1. Contextualising public governance in Haiti

The Republic of Haiti lies in the western part of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean region. With an area of 27,750 km² (CIA, 2021[1]) and a population of approximately 11.2 million (CIA, 2021[1]), Haiti is one of the most densely populated countries in the region. The country is divided administratively into ten departments, which report to a central government based in the capital, Port-au-Prince (Banque mondiale, 2020[2]). Haiti occupies a unique place in the history of the modern world, as it was the first country to declare its independence after a successful slave revolution (Popkin, 2011[3]).

Since the country's independence on 1 January 1804, recurrent political and economic crises have greatly affected Haiti's governance frameworks. Despite this difficult history, the current government has set several goals to move towards emerging economy status, strengthen the rule of law, foster a more cohesive and inclusive society and renew and modernise public governance (Office de Management et des Ressources Humaines, 2018[4]). The State Modernisation Programme 2018-2023 (Programme de modernisation de l’État - PME-2023) and the Haiti Strategic Development Plan (Plan stratégique de développement d’Haïti - PSDH) reflect the government's determination to pursue a strong public governance reform agenda and to achieve clear social and economic development goals. These are encouraging signals that provide an incentive for the promotion and support of more effective, efficient, accountable and resilient public governance in Haiti.

Sound public governance is a continuous process of formal and informal interactions within the state and between state players, non-state players and citizens. This process determines how public decisions are made, how public resources are used to perform public actions and how these actions are designed, implemented and evaluated to improve the well-being and prosperity of all. Good public governance also focuses on designing and implementing innovative whole-of-government responses to increasingly multidimensional challenges to improve the performance of national and regional economies for the benefit of citizens, businesses and communities. In this respect, the OECD has gained considerable experience in adapting the principles and practices of the public governance framework to specific political, institutional and cultural realities, whether national, regional or local.

The OECD undertook an eighteen-month Public Governance Review of Haiti (hereinafter "the Review") to assess and diagnose the current governance environment and reform efforts, with a view to making specific recommendations for reforming the public governance framework. The Review proposes to address five topic areas of public governance that reflect and complement the goals of the Haitian government:

  • Improving the capacity to coordinate and lead the design and implementation of multi-dimensional government policies and services, including through the leadership of the centre of government (CoG), which comprises the Office of the Prime Minister (Primature), the Office of Management and Human Resources (Office de management et des ressources humaines - OMRH), the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation (Ministère de la Planification et de la Coopération externe - MPCE) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (Ministère de l'Économie et des Finances - MEF);

  • Strengthening the use of evidence in strategic and budgetary planning to improve policy development and service delivery, by more clearly articulating the planning of Haiti's national strategy and budget;

  • Promoting effective multi-level governance for better results, i.e. more effective coordination between central and local governments, to foster decentralisation;

  • Strengthening the government's capacity to strategically manage the public service workforce, and

  • Increasing citizen engagement through the promotion of open government and the strategic management of public communication.

The founding of the Republic of Haiti is irrevocably linked to the ideals of General Toussaint Louverture, who championed the idea of an independent Haitian state as early as the end of the 18th century. In particular, he promulgated a new constitution in 1801 that abolished slavery and racial discrimination in all aspects of public life and administration and declared that all those born in the colony were free and equal citizens (Dupuy, 2014[5]). After the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) against the French colonial empire, Haiti proclaimed its declaration of independence on 1 January 1804, led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, considered the "Founding Father" of the Haitian nation and proclaimed Emperor by the generals of the revolutionary army (Dubois, 2012[6]). However, the post-independence period was marked by the large compensation demanded by France for its financial losses in Haiti, which affected the financial stability of the country by creating a cycle of indebtedness to French and foreign banks, which had a major impact on the fiscal resources that successive national governments needed to provide public services to the population (Dupuy, 2014[5]). This unique past has left its mark on the Republic of Haiti to this day and makes Haiti a singular historical case.

