Evidence suggests a need for both consistent, long-term financial support, and for responsive funding that can be quickly disbursed. There seems to be little research, however, that identifies which aid instruments have the best track record in effectively supporting civil service reform.
A literature review on public sector governance reform, including civil service reform, concludes that it is important to change donor behaviour and systems so that support is more long-term, predictable and not entangled with perverse incentives (Scott 2011). One of the key recommendations from a multi-donor evaluation is to take a long-term perspective for civil service reform, noting that outcomes generally appear after a long period because they require behavioural and attitudinal changes that do not occur quickly (Turner, 2013). Shepherd (2003) argues that to further civil service reform, aid instruments need to accommodate the slow pace of reform and provide continuity in support. A study of the government-wide Tanzanian Public Service Reform Programme (PSRP) attributes its success in part to the international community who played a generally positive role, accepting the PSRP as a comprehensive, long-term strategy requiring 15-20 years of steady support (Morgan and Baser 2007).
Evans (2008) also cites Tanzania as a good example of reform: donors let the government lead in terms of pace and direction, and showed patience for capacity building. She notes that the World Bank used a long-term, flexible lending instrument (Adaptable Programme Loan) as well as pooling funds with other donors.
A 19-country case study of the World Bank’s involvement in civil service reform programmes concludes that a combination of long-term investment loans and quick-disbursing, policy-based development loans is often best for civil service reform: the quickly disbursed funding allows for technical assistance to fill urgent capacity gaps (Evans 2008). Complementary technical assistance can help provide guidance on approaches, and fund training or other resource needs. In the cases of Cambodia, Honduras, and Tanzania, the combination of long-term and quick-disbursing support was considered particularly beneficial.
Rao (2013) notes that emerging approaches to technical assistance involve more focus on longer term impacts and sustainability, and on Southern countries as providers of skills. Examples include twinning or peer-to-peer programmes, which are considered to have helped enhance skills and networks, though there is a lack of rigorous evaluation evidence.
- “The [World] Bank has two basic types of lending instruments: investment loans and development policy loans. Investment loans have a long-term focus (5 to 10 years), and finance goods, works and services in support of economic and social development projects in a broad range of sectors. Development policy loans provide quick-disbursing external financing to support a government’s policy and institutional reforms.” From: http://digitalmedia.worldbank.org/projectsandops/lendingtools.htm
- Rao, S. (2013). New thinking on technical assistance to resolve knowledge and capacity gaps. GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 935. Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.
- Scott, Z. (2011). Evaluation of public sector governance reforms 2001-2011: Literature review. Oxford: Oxford Policy Management.
- Shepherd, G. (2003). Civil service reform in developing countries: Why is it going badly? Paper for the 11th International Anti-Corruption Conference, 25-28 May 2003.
- Turner, M. (2013). Summary report of the public sector governance reform evaluation. DFID, Sida, Irish Aid and Oxford Policy Management.
- Evans, A. (2008). Civil service and administrative reform: Thematic paper. IEG Working Paper 2008/8. Washington D.C.: World Bank.
- Morgan, P., & Baser, H. (2007). Building the capacity for managing public service reform: The Tanzania experience. Discussion Paper no. 57Q. Maastricht: European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM).