Diagnostics & recommendations

The socio-economic challenges confronting the Republic of Haiti are to some extent the result of structural weaknesses in the Haitian governance system, largely inherited from a history punctuated by environmental, economic and political crises, including: administrative and economic centralisation and concentration, the policy capture and political fragmentation. These problems have hindered the implementation of effective and efficient public governance for the benefit of all Haitians and undermined the country’s ability to achieve its ambitious development goals.

Thus, to help Haiti effectively address these challenges, this Review is structured around five key themes of public governance and offers recommendations to help the country achieve its priority reform objectives. Motivated by a strong desire for continuity and consistency with existing initiatives, the OECD is proposing a series of recommendations to the Haitian government in the fields of:

  • Whole-of-government coordination,

  • Fact and data-driven decision-making,

  • Multi-level governance,

  • The strategic management of the civil service, and

  • Open government.

These themes are in line with Haiti's framework documents, including the 2018-2023 State Modernisation Programme (Programme de Modernisation de l’État 2018-2023 - PME-2023) and Haiti's Strategic Development Plan (Plan Stratégique de Développement d’Haïti - PSDH), and are intended to support their implementation and contribute to the achievement of the government's economic and social development ambitions. Considering and implementing the OECD's recommendations represents a crucial opportunity to consolidate the reforms of the past and launch new initiatives that could help make Haiti an emerging economy by 2030. This report has been produced with the support and financial assistance of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.

Centres of government are the backbone of public governance systems, particularly in the coordination, decision-making and priority-setting functions. In a governance context punctuated by socio-economic, political, environmental and humanitarian crises, the development of strategic policies and political leadership alongside better coordination of government policies and actions in Haiti is critical to achieving its objectives.

The Haitian government has legally mandated institutions to perform the key functions of the centre of government, notably coordination. The framework established by the decree of 17 May 2005 on the organisation of the central administration of the State, and the establishment in 2006 of certain institutions such as the Office of Management and Human Resources (Office de Management et des ressources humaines - OMRH) demonstrate the desire to modernise public administration and strengthen the coordination capacities of the State. Nevertheless, the legal construct of the centre of government is shaped by an anachronistic legal framework, with gaps and overlapping mandates that in practice impede the design, coordination and implementation of cross-cutting policies. These weaknesses are visible among the institutions of the centre of government and within such specific institutions as the Prime Minister's Office. Clarifying the mandate of the Haitian centre of government and its various players would help to overcome this fragmentation to better respond to multidimensional challenges.

In addition, coordination in Haiti is hampered by inadequate levels of institutional collaboration and inherent weaknesses in the planning system. In particular, many councils or bodies, such as the Directors General Forum, seldom or never meet, and a number of networks of officials useful to participants have been allowed to lapse. Moreover, there is a lack of mechanisms for collaboration and communication between some key institutions, such as OMRH and the Ministry of Finance (Ministère de l’Économie et des Finances – MEF). On one hand, the large number of sectoral and thematic tables has made it possible to address a wide range of public policy issues, but tends to make coordination and decision-making more complex. Finally, the national planning system is characterised by a lack of coherence between sectoral strategic documents and central national strategies, which undermines the coordination of government action.

The Haitian centre of government faces an additional complicating factor in its decision-making. The weight of development support requires an increased level of coordination to share information and ensure that projects advance national strategic priorities, that funding is aligned with national plans and that monitoring and evaluation frameworks can directly link development support to national strategic impact and results.

The Haitian strategic plans, PME-2023 and PSDH, were built on the successes and failures of the previous strategic plans. Thus, many good practices can be seen in the PME-2023: clear public policy objectives that can be measured by indicators, as well as an explicit logic model, allow for clear monitoring. However, the PME-2023 has methodological limitations and lacks coherence with other planning instruments that could hamper the generation of evidence. This could limit their effectiveness as strategic planning instruments.

In terms of public financial management, the ambitions of the Haitian government and administration are enshrined in the Public Financial Reform Strategy and the Law of 4 May 2016. Over the past twenty years, significant progress has been made in establishing a solid budgetary base. However, challenges remain in putting the fundamentals in place, which need to be well anchored before more ambitious reforms can be considered. Nevertheless, some reforms can be implemented in parallel to move towards multi-annual and performance-based budgeting. These reforms focus on the development of a medium-term budgetary framework and the budget preparation phase.

In the area of monitoring and evaluation of public policies, it is essential to emphasise that the main challenge is to clarify the institutional framework of these two practices. The current system remains fragmented. There is no governmental framework for the practice of evaluation. There is also no explicit definition of evaluation that is shared by all players. A framework to structure and frame monitoring and evaluation practices is needed to promote the production and use of evidence.

To address wide socio-economic disparities, the government promulgated in its 1987 Constitution the principles of decentralisation, which are based on three distinct levels of local government (departments, municipalities and municipal sections), with the aim of structuring new administrative, economic, social and political relations. Nevertheless, a number of challenges in multi-level governance are preventing the proper implementation of decentralisation and deconcentration objectives: the inadequacy of the legislative framework for local government, difficulties in making it operational, the lack of consensus and a clear definition of their roles, and the resulting lack of capacity within local government.