Moreover, since its independence, the Republic of Haiti has seen periods of economic, political and social transformation and reform, but also successive periods of political instability and internal struggles accentuated by extreme social stratification as well as numerous external interventions. The country's history has profoundly influenced the institutions and functioning of public governance and is a key factor in understanding the current governance challenges it is facing. This section presents the central governance issues in Haiti by examining some of the main milestones in its history, in order to better understand the links between the country's historical legacy and public governance and its challenges, focusing in particular on three aspects: policy capture, centralisation and administrative and economic concentration and, finally, recurrent political instability.

The development of the state apparatus, shaped from the outset by the colonial period, was constructed as a source of power and resources for a small elite in the country, with periods of political instability and the overthrow of the elites. The post-colonial state was characterised throughout the nineteenth century by "the conflict between political elites for the achievement, exercise and retention of power and the reaction of peasants to working methods and conditions reminiscent of the period of colonial slavery, [which] created problematic relations between the state and society" (Etienne, 2007[7]).

This framework for the capture of resources and public action by certain elites became particularly institutionalised at the beginning of the 20th century, first with the American presence in Haiti from 1915, and then under the regimes of François Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier. The stranglehold of the traditional Port-au-Prince elite on public action was consolidated during the nineteen years of the US Marines' presence on Haitian territory and resulted in the monopolisation of high public service positions in the hands of the traditional elites (Bellegarde-Smith, 2015[8]). This period was to reverse the socio-economic gains of the Haitian peasantry, who had become detached from the operation of the plantations (Bellegarde-Smith, 2015[8]). While François Duvalier subsequently supported the emergence of a new national bourgeoisie, the Duvalierists (Étienne, 2007[9]), the re-emergence of the traditional elite under the leadership of his son, Jean-Claude, was accompanied by the development of an export-oriented liberal economic model (Lundahl, 2013[10]). The capture of agrarian rent and the development of a low value-added industry contributed to the shaping of a predatory state to the detriment of the majority of the population, who saw no improvement in the provision of public services (Nicholls, 1986[11]). This capture of resources by an elite, its economic excesses, corruption and the political and economic exclusion of the marginalised populations all contribute to explain the overthrow of the regime by the population in 1986.

The construction of the administrative organisation of the Haitian territory after independence was also marked by Haiti’s colonial heritage. Indeed, Haitian governors were inspired by the colonial model to develop the new state (Mérion, 1998[12]). It was first the Constitution of 1843 that addressed the concepts of Municipality and the territorial organisation of the country, then the law of 1881 which enshrined this desire for decentralisation and deconcentration. Thus, "in 1806, there were 4 departments, 13 arrondissements and 59 parishes, while in 1843 the evolution was already noticeable with 6 departments, 17 arrondissements and 82 municipalities" (Mérion, 1998[12]). Nevertheless, despite the efforts of the Haitian administration, the process of decentralisation and deconcentration were obscured by "the economic, social, administrative and cultural polarisation around the Republic of Port-au-Prince" (Mérion, 1998[12]).

The concentration and centralisation of power was particularly reinforced by the arrival of François Duvalier, who asserted a strong and authoritarian central power. The centralising orientation of the Duvalier regime was characterised by a spirit of political and administrative control and was based on a system of rentier exploitation of the Haitian countryside (Mérion, 1998[12]). This maintenance of a centralising and authoritarian power was to be continued by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier.

The end of the Duvalier regime marked a period of significant structural change for the Haitian economy and society, as well as for governance, in the direction of greater democratisation and decentralisation of power, notably with the 1987 Constitution. Parliament was dissolved and replaced by a 61-member Constituent Assembly whose task was to draft a constitution that would suit the social and political requirements of the time (Mérion, 1998[12]).This was the era of the dechoukaj1, during which civil society organisations demanded social justice and the destruction of Duvalier's dictatorial political apparatus (Gage, 2000[13]). A new constitution was approved by a popular referendum in March 1987. It was intended to curb the concentration and potential abuse of power in government by establishing decentralisation goals, and checks and balances, including a prominent role for Parliament. The new Constitution also sought a territorial rebalancing of public services, as well as a strong decentralisation and deconcentration of public powers. The 1987 Constitution thus provides for a clear separation of executive, judicial and legislative powers and decentralised governance structures (Manigat, 2011[14]).

