Though the task is not finished, basic health and educational
services are available to all citizens, and remote villages are now
accessible by vehicle and through modern telecommunications. Basic needs
have been met, and educational and employment opportunities created for
This rapid rate of development necessarily involved the
importation of foreign technology, systems, management and skills, which
Oman adopted rather than adapted. Omanis were thrust into positions of
heavy responsibility for the management of complex systems, with
inadequate training and seasoning. Governmental institutions grew
somewhat haphazardly, and the pace of change made the orderly
development of personnel procedures impractical.
Now the situation is changing. With basic needs met, the
Government is giving more attention to consolidating gains, improving
quality, and Omanizing positions and systems. Declining oil prices in
recent years have drawn attention to the high cost of expatriate
personnel, and the appearance for the first time of educated unemployed
Omanis brings to notice the quality and relevance of the training Omanis
are receiving at home and abroad.
A Ministry of Civil Service was set up in 1988, superceding the
Central Personnel Agency, in order to deal with training, management
development, and systems reform in the public service, as well as to
improve the standard personnel functions of recruitment, evaluation,
promotion, and retirement. This relatively young Ministry faces the
problem of accelerating the pace of Omanization of the Government
without sacrificing the quality of services.
At the request of the Government, the Management Development
Program (MDP) of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) sent the
author of this report on a brief reconnaissance mission, September 16-22
1990, to explore ways in which the UNDP might develop a program in
support of the management improvement efforts of the Government.
This report on that mission begins with a brief background
section concerning the purpose of the reconnaissance mission, followed
by its preliminary findings on the problems facing the Ministry of Civil
Service (MCS) and the Institute of Public Administration (IPA). The
balance of the report is devoted to a discussion of the issues posed by
the Minister and to suggestions for future action. Steps are proposed by
which the MCS could utilize UNDP assistance to enhance its capacity for
servicing Government requirements, both for improved analytical and
management systems and for upgrading Omani personnel in the civil
The steps proposed include improving Government capabilities for
manpower development and labor market analysis; enhancing training
opportunities in Oman and abroad; and enabling the MCS to introduce
management innovations in technical areas such as project appraisal,
budgeting, agricultural policy formation, educational and health
planning, and public enterprise management.
The civil service of Oman has grown from 3,000 in 1970 to 64,000
persons, not including 13,000 employed by public authorities and the
Diwan of the Royal Court, who are not in the civil service. Public
employment has become the objective of most Omanis, because the terms of
service are more attractive than those offered in the private sector,
yet increasing numbers of Omanis with secondary and university degrees
are not finding jobs in public agencies. The MCS faces the task of
developing sound personnel management practices in the Government, while
systematically replacing non-Omanis by Omanis in the civil service.
The Minister of Civil Service, H.E. Ahmed Nabi Macki, believes
quite rightly that the MCS itself should be strengthened as a first step
in improving the efficiency of the civil service as a whole. He
requested support from MDP in analyzing MCS tasks and devising a
strategy for dealing with them. The MDP generally seeks unconventional
approaches to the facilitation of management change. It typically takes
a comprehensive view of public sector management problems and seeks
sustainable improvements in the capacity of governments to meet their
own long-term objectives.
In requesting MDP support, the Government indicated specific
interest in an examination of the following issues:
The capabilities of the public sector in preparing and
implementing long-term administrative reform policies;
Civil service organization, conditions of service, and human
resources development; and
Research and training in public administration.
These topics were made more specific by H.E. the Minister of
Civil Service and H.E. the Under Secretary during initial discussions,
focusing particular attention on
The organization of the Ministry;
The strategy of the Omanization program;
The organization and functions of the Institute of Public
The process of classifying positions in the civil service.
A memorandum from the advisor to the Ministry added to this list
the topics of manpower planning and the MCS role in assisting other
Government units to reorganize for development purposes.
The task of the Mission was, of course, not to come up with
definitive answers to any of the problems posed, but to suggest a
process through which the MDP could help the MCS deal with each of them.
The topics are closely interrelated, and could be summed up as how
to create a high-quality indigenous civil service capable of guiding the
country from the era of petroleum-based rapid modernization to a
post-petroleum era of higher productivity and diversified economy.
