Outdated bureaucratic civil services structure up for makeover

  • Around 120 top brains of the country from public and private sector gather at national moot to thrash out civil reforms package


The Federal government on Monday kick-started brainstorming processes for a paradigm shift in the country’s good governance by formulating reforms for civil services.

The reforms are aimed at transforming the decaying and outdated bureaucratic structure of the country.

The extraordinary effort reflects a process to install an innovative and modern governance system to help bring in quality, efficiency and excellence in public service so that governance is at par with public expectations.

Around 120 top brains of the country from the public and private sector gathered at the National Consultative Workshop on Civil Service Reforms to thrash out a reform package, which will be presented to the prime minister for approval.

The workshop is the final round of a consultative process to decide the Civil Service Reform, launched in 2013. Many stakeholders will attend the moot.

Top babus also expressed their resolve to back the reform agenda. Secretary Establishment Nadeem Hasan Asif admitted the glaring flaws in the government delivery system. He said that despite the fact that successive governments have tried to deliver goods to people at large, the service delivery flaws always ruin their plans. He assured the participants of full implementation of the final draft for reforms.

Secretary Planning, Development and Reforms Hassan Nawaz Tarrar said that top brains from various fields had been invited to help build a visionary and modern yet practical reforms agenda to help improve delivery systems.


The blueprint of the proposed reforms, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today, suggests some drastic changes in the civil service structure. The blueprint illustrated a public sector reform roadmap to help manage and enhance the performance of the civil servants. Key recommendations include performance contracting, a performance fund and a performance investment framework.

The recommendations have urged the federal, provincial and district governments to introduce service delivery effectiveness index for all public sector employees so a proper performance monitoring system can be installed, and promotions should be performance-based.

Capacity development for all the employees has been proposed besides training within the country and abroad. Moreover, government-to-government exchange programme would also be introduced so as the Pakistani civil officers could be sent to other countries where they could serve in foreign governments for short term arrangement and learn the modern delivery systems. It is also proposed to invite officers from other countries to serve in Pakistani institutions so they could bring in quality reforms. The government is also planning to arrange South-to-South Knowledge Exchange Visits for the bureaucrats to help them learn from the systems of other South Asian states.


In order to enhance the institutional capacity of e-governance, the Citizen’s Feedback Model and a Chief Information Officer Programme have been proposed. Strategic partnership and leveraging branchless banking and installation of a smart government institute is needed. Moreover, state of the art government to citizens’ portals should be designed besides installing governance innovation applications store.

The blueprint also carries innovative pro-public ideas of installing Open Data Initiative (ODI), Digital Government Strategy and Free Internet facility for all.


The proposed draft also carries ideas to be introduced to help excellence governance PM’s Innovation & Excellence Awards, Service Delivery & Reform Innovation Fund, Innovation Champions and P2P network, and National Innovation Policy/Strategy.

Addressing the opening session of the workshop, Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Ahsan Iqbal said that this is an opportunity to the stakeholders to suggest reforms for your own future.

“We need to bring in reforms based on incentives, punishment, and performance-driven structure. Moreover, different, specified tests and examinations should be held for various fields. The outcome of this workshop would be reflection of collective wisdom of all those participating in it and stressed that they should come up with the recommendations that would be practical and doable,” the minister said.

He informed the participants that letters were sent to seek the inputs from political parties on civil service reforms. He said, however three major political parties are part of this reform agenda through their provincial governments in different provinces.

Ahsan Iqbal pointed out that Pakistan is bestowed with capable civil servants who were selected on merit; but unfortunately, when it comes to the public sector service delivery, a pathetic situation arises.  The private sector has undergone a transformational change several years back, but the public sector is still glued to the governance model of the 50s, putting it in a state of inertia, he added.

He called upon the participants to present concrete proposals, rather than giving a wish list, to make the civil service a high performance machine. Identifying the shortcomings in the present civil service reforms system, the minister said that there is no mechanism put in place to evaluate the performance of civil servants.

“The promotion should not be the right of any civil servant but it should be based on his/her performance. He also opposed the ‘one size fits all’ model in civil service and said that the general system of examination in the civil service is not appropriate but it should be cluster-based with the specialised fields being open for only those with relevant qualification,” he added.

Iqbal also identified the loopholes in the shape of lacking expertise in information technology and social media on part of civil servants, which are the realities of the new age. He also suggested a review in the promotional system in civil service reforms when he proposed that a federal secretary should be appointed at the age of 55 years so that he can be instrumental in the formulation and implementation of policies.

“A Rs 1 billion performance fund has been included in the federal budget in the current financial year to offer incentives to enhance the performance of civil servants.  Ministers have also been directed to come with clear goals that translate into Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for devising an action plan to achieve the desired results in the respective areas,” he added.

He said that a plan to review the rules of business is also underway and it should help clean out redundant concepts and rules.

The minister recalled that many attempts to reform the civil service were made in the past, but they proved to be futile exercises because of lack of political will and the non-engagement of real stakeholders i.e. civil servants. He, however, told the participants that the reform agenda of the present government vis-a-vis civil service is part of Vision-2025. The involvement of relevant stakeholders in the present reform agenda is reflected in the consultative process with the stakeholders, he added.

Recounting the achievements secured in the past two years and the positivity created about the country on the international level, Ahsan Iqbal said that the challenge ahead is meeting the expectation of the world. He said that today’s Pakistan is now at a matured economic path after all the institutions learned from the past to work in synergy for the betterment of country. Politicians have also learned largely and the judiciary is not repeating its past mistakes. The civil and military leadership is working in synergy to take the country forward, he concluded.


  1. Following session on 2015, September 15 is on democracy, the writer may refer and make it part of his article later :

    His Highness the Aga Khan will deliver a keynote address at the Stoa of Attalos on Tuesday, September 15th The International New York Times Athens Democracy Forum will take place at the Megaron, The Athens Concert Hall and the Stoa of Attalos of the Ancient Agora. It has been convened in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund, the City of Athens, and Kathimerini.

  2. More or less Technocracy. Where the bureaucracy would stand if cluster based system is going to take light of the day?

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