Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) was commissioned by New Zealands International Aid and Development Agency (NZAID) and Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) to conduct a four-week regional learning program on Managing Public Sector Reform from 19 October to 13 November 2009 for eighteen government officials of the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries. The program aimed to acquaint participants with modern public administration concepts and administrative structures that promote better service delivery. It sought to improve participants knowledge and skills in leading and managing public sector reform and enhance their skills through sharing experience and lessons learned from selected public enterprises. The course also set out to promote communication, cooperation and trust among professionals across the GMS by encouraging participants to exchange experience on public sector reform and reform initiatives in the GMS.  

The learning program was designed and delivered using modular training approach where participants went through three progressive stages : i) Learn to Do training on concepts, techniques and tools to be employed; ii) Do to Learn the participants were required to apply what they learned in their work assignments with proper coaching from assigned advisors; and iii) Share to Learn the participants had opportunity to present the results of their group works and share their experiences and lessons learned.

Three external resource persons and three in-house subject experts were invited to deliver lectures and facilitate discussions, and share experiences with the participants. Five structured learning visits in the Khon Kaen Province of Northeastern of Thailand were organized to enhance the participants understanding of the contents and help them to apply the acquired knowledge into their works.

The learning program is comprised of four inter-related modules. Program overview Setting the context allowed the participants to explore their expectations, and acquaint with each other. It also provided an overview of the learning program, methodologies and process. Module 1 Understanding the Need for Reform introduced the concepts of public sector reform in general, and impact of globalization on GMS public sectors and importance of good governance in particular. Module 2 Managing Public Sector Reform covered different approaches of transforming public agencies and enterprises through restructuring, decentralization, corporation and privatization. Module 3 Sustaining Reform focused on several key areas of public sector reform, including decentralization, administrative reform, provision of services (outsourcing, one-stop-shops, public private partnerships) and privatization. The modules provided participants with insights on how to lead effective and sustainable change.

The results from a range of evaluation methods showed high satisfaction rating by the participants. However, recommendations for improvement included more time, more case studies and group activities especially for the sessions such as impact of globalization and leadership, and field visits for each module.

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