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									Regional Trends in Public Administration Reform (PAR) in Latin America and the
Caribbean (LAC) and UNDP Current Experience

The public sector in LAC tends to be characterized by inefficiency and incompetence,
corruption, low capability and weak responsibility toward the citizenry. Two factors help
to explain these problems: the predominance of irresponsible discretionary action and
the political use of public employment. Irresponsible discretionary action is encouraged
by social fragmentation, a weak middle class, and low consumption of information
media; a weak legal institution which grants impunity; and instability of political regimes
which deprives citizens of a control mechanism on leaders. In addition, the presence of
strong unions has ensured lifetime employment, concentrated at lower levels, while
wage compression has led to high turnover levels in upper levels. The main factors
driving reforms were the possibility of losing power and the strengthening of interest
groups or citizenry. The fiscal crises, economic liberalization and the democratic
movement strengthened their capacity to demand a better public administration.

In the 80’s, PAR in this region tended to focus on improving public sector efficiency in
economic management (investment planning, budgeting, debt management, public
enterprise management) in response to and alongside structural adjustment policies, on
reforming industrial and sectoral policies, and on supporting the government’s policy
management capacities to promote economic liberalization. Once strong fiscal
pressures subsided between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, a “modernization”
approach began to be emphasized. The fundamental objective of modernization has
been to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of financial operations,
and improving administrative performance by modernizing the legal framework for
government functions such as financial and personnel management, by updating
management tools through ICT/MIS such as an integrated financial management system
or computerized taxpayer registry, and by developing more streamlined operational
procedures. Training government personnel on the new tools and procedures was a
central component of these projects. In the 90s, more ambitious approaches to
traditional areas of public sector reform were explored, such as the establishment of
autonomous or semi-autonomous agencies, the adoption of New Public Management
approaches of performance- based incentives to facilitate CSR and improved
performance, private participation in public service provisions, particularly in the areas of
public utilities and transport services and finally, new efforts to incorporate more
participatory (“voice”) approaches.

In the Caribbean, there have been recent moves to reorient the role and / or composition
of Public Service Commissions (PSC) which are either weak, failing to ensure the
neutrality of civil servants by denying politicians discretionary powers or strong,
hindering modern personnel management. Delays to responding to disciplinary charges
have contributed to low public service morale. Lacking serving public officers, PSC
members are not fully conversant with personnel practices and public service job
requirements. The Belizean Constitution has therefore made provision for Permanent
Secretaries in the membership of the PSC and elsewhere similar reforms are underway.
Over the last 10 years, there has been mixed experience in reducing numbers -
Bahamas and Suriname saw a reduction while Barbados reports an increase – and job
security is high. There is however a slightly higher percentage of females employed.
Performance evaluation is a factor in promotion only in the Bahamas. Since the 80’s the
Caribbean has been implementing reform beginning with financial management,

downsizing and HRM, and now focusing on service delivery improvement, and civil
service modernization.

In Latin America, Brazil has embarked on constitutional changes to usher in reform,
downsized a large, costly, fragmented bureaucracy and introduced professional, merit-
based career systems at the higher levels. The second stage of the Cardoso reforms,
centered of career systems in core sectors, was more successful than the first phase of
managerial reforms. In Mexico, where there was no formal civil service till recently,
unionized employees still enjoyed job security and payroll costs were high. Reforms
established a career civil service for the central administration, and central control, and
included some unsuccessful managerial elements. Uruguay had a long-standing career
civil service but it was characterized by high party clientelism. Reform efforts based on
the managerial model were moderately successful, while efforts to strengthen
professionalism and efficiency were less so. In cases such as Argentina cyclical fiscal
crises, and a tendency to favor cost containment reforms above professionalisation
measures, resulted with retrenchment at the centre being compensated by local
personnel increases and/or reversed once crises ended.

