IPP Program Journey: Improving Tax Compliance in Uganda

Guest blog written by Doris Akol

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 7-month blended learning course in December 2019. These are their learning journey stories.

My previous experience with public policy has hitherto been mainly as a formulator of organizational policies which are then implemented by other units and more recently as a first hand implementer of fiscal policies passed by the Government for revenue collection. Frankly speaking, I had never quite addressed my mind to that fact that the process of implementing public policy is akin to being on a rollercoaster of thrilling adventurous fast paced rides, being stuck on a cliff and sometimes being dropped off that cliff (when the policy creates a backlash during implementation).

Eight months ago, I started on a process of walking the public policy implementing journey. This started with a definition of the policy challenge I am facing for which a solution is required. I selected a challenge relating to improving compliance for taxes, especially in the informal sector of our economy.

Reporting for the in-person training at Harvard was like a dream come true in itself…. I mean, this was me at Harvard! Meeting accomplished and likeminded professionals from all over the world, all seeking answers to the question, “how does one successfully implement policies for impactful change” was another fulfilling experience. We were all looking to better our communities or other spheres of influence and make great impact though public policy.

I learned that, policies are a response to a problem or the perception of the existence of a problem. It is in the process of understanding the gap between the existing (status quo) and the ideal situation that a public problem may be identified. This then sets off the thinking process of how the situation may be moved from existing to ideal i.e., how the gap may be closed. This process will elaborate the steps that may need to be taken, the resources that will need to be deployed and the persons/ institutions required to take action in order for the problem to be rectified or mitigated. The end product of the process will most definitely be a policy.

I also learned that for successful policy implementation, it is key to obtain acceptance, especially from authorizers…those power holders with a big “P”, who are likely to ensure your policy implementation is supported, such as bosses or financiers, and those power holders with a small p, who may frustrate the implementation of the policy because they wield power with other influencers. In public policy implementation, it is crucial to identify all those that wield some form of power, overt and covert and seek to bring them along in order for the policy to succeed. Continue reading IPP Program Journey: Improving Tax Compliance in Uganda

PDIA Course Journey: Deconstructing ‘PDIA’ a Catchy Acronym in Development

Guest Blog by Lucy Peace Nantume, Robinah K Manoba, Maurice Olupot, Rebecca Kukundakwe.

This is a team of four development practitioners working for the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) in Uganda. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in May 2019. This is their story.

As employees of a donor agency aimed at building state capability in various areas, PDIA had become for us a catchy frequently used acronym in the organization although honestly speaking most didn’t know exactly what it entailed. Some focused on cramming what it meant in full so that when called upon we would appear to know it while others had resigned to viewing it as the new “in thing” till it gets dropped and a new concept comes along.

Against that background, an opportunity to get more insights into PDIA was thus an idea worth pursuing. The past 15 weeks of the PDIA course have brought out a mixture of feelings both individually and as team ranging from the positive (excitement, joy) to the negative (disillusionment, disappointment).

It wasn’t hard to agree on a name for our team and sign up. Since initially it seemed like the four of us were the only ones interested, we adopted the organization acronym and thus the name “TEAM DGF”. Later we learnt that other colleagues also formed a team thus the organization was privileged to have two teams signed up. This came with added advantages as teams consulted, shared and motivated each other.

Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Deconstructing ‘PDIA’ a Catchy Acronym in Development