 Genocide, and The Promise of Imihigo: Decentralized Service Delivery in Rwanda, 2006-2010

Profile

Mr. Musoni was Cabinet Minister in Rwanda. A Rwandan refugee, he worked in Uganda as a railroad engineer, then fled to Kenya in 1981, and joined Yoweri Museveni’s movement, which gained control of the Ugandan state in 1986.  He then helped to found the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and was elected deputy secretary-general of the organization.  When the RPF successfully took control of Rwanda in 1994, ending the country’s genocide, Musoni was made governor of Kibungo province. He later served as Mayor of Kigali and Minister of Local Government for Rwanda before becoming Cabinet Minister in 2009. 

 

Full Audio File Size
108 MB
Full Audio Title
Protais Musoni Interview