There are few evaluations of PAR in this region, despite over three decades of
implementation. However, reviews by UNDP and the WB, of PAR in general and the
state of the public sector in LAC show that where PAR efforts in LAC have been
moderately successful (Brazil, Chile, Jamaica), one notes not only strong political
backing for reforms but also awareness on the part of donors of government and
bureaucratic resistance to reforms. Where reforms have been less successful (Bolivia,
Ecuador), piecemeal efforts were made to tackle technocratic bottlenecks or financial
management inefficiencies without regard to the wider institutional issues.

UNDP Experience in PAR in LAC (1999 – 2003)

A desk based review of UNDP experience in implementing 67 PAR projects in 21
countries in LAC showed that 51 (or 76.12%) of these projects were in 15 countries of
MHD. Only 1 project was in a country of LHD, and 15 (or 22.39%) of these projects
were in 5 countries of HHD.

Twelve projects were related to promoting a professional, merit-based and neutral civil
service; equal opportunity for women and minority groups; and reform of wage and
incentive structures. Twenty-six projects supported functional reviews in PAR, including
strategic activities to help promote ownership of reform. Thirty-seven projects were
concerned with the capacity development of civil servants. Six projects aim to promote
the use of ICT to improve public sector services.

UNDP PAR Projects in LAC (1999-2003)

1. Promoting a professional, merit-based and neutral civil service through the adoption of performance management based systems that
promote objective criteria in hiring and promotion; equal opportunity for women and minority groups; and reform of wage and incentive
2. Functional reviews in public administrative reform. This includes strategic activities to help promote ownership of reform and proposing of
comparative examples for strategic policy and reform choices. Support activities aim to balance the goals of right sizing the civil service with
efficiency and effectiveness gains.
3. Training of civil servants about best practices for effectively delivering public services to the people, and especially to women and the
4. Promoting the use of Information and Communications Technology to enhance the effectiveness, openness and the accessibility of
public sector services.

                                                                                                                            Project Typology
        Country                                                 Project Name
                                                                                                                             1   2    3   4
                    Fortalecimiento Institucional del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y
Argentina                                                                                                                              X

                    Apoyo al Instituto del Servicio Exterior de la Nación (ISEN) - Fase II                                             X

                    Fortalecimiento institucional de la Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros                                              X

                    Fortalecimiento y apoyo a la Unidad de Coordinación, Programas y Proyectos con Financiamiento
                    externo del Ministerio de Salud

Barbados & OECS OECS Policy and Strategy Development                                                                              X    X

                    Technical Assistance through UNVs                                                                                  X

                    Human Resources Capacity Development                                                                               X

                    Assistance to the National Strategic Development Plan                                                    X    X    X

                    Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre                                                                     X

Bolivia             Fortalecimiento de la Caja Nacional de Salud                                                                  X

Brazil              Modernization Programme of the Federal Executive Power                                                   X    X          X

                    Integrated Management of National Execution Projects (UAP/ABC)                                                     X

                    Institutional Strengthening of the Social Communication Support Unit (ACS) of the Brazilian
                                                                                                                             X         X
                    Ministry of External Relations
                    Institutional Development of the Center for Strategic Knowledge Management in Science and
                                                                                                                                  X    X

Chile               Infraestructura de Salud                                                                                 X

                    Apoyo de Integración del Sistema Tributario                                                                   X

Colombia            Fortalecimiento de la capacidad de las instituciones gubernamentales                                     X

                    Un responsable y eficiente sector publico                                                                     X

Costa Rica          Estado de la Nacion II                                                                                   X

Dominican Rep.   Apoyo a la Gestión Presidencial                                                                  X

                 Definición e Implementación de la primera etapa de un Sistema Electrónico de Gestión y
                 Seguimiento de proyectos con financiamiento externo (SECOTE)

                 Elaboración Estrategia Nacional TIC para el Desarrollo                                                   X

                 Apoyo a la consolidación de la Reforma y Modernización de la Secretaría de Estado de
                 Relaciones Exteriores

Ecuador          Reforma y Modernización del IESS                                                                 X

                 Sistema de Gobernabilidad Democratica                                                            X

                 Concesiones MOP                                                                                      X

