Untangling Jordan’s Sprawling Web of Institutions
Creating efficiencies is not the most photogenic development work—but it could be the most important. With the right governance in place, an underdeveloped country can make significant economic gains by optimizing institutional structures.
Jordan has a relatively large and structurally complex government for a country of roughly 6 million people. Years of organic and temporarily expedient government growth led to a bulky structure of commissions, authorities, and departments that render public services inefficiently. Some institutions have confusing and sometimes overlapping mandates. Lines of authority have been unclear. Citizens have struggled to find the appropriate government agencies to address everyday needs. In 2007, King Abdullah II created an ambitious National Agenda to accelerate economic growth, promote greater social inclusion, and expand development. To achieve these goals, the country’s Council of Ministers decided in 2010 to restructure, merge, or eliminate 22 institutions as recommended in a study conducted by the country’s Ministry of Public Sector Development and the Fiscal Reform II Project (FRP II), a DAI-led project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The goal: forge a leaner and more transparent government organized by core functions and made up of appropriate, cooperating, and complementary institutional types—in short, a more results-oriented government that provides efficient and responsive services.
Here’s where the hard work came in.
In 2010, along with the Ministry, we reviewed government sectors and their component institutions’ structures and functions, focusing primarily on the role of autonomous public institutions (APIs).
These institutions make up 45 percent of all government bodies in Jordan, and their combined budget had nearly tripled in recent years to more than 1.5 billion Jordanian dinars, or about $2.1 billion, by 2008.
The study proposed a structure that would eliminate duplication and overlap among APIs; cluster complementary institutions; more appropriately separate policy-setting, implementation, and regulatory functions; and make government a catalytic guide for provision of services, rather than a direct producer of goods and services.
Jordan’s National Agenda lays out clear targets for achieving broad-based export- and productivity-oriented growth and creating an internationally competitive economy. By taking this crucial step, Jordan has created a platform for strengthening basic services to its citizens and businesses, while improving economic performance.
Merge and purge
Key recommendations of economic study include:
- Merging three separate youth organizations into one institution to ensure an integrated approach to youth development
- Merging three workforce development support organizations into one to ensure a cost-effective and mission-driven approach to workforce development
- Merging three industrial and development zone-related organizations into one Development Zones Commission to enhance the investment environment in Jordan
- Integrating the National Employment Center into the Ministry of Labor
- Merging the Jordan Securities Commission, Insurance Commission, and Securities Industry Regulatory Council into a single Securities and Insurance Commission
- Privatizing the Aqaba Railway Corporation