Making Reform Happen

Lessons from OECD Countries

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OECD countries have made significant reform progress in recent decades, in fields as diverse as competition policy, health care and the environment. How have they done it? And why have reforms advanced in some places and stalled in others? This collection of essays analyses the reform experiences of the 30 OECD countries in nine major policy domains in order to identify lessons, pitfalls and strategies that may help foster policy reform in the future. While taking full account of the tremendous differences in the political and institutional settings in which these reforms were undertaken, the authors highlight a number of common challenges and potential solutions that hold good across both countries and issue areas. They show that the scope for cross-national policy learning is enormous.

The importance of such reform lessons is all the greater in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis. As OECD governments confront the challenge of trying to restore public finances to health without undermining the recovery, they will need to pursue a careful mix of fiscal policies and growth-enhancing structural reforms. Designing, adopting and implementing such a policy mix will require the crafting of effective reforms and effective strategies for implementing them.



Modernising government

This chapter analyses a number of key challenges for implementing public administration reform. It highlights these challenges and discusses possible tools to address them, drawing on past and present reform experiences in several OECD countries. It is based on OECD analyses of public administration reforms and other literature, looking primarily at two policy domains: decentralisation and public employment reforms. The focus is on the reform process rather than the nature of the reforms themselves. The chapter is structured as follows: the first section provides a general description of public administration reforms and the general challenges faced by reformers. It briefly overviews experiences in public administration reform in the last three decades in several OECD countries. The rest of the report is organised according to the three phases of the reform process: planning, implementation and sustainability. Although these phases do not always – or even usually – unfold in such a neat sequential pattern, it is analytically useful to distinguish them in this way, since they present different challenges. For each of these phases, the key challenges for implementing public administration reforms are identified, and a set of possible tools to address these challenges are described, together with specific examples of tools some OECD countries have used to address similar challenges.


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