Centers of Government
retreat, center of government, Kagame, Vision 2020, steering committee, strategic planning, AGI, coordination
In 2008, President Paul Kagame was deeply frustrated with his government’s inability to move Rwanda forward after civil war and genocide decimated the African nation in the early 1990s. Four years earlier, concerned about his government’s lack of progress in improving services, he had launched yearly retreats to help Rwanda’s top leaders develop ministerial priorities and shape plans for service delivery. While the concept seemed simple, implementation was not. Early national leadership retreats, some a week long, failed to meet expectations. Poor planning and fast-changing agendas left ministers uncertain about their roles. Reflecting the disorder, retreat participants set hundreds of objectives, and post-retreat implementation lagged. In 2008, frustrated by service delivery failures, public sector inertia and duplication across ministries, Kagame took steps to enhance coordination at the top levels of government. He created two units, a Strategy and Policy Unit within his own office and a Coordination Unit in the prime minister’s office. These actions helped improve the retreat planning process. The two units worked with a retreat steering committee headed by Minister of Cabinet Affairs Protais Musoni. A reallocation of roles at the center of government and a concerted effort to build planning capacity further streamlined the retreat process. By 2011, the retreats had become high-level forums for government planning, coordination and accountability. Participants at the 2011 event developed six priorities, compared with 174 at the retreat two years earlier.
Deepa Iyer drafted this policy note on the basis of interviews conducted in Kigali, Rwanda, in September 2011. Case published March 2012. A separate policy note, “The Promise of Imihigo: Decentralized Service Delivery in Rwanda,” focuses on planning and monitoring for local governments.