Building HR and Institutional Capacities to Deliver Public Sector Reforms

Nov 14 – 16, 2017 Ljubljana, Slovenia No Fee
Nov 7, 2017 Leadership for Managing Reforms

This course is delivered as part of the Tax Policy and Administration Learning Program, primarily supported by the Dutch Ministry of Finance, Slovenia's Development Cooperation and the Ministry of Finance of Slovenia. The overall objective of the program is to contribute to strengthening of beneficiary institutions’ capacity in implementing the EU recommendations under which the revenue authorities can deliver tax compliance risk management.

Globalization and pluralization of services is increasingly forcing public administrations from around South East Europe (SEE) and beyond to explore ways how to best address increasingly global and complex challenges. Faced with pressure to better serve citizens, governments are thus searching for adequate capacities and institutional set up that could help facilitate the change.

Up to present, models of public sector reforms have generally drawn on experience in advanced countries, and have gone from Weberian old public administration conceptions emphasizing bureaucracy and hierarchy to more recent public management approaches driven by fiscal imperatives. The key instruments have been cost containment and efficiency improvements focusing on reducing the size of the civil service, rationalizing the number of departments and agencies, and pushing through pay and employment reforms.

Nowadays, modern public administration theories are increasingly grounded in the concepts of citizenship and the public interest, rather than in an aggregation of individual interests determined by elected officials or market preferences. 

Bringing about institutional change requires continuous support from the top management and well-informed and capable staff. Although it is crucial to design the strategy as realistic as possible, it is essential to adjust and maintain flexibility for achieving long-term success.

In the context of building modern tax administrations, for example, the HR function should consistently and efficiently support the tax administration’s fundamental need to utilize high performing employees effectively. As part of the business planning process, the HR function should work with managers to identify the resources needed to execute strategic and operational business plans.

How you have benefited

The workshop  offered insights into how to prepare and go about institutional change in public sector organizations, and how to develop adequate HR capacities to lead such change. More specifically, participants  gained an understanding of how to:

  • Plan and manage a realistic and actionable institution change strategy
  • Set a long term strategic goals while maintaining flexibility
  • Assure top-level support and officials’ buy-in
  • Have the right main processes in place, supported by quality project management
  • Properly assess and manage risks
  • Assure transparent delegation, accountability and autonomy
  • Assure a modern HR support function

What you have learned

As knowledge hub for public finance officials in the SEE region, we aim to underpin the discussion around leading reforms, enabling officials to better understand the true underlying challenges that reforms should address, and the contexts, in which they happen. A comprehensive human resource function is crucial in these efforts, and authorities need to have in place modern project governance, with a management framework and dedicated work teams.

We looked at how to create an enabling environment and develop a human resources management that will allow officials to thrive. We  introduced possible approaches to better build those capacities, such as, for example, Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA).

The workshop  applied a participatory learning design and discussed regional experience in building HR and institutional capacities required for implementing public sector reforms, looking in particular into the real case of SEE modern tax administrations. Participants  shared concrete examples of what worked and what not. Suggested reading materials was made available before the event, and  helped participants prepare for their active involvement.

Who attended

This workshop has been designed for senior officials of tax administrations and ministries of finance, who are actively involved in managing human resources and institutional change, as needed to effectively promote PFM reforms.

In view of the interactive nature of the event, it was helpful that participants had a good command of the English language as no interpretation services was provided.

Applications were submitted by October 10, 2017. Candidates had to be approved by the CEF; the selected candidates were informed in the week after the application deadline.

No fee was charged for officials working in the public sector, and meals and refreshments were provided during the event.

The costs of travel and accommodation for up to two participants from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Romania, and Ukraine were covered by the Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands. Additional participants from the CEF constituency (Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro) were sponsored by other sources,e.g.their sending or sponsoring institutions. 


Kori Udovički, Director at the Center for Advanced Economic Studies

Kori Udovički has recently returned to head the Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES) in Belgrade.She has held several high level functions in the Government of Serbia, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government (2014-2016), and Minister of Mining and Energy (2002-03), as well as Governor of the National Bank of Serbia (2003-2004).  She has also served as Assistant Secretary General of UN, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Europe and CIS of UNDP (2007-2012). From 1993 to 2001 Mrs. Udovički worked as an Economist at the International Monetary Fund. Ms Udovički holds a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University and a B.A. from the Economics Faculty of the University of Belgrade.

