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Publications / Public Policy Papers

Improving Public Services in the Post-Soviet Settings: The Potential for Optimisation of Public Services in Kazakhstan.

Author(s): Bakhytzhan Kurmanov

Date: 2019

Publisher: NISPAcee Press

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Order contact: nispa@nispa.sk

The Public Policy Paper was developed within the NISPAcee project "PRACTIC - From Policy Design to Policy Practice in the European Integration Context” supported by EC ERASMUS+ Jean Monnet Action – Jean Monnet Project.

Bakhytzhan Kurmanov , School of Public Policy,  Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan


In recent years, optimisation of public services such as the New Public Management (NPM) reform has been actively promoted in the Post-Soviet region. Some post-soviet countries such as Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan decided to adopt Western best practices and to introduce one-stop-shops, e-government and open government initiatives. The Kazakh Government introduced a law on public services in 2013-14 and aimed at streamlining all public services with its delivery through local state bodies, one-stop-shops and e-government portal. Most of such public service optimisation initiatives were implemented through a top-down approach where a centralised government agency would impose reform without much consideration of local authorities. Despite all the public sector reforms, Kazakhstan’s low standing in global rankings in education and health has uncovered the problem of the low quality of public services. 
Hence, this policy paper has investigated this problem of low quality of public service delivery in Kazakhstan. Three root causes have been uncovered such as the narrow and bureaucratic concept of public services, overtly centralised delivery of public services and shifting responsibilities over public services. This policy paper analyses three policy recommendations such as status quo, devolution of functions to local level and the conducting of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) of public services at local level. The BPR of public services, with input from local executive bodies and citizens, would resolve the problem of bureaucratic fragmentation and shifting responsibilities while creating an opportunity for co-production. Therefore, the BPR is identified as the best policy recommendation for Kazakhstan to pursue to improve the quality of public services and to achieve its goal of becoming one of the top 30 developed countries by the year 2050.
The methodology of this policy paper consists of a literature review and a direct observation method (informal consultations with experts, public servants and bloggers). However, this study has several limitations. The author could not afford to conduct a more comprehensive field or survey due to limited resources and time. Moreover, the dearth of prior research on this issue restricted possible findings. Nevertheless, the authors believe that the policy solutions proposed in this memo will help the radical rethinking of Public Services that will lead to a Better Government for all Kazakhstanis. 

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