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Summary

  • Meaningful reform of Iraq’s public sector is vital if the country is to avert economic ruin. Decades of complacency, corruption and mismanagement have spawned a bloated public sector that is unsustainable and not fit for purpose. As a new prime minister takes the helm, Iraq has an opportunity to chart a different course.
  • Successful public sector reform in Iraq requires a strategy that outlines attainable objectives and specific initiatives to achieve them. It is important to identify areas of the public sector least resistant to change and, by initially targeting these, generate momentum through incremental reforms that could spur on more ambitious efforts in the long run.
  • International assistance can be enhanced by avoiding overly ambitious projects and instead focusing on the provision of technical expertise, which contributes to the domestic skill base and enjoys high levels of local ownership.
  • The establishment of a comprehensive data analytics unit would strengthen Iraq’s policymaking infrastructure and provide the country’s leaders with a clear overview of the challenges at hand. Data analytics could be harnessed to improve the implementation and effectiveness of Iraq’s policy priorities.
  • The public sector needs to be more productive if it is to achieve its policy priorities. By professionalizing the newly established Federal Public Service Council, Iraq can introduce performance-based standards for public employees as well as identify and invest in young talent that could champion the cause of public sector reform.