With limited petroleum resources, Oman faces the prospect of
declining living standards in the not-distant future unless it can
upgrade the productivity of its people and create diversified economic
opportunities. The civil service cannot be content with merely
administering; it must be capable of initiating and stimulating economic
This Mission is not the first attempt by a visiting consultant to
consider appropriate strategies for accomplishing the tasks of the MCS.
In 1988 the UNDP sent to Oman an Interregional Adviser from the
Department of Technical Cooperation for Development, who advised on
manpower planning, job analysis, organizational analysis, personnel
manuals, and training. In addition, the Omani-American Joint Commission
provided a senior management specialist who advised on Civil Service
development strategies in early l990. Both reports contain sensible
recommendations for developing the capacity of the MCS.
The questions facing the MCS concern not so much what needs to be
done as how to do it with limited staff resources, particularly when
available staff is heavily engaged with routine administrative
procedures. The Directorate-General for Civil Servants, for example, has
47 staff members, of whom 22 are engaged in reviewing two to three
hundred personnel actions per day. They must review each recruitment or
promotion before the Ministry of Finance can make appropriate payments.
The workload is so heavy that the Director-General estimates it would
take 70 to 75 staff members to handle his responsibilities adequately.
Similarly, the Directorate-General of Pensions has 24 employees,
of whom three are university graduates, and they are fully engaged in
administering the pensions and benefits system now in place. To their
credit, the Director-General and his staff are seriously interested in
exploring pension reform options, but they have very limited time and
qualifications for doing so. The work of the Pensions staff is important
because the absence of pensions in the private sector is one of the
factors (although perhaps not the main one) leading Omanis to prefer
civil service employment; and early-retirement inducements are
potentially useful for encouraging senior people to seek private sector
The Omanization Plan
The MCS’ efforts to accelerate Omanization of the public
service fall mainly to the Directorate-General for Administrative
Development. That unit includes Departments for Recruitment, Training,
Job Classification and Budget, and Organization and Simplification of
Work. The MCS has surveyed the Government to determine the number,
training and experience of expatriates employed, in order to plan for
their orderly replacement by Omanis within five years.
In seeking to implement this plan, the Directorate-General urges
recruiters in other ministries to specify the time when Omani recruits
will replace their counterparts. This process meets some resistance,
however, because even if formal qualifications match, experience and
motivation are more difficult factors to measure. Often, an expatriate
from a poor country will take a job for which he or she is substantially
over-qualified because the salary is much more than would be available
at home. An employer accustomed to having an overqualified staff member
is unlikely to welcome his replacement by an inexperienced person, even
one with appropriate paper qualifications.
The IPA, set up in 1977, has 13 or 14 Omani staff and a similar
number of expatriates. Six Omanis are currently studying for MAs in the
United States and others will be sent abroad when they return. Staff are
generally permitted to choose the university at which they will study.
Most of the training currently offered at the IPA is clerical or
in the areas of financial management and personnel management. Though
these are useful courses, the IPA and Ministry officials recognize the
need for courses at the middle management level. The IPA has not until
now offered a pre-service course but has now approved in principle the
introduction of a two-year induction course and has arranged for a
British consultant to assist in designing an appropriate curriculum.
The IPA has the flexibility to offer specialized courses on
request. It also conducts three or four senior seminars per year,
including sessions designed for directors-general. In addition to
training, IPA conducts research and engages in modest numbers of
consultations for other agencies of Government.
The lack of senior Omani staff is a limiting factor for the IPA
at the moment. This problem will be corrected in time, as more members
of its staff receive advanced degrees in management and administration,
but in the meantime the need for enhanced management training is acute.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Sultan Qaboos University
offers no courses in management, administration or the social sciences.
The IPA currently has authority to make contacts with Arab and
international organizations and institutions interested in
administrative training and research. It maintains active relationships
with the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh and INTAN in
Malaysia. These cooperating institutions have experience useful to the
IPA, but they do not at present participate in upgrading its training
In this situation, with limited staff capacity in the MCS and the
IPA, already overburdened with routine administrative responsibilities,
how could the MDP assist the Ministry to become an effective and
innovative force in the Government?
