Driving up Standards: Civil Service Management and Decentralization: Case Study of Uganda

Lazarus Nabaho


There is a consensus that decentralization by devolution leads to improved service delivery, but debate on the appropriate type of personnel arrangements for delivering decentralized services is far from over. Put differently, the discourse on whether civil service management should be decentralized or devolved still rages on. Little wonder that countries which started off with decentralized civil service management models in the 1990s are currently centralizing some aspects of personnel management while others are having centralized and decentralized personnel arrangements operating side by side in sub-national governments. The paper argues that civil service management should be decentralized whenever a country chooses the path of decentralization by devolution. Using Uganda’s example, the paper highlights two major challenges of managing the civil service under separate personnel arrangements: civil service appointments devoid of merit, and the perennial failure to attract and retain qualified human resource. The paper presents proposals on how to ensure meritocracy in appointments and how to bolster attraction and retention of human capital in local governments.

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