Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reforms Must Focus on Public Interest, Insist Researchers at Dubai School of Government Talk

Joint DSG-World Bank Case Studies Series on Governance and Public Management Reform in Middle East Launched

Dubai-UAE: 1 March, 2011 – Throughout the Arab world, pressure is mounting on governments to revise their policies, improve governance and public services capabilities, open the door for private sector-led growth, and expand employment and open wider opportunities for the civil society’s involvement in public affairs. These new requirements are imperative for maintaining public interest, according to a panel of experts.

The comments were expressed at a forum titled ‘Governance Reform through Government-led Innovation: Pathways to Sustainable Progress’, hosted by the Dubai School of Government (DSG), a leading research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world.

The event also witnessed the launch of the joint DSG-World Bank Case Studies Series on Governance and Public Management Reform in the Middle East, the largest such compilation in the region. Presentations on cases titled ‘Enhancing and Managing Investment by Creating a One-Stop Shop in Cairo’ and ‘Strengthening Meritocracy and Human Resource Management in Lebanon’ were offered at the event. These cases, all drawn from the experience of nearly a dozen MENA countries, demonstrate that dynamic reforms are possible when the requisite political will and technical expertise are harnessed to bring about the needed change.

The panel of speakers at the forum included Khalid Al-Yahya, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Director of Governance and Public Administration Programme at DSG, Robert P. Beschel Jr., Lead Public Sector Specialist at The World Bank, and Simonida Subotic, writer of the case study on meritocracy in Lebanon and currently a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group.

Robert Beschel said: “While conducting such case studies, it is essential to examine the appropriate country-oriented context and approaches that would provide the best opportunity to effectively link a given country’s governance and public management reform agenda with its broader development strategy.

“The forum served as a great platform to discuss important and sensitive issues. It highlighted specific challenges facing Arab governance and public administration systems in achieving integrated and sustainable reform and how they were able to move forward across a range of issues, from those involving central government structures and systems to reforms in individual line departments.”

The joint DSG-World Bank Case Studies Series cover a broad array of issues, ranging from civil service reform and public financial management to policy coordination, private sector development, anti-corruption, decentralisation and networked service delivery.

Dr. Khalid Al-Yahya said: “Recent socio-economic and political changes have triggered a regional interest in reforming governance institutions and practices. Increased demands of citizens and changing requirements for integrating and succeeding in the new political environment have put mounting pressure on governments to revise their policies, improve their capacities, and streamline their operations.

“Calls for reform at all levels can no longer be ignored. Governments should and are now adjusting to a new role — one which serves the ‘people’ in a more citizen-oriented, fair, equitable, efficient, effective, and accountable manner. Such a role will also help in creating a solid infrastructure to support investment and economic activity, providing employment opportunities and fairer distribution of resources, while enforcing the rule of law.”

Dr. Al-Yahya added: “It is essential for DSG as a teaching and research institution to commence a project that examines and highlights reform issues, especially on some of the most important countries in the region in terms of economy. The joint case studies series with the World Bank highlight the processes, changes and impacts that these experiences have generated, emphasizing the issues and challenges confronting senior public sector officials seeking to implement reform.”

Established in 2005 in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Dubai School of Government is committed to the creation of knowledge, and dissemination of global best practices in the Arab world. The school conducts various programmes that seek to enhance the region's capacity for effective public policies.


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