El Salvador      Registro Nacional de Personas Naturales                                                          X

Guatemala        Apoyo Institucional al Ministerio de Salud Publica                                           X

                 Apoyo Integral a la Secretaría Presidencial de la Mujer                                      X

                 Fortalecimiento del Instituo de la Defensa Pública Penal - Defensorías Indígenas

Guyana           Strengthening Capacity for the Reduction of Poverty in Guyana                                        X

Haiti            Le Programme d'appui à la gouvernance                                                            X

Honduras         Fortalecimiento de las Capacidades Nacionales de Honduras para Reconstrucción                        X

                 Fortalecimiento del Sistema Estadístico Nacional (SEN)                                           X

                 Fortalecimiento del Ministerio Público de la República de Honduras (Fortalecimiento a las

                 Apoyo a la Creación del Instituto Nacional de la Mujer (INAM)                                X

                 Fortalecimiento de la Unidad de Apoyo (UNAT) al Presidente, Gabinete Económico y Gabinetes
                 Sectoriales de Honduras

Jamaica          Human Resource Development / Public Sector                                                       X   X

                 Institutional Strengthening of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)                              X

                 Institutional Strengthening of the Office of Utilities Regulation                                X   X

Nicaragua        Apoyo a la Coordinación de la Cooperación Externa- SREC                                          X

Panama      Asistencia Técnica para las Reformas de Políticas Públicas                                         X

            Ente Regulador de los Servicios Públicos                                                           X

            Apoyo a la Función de Comercio Exterior del Ministro de Comercio e Industrias                      X

            Unidad Técnica de Políticas Públicas                                                                   X

            SIGADE-Deuda Pública                                                                                   X

            Sistema de Integración de Administración Financiera de Panamá (SIAFPA)                                 X   X

Peru        Unidad Técnica - Modernización de la SECTI                                                             X

            Apoyo al Proceso de Transferencia Democrática                                                          X

            Apoyo a la gestión del Ministerio de Agricultura                                                       X

            Modernización de la Gestión del MITINCI                                                                X

            Apoyo Proceso de Modernización y Fortalecimiento del Ministerio de RR.EE                               X   X

            Modernización Sistema de Información Ministerio de Relaciones                                          X   X

Suriname    Development fo a Strategic Plan for Public Sector Reform in Suriname                               X

Uruguay     Asistencia Técnica para la Modernización de Servicios Públicos                                     X

            Mejoramiento de los servicios públicos de la Administración Central                                X

            Apoyo al Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas en el fortalecimiento de la administración fiscal       X

Venezuela   Redimensionamiento del Sector Público                                                                  X

            Fortalecimiento de la Capacidad de Gestión de la Cooperación Técnica Internacional.                    X

            Formación de Gerentes de Proyectos de Inversión Pública                                                X

            Fortalecimiento del Sistema Nacional de Inversión Pública                                              X

            Reforma de la gestión de las finanzas públicas                                                         X

            Apoyo a la modernización del Sector Transporte Aéreo                                           X       X

            Formación de un Equipo de Negociadores para la nueva Ronda de la OMC                                   X

            Programa de Modernización de Gobernaciones                                                             X

            Reestructuración del Fondo de Inversión Social de Venezuela (FONVIS)                                   X

            Fortalecimiento y Modernización del Sector Salud                                               X       X


Heredia, Blanca (2002) Civil Service Reform In Latin America: Tying Politicians’ Hands,
Presented at IADB, Regional Policy Dialogue, III Meeting of the Management and Transparency
Network, Washington D.C., November 14-15, 2002 (CIDE, Mexico: 2002)

Schiavo-Campo, Salvatore, et al. (1997) “Government Employment and Pay in Global
Perspective: A Selective Synthesis of International Facts, Policies and Experiences”, Policy
Research Working Paper No. 1771, The World Bank.

World Bank (2000) Reforming Public Institutions and Strengthening Governance Regional, DRG,
and WBI Strategies: Section Four Latin America and Caribbean Region


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