Despite the institutionalisation of decentralisation and deconcentration ambitions in the 1987 Constitution, the Republic of Haiti was still marked by administrative underdevelopment in the countryside and the centralisation of power in Port-au-Prince. Thus, at the end of the 1990s, "70% of the administrative establishments are based in Port-au-Prince and more than 80 (administrative) employees live and work there" (Mérion, 1998[12]).

Finally, the country's history is marked by chronic instability, which has hampered both the reform processes undertaken since independence and economic development. The country experienced a very unstable post-independence period, marked by the search for consolidation and legitimisation of the Haitian state. After a civil war between 1807 and 1820, which divided the territory into two distinct zones, it was definitively separated into two states in 1844 (Hector and Hurbon, 2009[15]). From 1858 to 1915, twenty-two presidents, all army generals, succeeded one another, creating a high degree of political instability that affected the country's development (Auguste, 2010[16]). Nevertheless, the 19th century was characterised by attempts to achieve stability and create a uniform administrative system.

This instability continued throughout the 20th century, making it difficult to consolidate democratic governance and political institutions. Following the resignation of Paul Magloire, then President of the Republic of Haiti, five provisional governments followed one another between December 1956 and June 1957 (Étienne, 2007[9]). In this turbulent political framework, the authoritarian regimes of François Duvalier in 1957 and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier, who left power in 1986 following popular revolts, took hold (Étienne, 2007[9]). In the place of parliament, he appointed a military National Governing Council (NGC) which conducted a campaign of violent repression against demonstrations and popular movements and threatened to halt the democratic transition (Étienne, 2007[17]). Following demonstrations, Prosper Avril, a general in the army, was forced to hand over power to Judge Ertha Pascal Trouillot, who was preparing to organise presidential elections.

Democratic institutions and governance were strengthened from the 1990s onwards, although instability remained in a period shaped by a coup d’État. The first democratic elections in Haiti were held in December 1990 and were won by Jean-Bertrand Aristide. His party, Fanmi Lavalas, is rooted in the long historical struggle of poor Haitians to ensure the right of all Haitians to participate directly in political life and to share more equitably in the distribution of national resources (Étienne, 2007[17]). This brief democratic episode was followed by a military coup led by General Raoul Cédras on 30 September 1991, which established a violent and repressive regime and led to an international embargo (Heine and Thompson, 2011[18]). Democratic institutions were restored in October 1994 when President Aristide was reinstated after a period in exile (Belleau, 2009[19]). Under international and domestic pressure, US President Bill Clinton, backed by the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of American States (OAS), launched Operation Uphold Democracy, which occupied Haiti and reinstated President Aristide (Office of the Historian United States Department of States, n.d.[20]). He was then re-elected in December 2000 in controversial elections marked by massive fraud and low voter turnout (United Nations Development Programme Evaluation Office, 2006[21]).2

This period of relative democratic and institutional stability began to falter in 2002. The country was increasingly confronted by a deteriorating economic and security situation (United Nations Development Programme Evaluation Office, 2006[21]). Jean-Baptiste Aristide was facing widespread discontent within society, particularly among the cultural elite, the liberal professions and students, who regularly demonstrated in the streets of Port-au-Prince to denounce the regime's dictatorial drift (Therme, 2014[22]). In January 2004, an armed insurrection in the Gonaives region spread throughout the country (United Nations Development Programme Evaluation Office, 2006[21]). The pressure on President Aristide increased and he finally went into exile on 28 February 2004.

