19 Dec 2014
Max Everest-Phillips, Director, UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence
A mother and child visit a doctor at Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur. Public service officials must be given a voice if the post-2015 agenda is to be realized. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID
It’s that season again. Artificially orchestrated good cheer generating excessive consumption followed by a bad headache – and that’s just fiscal policy. Then at New Year widespread indulgence in resolutions that won’t be kept. It is enough to make anyone a bit gloomy.
But, as ever, missing from the dance floor will be the least understood and most under-appreciated people in the whole development enterprise – those dedicated public officials who actually do most of the work. These unacknowledged heroes who delivered the MDGs, and who will be the rock-bed for implementing the SDGs in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, are struggling every day to deal with contradictory political instructions and irreconcilable directives, to ‘do more with less’.
The morale of public officials almost everywhere around the world has been in decline for thirty years. Derided for decades for lacking the private sector dynamism, these same officials are being told to ensure that public institutions be inclusive, participatory, and accountable; that laws and institutions protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; that everyone be free from fear and violence, without discrimination; that democratic, free, safe, and peaceful societies provide access to fair justice systems, combat corruption and curb illicit financial flows, and the …