The mandate and role of the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR) (established in 1993) towards improving the performance of the public sector and reducing its cost is in line with on-going national efforts to control the budget deficit and reduce the debt burden. This mandate and role were operationalized with UNDP assistance in 1994, with the establishment of a Technical Cooperation Unit (TCU) and an Institutional Development Unit (IDU). These two Units secured highly qualified professionals to manage donor resources and programmes (World Bank loan: USD 20 million, Arab Fund loan: USD 20 million and EU grant: Euro 38 million) and reinforced OMSAR as a policy advisor and an ICT driver in the administration. The teams, in spite of the weak absorptive capacity of the public sector and their own vulnerability to political changes, demonstrated a capacity to provide reliable advice and services, thus creating a high demand for OMSAR services.
In 2001, OMSAR contributed towards the identification of reform needs, through a National Strategy for Administrative Development. During the past decade, OMSAR led the introduction of ICT to the public administration, calling attention to the fundamentals for simplifying processes and increasing efficiency. Concrete products of institutional development advisory services by OMSAR include a new job classification in preparation of a new salary scale for public servants; performance improvement plans in key service agencies; modernization of legislations; and raising awareness among civil servants.
With the adoption of the National Strategy for Administrative Development and the alignment of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) goal on Enhancing Decision Making Capacity with OMSAR’s mandate, a new generation of UNDP assistance was initiated in 2002 and formalized in early 2003. This assistance focused on realizing a results-oriented framework project entitled “Support to Civil Service Reform: Enhancing Policy Making and Management Capacity” to help OMSAR in better targeting and sustaining results. The framework was formulated by the members of the TCU and IDU teams in a participatory process, which consisted of three phases of analysis and deliberations: 1) taking stock of the lessons (strengths and weakness) of the previous phase, reviewing functions legislated to OMSAR in the previous years and anticipated ones to come; and the national context for reform; 2) an analysis of national objectives, outcomes, baseline indicators and projected outputs using the Results Based Management Approach adopted by UNDP; and 3) identifying the indicative activities and inputs of the project and the drafting of this document. The project formulation strategy also focused on four key axes of intervention and/or functions for OMSAR: 1) Institutional Development, 2) Coordination, 3) Legislative, and 4) ICT. Collectively, these functions are expected to achieve the identified national objectives and outcomes and project indicative activities which will form the basis for annual OMSAR performance reports.