Jana Repanšek, CEF Director

Jana leads development of the Center of Excellence in Finance and is responsible for implementation of its long-term strategy, annual work program and financial plan. The CEF supports capacity development for finance officials and institutions in South East Europe through learning and knowledge sharing, primarily in ministries of finance, line ministries, tax administrations, and central banks.  Before joining the CEF in 2005, from 1998 Jana worked for the World Bank in Washington DC where she ultimately led a team responsible for efficient and effective global distribution of printed knowledge. She had previously worked in the private sector in Slovenia. Jana holds MSc in Public Policy and Management from the University of London, SOAS (Center for Financial and Management Studies). Her professional focus is on the institutional capacity development (public sector and central banks), managing organizational change, public policy and strategy, public financial management and international development cooperation.a

Isolde Hampson, Principal Officer and Director of Training for Irish Revenue Commissioners​

Isolde heads up Revenue's Training Branch (RTB) with a staff of 62 to serve the organisation of just over 6,000 staff. On behalf of Revenue, she recently accepted an award from the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) for Excellence in Skills Development in Revenue. She has 38 years of experience with Revenue and has worked in several areas of the organisation. Before taking on her current role she was a District Manager with responsibility for all taxes and duties in one area of Ireland. Other recent roles involve drafting legislation for the annual Finance Bill and working with the Minister for Finance to progress the bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament). Previously she spent a number of years as an auditor, trainer and case manager.

Alongside her roles in Revenue she has held several private sector roles with accountancy bodies and colleges. She has lectured in both Financial Accounting and Taxation and up until May 2017 was the examiner for Advanced Taxation module of the Accounting Technician qualification. Isolde is currently working on combining all of her experience to ensure Revenue has the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

Norman Gillanders, CEF Associate Fellow

Norman was head of strategic planning and operations policy in the Irish Revenue service at the level of assistant commissioner. He led the restructuring of the Irish Revenue by designing, setting up and running the first of its new regions, and was one of the key managers in the overall restructuring of the organization. He implemented a new business model for managing PAYE (employee payroll taxation) and led the development of the Irish Revenue's compliance strategy. As part of this strategy, Irish Revenue launched its REAP system for computer-driven risk screening of businesses to improve targeting of compliance interventions.

Norman worked as the IMF's tax administration reform advisor in South Eastern Europe from 2011 to 2014, based at the CEF. He worked on behalf of the IMF with the tax authorities in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro and Romania, and has since been closely involved in the design and delivery of the CEF Learning Program. Norman also worked for the IMF on short-term missions, mainly in Rwanda but also in Jordan, Armenia and Tunisia where he was part of a team that delivered a week's training in strategic planning to delegates from over 20 English-speaking African countries.

Emmy Hoogstraten, Program Manager, HRM Directorate, Tax and Customs Administration of the Netherlands

Emmy has been working at the Tax and Customs Administration for 40 years, while in the management position for 10 years. She has worked in the tax collection area for 10 years. Emmy has been managing several projects and working on different HR segments, such as recruitment, emancipation and diversity, organization, training and implementing a project on possibilities to work anytime anyplace. Currently she is supporting the tax administration's reorganization process.

Lech Marcinkowski, Senior Policy Advisor, OECD SIGMA

Lech is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Public Service and Human Resource Management team and in the Public Financial Management team. Within SIGMA he is responsible for the area of accountability, works as a country co-ordinator for Morocco, and manages various projects, currently in Albania, Algeria, Morocco, Kosovo and Ukraine. For previous 16 years he held various posts in the Polish administration. His professional background includes internal and external auditing (Supreme Audit Institution, government inspection), consulting (lead advisor to the Head of Chancellery of the President, twinning and TAIEX expert) and management (Director General of the Office of the Prime Minister, responsible for its operational activities, including budget and human resources management with 500+ staff of civil servants). 

Marieta Catana, Training expert, National Agency for Fiscal Administration​, Romania

Marieta has 9 years of experience in the Romanian Revenue Administration. As a member of the training department, it gives her a strong foundation due to the various activities in which she has been involved, such as: teaching, organizing and evaluating trainings, coordinating the training needs analyses, developing the annual training plans, selection and recruitment of personnel (as part of the implementation team in the World Bank Project and as organizer and coordinator of the Internship programe in collaboration with the Romanian Government), participating in national and international meetings on HR and training issues as a representative of the National Agency for Fiscal Administration.

Corina Pavlisciuc, Chief of Managerial Support Department, State Tax Service, Moldova

Anastasia Movila, Chief of Organizational Management Department, State Tax Service, Moldova


This learning initiative was supported by:

Ministry of Finance, the Netherlands Ministry of Finance Slovenia Slovenia's Development Cooperation