Dr Johnston has more than 20 years’ experience working with Presidents, Prime Ministers and other senior officials across Africa and Asia, specialising in analysing and building institutional capacity, including capacity at the centre of government, Cabinet decision-making processes, planning processes and civil service reform. All this built on his previous experience as a senior Australian civil servant, including more than 10 years in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Much of his work has been in fragile and conflict-affected contextsin the Middle East, Africa and Asia. These include Arab or Islamic states such as Somaliland, Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
His capacity building activitiesinclude a successful training programme for all of South Sudan’s Cabinet following independence in 2011 and training managers and researchers in Egypt’s Cabinet Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC) to improve the utilisation of their research results by the new Egyptian Government in 2012. He has also designed and managed successful training workshops for 150 Sierra Leone civil servants from all Ministries, as well as international training programs.
Since 2009 Mark has been Executive Director of the Africa Cabinet Government Network (ACGN), which has brought together the Cabinet Secretaries from Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zanzibar. From September 2013 to November 2016 Mark was also the team leader of the Africa Cabinet Decision-Making programme funded by DFID’s BCURE programme, as well as long term adviser in the Sierra Leone Cabinet Secretariat. In this latter role, he supported “the biggest change in Cabinet decision-making procedures since independence in 1961” (to quote the then Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service), with Government approval of new Cabinet procedures in March 2015 and support for their implementation.
Mark is a member of the Australian Government’s Aid Advisory Panels on fragility/conflict and on public sector management. He is also a member of the World Bank’s Community of Practice on Centre of Government.
His strong analytic skillsare based on his academic training and research at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. For example, as a senior Australian civil he successfully applied the econometric analysis from his own doctoral research to significantly revise Australia’s pharmaceutical subsidy policy. At the international level, Mark has conducted analysis, design and evaluation projects for donors such as the World Bank, AusAID and DFID in Ghana, Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, Timor-Leste, Pakistan and Afghanistan.