To answer that question we must first analyze alternative
approaches to the issues posed to the Mission, and then suggest actions
within the capability of the MCS and the IPA to carry out.
Position classification is a fairly routine but essential step in
the further professionalization of the Omani civil service. It is a
building block for improving recruitment, performance evaluation, and
promotion systems, and for facilitating interministerial mobility.
It seems to me unlikely,
however, that the UNDP/MDP would have a comparative advantage in
assisting the Government in this matter. Position classification is
largely a matter of working out the system to be employed, organizing
people from the personnel sections of the various ministries and
training them as job analysts, setting timetables for accomplishment of
the process, and monitoring progress. The MCS should not itself
undertake to do the classification in other ministries; that would take
forever. It should organize and supervise the effort, and get it done in
the shortest possible time. External expertise, beyond that available
from advisors already employed by the Ministry, should not be required.
The issues raised by the Minister of Civil Service need to be
addressed in the context of the changing nature of the tasks confronting
the Government of Oman. For the past two decades, the Government’s
priority task has been to create the institutions and facilities of a
modern state. It has effectively met this challenge, and the change that
has occurred within a single generation has been remarkable.
The challenge of the next two decades will be to create a society
capable of sustaining a comfortable living standard without reliance
upon mineral wealth. To this end, the Government is already seeking to
diversify the economy and to stimulate private sector development. It is
clear that to achieve the objective of high living standards without
dependence upon petroleum exports, the productivity of the Omani work
force will need to increase substantially.
Although in a large
country productivity gains are available from mechanization of
agriculture and industry, Oman, with a limited domestic market, will
probably find it necessary to increase productivity by investing in
human capital, or the skills of its people. This is a long-term process,
but the oil reserves will not disappear all at once, and Oman has the
time and resources to make the necessary investments, provided it
recognizes the value of doing so.
The Role and Functions of the MCS
This analysis has important implications for the Ministry of
Civil Service, which cannot be content only with establishing orderly
procedures for managing the Government. It must play a leading role in
the country's search for greater efficiency, economic diversity and
higher productivity. This role can be summarized as (1) helping the
other agencies of Government equip themselves with the analytical and
management systems needed to accomplish their missions and (2) helping
them to properly train and motivate Omani personnel.
This role of the MCS is much more dynamic and challenging than
that confronting most civil service organizations. Typically such an
organization is concerned with stability; MCS must be concerned with
change. To meet this challenge, MCS must become a welcome ally of the
agencies of Government engaged in development tasks, such as the
Development Council, and the Ministries of Agriculture, Education,
Health and Labor. MCS can become a valued resource for these Ministries,
a source of expertise for improving their management systems and
upgrading their personnel.
To achieve recognition as a welcome ally, the MCS will need to
have more to offer other agencies than it has now, as well as better
means of communicating and cooperating with them. Structurally, the MCS
needs close ties with operating agencies at the highest levels and at
the operational level. Specifically, the following steps are needed:
a. The Minister of Civil Service should be a member of the
Development Council, to allow the MCS to be an instrument for upgrading
the quality of human resources and management systems.
b. The Human Resources Development Committee, organized by the
Development Council to help formulate the next five-year plan, should be
continued under the chairmanship of the Minister of Civil Service. This
ad hoc committee may be abolished after the plan is completed because
its mandate overlaps to some extent a ministerial-level education and
training committee. The latter does not include the Minister of Civil
Service among its members, so it would not seem to be an adequate
c. The Directorate-General of Administrative Development should
acquire the capacity to diagnose the shortcomings of management
methodologies used by Government agencies, and to design and help
implement improved systems. Priority should be given to economic
management systems, such as project appraisal techniques and sectoral
analysis and planning systems.
d. The Directorate-General for Civil Servants should acquire the
capacity to design and implement effective programs for motivating and
upgrading human resources in the Civil Service, again emphasizing the
e. The IPA should become an effective instrument to support both
the system-upgrading and human-resource development activities of the
These changes cannot all be made in a short time. They will
require extensive staff training and external assistance. It may be
possible to initiate the analytical and coordinating functions in the
Ministry by relying upon external consultants supplied by MDP in the
short run. In the long run, however, MCS will need to develop its own
senior staff capacities. The first requirement for reaching this goal is
to ensure that MCS can offer competitive salaries and allowances for
high-caliber people. Once it can offer competitive remuneration, it may
be possible to obtain the services of some qualified people through
transfer or secondment from other agencies. If the role of the MCS in
upgrading the quality of Government service is accorded the national
priority this report suggests it deserves, it should be possible to
induce the best people available to accept these challenging
MCS staff with high academic potential should receive priority
consideration for placement in public policy training programs abroad in
the next few years. It will be important that they acquire the
analytical techniques and the exposure to the experience of other
developing countries that is available in such programs.
