Establishment of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission

The Client

Working on behalf of the World Bank, DFID and the UK National School of Government, Dr Wilson was engaged in the establishment of, and early support to, the PAR and the IARCSC in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of conflict and the defeat of the Taliban. He has since provided continual support on numerous reform projects in the IARCSC, the Ministry of Finance and the office of Administrative Affairs in the center of government

The Challenge

Following the Bonn Agreement, Afghanistan was naturally keen to re-establish civil service management and more up to date systems and processes for public administration. Government records had been destroyed or were lying in piles of dust or in soaked basements. The remaining staff were unpaid and turned up for work irregularly. Most government offices were destroyed or in very poor repair. Significant arrears in the payment of salaries had built up but were not accurately quantified. There was no electricity, and little equipment or resources to work on the most basic of tasks. Early missions attempted to systematically appraise the situation on the ground and to prescribe specific early actions to be taken with a focus on recruitment, emergency premises rehabilitation, ministry restructuring, establish of a civil service commissions, immediate pay review/restructure and build a credible budget.

The Solution

The initial solutions involved the drafting of Government decrees and Cabinet Briefings on key and urgent aspects of Public Administration. Once Decrees were approved by the interim administration, the main capacity development and the formal law drafting could commence

Principal civil service management bodies were established with separate Appeals and Appointments Boards. Senior management development and training programmes were designed and prepared for funding by multiple international partners. Support also entailed parallel work on related public administration reforms, including PFM and ministry restructuring. Innovative approaches to pay and grading reform and support to returning diaspora were trialed.

The Result

The IARCSC was successfully established and is functioning independently. Much has been learned through these early key interventions. Dr Wilson has subsequently undertaken Doctoral Research on the trajectory of civil service reform in Afghanistan from 2002 -2014. The lessons in undertaking  public administration reform in Afghanistan have influenced civil service reform in other fragile and conflict settings and have offered important insights in how to establish public administration in the aftermath of prolonged conflict.


Contact our expert with direct experience in this case study: Dr. Gregory Wilson.