University of São Paulo: Lack of management delays modernization and effectiveness of the public machine


A document produced from a series of eight thematic seminars on The Future of Civil Service in the States and Municipalities of Brazil, which were promoted by the partnership between the Municipal Office – School of Citizenship and Public Management founded in 2022 – and the Institute of Studies Advanced at the University of São Paulo (IEA-USP), reveals the importance of thinking and discussing what are the problems of social work and how to redirect or improve national human resources.

Public sector workforce planning and people management are secondary or often non-existent. As Fernando de Souza Coelho, professor and researcher at the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities at the University of São Paulo (EACH-USP) and one of the organizers of these seminars, explains, “these are subjects that are sometimes far from the political radar of the media spotlight” . He adds that, “in the electoral period, when it comes to improving public policies and improving public services, there is no way to have this discussion if we do not move the gears of this engine room of workforce planning and people management. ”.

Public spending to maintain the machine and servers is not at the same level of productivity and quality delivered to the population. The latest state data show that, in the period 2014-2018, the increase in personnel expenses was higher than the growth in revenue. In addition, the public education sector’s payroll, for example, is inflated. However, the pace of modernization and effectiveness of work, as well as the parity of salaries of teachers in the education system, does not follow the pattern of other OECD countries, as demonstrated in the seminars.

The pandemic, in turn, worsened inequality in the country and highlighted aspects of public management at subnational levels (states and municipalities) that undermine the quality of service, the modernization of the bureaucratic process and the productivity of the sector. The cost is very high, but the effectiveness is low, and the biggest problem is the lack of investment and management of these professionals, as the professor explains: “What we call a more tactical and managerial level are secondary and sometimes non-existent. , because the focus is only on the personnel department in work routines”.

How to improve the quality of service?
According to Fernando Coelho, the key to improving the quality of public service is better human resource management. Focusing on training to adapt to new technologies, seeking to improve public tenders, re-dimensioning education and seeking a good allocation of professionals are among the measures to overcome the low productivity and efficiency of the public machine.

The initiative, however, must come from a public policy project. The purpose of the seminars is to sensitize those responsible for the government plan to place the management of people in the public sector. “The document is a synthesis of this set of seminars and it tries to bring proposals at this moment of an electoral political process in the federal and state governments to sensitize governors, state secretaries and people also responsible for government plans so that this issue of people definitely enter the government agenda”, he emphasizes.

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