Perhaps the most
difficult task will be to change the orientation of staff from control
to service, and to have that change recognized by client ministries. The
MCS should not seek greater powers with which to enforce compliance by
other agencies with regulations concerning personnel or organizational
practices. It should seek cooperative relationships with other agencies,
providing them with access to training, analytical and management
methods, and technical assistance they need to do their jobs.
The MCS must reduce its involvement in routine administrative
tasks for two reasons: it
needs to free staff for training and for participating in innovative
developmental activities; and it needs to avoid becoming a
control-oriented agency which other ministries do not wish to deal with.
The tendency to concentrate on basic administrative activities,
employing staff mainly to check that the regulations are observed in the
personnel actions and organizational reforms carried out by Governmental
organizations, is a natural one. Even when it undertakes more
affirmative actions, such as planning for accelerated Omanization, MCS
may find itself adopting a control orientation, directing agencies to
replace non-Omanis with Omanis according to some set timetable.
To avoid this tendency, and the perception by others of a control
orientation, the MCS can do four things:
Offer services genuinely desired by other agencies, such as
access to improved methodologies or techniques for budgeting, project
appraisal, pensions systems, sectoral planning and other tools of
analysis and economic management. MCS can acquire knowledge of improved
methodologies of this sort through cooperation with MDP.
Arrange for training at the IPA of personnel officers throughout
the Government, and transfer responsibility for accurate record-keeping
and observance of regulations to the ministries concerned. MCS audit
staff can check the performance of personnel functions through spot
checks rather than reviewing each and every personnel action.
Introduce new and improved personnel practices through task
forces or working groups involving personnel officers from other
ministries, rather than centralizing responsibility for the
implementation of reforms. Job classifications, for example, should be
carried out by personnel officers of each ministry, with guidance and
supervision from MCS staff. This approach will depend upon the
effectiveness of training personnel officers Government-wide.
Create training opportunities for civil servants to upgrade their
analytical and management skills on both a voluntary and official basis.
Omanization must, in the long run, mean creating institutions
that meet the needs of the country in ways compatible with Oman's
culture and traditions. With this goal in mind, it could be a mistake to
fill positions with people who are unlikely, by reason of education and
training, to master their jobs to the point where they can modify
systems without damaging their utility. The quality of the generation of
Omanis assuming technical functions now will be critical to the process
of developing appropriate and effective institutions.
The standards of public service set in the next ten years, during
which time the gains of modernization will be consolidated and Omanized,
are likely to prevail for a very long time. It is important at this
stage to concentrate on upgrading the standards of the people and the
systems employed in Government if Oman is to prepare itself for the
post-oil era. That era may be twenty years or more away, but it will
take that much time to raise the standards of productivity of the
society sufficiently to sustain high living standards in the absence of
Reports on Oman almost invariably begin with an account of how
few schools and paved roads existed in the country when His Majesty
Sultan Qaboos rose to power in 1970. The infrastructural improvement
since then has indeed been impressive. Without detracting from this
accomplishment, it should not be forgotten that Oman has an important
commercial, military and cultural history extending back for centuries.
This longer perspective enables one to realize that, although Oman's
ruler for a time resisted the twentieth century, the people of the
country once dominated the region and extended their power far down the
East African coast. Their present task is to overcome a late start in
mastering modern technologies and the systems through which they are
employed. This is a serious challenge, but the outcome is not in doubt.
Omanis will master modern technology and systems as they once mastered
the dhows and trading routes of earlier centuries.
