Recent development trends show that in order for civil service to contribute to the achievement of national development objectives, new skills, responsibilities and systems are needed that transform it into a civil service that promotes the public- interest functions effectively and fairly in the exercise of public authority, delivers public services efficiently and gains the public’s confidence.
After gaining independence, many countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States region embarked on institutional and civil service reforms. There was a growing recognition in the region that learning from neighbouring countries was an important channel, given the many development similarities, including challenges to be faced. However, the region’s existing models of civil service vary significantly, especially on issues relating to legislative regulations of civil service management, the mechanisms for the selection and career development of civil servants, and the presence of authorized bodies. The region’s experience in the last decade has shown that successful reform of the civil service requires not only specific national legislation and public debate but also strong capacity development to implement reforms, extensive knowledge management, and experience exchange with countries in similar situations through the creation of hubs of excellence.
Towards a Solution
Between 2013 and 2017, the Government of Kazakhstan is collaborating with UNDP on the Southern-led centre of excellence known as the Regional Hub of Civil Service in Astana. The Hub was established to (a) serve as a multilateral institutional platform for continuous exchange of experience and knowledge in the field of civil service development; (b) stimulate civil service transformations through capacity development; and (c) produce innovative approaches through evidence-based solutions informed by a comprehensive research and policy agenda. Hub membership has grown from an initial 25 participating countries to 34. Its expanding geographical range from the Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States region, the Caucasus and Central Asia region and the North America region to the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations shows that civil service reform is a constant and universal need.
Since its inception in March 2013, the Hub has championed the exchange of civil service experience through joint initiatives, peer learning, capacity development events, research and knowledge products across its participating countries. It has also promoted regional as well as interregional cooperation on civil service system reforms. The Hub has provided participating countries with a platform for seeking common solutions and sharing their own practices and ideas. It also has strengthened ties among the national civil service agencies at the institutional level. For example, the Ministry of Information Society and Administration of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is studying the model of the Academy of Public Administration of Kazakhstan as part of a process to establish its own public administration academy. Similarly, the civil service commissions of Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan have drawn inferences from laws and by- laws of Georgia and Kazakhstan on civil service when drafting their own legislation.
The Hub also invests in innovative approaches. For example, with substantial support from UNDP, the Hub launched the Innovative Solutions Scheme aimed at supporting initiatives for the modernization of public administration and encouraging innovation and creativity in public institutions. The purpose of the scheme is to recognize effective innovative solutions in civil service and encourage more effective civil service systems and more efficient public service delivery. The scheme helps to improve countries’ competitive advantage and create a knowledge management framework, which will help governments to establish networks, increase awareness and information-sharing, develop learning tools, promote capacity-building and foster policy development. It functions as a multistage mechanism that enables the identification of successful innovative solutions in public administration.
In order to ensure the sustainability of such an initiative, the following conditions must be met: effective communication with all national and international stakeholders; a sustained demand-driven agenda; facilitation of dialogue without politicization; an effective resource mobilization strategy; innovative capacity development and research modules; and a sustained sense of ownership and involvement of the participating countries. In this regard, the Steering Committee and the Advisory Board, which include representatives and experts from different regions, play an important role.
In 2014, the Government of Kazakhstan signed an agreement with UNDP to provide institutional and financial support to the Hub, with Kazakhstan allocating $14 million until 2017. The Hub enjoys close and fruitful cooperation with the UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub, the United Nations Public Administration Network and the American and Asian Societies for Public Administration, to name a few.
Sustainable Development Goal targets: 16.a, 16.5, 16.6, 16.7, 16.9, 17.9, 17.16, 17.17
Countries / territories involved: Kazakhstan-led centre of excellence with 32 participating countries
Supported by: Government of Kazakhstan, UNDP
Implementing entity: UNDP
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2014-2017
URL of the practice: http://www.regionalhub.org/
- Mr. Yernar Zharkeshov, Portfolio Manager/Team Leader of the Regional Hub of Civil Service in Astana, firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Mr. Murat Narkulov, Programme Associate, Governance and Local Development Unit, UNDP country office in Kazakhstan, email@example.com