IOG returns to Iraq to help transform public service
President Maryantonett Flumian is leading another Institute on Governance contingent to Iraq this week, where they will be working with officials in Erbil to finalize the design of a Senior Executive Service (SES) system for the Regional Government of Kurdistan (KRG).
Implementation of the SES system will involve developing senior executives who can lead the transformation to a modern public service in the KRG. The aim is to create a modern, representative, and merit-based leadership group. The IOG is assisting in the design of an SES system that will help senior executives understand their role as leaders in a federal state, create an ever increasing pool of senior executives based on merit and ability, and establish a leadership cadre that is inclusive of Kurdistan’s society and committed to serving all the people.
This project, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has the IOG senior staff working closely with senior government officials in Erbil. Steve Tierney, IOG Executive Director of Learning Programs & Advisory Services, has joined Maryantonett on the most recent phases of this advisory project with the Iraqis. The specific responsibilities of these two IOG Executives on the SES system project has included finalizing selection criteria, surveying to understand the baseline skills and competencies of the Director General communities in both governments, developing learning plans for groups and individuals, and establishing performance management systems that utilize individual objectives and determine how progress will be tracked.
A critical part of public service reform, and a key part of SES systems in any country that has one, is the reliance on merit to yield a representative public service. In countries that are diverse – whether culturally, ethnically, linguistically, or religiously – a representative public service and leadership is important for good decision-making and political legitimacy. Merit-based selection processes help produce a representative public service and leadership without the use of quotas or similar processes that focus on identification with, or membership within, a specific demographic.
The Institute on Governance has been at the frontline of the governance challenges in Iraq over the past three years, having visited Baghdad and Erbil three other times to advise the senior bureaucratic and political leadership of the Government of Iraq and Regional Government of Kurdistan on strengthening inter-governmental relations and their respective senior executive services. The IOG established its relationship with the Iraq and Kurdistan governments through the auspices of the UNDP. The governance development work that the IOG is doing with these governments is based on best practices research on senior executive services around the world.