Policy Adviser, United Nations Development Programme
Focus: Civil Service
Topics: Performance Management System
Keywords: Civil Service Commission, corruption, decentralization, depoliticization, donor relations, job descriptions, merit pay, one-stop shops, patronage, pay reform, performance management, presidential appointees, promotion, ranks and grades, recruitment
Interviewer(s): David Hausman
Country of Reform: Vietnam
Location: Hanoi, Viet Nam
Date: Wed Aug 26 2009
Jairo Acuña-Alfaro discusses Vietnam’s past and, at the time of the interview, ongoing and future efforts to reform the civil service. He discusses the Vietnamese public sector’s shortcomings, including corruption, nepotism, politicization, low salaries and a lack of clear job descriptions. Vietnam seeks to modernize its civil service by introducing merit-based considerations in recruitment and promotions; to encourage professionalism by restructuring and formalizing the civil service and improving performance management; to improve service delivery through decentralization, consolidation, and the establishment of one-stop shops; and to curtail corruption by enacting pay reform and monetizing benefits. He also discusses challenges specific to Vietnam, including the politicization of civil service through the single-party system, rigid hierarchism and the consequent lack of initiative from subordinates, and other cultural factors. Finally, Acuña-Alfaro emphasizes the establishment of best practices as key to reforming a country’s civil service.
Full InterviewDownload MP3 (61MB)
Jairo Acuna-Alfaro Interview
At the time of this interview, Jairo Acuña-Alfaro had been working for the United Nations Development Programme since 2007. Prior to that, he had worked with the UNDP in Costa Rica; with the World Bank in Washington, D.C.; and at the World Bank Institute, where he studied governance and anticorruption. Acuña-Alfaro earned a doctoral degree in political economy from Oxford University.