GET Note

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The GET Note -- Recently Asked Questions Series captures the knowledge and advice from individual engagements of the World Bank’s Global Expert Team (GET) on Public Sector Performance.

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Managing and Monitoring Grand Design Public Administration Reforms

2013-08, Verheijen, Tony

A grand design attempt at public administration reform can be thought of as any centrally designed, multiple agency reform program or process designed to modernize or improve the performance of administrative structures at the center of Government, usually with a focus on addressing persistent underlying inefficiencies. International practice shows that reforming selected central institutions (especially those that hold the purse strings) is a different matter altogether from addressing performance issues in large ministries with a service delivery mandate. Therefore, it is of critical importance to ‘unpack’ these particular reforms and uncover the persistent issues that arise in countries attempting to pursue such reforms. The four grand design cases highlighted here were selected for their comparability in terms of size and economy, and as examples of reforms from different regions. The cases presented here are Brazil, Nigeria, Russia and Tanzania. Each of these cases has specific characteristics, based on a unique country or reform context, but they share the features of a broad, across-the-board reform approach (in three of the four cases with a clear sub-national dimension that is distinct from the national one). This note focuses on the three critical design aspects of such reforms: a) reform coherence, b) effective anchorage and, c) blending technocratic solutions with substantive service delivery improvements.

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Public Sector Human Resource Practices to Drive Performance

2012-10, Manning, Nick, Hasnain, Zahid

Many Governments wrestle with the issue of designing an appropriate set of human resource practices to motivate public servants to perform. Identifying the right set of practices for the public sector is a source of some controversy, and passions run high particularly in relation to the use of monetary incentives, often referred to as performance-related pay or performance based pay. This GET note reviews recent research on a range of practices Governments utilize to drive employee performance, which rest on the assumptions that public servants are motivated in two ways: (i) ‘intrinsically’ (i.e. internal factors motivated by ‘the right thing to do’), and (ii) ‘extrinsically’ (i.e., external validation from rewards offered by others). Generally, a Human Resource Management (HRM) system designed to motivate employee performance will utilize practices in two broad categories related to: (i) ‘external incentives’ (e.g., financial incentives), and (ii) ‘opportunities to perform’ focusing on ‘intrinsic’ factors (i.e. self-directed work). Within ‘external incentives,’ a financial incentive may either act over the long term (e.g., deferred compensation) or in the short term (e.g., performance-related pay). This note applies this conceptual framework to more clearly understand the range of practices Governments are using to improve staff performance, as well as the pre-conditions for their success. Given the recent attention on performance-related pay, we take a deeper look at the evidence underlying the shorter term performance-related pay, reviewing evidence from both OECD and middle income countries. Annex one provides a brief overview on the theories of motivation for those interested in the theoretical underpinnings of the work, and annex two presents’ experiences of performance pay in practice. This Note draws heavily from performance-related pay in the public sector: A review of theory and evidence (Hasnain and others 2012), a recent review of the literature in fields including political science, public administration, business management, and psychology.

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Driving Performance through Center of Government Delivery Units

2010-11, World Bank

Several governments around the world have recently established delivery units at the center of government to drive performance improvements. This development may be in addition to whole-of-government reforms to improve performance, such as citizen charters, service agreements, or performance reporting. Given rising interest in public sector performance innovations, this note provides an overview of center-of-government delivery unit arrangements, including key factors for success, with a particular focus on one of the first incarnations of a central delivery unit - the United Kingdom's Prime Minister's Delivery Unit (PMDU).

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Options for Restraining the Wage Bill (While Preserving Essential Service Delivery)

2009-12, Dorotinsky, Bill, Manning, Nick, Rinne, Jeffrey

Nearly every personnel and pay system has some slack in it, either fiscal excess or staff positions (vacant or otherwise) that are not essential. The key is to look for targeted measures that produce savings and reduce the wage bill, without adversely affecting service delivery.

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Common Practices in Setting Expenditure Ceilings within National Budgets

2013-01, Dorotinsky, William

Developing a national budget has always entailed a complex set of negotiations between national Government priorities, line ministry priorities, and a national funding envelope. This note explains how to introduce a medium term horizon into a government’s budgeting process, including the key steps involved. It provides guidance on setting aggregate and line ministry ceilings, reviewing experiences from countries with extensive experience of ceilings (for example, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Korea, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, and Canada, among others), as well as those that have more recently adopted them. There is no one right way to set expenditure ceilings. Countries tailor expenditure ceilings to meet their specific needs, budget challenges, and capacity constraints. This note presents an iterative approach - starting from annual ceilings and gradually moving toward a medium-term expenditure framework - allowing for procedural, institutional, and organizational learning and adaptation along the way.

