n Journal of Public Administration - What constrains a transformed public service in Uganda?

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The reassertion of government's role in the last decade has led to a revival of scholarly and practitioner interest in public services, more so in developing countries (Batley, McCourt & Mcloughlin, 2011). The most contentious debate, however, remains first, how best to offer the public services efficiently and effectively and second, what usually stands in the way of most governments to have functional public service systems. Governments deliver services only through efficient and effective public service systems, which ought to be driven by core public service values as opposed to 'managerial values'. Public servants are the backbone and heartbeat of the public service (Mle, 2012:29). In 2011, the government of Uganda adopted, through the Ministry of Public Service, a tripartite panacea for public service ailments that include strategies to improve the public service infrastructure (structures, processes, systems and practices), and the public servant and the client at the tail end of service delivery. However, the implementation of all designed strategies has suffered the usual 'systemic implementation paralysis'. As a consequence, the public service is still perceived as slow and unresponsive to the needs of service users, particularly citizens and the investors. The public servants who have citizen trust are accused of corruption and inefficiency. There are incidences of poor client/customer care, and outright mistreatment. The structures of public service do not function as expected and citizen apathy has increased as those entrusted are not held to account. Such a crisis makes it imperative for public administration scholars to engage in debates on the nature of the problems and suggest possible prescriptions. This article is intended to examine the constraints to the transformation of Uganda's public service. It makes proposals on how the government can create a well-functioning public service.

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