Human resource management in the public sector is often neglected in Latin America because it can be politically very sensitive. But it is crucial for institutional effectiveness and, over the medium term, for legitimacy too. What public policies and public services can achieve depends heavily on the quality of the civil service. Moreover, public sector human resource management an field in which the region certainly has room for improvement.
Our recent book: “Serving Citizens: A Decade of Civil Service Reforms in Latin America (2004-2013)” analyses how human resource management has evolved in the civil service in sixteen Latin American countries during the last decade. The methodology is based on the Ibero-American Charter for the Public Service, signed by these countries back in 2003, and which was applied in 2004 and 2013.
What did we find? The region made progress in the last ten years, but not as much as we hoped when the Charter was signed. The regional average performance moved from 30 to 38 points out of 100. This average hides significant disparities among countries. One group has improved substantially, typically from a low base. This group includes El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Peru, but its rate of improvement leads us also to classify Chile in this group even though it started with a high score. Another group of countries has made less progress. This group includes Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, all of which began from high or at least medium level scores. However, it also includes Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras which started from lower initial scores.