In order to promote and improve the effectiveness of decentralisation and deconcentration, within the context of sound public governance, it is essential to create a strong and operational strategic governance framework. This must be supported by planning instruments and underpinned by coordination mechanisms between the various levels of government and an effective system of performance monitoring and evaluation. In this regard, one of the main challenges of multi-level governance that the Haitian government itself has highlighted is its relative inability to translate national strategic decisions into specific policies at the territorial level. Indeed, a range of institutions at the central level are directly and indirectly involved in the management of local authorities in Haiti. The institutional landscape in this area is fragmented, especially through the fragmentation of the political and legal decision-making bodies that govern the management of the local authorities.

At the local government level, it is also necessary to strengthen territorial coordination structures and to implement the national deconcentration policy (Politique Nationale de Déconcentration - PND). The aim of the PND is to gradually change centralised working habits, to involve decentralised players more in decision-making and to bring the administration closer to the people. It could thus guarantee a better distribution of public services throughout the country and thus the balanced development of the country.

Mandate overlaps and difficulties in making the legal framework operational, poor coordination between levels of government and mismatches between local government resources and their legal mandates contribute to this situation.

The development of a competent civil service is an essential pillar of effective governance responsive to the needs of citizens. Building such a civil service requires laws, enforcement processes and structures to identify, attract, and develop the skills deemed necessary. This requires three elements around which efforts must be concentrated: a competent and effective senior civil service, the strengthening of the notion of merit throughout career management and clearly defined institutional responsibilities for each civil service actor.

The State Modernisation Plan 2018-2023, in some of its working areas, emphasises the importance of these three aspects to modernise the Haitian state and better meet the expectations of citizens. These priorities resonate strongly with the OECD Council Recommendation on Leadership and Capacity in the Public Service. Nevertheless, the Haitian public administration faces many challenges, the resolution of which will determine the success of the implementation of the PME-2023.

The professionalisation of the senior civil service appears to be a first step in the modernisation of the civil service. By the nature of their role, between the design and implementation of public policies, the major Haitian bureaucrats are driving forces in the implementation of the PME-2023. Indeed, PME-2023 can only be achieved if the agents of change, i.e., the managers, act as convinced defenders and advocates of the principles of good human resources management. This requires greater accountability in the appointment process for senior bureaucrats and specialised management of their careers.

This career management must not only apply to senior bureaucrats, but must also be extended to all civil servants. This must be done by strengthening competency management. From identification to utilisation, attraction and development, talent management is a practical application of the concept of merit, ensuring that each job meets the expectations of potential talent and the needs of the administration. Broadening the recruitment process to include candidates from diverse backgrounds is a major challenge in Haiti. Communication strategies need to address more diverse audiences, focusing in particular on youth and reflecting the place of the Creole language in Haiti.

Finally, the PME-2023 needs the stakeholders supporting it to have the necessary tools to assume their institutional responsibilities. Indeed, the OMRH does not have the strategic oversight that the Superior Council of Public Administration and the Civil Service (CSAFP) should in theory provide. HRDs are limited in their functions by their isolation and the lack of protection of their independence and neutrality. The clear definition of institutional responsibilities will certainly be a central issue in the forthcoming establishment of the Haitian territorial civil service.

The recommendations relating to these three themes are based on the PME-2023, the OECD Council Recommendation on Public Service Leadership and Capability and feedback from many OECD countries. They are intended to highlight some of the pathways which must be taken for the professionalisation of the Haitian public service, and thus for the successful implementation of the PME-2023.

Political, social and economic instability constrains the very possibility of establishing a culture of transparency, accountability, integrity and participation in the country’s public life, in other words open government. Institutional strengthening and effective checks and balances are preconditions for any open government reform. The latter has a key role to play in defining and implementing a statutory and regulatory framework to protect civic space and restore stakeholder confidence, which are essential conditions for their collaboration and participation in public decision-making. A supportive framework is all the more crucial as stakeholders themselves face many challenges in the current framework.

Political support for the principles of open government at all levels of governance must be accompanied by a clear commitment at the highest level of government to support the successful implementation of the initiatives promoted. Such leadership is needed to create and embed a change in the culture of governance towards the effective promotion of the principles of transparency, accountability, integrity and participation.

However, it is still difficult to obtain government data and documentation on public actions, procedures and services at all levels. In addition, the use of consultation initiatives and citizen participation mechanisms remains limited at this stage, offering little opportunity for real collaboration between government and civil society. Similarly, public communication management is not yet sufficiently strategic and equipped to contribute fully to the government's public policy objectives and to the more specific reforms aimed at promoting the principles of transparency, integrity, accountability and participation of open government. A gradual and sustained deepening of initial efforts and an increase in the resources allocated to their implementation, both in the short and long term, will be essential to its full deployment.

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