Building local capacities and human resource management at the subnational level

The existence of different levels of administration also implies the existence of subnational governments’ own organisational structure in terms of human resources. Since decentralisation is intended to enable governments’ to better respond to the local needs, a certain level of differentiation and nuances from the central level to the local are also expected when it comes to human resources management at the subnational level. For instance, some technical profiles such as engineers, architects may be more adapted to the local needs than to the central level. This does not preclude the fact that all employees can be equally expected to duly carry out their duties according to their position and be similarly paid for similar skills and capacities (OECD, 2008).

In Jordan, as in OECD countries, building sufficient capacity and professionalism in subnational governments is central to ensuring that they are able to meet their responsibilities and contribute to national economic growth. Subnational civil servants are a substantial portion of government workers around the world. Excluding health and education workers which can easily “monopolise” part of the data subnational employment is often over 50% of the total of public sector workforce not only in federal countries but also in some unitary countries.10 Figure 3.7 shows that unitary countries’ share of subnational governments employees can also be high like in Sweden (86%), Japan (80%), Hungary (70%) and France (50%).

Figure 3.7. Employment in government (general government) by level of government (2005)

  • ? Proportion of staff managed at the subnational levels of government in %
  • ? Proportion of staff managed at the federal/national level of government in %

Source: OECD (2005c), Challenges of Human Resources Management for Multi-Level Government - Final Draft, &docLanguage=En.

Public employment arrangements can also vary across OECD countries according not only to the State model but also on the administrative background and legal tradition. There is one spectrum from career-based to position-based systems, and another from uniform statutes to differentiated contracts (OECD, 2008). As shown in Table 3.5 the employment systems can also vary from one country to another with different systems for hiring public official (either through the civil service system or the dual that is combined with contractual system). In countries with a high level of decentralisation, the public employment system can also be decentralised to be more adapted to the competencies and particularities of the local level. This is the case of Germany, Denmark or Iceland where the public employment system is also managed at the subnational level.

Table 3.5. Employment systems in OECD countries


Employment system


Civil service systems

Initiated decentralisation of competences

Belgium, France, Spain

Dual systems, with dominating civil service systems Intends to modernise civil service system


Dual system

Has initiated decentralisation of competences in the civil service system

Full devolution in the public employment system

Denmark, Iceland

Dual systems, with dominating public employment system Full devolution in the public employment system

Source: OECD (2005c), Challenges of Human Resources Management for Multi-Level

Government: Final Draft,


OECD experience demonstrates that developing and embedding strategic human resource management (HRM) requires an incremental approach to reform while maintaining impetus and political commitment, and that these reforms also must include the subnational level.

In the case of Jordan, decentralisation reform cannot be understood without taking into consideration the human factor. While there is no updated or precise quantification of subnational administrative staff, Jordan has a medium public sector workforce with approximately 227 805 public sector employees in 2014 (excluding the military),11 both at the national and subnational levels; the OECD average is 1.16 million public servants. This situation is explained by the externalisation of certain functions, such as healthcare workers who are employed as private contractors, staff restrictions and fiscal pressures.

The Civil Service Bureau (CSB) is the one of the most relevant structures at the central level in charge of HRM for civil servants in Jordan (together with Ministry of Public Sector Development). According to the CSB in Jordan, over 46% of its employees are located at the subnational level (22% at regional level and 36% at municipal level), and approximately 42% at the national level. Table 3.6 shows a distribution of civil servants by governorates.

Table 3.6. Number of civil servants distributed by governorate



Ratio in %







































Source: Civil service Bureau (2014), annual report, Government of Jordan,

At the subnational level, the two largest ministries, Health and Education, whose workforce represent 87% of total civil service employment, have institutionalised the principle of regional distribution of services and delegated most of the ministers’ authorities to regional directors. In the same vein, the Civil Service Bylaw of 1998 transferred the central employment authority of the Civil Service Bureau to the governors in the districts. It provided the creation of personnel units in every district chaired by the governor, with the membership of the deputy governor, representatives of the concerned agency, a legal counsellor, and one of the directorate’s employees in the district. The committee’s role is to advertise, recruit and hire civil service employees in the districts.12

According to answers to the OECD questionnaire, Jordan’s subnational governments appear to be facing largely similar or even more challenges and opportunities than the central government to enhance the capacity and capability of their internal workforce to enhance the design, provision and implementation of policies and services. At the same time, there is an unequal territorial distribution of civil servants among governorates. The central region (Amman, Balqa, Zarqa and Madaba) represents about 52% of employees, followed by the northern region (Irbid, Mafraq, Jerash and Ajloun) with 30.7% of total employees, and finally the southern region (Karak, Tafilah, Ma‘an and Aqaba) with 17.5% of total employees.13 This also reflects the diversity and unequal distribution of population in the different governorates (Figure 3.8).