The departure of Jean-Bertrand Aristide led to the arrival in June 2004 of MINUSTAH (Mission des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti - United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti), created by the UN Security Council. While international interventions in Haiti in the 1990s were largely focused on the democratic transition and the protection of human rights, MINUSTAH has a broader mandate and agenda with ambitious goals, including the establishment of the Haitian National Police (Police nationale haïtienne - PNH) and the strengthening of the judiciary and the prison system. In 2017, MINUSTAH was replaced by a smaller UN mission (MINUJUSTH), which aims to reform the country's judicial system. Since October 2019, the UN's political mission, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (Bureau intégré des Nations Unies en Haïti - BINUH), has replaced MINUJUSTH to support Haiti in the organisation of elections and build the capacity of the PNH, including a focus on promoting respect for human rights (Donais, 2011[23]).

At the same time, the democratic transition that began after Aristide's departure presented a "fruitful" conjuncture for proposing reforms that strengthened the capacity of the State. This is reflected in two key decrees:

  • The Decree of 17 May 2005 "On the revision of the general status of the public service", which proposes to rationalise the management of human resources assigned to the various institutions of the public service, to offer high-quality services to the population and to guarantee the principles of equal access to the public service, with the OMRH in particular as a player in the regularisation of the overall framework of the public service.

  • The Decree "On the organisation of the central state administration", issued in July 2005 and revised in September 2016, which proposes a new organisational structure for the central state by creating the major strategic bodies such as the Secretariat General of the Office of the Prime Minister as well as those of the Council of Ministers and the Presidency, as well as the mechanisms and bodies for strategic and operational coordination of the central administration.

However, this transition was slowed down by the earthquake of 2010, which profoundly affected the countryy. This devastating event caused unprecedented human and material disasters: over 230,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and 1.5 million Haitians were displaced (Heine and Thompson, 2011[18]). The total value of the damage inflicted that day is estimated at USD 11 billion, including the loss of more than 285,000 homes and the destruction of many historic state buildings (the Presidency, Parliament, the Court of Cassation and fifteen of the seventeen ministries) (Heine and Thompson, 2011[18]). The aftermath of the earthquake has had a major impact on political stability, the potential for economic recovery and hopes for peacebuilding. In response to the earthquake, national and international players agreed to draw up the Action Plan for National Reconstruction and Development of Haiti (Plan d’action pour le relèvement et le développement national d’Haïti - PARDH). This document identifies four key areas of state reform: Economic -Territorial - Social - Institutional, which now form the basis of the operational framework for Reform.

In addition, the National Strategy Document for Growth and Poverty Reduction (Document de Stratégie Nationale pour la Croissance et pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté - DSNCRP), drawn up in 2006 to correct the technical and managerial dysfunctions that hinder the efficiency of the public administrative system is being reviewed, corrected and reorganised to take into account the new parameters that now permeate the State Reform. This is the framework for the Strategic Development Plan for Haiti (PSDH).Today, the national administration has made public governance reform a national priority, and the Government has taken action on many major initiatives, including human resource management, open government and multi-level governance. Perhaps the most important initiative in this area has been the development of an integrated national development plan, the Strategic Development Plan for Haiti, with a planning horizon of 2030.

The 1987 Constitution stipulates that Haiti is a Republic where three powers coexist: the legislative, executive and judicial. The President of the Republic, elected by direct universal suffrage, is not only the Head of State but also the head of the executive branch, which gives him the right and the ability to set the country on the path to reform and modernisation. It is indeed the executive branch that has the constitutional responsibility for public administration reform. The President is elected for a five-year term and may be re-elected for a non-consecutive term. The legislative branch is composed of two representative chambers: the Chamber of Deputies, which has 99 seats, and the Senate, which has 30 seats. Constitutionally, Parliament plays a crucial role in the governance of the country. Its responsibilities include appointing the Prime Minister, adopting the government's budget and overseeing the operation of the ministries and the cabinet. The balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government addresses the primary concern of the drafters of the Constitution, which was to ensure that the executive powers of the President are checked in order to avoid the concentration of power in the hands of a single individual.

