Evidence session 3: Generating effective state capacity

The Commission’s third evidence session took place at LSE on 11 July 2017.

The Commission’s third evidence session took place at LSE on 11 July 2017. 

In fragile situations, governments typically have little capacity. This must be recognised not only as a problem to be addressed but also as a constraint upon what government can effectively do. In designing strategy there has been a tendency to navigate by what is wrong, rather than by what can realistically be delivered. Since so many things are wrong in fragile situations, while capacity is very limited, this has overloaded agendas, making comprehensive failure more likely. In turn, since bureaucracies learn more from success than from failure, widespread failure has impeded the building of capacity. Hence, in fragile environments, providing the public goods that are critical for human development and economic growth raises new challenges for established theory and policy in terms of prioritising and sequencing interventions.

A blog summarising the key lessons from the session is available here.


Afghan boys pump water on a bazaar street during a foot patrol by Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul Airmen and Soldiers May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez

Afghan boys pump water on a bazaar street during a foot patrol by Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul Airmen and Soldiers May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez

Evidence session witnesses

Sir Michael Barber is a world-leading authority on the effectiveness of government, and the Founder and Chairman of Delivery Associates. In 2015, his latest book How to Run a Government so that Citizens Benefit and Taxpayers Don’t go Crazy was published by Penguin. In 2001, he founded the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit in Number 10, Downing Street, which he ran until 2005 and was responsible for ensuring delivery of the government’s domestic policy priorities. From 2005-2011, he was a partner at McKinsey and Company where he played a leading role in creating a public sector practice and founded the global education practice. In 2009 he founded the Education Delivery Institute, an NGO that works with US states to improve education outcomes. From 2011-2017, he was Chief Education Advisor at Pearson. In 2017, he became the first Chair of the new Office for Students which will regulate England’s higher education sector. Since 2009, on behalf of the UK Government, he has visited Pakistan over 50 times to drive delivery of improved outcomes in the education and health systems of Punjab. He was knighted in 2005 for his services to improving government.

Sanjeev Gupta is Deputy Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and previously was in its African and European Departments. Prior to joining the IMF, he was a fellow of the Kiel Institute of World Economics, Germany; Professor in the Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad; and Secretary of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He has authored/co-authored over 150 papers on macroeconomic and fiscal issues, many of which are published in well-known academic journals, and authored/co-authored/co-edited 12 books; the most recent books, all published by the IMF, are The Economics of Public Health Care Reform in Advanced and Emerging Economies, 2012; Energy Subsidy Reform: Lessons and Implications, 2013; Equitable and Sustainable Pensions: Challenges and Experiences, 2014, Fiscal Policy and Inequality, 2015; and Fiscal Politics 2017.

Ifueko M Omoigui Okauru is the Managing Partner of Compliance Professionals Plc. – a strategy, change, and compliance management firm – and a Commissioner in the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation. She served as Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service and Chairman of Nigeria’s Joint Tax Board from 2004-2012. She was also part-time member of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters. In these capacities, she made significant impact in changing the tax system (policy, legislation, and administration) in Nigeria, as well as growing the nation’s revenue base. She continues to be called upon to influence the tax system at state, federal, and international levels. Prior to setting up her own consulting firm, ReStraL Ltd., she spent 12 years at Arthur Andersen & Co. (1983-1996) where she became national partner of the firm’s strategy practice.

Alex Thier, is Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). He joined ODI in January 2017 from Triple Helix, a US-based consultancy firm he founded to increase access to off-grid, renewable energy in Africa and Asia. He was formerly Chief of Policy, Planning, and Learning at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), where he represented the US in key international development fora, including on Financing for Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. As Assistant to the Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, he managed USAID’s multi-billion dollar assistance programme and over 1,000 staff in Washington, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region. At the US Institute of Peace, he led efforts to prevent genocide and mass atrocities and help divided societies overcome the root causes of conflict. Earlier, he served as a legal advisor to the constitutional commissions of Afghanistan and South Sudan and also held leadership positions at the UN, Stanford University, and several NGOs, and began his career as a humanitarian aid worker with the UN and Oxfam.