The pace of change in the past two decades has been so rapid that
modern institutions and operating systems have been imported wholesale,
along with the people skilled in operating them. Hospitals,
universities, airports, and telecommunication networks come with
standard equipment and, to operate them effectively, Omanis must become
doctors, computer engineers, air traffic controllers, etc. Then, having
mastered the technology, Omanis can shape institutions to fit the
needs and culture of their society.
A civil service differs from an airline or a hospital in that it
is not built around advanced technologies. As a result, there is much
more flexibility in organizing and staffing a civil service than in the
technical institutions. The positive side of this is that a country can
organize its civil service to fit its cultural and social traditions.
The negative side is that there are few objective measures of the
efficiency and effectiveness of a civil service. It is possible to get
by with a very ineffective system without realizing its serious costs to
the society. For this reason, it is particularly important not only to
set high standards for civil servants, but to ensure that individuals’
efforts to upgrade their qualifications and to work effectively are
MCS is currently taking a micro-manpower planning approach to the
problem of Omanization. Micro-manpower planning involves forecasting the
needs, usually of a firm, for particular types of expertise on a
position-by-position basis, and then identifying candidates and training
them to meet those needs. Macro-manpower planning, in contrast, deals
with the economy as a whole. Its purpose is to study existing patterns
of manpower supply and utilization by skill levels and types of
education, and to forecast future requirements. Manpower policies are
then designed, and education and training opportunities created, so that
adequate supplies of people are available to meet aggregate levels of
Manpower planning in developing countries generally suffers from
several inherent problems. The first is the time lag problem: education
and training take several years to complete, by which time technological
and other changes have altered the demand picture in ways difficult to
forecast. Another problem is that despite the determinations of skill
requirements by manpower planners, individuals will pursue the
employment they perceive to be most advantageous, and manpower planners
may lack the power to convince them otherwise. In addition, social and
cultural factors can influence choice of occupation in ways that may not
correspond to the manpower planners’ priorities.
For these reasons, it is generally more desirable to adopt a
macro-manpower approach than a micro, and to concentrate on manpower
development and labor market analysis instead of manpower planning. The
process should rely more upon policy analysis and formulation than
direct administration, more on incentives than directives, and more on
qualitative than quantitative factors.
The World Bank recently provided technical assistance in
constructing a model of the macro-manpower needs of Oman over the next
ten years. The model is useful for illustrating the relationship between
the numbers of expatriates needed and the economic growth rate targeted.
The parameters employed in the model are somewhat speculative and could
be improved by research, but the shortcomings of the model as a
macro-manpower analytical instrument go beyond its quantitative
accuracy. Oman needs a process for gathering information on manpower
supply and demand on a regular basis, analyzing manpower problems,
devising policies and incentives, and evaluating their impact. This must
be a continuing process, not a one-shot exercise, and it must be as
concerned with the quality of manpower as its quantity.
An effective manpower development and labor market analysis
system in Oman should have four main elements:
a policy-level coordinating mechanism, an interministerial
working group, a data-collection and analysis unit, and a human resource
Policy coordination requirements in the Development Council, and
in the Human Resources Development Committee under the Development
Council, were discussed above. At the working level, there exists an
interministerial committee for allocating scholarships. That committee
could be a vehicle for interministerial cooperation on manpower issues,
but its mandate would need to be broadened and its membership reviewed.
No data collection and analysis unit currently exists that could handle
the task of conducting studies and preparing policy options papers for
ministerial review. Such a unit could be housed either in the
Development Council or the MCS, but it should work closely with the
Chairman of the Human Resources Development Committee, which would
suggest an MCS location. Qualified staff for the unit are probably not
currently available in either organization; consulting assistance will
be needed for an initial period of time.
The data collection and analysis unit would be mainly concerned
with policy issues that affect public and private sector incentives and
constraints. In addition to this analytical function, a human resource
development unit is needed to articulate training policies and create
opportunities for learning for people at all levels of the Civil
In the last twenty years there has been little time for adequate
preparation of Omanis for the urgent tasks they were assigned to do, and
little scrutiny of the quality of certificates and degrees earned
abroad. People learn through experience as well as formal training, and
many Omanis have done very well with meager educational backgrounds, but
it is important to the individuals and to the quality of Government to
begin raising standards for training and to provide opportunities for
broadening the backgrounds of those already in service.