Since the adoption of the Haitian Constitution of 1987, amended in 2012, public governance has been marked by a continuous process of reforms, depending on the national framework, including socio-economic, political and humanitarian factors affecting the country. These reform ambitions are defined by two initiatives: the reform of administrative governance, notably through decentralisation, and economic and fiscal governance, through the reform of public finances, with the aim of being able to offer better public services to Haitian citizens, promote inclusive and sustainable growth and establish an emerging economy by 2030. Indeed, since 2012, Haiti has committed to clear reform goals, in agreement with its international partners. The key text is the Strategic Development Plan for Haiti (PSDH), which sets out a comprehensive framework for reforming Haiti's institutional apparatus, including the state's political and administrative system, economic governance, justice, education, health and the environment. This document facilitates the implementation of the comprehensive State reform and defines the major strategic projects to be carried out for Haiti's emergence by 2030. It constitutes the "new strategic framework for planning, programming and managing the country's development in the short, medium and long term" (MPCE), to which the ongoing interventions of international donors and the administrative and economic reforms are aligned. These contribute to the achievement of its goals and are supported by framework documents such as the State Modernisation Programme 2018-2023 (PME-2023) and the Public Finance Reform Strategy (PFRS).

The PME-2023, designed and piloted by the OMRH, constitutes "the intervention framework that is intended to allow for the coherence and coordination of programmes in the area of state reform, including the promotion of good governance practices". It is also a question of effectively introducing certain commitments and principles of the State that have remained unfulfilled, despite what is provided for in the Haitian Constitution. In order to maintain continuity with previous PCREs, the State Modernisation Programme 2023 (PME-2023) has identified fundamental goals, while integrating the contributions of past experiences and achievements. The PME-2023 has six (6) goals (Office de Management et des Ressources Humaines, 2018[4]):  

  • to improve the quality of services while developing a relationship of trust between users and the administration;

  • to provide a modernised working environment for civil servants by fully involving them in the definition and monitoring of the modernisation project;

  • to rethink and optimise public spending to achieve better public service delivery at lower cost;

  • to improve human resource management by developing a more attractive and competitive public service that respects equal opportunity, ethical principles and the promotion of merit and excellence;

  • to transform the public administration so that it is able to steer the country's development and its emergence by 2030, and

  • to establish structures to monitor, expose and combat corrupt practices in order to develop a culture of good public governance.

The implementation of the PME is grouped into 3 pillars, (I) Renewing the administrative system, (II) Strengthening the coordination of government action and territorial governance and, (III) Reforming public finance and economic governance.

Since the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, the idea of reforming and modernising the organisational, management and human resources framework has been a constant goal, embodied by the main players in State reform, namely the institutions at the heart of public governance and those acting in the context of international cooperation, as technical and financial support for reform projects. The main institutions are:

  • The Parliament;

  • The General Secretariat of the Office of the Prime Minister;

  • The Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation (MPCE);

  • The Office of Management and Human Resources (OMRH), which is a strategic body under the Office of the Prime Minister;

  • The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), and

  • The Commission for Reform of Public Finance and Economic Governance (Commission de réforme des finances publiques et de gouvernance économique - CR/FP-GE), composed of representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation and the Higher Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation.

For the past three decades, these institutions have been in constant evolution to reform themselves in order to promote the proper formulation of public policies that meet the criteria of feasibility (capacity to implement them) and prioritisation of the most urgent socio-economic needs.

