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Kazakhstan determined to measure and improve its public administration
“You can’t manage what you can‘t measure.” It is this old adage, often attributed to management guru Peter Drucker, which informs the latest efforts by the state of Kazakhstan to improve the efficiency of its own administration. By Presidential decree, Kazakhstan is embarking on a public administration assessment. Its results will serve to benchmark progress and inform management.
Kazakhstan’s transitional path has led to new administrative challenges for the state. Over the period of the last 20 years the country has significantly improved its human development record: Between 1990 and 2010, expected years of schooling in Kazakhstan increased by almost 3 years, the GNI per capita increased by 33 per cent, and although life expectancy at birth shows a slight decrease on the overall period, it has increased by 1.8 years since 2000 and continues on this increasing trend. Victim of its own success, Kazakhstan faces these as well as other challenges including a growing private sector, oil resource management, and centre/periphery relations.
As a result, there is strong demand for an efficient modern civil service, a management structure optimized to regulate and service the market economy; strong capability to decide on and implement priorities, and a state that protects national interests. Combined they form part of a greater demand for a professional state, which is highlighted as a priority, on its own merit, in the long-term development strategy "Kazakhstan-2030: Prosperity, security and improved living standards for all Kazakhs". The point is reiterated in the Strategic Plan 2020, which states that a primary task should be to increase the effectiveness of state planning and governance.
If successful, the assessment may serve to push administrative reform: for example, one clear goal is strengthen performance-based management. This requires indicators that map performance, as well as processes and factors affecting it. Keen to draw on lessons from the international experience, Kazakhstan has looked at the UK capability Review, which assesses “strategy”, such as the capability to base choices on evidence; as well as “delivery”, such as the capability to plan, resource and prioritize.
The President’s Administration is taking the lead in the development of the methodology of public administration assessment, which includes a system of annual performance assessments of central state and local executive bodies of oblasts (regions), cities of republican status and capital cities. The pilot stage of the assessment was implemented by the Center of the Strategic Development of the Presidential Administration together with the focal points from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the Agency on Regulation of Natural Monopolies and the Akimat (governor) of the capital cities. The evaluation was conducted as per four criteria: (1) strategic planning; (2) achievement of results and coordination among the state bodies; (3) achievement results as per the mandate of the state institutions; (4) information sharing on the assessment.
In December 2010, based on a request from the Center of the Strategic Development of the Presidential Administration, UNDP provided international expertise to assist with developing the assessment tool.