The quality and availability of policy advice to state sector decision makers impacts considerably on the effectiveness of the state at any level of development. This has often been downplayed in global discussion of Public Sector Management where the emphasis has been understandably on service delivery and improved governance. The money spent on policy advice is small in relation to any state budget but it is high powered money if it is improving the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.
During a recent ‘Justice for the Poor’ mission to Vanuatu, our team had an illuminating meeting with a group of forty village chiefs in a community hall. The chiefs are the primary source of order and justice across the many islands within the archipelago. Most of them have received little, if any, formal education, their authority resting on their traditional status within the community.
Whenever I am asked what I believe is the main constraint to higher growth in Ghana, I am forced to answer without hesitation, the weakness of her institutions. However, I have become increasingly optimistic that this will not be the case in the future.
Having lived through the 1989 fall of the Berlin wall – and its subsequent domino effect through the region– we have been watching the ongoing Arab Spring with a strong sense of familiarity.
There is something elusive about the workings of government. “We have virtually no adequate bureaucratic theory that can help us deal with the fundamental structural problems that exist with respect to the public sector. ” One might be forgiven for assuming this statement was written recently. Quite the contrary, this was E A Brett, expressing in 1986 what seems to be a perennial concern of public sector management.
Education has long been a focal point of struggle in South Africa: the 1976 Soweto uprising, which set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the end of apartheid, was led by schoolchildren. In the 1980s, the contribution of youngsters to the liberation struggle took a starker turn: ‘No Education before Liberation’ became the watchword of many.
In the two weeks that the draft PSM Approach for 2010-2020 has been published on this blog for consultation, many experts and colleagues have taken the time and trouble to offer comments. These comments have enriched the debate and, plus or minus a few contradictions, offer some very clear ways forward.
I recently participated in a seminar in Santiago de Chile on ‘Conditional Cash Transfers and Human Rights’. A few years ago I would have wondered what could possibly be the link between the two. Not anymore.
- human development
My thinking has been focused on the developed world, not at all on developing countries. However, when Nick Manning invited us to participate in the World Bank’s consultation exercise it did occur to me that this might nevertheless make useful background. Some of the observations apply even more to many developing countries than to the developed world.
As coverage of the Arab Street’s awakening continues to dominate headlines, I find myself making further connections between the Middle Eastern, East Asian, and South African experiences. One intriguing common thread pertains to the role of the middle classes.