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Managing a Sustainable Results Based Management (RBM) System

2011-03, World Bank

This note presents a framework for thinking about public sector results based management (RBM) systems, with a particular focus on the issues line agencies face in complying with mandates and directives from central agencies on monitoring and evaluating performance. It also provides five lessons learned from RBM systems of relevance for countries pursuing results based management reforms. Taking a system's view of results based management reveals a number of different approaches and techniques used across the public sector to improve results.

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Overview of Public Sector Performance Assessment Processes in Japan

2010-08, Matsuura, Miki, Watkins, Joanna, Dorotinsky, William

The Government of Japan began introducing evaluation techniques in 2001 within the context of a Central Government reform program that involved the establishment of new ministries and the integration and abolition of existing ministries. Japans approach emphasizes assessing policies and activities, and then incorporating results into future planning and budgeting, with a focus on making public sector programs and activities more efficient. This is a synopsis of Japans experience with public sector performance assessment processes between 2001 and 2010. This note presents a range of initiatives underway in Japan, including policy and activity evaluation, as well as the spending review exercise designed to make public sector service delivery more efficient. The intention of this note is not to necessarily endorse Japans approach, but rather to document it as a case study.

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Does the Public Sector HRM System Strengthen Staff Performance?

2012-12, Manning, Nick, Degnarain, Nishan

An important objective of any Human Resource Management (HRM) system in Government is to motivate staff to perform well. This GET note looks at several HRM levers that Governments have at their disposal to influence staff performance. In particular, some of the most common levers in the public sector include: effective recruitment and retention of staff; strong staff engagement in the organization’s mission; well-designed incentives for staff to perform as well as ‘opportunities to perform’; tailored training and capacity building; and high quality performance dialogues with staff and effective follow up. In designing a HRM system that utilizes these levers effectively, this GET Note shows that it is more important to diagnose the root cause and understand the major issues of poor performance, before proposing reform actions. This paper proposes three important design questions for managers of HRM systems to assess whether they have a well-designed HRM system. 1) Does the HRM system provide both ‘external incentives’ and ‘opportunities to perform’? Does the HRM system provide the right balance between short and long term incentives? And are the broader, supporting aspects of the HRM system working effectively? The note concludes by highlighting that even where the HRM system is well designed, careful consideration must be given to two further aspects: a) how to implement reforms to improve the design of the HRM system, and b) how to ensure that a well-designed HRM system is operating effectively.

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Kazakhstan : Note on Senior Civil Service Pay

2011-03, World Bank

This report examines the pay-setting arrangements for senior civil servants in three settings: the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Singapore. It concludes that: a robust analytic approach for pay setting seems to be sufficient to maintain some general sense of legitimacy in the process, but is not the dominant driver of pay levels; external consultancies are employed significantly to obtain data on salaries for comparable positions in the private sector; the hay method is used in many settings and the World Bank analytic approach is not dissimilar to that used in many governments; however, governments are different to the World Bank in some critical ways. Like the Bank, they are driven by the need to establish a system which is seen to be legitimate both to staff and to the funders; thus, while the institutional arrangements for managing and overseeing the pay-setting process are, also, very much concerned with ensuring legitimacy for the resultant pay settlement, and so involve some significant delegation to signal that the recommendations are somewhat independent, the final decision for pay is ultimately made by government on political as well as fiscal and economic grounds; and the numbers of political advisors outside of the formal schemes is modest and does not seem to have a strong influence on the pay-setting process for senior staff in the settings studied.

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Non-monetary Awards for Public Sector Programs and Institutions : Survey of Selected International Experience

2010-04, Watkins, Joanna, Beschel, Robert

This guide presents a range of non-monetary award programs to recognize performance improvements in government programs, initiatives, and agencies. Nine award programs are drawn from Canada, Ireland, Abu Dhabi, the Philippines, the United States and Jordan. Each of the programs are analyzed along the following dimensions: objectives, target applicants, award categories, selection criteria, participation, selection process, type of reward, year of establishment, and number of awards given per year. Individual program details along these dimensions are available. The first section presents the theoretical background on how non-monetary award programs function, their expected benefits, and guiding principles to harness the potential benefits of such a program. The second section highlights the findings from the analysis of the nine programs along the key dimensions.