The upgrading of experienced people should begin very high up in
the Government. Investment in broadening the perspective of people 35 to
45 years old who have already reached leadership levels may have a
greater return than any other. MCS should seek opportunities to give
these experienced executives exposure to public policy programs, where
they can acquire analytical tools and familiarity with experience
elsewhere in the world, to equip them for future leadership positions in
The Development Council recently arranged, through the World
Bank, to send 20 young graduates from the Council and planning
departments in other ministries to George Mason University in Virginia
for post-graduate training in development economics. The program, which
may take from 18 to 30 months depending upon the remedial work required
of the candidate, will be monitored by experts from the World Bank. This
is an excellent idea, and a model for the kind of innovative, intensive
upgrading efforts the MCS should be able to arrange in response to the
special requirements of different Government agencies.
Postgraduate training abroad is bound to increase as Omanis seek
qualifications for increasingly professional posts. The present process
for scholarship allocations needs a drastic overhaul: improved selection
procedures to assess the academic potential of candidates for overseas
training; predeparture preparatory programs to improve candidates'
English language and subject matter skills to gain admission to more
rigorous institutions; and better placement procedures to ensure that
Omanis study in the best institutions to which they can gain admission.
The Ministry of Education allots fellowships for postgraduate
study, with limited advice from MCS as to priority fields of study. At
the present time, 122 civil servants are engaged in postgraduate studies
abroad, supported by Ministry of Education funds. Last year, ten
completed advanced degrees and returned to Oman, allowing another ten to
be sent abroad. The budget for such training is fixed, and the policy is
to send new people abroad only when someone already abroad returns.
Candidates supported by Petroleum Development (Oman), the Ministry of
Defense, and the new crop of 20 to be sent by the Development Council,
are not limited in this way.
Of those abroad, 56 are studying in the United States, 37 in the
United Kingdom, 9 each in Egypt and Jordan, 3 in Canada, and one or two
each in several other countries. Generally it takes two to three years
to earn an MA in an Arab country, but it can take as long as four or
five years in the UK or the US. Little control is exercised over the
choice of institution the candidate wishes to attend.
This system could be more efficient and more effective with
improved selection, preparation, placement, and monitoring techniques.
MCS should have responsibility for this important dimension of civil
service manpower upgrading. Each ministry should include postgraduate
training for staff in its own budget, to eliminate an arbitrary central
limit on numbers by a ministry with no stake in the benefits of the
Utilization of the IPA
The IPA could become a key instrument for implementing MCS
programs for upgrading management systems and human resources.
In areas such as project appraisal, agricultural policy analysis,
budgeting, educational planning, etc., the IPA would have a major role
to play in adapting methodologies to Oman's needs and mounting training
courses to familiarize staff in other ministries with the new
operational and analytical techniques.
To take an example mentioned in the Aide-Memoire, if the MCS were
to assist the Development Council in upgrading the quality of the
project appraisal system currently in use, one member of the IPA staff,
one from the Directorate of Administrative Development, and one from the
Development Council could attend an advanced course in project appraisal
abroad, then work together as a task force with consultants from the
source institution to adapt a system to fit Oman's needs. Once the
Development Council adopted the new system, the IPA would offer training
in operating it for Development Council staff and for project design
staff from other ministries.
In support of the Directorate-General of the Civil Service, the
IPA could assist in upgrading personnel officers from other ministries.
The IPA already offers a basic course in personnel management. It should
work closely with the audit staff of the Civil Servants
Directorate-General, and the Job Classification staff in the
Directorate-General of Administrative Development in the MCS, to devise
short-term training courses for personnel managers in other ministries
who will be engaged in processing personnel actions and in classifying
positions. These training courses could be designed with the assistance
of advisors already assigned to the MCS.
Another function of the IPA could be to assist the human
resources development unit in the MCS to improve the management of
overseas training. The IPA would be a logical place to develop aptitude
tests to improve the selection of candidates for graduate training
abroad (and the selection of candidates for admission into the Civil
Service), and to offer English language preparation and
subject-matter-upgrading courses for overseas training candidates.