Figure 3.8. The distribution of civil service employees by governorates, 2014

Source: Civil service Bureau (2014), annual report, Government of Jordan,

According to the MoI and MoMA, there is currently no evidence of a training strategy that links the training of individuals to organisational objectives, and there does not seem to be sufficient investment in training on the part of local authorities. While the Institute of Public Administration (JIPA) conducts a wide variety of training courses, including top management courses considered as a prerequisite for promoting civil servants into the highest category (middle-management courses, general training courses, specially tailored courses to meet departmental training needs, and short seminars and symposia on specific subjects for high-ranking officials), there is no specific training for the governorate or civil servants at the local level.

Box 3.12 shows an example of training for civil servants at subnational levels in Morocco that could serve as inspiration for Jordan.

Box 3.12. Maison de l'elu - Morocco

The "Maison de l'elu" foundation in Marrakech is a pilot project in Morocco. It provides support to municipalities in management tasks. Created in 2011, the foundation's main role is to train and support civil servants at the regional level and to prepare them for a proper performance of their political or administrative duties within the municipalities.

The training programs, led by experienced academics and high official the State decentralised services, as well as by experts in territorial management and sustainable development, focus on financial and administrative management, urban planning, land use planning , Sustainable development, planning, good territorial governance, communication and decentralised co-operation.

As part of the opening on the continent, the House of the Elect has concluded co-operation agreements with elected regional bodies in Mali and Cote d'Ivoire on training in municipal management and decentralisation, proving Hence, this decentralised co-operation is also likely to develop South-South co-operation, which has been strategically chosen by.

Source: Menara (n.d.),



According to the answers to the OECD questionnaire, MoMA organised “several technical, administrative and financial programmes for employees within the municipalities in compliance with national targets”, however, those efforts are considered insufficient to the municipalities. In the case of employees of governorates, there is also room for improvement.

A restricted workforce, high staff turnover and low salaries limit capacity building at the local level. Boxes 3.13 and 3.14 show different examples of recruitment systems of civil servants in OECD countries, as well as different modalities to promote training and capacity building for civil servants at the subnational level.

Box 3.13. Local government officials with a national qualification: Spain

Local government officials with national qualifications (Funcionarios de administration local con habilitacion de caracter national in Spanish) are configured as one of the key pieces of the bureaucratic-administrative structure of Spanish local governments, due to the impartiality and independence in the exercise of their assigned functions. They are selected on their qualifications and merit. The national qualification is reserved for officials with core functions within the municipality, such as Secretary General (attestation and mandatory legal advice) and economic-budgetary management control.

The selection of this group of officials is carried out by the central government’s National Institute of Public Administration through a selective process regulated by a call, bases and programmes that are approved in a bylaw.

The essential characteristic of these officials is their dual organic and functional dependence: they are selected by the central government so that the Ministry of Finance and Civil Service has the administrative management of these officials, including disciplinary power, however they provide services in local governments, from which they receive their salaries.

Source: Orduna, E. (n.d.), Annex 2, cursos jornadas/14 AdmonLoc/informe.pdf.

The complexity and difficulties of attracting qualified workforce at governorate and municipal levels is also a challenge. Box 3.14 shows the specific recruitment for French civil servants at the subnational level in France.

Box 3.14. Civil service recruitment at subnational levels of government in France

Civil service recruitment for French subnational governments is done through a national competitive examination, which is similar to the exam for national civil service recruitment. The national government retains responsibility for managing subnational civil service competencies. Civil servants who have successfully passed the exam for subnational governments can pursue a career at different levels (region, department and municipality).

There are three types of entrance examination to the civil service: external competitions open to candidates with a given qualification; internal competitions open to civil servants meeting certain conditions in terms of length of service; and a third competition that is open to elected officials, managers of associations and the private sector.

Unlike the national civil service, successful candidates for the subnational civil service are not automatically assigned a post, but allowed to conduct a job search for posts that may be located anywhere in France. A civil servant at the subnational level may perform different duties during their professional career and advance to higher-level jobs through internal competition, promotion, a professional examination or according to seniority.

Box 3.14. Civil service recruitment at subnational levels of government in France


Employment conditions at subnational levels are strongly regulated, with employment frameworks being similar to those at the national level and across different governments at the same level. This allows a level of fluidity in the public sector labour market to be maintained, and builds on existing capacities in managing human resources. In some cases, when specific skills and qualified workers are required, local administrations may also employ under private contract.

Source: OECD (2009), OECD Rural Policy Reviews: China 2009, OECD Publishing, Paris,

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