Reworking the Revenue Service: Tax Collection in South Africa, 1999-2009
Focus: Civil Service
Topics: Managing Diversity, Evaluation and Performance, Training, Ranks and Grades, Civil Service Recruitment
Type: Case Studies
Author: David Hausman
Keywords: evaluation and performance, managing diversity, recruitment, revenue, revenue authority, South Africa
Between 1998 and 2009, the South African Revenue Service dramatically improved tax compliance. The number of income-tax payers increased to 4.1 million from 2.6 million during the period. Several internal organizational changes helped the revenue service persuade more South Africans to pay their taxes. This case study tells the story of two of those changes in particular: the recruitment of a new cadre of managers from both within and outside the organization and a campaign to provide taxpayers with better service to encourage compliance. The organization used diagnostic tests as well as informal recruiting to rebuild the ranks of upper and middle management, transforming the racial make-up of the organization while improving performance. Meanwhile, in order to improve service for taxpayers, a team of managers and consultants separated back and front offices and introduced an annual "filing season" in which employees of the revenue service left their offices to help taxpayers file their returns. In each of these changes, Pravin Gordhan, revenue-service commissioner from 1999 to 2009, played a central role, both determining policy and overseeing the details of implementation.