Reforming public-sector organizations--their structures, policies, processes and practices--is notoriously difficult, in rich and poor countries alike. Even in the most favorable of circumstances, the scale and complexity of the tasks to be undertaken are enormous, requiring levels of coordination and collaboration that may be without precedent for those involved. Entirely new skills may need to be acquired by tens of thousands of people. Compounding these logistical challenges is the pervasive reality that circumstances often are not favorable to large-scale reform. Whether a country is rich or poor, the choice is not whether, but how, to reform the public sector--how optimal design characteristics, robust political support, and enhanced organizational capability to implement and adapt will be forged over time. This edited volume helps address the “how” question. It brings together reform experiences in public financial management and the public sector more broadly from eight country cases in East Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Vietnam. These countries are at different stages of reform; most of the reform efforts would qualify as successes, while some had mixed outcomes, and others could be considered failures. The focus of each chapter is less on formally demonstrating success (or not) of specific reform, but on documenting how reformers maneuvered within different country contexts to achieve specific outcomes. Despite the great difficulty in reforming the public sector, decision-makers can draw renewed energy and inspiration, learning from those countries, sectors, and subnational spaces where substantive (not merely cosmetic) change has been achieved, and they can identify what pitfalls to avoid.
So, Sokbunthoeun, Michael Woolcock, Leah April, Caroline Hughes, and Nicola Smithers, eds. Alternative Paths to Public Financial Management and Public Sector Reform: Experiences from East Asia. World Bank, 2018.