Recurrent episodes of institutional and political instability have affected Haiti's economic and social development. Over the past two decades, GDP has grown by an average of 1.3% per year and is estimated to have contracted by 0.9% in 2019 (Banque mondiale, 2020[2]). In addition, Haiti has not fully recovered from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, which destroyed part of the country's economy and infrastructure, especially in the South and Southeast regions. Losses and damages were estimated at USD 1,887.9 million, of which USD 773.9 million was in the productive sectors (agriculture, livestock, fisheries, trade, industry and tourism) (Gouvernement de la République d'Haïti, 2016[24]). Moreover, the country suffers structurally from the weakness of its industrial production of consumer goods, which forces it to depend on the outside world and thus makes a large part of wealth creation dependent on agricultural activities. Nevertheless, Haiti has many economic advantages which, if properly exploited, could lead to sustained and sustainable economic growth. Indeed, the country has a young workforce, with 30% of the active population being under 25 years of age, which could constitute important human capital. Moreover, as the most populous country in the region, Haiti represents a major domestic market for the private sector. The country also maintains economic relations with the outside world thanks to an extremely dynamic diaspora. In 2019, economic transfers thus accounted for more than 23% of national GDP (Banque mondiale, 2021[25]). Finally, the country has certain assets in sectors with high growth potential, such as tourism, agriculture and the textile industry (Sánchez Gutiérrez and Gilbert, 2017[26]). In addition, Haitian youth represent a tremendous potential for the country's future, which must be taken into account at the heart of State reforms in order to strengthen their participation in public decision-making and to allow the emergence of public policies and services that fully meet their needs.

Although extreme poverty has decreased nationally from 31% in 2000 to 24% in 2012 (Banque mondiale, Observatoire National de la Pauvreté et de l’Exclusion Sociale, 2014[27]), it is still a major challenge for the country. Today, an estimated 2.5 million Haitians live in extreme poverty (on less than USD 1.25 per day), mostly in rural areas (USAID, 2020[28]). Inequality is particularly exacerbated by the gap between urban and rural areas. During the period 2000-2012, urban poverty was halved, while poverty levels stagnated in rural areas (USAID, 2020[28]). These areas have an economy largely dependent on small farms, characterised by low-yield agricultural production, and are particularly affected by increasing food pressure, labour shortages and recurrent natural disasters (USAID, 2020[28]). Persistent inequalities and rural poverty also reflect the lack of essential public services (e.g., health, education, mobility and public safety services), compared to the level of services provided in urban areas. This lack of essential services contributes both to the maintenance of these inequalities and to the public's distrust of government, as people are not satisfied with the public services they receive. This may partly explain the difficulties in mobilising revenue at the local level.

In addition, gender inequality is still present in society. Haitian women earn on average 32% less than men, and after remaining low and unchanged for ten years, Haiti's gender equity score (CPIA) dropped in 2016, "signalling a deterioration in the quality of institutions and policies promoting gender equity" (International Monetary Fund, 2020[29]).

High levels of poverty, as well as political, economic and environmental problems, have caused many Haitians to leave. It was estimated in 2015 that about 1.2 million Haitians were living outside the country (OECD and Institut interuniversitaire pour la recherche et le développement, 2017[30]).This figure should be put into perspective with the assets that this population represents for Haiti, which are not being fully exploited by the country. This is particularly true for the investment of remittances, which can be put into education and the agricultural sector to produce virtuous circles. Financial education is also an important asset, which would enable people to invest the money obtained from remittances productively (OECD and Institut interuniversitaire pour la recherche et le développement, 2017[30]). Finally, it is essential to develop sustainable job creation policies in Haiti to improve and structure the labour market.

Haiti is one of the countries in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region with the lowest public expenditure per capita, at USD PPP 359 in 2017, in contrast to an average of USD PPP 5138 in the LAC region (OECD, 2020[31]). This translates into limited social investment, with Haiti spending only a small share of its GDP on improving public services and infrastructure. In 2019, only 24% of citizens were satisfied with health services, while 39% were satisfied with education-related services (OECD, 2020[31]). Confidence in the government has remained stable between 2007 and 2018, averaging around 41% (OECD, 2020[31]).

