Prioritising and sequencing public sector reform


Identify and summarise literature on prioritising and sequencing public sector reform in developing countries. Where possible, focus on policy and planning, public financial management (PFM) and civil service reform.


While there is a great deal of literature that alludes to the importance on prioritising and sequencing reform, there is very little literature that defines, in detail, what order public sector reform should take place. The exception to this is within specific public sector reform areas, such as Public Financial Management (PFM), where there is significant literature that highlights how reforms should be ordered. Consequently, this report looks at a selection of literature which may not specifically reference prioritisation or sequencing but which can provide insights into how to prioritise or sequence reform. This includes literature that explores development or governance trajectories (i.e. how these progress), as well as more specific literature that outlines orders or sequences for specific areas of public sector reform.

There are criticisms of sequencing approaches; some argue that the concept of prioritising and sequencing is inappropriate as development is complex and evolving, rather than a linear process. Critics of the idea of linear development argue that there is a risk of creating public sector organisations that take on the appearance, but not the function, of effective organisations. Such critics advocate an iterative, adaptable approach that allows for flexibility and experimentation.