Public Service Reforms: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities

Revised 18 Apr 2013

This paper was prepared as part of a horizon scanning exercise which informed the strategic focus of the new UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence at Singapore. It was discussed by experts and practitioners as part of the first Public Service Dialogue organized by the Centre on 5th March 2013.


Public service in both the developed and developing world plays a vital role in providing public goods, such as defence, public order, property rights, macro-economic management, basic education, public health, disaster relief, protection of environment, and coordinating private sector activity. A capable public service is essential for creating a favourable investment climate and facilitating people’s participation in economic life. As countries get more globalised governments face increasingly complex and cross-cutting issues, such as economic volatility, climate change and migration. Public service delivery has acquired new dimensions as governments need to respond not only to changes in the global environment but also to the demands of an active citizenry. Formulating integrated policies and their effective implementation would require an adaptable and efficient public service that can anticipate emerging challenges and ensure that potential strategies are informed by better understanding of future contexts.

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