Haiti is exposed to a wide range of natural disasters, including landslides, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. Although many Caribbean countries face similar threats, the low proportion of robust infrastructure and the lack of good urban planning mean that Haiti's urban areas are the ones most affected by natural disasters in the region, both in human and material terms. Overall, its geographical location prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, combined with its high population density, makes it a particularly vulnerable country. Over the past 30 years, the impact of climate change has worsened weather conditions. Indeed, since 1998, Haiti has been hit by a dozen tropical storms and hurricanes that have caused a great deal of material, physical and psychological damage, as well as the death of a large number of people (University de Fondwa, 2018[32]). In addition, these disasters exacerbate the pressures on the country's weak infrastructure, including the national health system. In addition, the destruction of infrastructure, such as reduced access to clean water, could lead to major epidemic crises (e.g. cholera).

These natural disasters leave a lasting impact on the country. For example, the January 2010 earthquake caused massive damage to property and infrastructure, particularly in urban areas such as Port-au-Prince; it killed more than 230,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million. This event had unprecedented societal and economic repercussions, which have strongly affected Haitian public governance. The state lost 17% of its civil servants that day (Forst, 2012[33]), which considerably destabilised the country. This combination of recurrent environmental factors and the destruction of the economic and social situation constitutes a major obstacle to good governance and sustainable and inclusive growth in Haiti.

Haiti is currently governed by President Jovenel Moïse, who was elected in 2016 after turbulent elections, which led to ongoing conflict with the political opposition3. The latter criticises the lack of clarity of the Haitian electoral calendar and in particular is challenging the end date of the presidential term. This unresolved dispute takes place in the context of a lack of parliamentary quorum since January 2020 and the expiration of the parliament's mandate, in a context in which President Moses has moved to governance by Decree. At the same time, the security situation in Haiti is deteriorating, with crime and kidnappings affecting the population in urban areas, particularly in Port-au-Prince (Bureau intégré des Nations Unies en Haïti, 2021[34]). This unstable security context has also hampered the effective implementation of the State's efforts to reform public governance. In addition, several general elections will be held during 2021 to renew the entire political class, from the president to local authorities.

In this fraught socio-political context, it is essential to stress that the success of public governance reform efforts, including the implementation of the Review's findings and recommendations, depends in part on national political will and the stability of political and socio-economic conditions. This Review therefore provides advice not only for the current government, but for the Haitian national administration as a whole, in the context of a regular and continuous reform process over time.

The current challenges facing Haiti are multiple: economic, political, social, demographic and climatic. These challenges are not new, but the product of the historical trends described above, and of exogenous events that make the governance framework more complex. In response, it is essential to promote resilient and effective public governance in the face of increasingly unpredictable challenges. In light of these remarks, the Review focuses on coordination between the various government players and technical and financial partners (TFPs) to facilitate the implementation of public governance projects and goals. The general comment is that there has been significant progress in some areas of reform, notably in strengthening the human resources of the public service and in implementing a decentralisation policy. However, the lack of coordination and definition of key reform areas makes it difficult to achieve the goals set by the government. It is essential to promote a clear and unified vision of the goals of reform players in Haiti, as affirmed in framework documents such as the PME-2023 and the PSDH.

The expected results of the Public Governance Review of Haiti include strengthening the capacity of the Government of Haiti to design and successfully implement a reform programme in order to:

  • Improve capacity to lead and guide an interdepartmental strategy, as well as to lead a whole-of-government strategy by effectively coordinating administrative silos to set and pursue national development goals, while more effectively articulating donor-led governance reform activities that pursue these goals;

  • Strengthen the links between fiscal strategy and planning to improve policy development and service delivery;

  • Strengthen the vertical relationship between central government, departments and municipalities to develop a stronger sub-national administrative capacity;

  • Strengthen the capacity of the public service by managing its national, departmental and municipal workforce more strategically, improving planning, recruitment, promotion, mobility and training practices;

  • Strengthen citizen engagement and government openness for greater transparency, responsiveness and accountability, and use good monitoring and evaluation practices to improve policies and services where results are unsatisfactory;

  • Design and use government-wide monitoring and evaluation frameworks, in particular to increase performance information based on robust targets and indicators;

  • Develop and implement the government's strategic plans and fiscal framework to significantly improve capacity and service delivery to citizens, leading to improved outcomes in health, education, safety and security, water and electricity, etc.

