Regional Capacity Building Seminar "Comparative Approaches in the Field of Civil Service Modernisation in OECD Countries". Tunis, Tunisia, 14-15 February 2008

 

Background

In the framework of the Good Governance for Development (GfD) in Arab Countries Initiative, Tunisian authorities approached the OECD regarding the organisation of a capacity building seminar on the experiences of OECD countries with civil service modernisation. The Tunisian government is about to start an ambitious reform to modernise its civil service and currently leads a consultation process on the reform outline. Tunisian authorities wanted to hear and draw lessons from the experience of OECD countries that have conducted major reforms in their civil service. This seminar’s purpose was to set up a forum for discussion and sharing experiences among OECD experts and Tunisian and other Arab authorities in different aspects of human recourse management (HRM).

Structure and topics of the seminar

The seminar was organised around plenary and break-out sessions. The first plenary session discussed the achievements and challenges in civil service reform in OECD countries. Particularly, the experiences of Hungary, Belgium, the Slovak Republic and Spain were presented. The break-out sessions focused on specific issues of HRM. In that sense, session A analysed the delegation of authority in HRM as a tool for making public organisations more attractive employers and improve performance and efficiency in the public service. The discussion focused on the experiences of Germany and Spain. Session B was dedicated to examine recruitment and flexibility issues, it focused on analysing the role of central agencies in recruitment and the principles that should prevail in a recruitment process. The cases of Belgium and a general overview on flexibilisation in OECD countries were the centre of the discussion. Session C was devoted to capacity development and training in public administration. The discussion was concentrated on the relevance of training in career development and the different alternatives for the training of civil servants, the cases of Germany and Hungary were analysed in detail. Session D centred on managing the performance of public employees, it covered aspects of performance-related pay schemes, performance appraisals and the pros and cons of the current performance management strategies in OECD countries. The experiences of the Netherlands and Bahrain were presented. The second plenary session of the seminar examined the experience of Belgium and the Netherlands in managing senior managers. The discussion focused on the strategies to manage the performance of civil servants in top positions and the challenges and opportunities of creating a special civil service for officials in managerial positions.

Participants to the seminar

High-level participants from seven OECD (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Spain, and the Netherlands)and five Arab (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia) countries attended the seminar. Delegations included ministries, general directors, majors, advisors to ministries, principals of faculties and lecturers.

Achievements of the seminar

The aim of the seminar was to establish a forum for the exchange of ideas, experiences and information between experts from OECD countries and Tunisian and other Arab authorities. The expertise and high level of the participants led to  an in-depth discussion on the different topics. The diversity and relevance of the topics was acknowledged by participants who emphasised the importance of this event in the framework of the consultation process that the Tunisian government is conducting in order to reinforce the reform project to modernise the civil service. Some of the main conclusions of the seminar were that:

  • Reforming the civil service is a political and technical project that requires the creation of dialogue and consensus so as to have a shared vision of the future.
  • The reform of the Tunisian civil service should take into account the particularities of the local administrative culture and the political and social context of the country.
  • It is possible to draw lessons from the experience of OECD member and non-member countries but they should be seen in their proper dimension considering that transferring or emulating reforms adopted in other settings with different cultural, economic and political context is not always advisable.
  • The experience of OECD countries has proved beneficial to enrich the internal debate and the reform proposals.
  • The Tunisian civil service is at the starting point of a transition process towards the construction of a modern civil service system characterised by a new administrative culture that focuses on efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and the rule of law.

The OECD, represented by Ms. Odile Sallard, Director of the Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, highlighted the importance of HRM in the modernisation process of the public service and underlined the relevance of this seminar in the light of the works of the GfD Initiative. H.E. Mr. Zouheir M’Dhaffar, Minister delegated to the Prime Minister in charge of the Civil Service and Administrative Development, thanked the OECD experts for sharing their experiences with Tunisians and other Arab officials and the OECD Secretariat for the organisation of the seminar and their support in enriching the debate on civil service reform in Tunisia.

Documentation

Agenda (arabic/english/french)

Participants list 

Presentations

Opening Session

Tunisia - H.E. The Honourable Mr. Zouhair M’Dhaffer, Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister, in charge of the Civil Service & Administrative Development

Spain - Ms. Gloria Díaz Mesanza, Deputy Director of Consultancy, Advisory and Assistance in HRM, General Directorate of the Public Function, Ministry for the Public Administrations

Tunisia - Mr. Ahmed Zarrouk, General Director of Civil Service, Prime Ministry

Plenary Session 1

OECD - Mr. Oscar Huerta Melchor, Administrator, Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate

Hungary - Mr. István Teplan, General Director, Government Centre for Public Administration and Human Resource Services
Belgium - Mr. Philippe Vermeulen, General Advisor, Federal Public Service – Personnel and Organisation
Slovak Republic - Mr. Lubomir Plai, CEO, Municipality Bratislava – Lamac

Spain - Ms. Gloria Díaz Mesanza, Deputy Director of Consultancy, Advisory and Assistance in HRM, General Directorate of the Public Function, Ministry for the Public Administrations

Break Out Session I

Group A
Spain - Ms. Gloria Díaz Mesanza, Deputy Director of Consultancy, Advisory and Assistance in HRM, General Directorate of the Public Function, Ministry for the Public Administrations

Germany - Mr. Joachim Vollmuth, Head of Division, ‘EU and International Affairs of the Public Service’, Federal Ministry of Interior
Group B
Belgium - Ms. Corinne Benharrosh, Director, Recruitment and Selection Office SELOR

OECD - Mr. Julio Nabais, Principal Administrator, SIGMA, Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate

Break Out Session II

Group C
Germany - Mr. Joachim Vollmuth, Head of Division, ‘EU and International Affairs of the Public Service’, Federal Ministry of Interior

Hungary - Mr. István Teplan, General Director, Government Centre for Public Administration and Human Resource Services
Group D
Ms. Sylvie Trosa, Institut of Public Management and Economic Development, France

Mr. Peter van der Gaast, Head of the International Civil Service Affairs Division, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Netherlands (1/2/3)
Ms. Ola Abdulrahman Al-Suwer, Senior Performance Management Specialist, Civil Service Bureau, Bahrain

Plenary Session 2

The Netherlands - Mr. Peter van der Gaast, Head of the International Civil Service Affairs Division, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (1/2)
Belgium - Mr. Philippe Vermeulen, General Advisor, Federal Public Service – Personnel and Organisation

Closing Session

OECD - Ms. Odile Sallard, Director, Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate

Tunisia - H.E. The Honourable Mr. Zouhair M’Dhaffer, Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister, in charge of the Civil Service & Administrative Development