The IPA should also consider developing the capacity to offer
middle-level management training courses for civil servants, and private
sector management training on a voluntary, fee-paying basis.
It would be possible to offer both private-sector and
public-sector management training at the IPA, in association with an
American or European university with the capacity to offer external
degrees. If public-sector courses were offered primarily during the day,
and private-sector courses primarily in the afternoons and evenings,
savings would be available in the use of space and the sharing of staff
As noted above, many Omanis were pressed into Government service,
in the last two decades of rapid modernization, without having the
opportunity to complete their education. This happens everywhere, and
many people take courses after work or on weekends to obtain the degrees
they could not afford, or were not motivated, to obtain before joining
the workforce. Facilities for after-hours study leading to a degree are
not now available in Oman. The University has considered offering
part-time degree courses, but has not made a feasibility study and, in
any case, does not offer courses in the management field.
The opportunity for voluntary enrolment in management courses for
academic credit would boost the morale of those in the civil service who
desire more education, improve the qualifications of civil servants who
participate, and facilitate the flow of Omanis into the private sector
by giving them opportunities to acquire marketable skills.
Teaching staff could be recruited on a part-time or full-time
basis from local residents with appropriate qualifications. The program
could pay for itself through tuition fees within three or four years,
except for the courses designed for upgrading Government management
The Secretary General of the Development Council, H.E. Mohammed
Mousa, suggested that a twinning arrangement with a management institute
in an advanced country is needed, and this idea was informally endorsed
by the Acting Director General of the IPA, Mr. Shaban Burman. Twinning,
or simply contracting, with another institution would have an advantage
over directly hiring expatriate staff, namely that an institution would
have a coherent program of studies taught elsewhere that could be
modified to Oman's circumstances.
The type of institution with which to seek the most appropriate
link would depend upon the range of functions assigned to the IPA over
the next few years.
The strategy suggested for the MCS in this report requires a
dynamic, developmental orientation. The Ministry would focus its efforts
on upgrading the quality of indigenous human resources in Government and
on improving the analytical and managerial methodologies used by
Government agencies. Concern for the rapid replacement of expatriates by
Omanis, for classifying positions in the Civil Service, and for the
enforcement of Government regulations governing personnel actions would
be de-emphasized and higher priority placed upon improving efficiency
This strategy may seem contrary to the Ministry's chosen
objectives. Quality, the factor emphasized throughout this report, may
be perceived as the enemy of Omanization, even though the policy is
clearly stated that Omanization should be accelerated without the loss
of quality. In practice, it is easier to measure how many Omanis are in
posts than how well they are filling them.
The case for the recommended strategy rests on two arguments. The
first is that Oman is likely to suffer a decline in living standards as
its oil resources are depleted unless the productivity of its people
increases substantially; and the quality of the Civil Service will have
a major impact on the productivity of the society as a whole.
The second argument is that the number of non-Omanis employed in
Oman is more a function of the rate of expansion of the economy and
Government services than of recruitment and replacement efforts of the
MCS. The manpower-planning model set up by the World Bank at the
Development Council demonstrates the mathematical relationship between
growth rate and expatriate employment. The rapidity of building the
nation's infrastructure over the past two decades led to a large influx
of foreign labor, but as the rate of expansion of Government facilities
and services levels off, the Omanis coming out of education and training
will replace expatriates in increasing numbers. Creating better training
opportunities and incentives for achievement have higher priority than
pushing for replacement on a post-by-post basis.
It is evident that
external assistance would be useful if the MCS decides to pursue the
strategy recommended. Access to external sources of advanced management
systems, public-policy and management-training programs, and consultants
on these subjects could be provided under program organized by MDP. In
order to explore ways in which the MDP might assist the MCS to expand
its development role, a programming team of four persons could visit
Oman for ten days to two weeks in the near future.
The team should if possible be composed of a labor economist, a
management trainer, an educator with experience in institutional
linkages, and a person familiar with the organization of overseas
training programs. The objective of the team would be to design a
program of MDP assistance to the MCS and the IPA along the lines
recommended in this report. The program would be presented in modular
form, along with estimates of the cost of each module, so the MCS can
determine which avenues it wishes to pursue without necessarily
accepting the entire package.