  • Evaluate the implementation of this programme in terms of its impact on improving outcomes for citizens, so that information on performance can inform further reforms to improve outcomes.

The Review identifies the key areas in the various fields of public governance that the government has identified as priorities for its reform goals. These topics must be addressed in order to establish an inclusive and accountable public administration that promotes public policies and services that are responsive to the needs of Haitian citizens.

  • Chapter 2 looks at improving the capacity to lead and guide the design and implementation of strategic policies and services across government. It identifies current problems with the decision-making framework and institutional coordination capacity of the CoG. It also analyses the government's capacity to coordinate the development, implementation and performance monitoring of strategic planning in the context of the significant international support it receives.

  • Chapter 3 focuses on strengthening the strategy and capacity for budget planning and evaluation to improve policy making and public service delivery. It assesses current government approaches to these issues, with a view to providing advice on how to improve strategic planning and effectively address these challenges. It also makes recommendations on how to develop frameworks and tools for monitoring and evaluating the strategy, including methods for setting performance indicators and results-based targets, in order to measure progress and enable the Government to change course if results are not being achieved.

  • Chapter 4 stresses the importance of promoting fluid and effective vertical relationships between central and local governments, as well as strengthening sub-national administrative capacity. It includes an analysis of the governance arrangements in place to improve service design, delivery and citizen engagement and to improve impact and outcomes on the ground:

    • Horizontal and vertical relationships between CoG institutions, sectoral ministries and local authorities in a given service area;

    • Strengthening the administrative capacity of municipalities and departments;

    • The vertical relationships between levels of government, and

    • Horizontal coordination between regional/local authorities

  • Chapter 5 deals with capacity building in the public service. It provides an analysis of the public service with a view to improving its merit, capacity and the efficiency of human resource allocation, particularly in the context of donor-supported activity in this area.

  • Chapter 6 deals with strengthening citizen engagement and opening up government for greater transparency and responsiveness. Public sector accountability approaches must ensure that citizens have the capacity and opportunity to obtain key information about government activity and performance and to influence the evolution of government policy and the design and delivery of services through effective engagement and participation. From this perspective, the chapter makes recommendations on transparency and civic engagement frameworks at the national and sub-national levels in Haiti.

Given the political, socio-economic and environmental challenges facing Haiti today, contemporary reforms favour a strategic approach to planning, and their implementation strives for coherence and efficiency. This Public Governance Review of Haiti, conducted by the OECD on behalf of the Office of Management and Human Resources, presents five key areas of study within the broader framework of public administration and finance reform: whole-of-government co-ordination, strategic planning and evaluation frameworks, multi-level governance, public service capacity and open government. The topic areas developed in the Review echo and aim to address in a sustainable manner the key challenges to public governance described in this chapter, namely: policy capture, concentration and centralisation of power, political fragmentation and governmental instability.

Thus, the Review's analyses take into account Haitian historical, economic and social factors, as well as the OECD's international experience, to better support the government in achieving the goals of the PME-2023 and the PSDH. This Review also encompasses the goals of donors and TFPs, presenting courses of action that promote inclusive, effective, efficient and resilient public governance, avoiding overlap with external assistance and proposing coordinated projects that meet the current needs of the Haitian government. Building on the framework documents for reform, the five chapters of this report propose model trajectories for public governance reform that should be prioritised to promote sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development for all Haitians.


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← 1. Commonly translated as "disembowelling", this arrangement illustrates the ambition to "uproot all the bases of the dictatorship" (Hector and Hurbon, 2009[42]).

← 2. Prevented by the Constitution from running for a second consecutive term in 1995, Jean-Bertrand Aristide backed his closest ally, René Garcia Préval, who was elected president in December of that year.

← 3. The drafting of this report and the related fact-finding activities were carried out from February 2019 to June 2021.

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