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Inception Report for the Development of Capacity Building Framework and Plan for the Uganda Public Service
Uganda is considered a leader in public sector reforms. Over more than three decades, the
Government of Uganda (GoU) has implemented a plethora of reforms encompassing critical areas
such as: civil service and public administration, public financial management, revenue
management, procurement, and anti-corruption. These reforms have predominantly involved
introducing new laws, institutional structures, systems and processes.
The primary trigger point for these reforms was an alarming situation with respect to the public
administration during the 1980s - often characterized as a largely dysfunctional public service.
Government bureaucracy and red tape led to major bottlenecks in service delivery. The size of the
public service was untenable. It was bloated with excessive manpower. Motivation in the public
service—especially of critical outcome areas such as education (teachers) and health (health
workers) was low. The Government lacked a strategic direction. To add to these woes, the state was
in fiscal turmoil, with uncertain spending patterns and large debt burdens. There was limited
revenue to cover debt repayments or to fund needed public sector engagements. Corruption was
considered a major problem.
Faced with these challenges, the Government embarked on a range of fundamental reforms that
included in the 1990s, a major Civil Service Reform Program, economy recovery package, new
constitution, streamlining and rationalization of the Civil Service, creation of new revenue
authority, decentralization and emphasizing basic service provision - especially universal primary
education, Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), which saw a push to deliver various services by
local governments. The 2000s’ initiatives included the Budget Act and Public Financial
Accountability Act, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, the Inspectorate of
Government Act, the Leadership Code Act, the Anti-Corruption Act, the Integrated Financial
Management Information System (IFMIS), and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS).
All these reform interventions can be considered as path breaking.
The nature of these myriad of reforms were essentially to create new laws, institutional
mechanisms, systems, processes, and instruments of governance that were intended to lead to
better governance and public service delivery.
Situation on the ground however reveals that these reforms implemented over two decades did not have the desired impact in terms of improvements in service delivery or socio-economic and
human development outcomes. The gap therefore was in the implementation of these reforms,
especially at the grassroots.
There was a transmission loss between policy level of the Government
and the execution of implementation level of the Government. The challenges were in terms of
internalizing and institutionalizing the reforms in the various ministries and their departments and
agencies and down to the level of local government institutions. There were substantial gaps and
inadequacies in translating national level strategies, sector plans, into effective operational level
(ministries, departments, agencies) plans. The result being the actual outcomes of the national level plans falling well short of planned outcomes (service delivery, socio-economic development,
economic governance, etc.).
The lack of internalization and institutionalization of reforms could be traced ultimately to the
weak capacity of public officers as well as weak capacity of organizations (ministries, departments,
agencies) that staff these public officers. So it has been as much of a ‘people’ problem as it has been an organizational problem. Further, the institutional and legal framework that define the rules of the game for these public officers also is a major factor. Any solution therefore has to able to tackle these shortcomings at the institutional level, organizational level as well as at the individual level.