Innovation in China’s Public Sector for Good Governance

The Challenge

With the recent reform of the government’s institutional structure, China has made an important stride along the road to establishing a new administrative system to clarify the role of the state, improve the performance of civil services, and institutionalise management and accountability structures in order to improve service to the public. However, there are still deep-seated problems with the administrative system that hinder economic and social development in China. Key challenges are to raise efficiency, accountability and transparency, and to improve administrative mechanisms and government management.

The Chinese leadership has prioritised the need for great efficiency, effectiveness, innovation and transparency in the public sector, and hopes to have produced concrete results by 2020.

The Response

This project continues UNDP’s longstanding support to the leading government body for public sector reform, the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform (SCOPSR), in developing comprehensive reforms for China.  Five priority areas have been identified: transforming government functions; restructuring the government administrative system; streamlining administrative operations; reforming public service units (PSUs) and capacity building. These areas are being addressed using research studies, seminars, forums and dialogues, professional trainings and international exchanges to provide policy recommendations to the Chinese leadership and coordinate the implementation of the public sector reform.


The cooperation between UNDP and SCOPSR in public administration reform dates back to the early 1990s. UNDP has provided contributions to the macro-planning of public administration reform in China. It has increased government capacity in this respect, in compliance with WTO requirements during the transition from planned economy to market economy. Especial efforts have been made with regards to development in western China.

In Phase IV, the project contributed to the transforming of government functions and restructuring of administrative systems in the super-ministry reform, and the separation of the functions of government from those of enterprises, state assets management authorities, PSUs and market-based intermediaries. It assisted with feasibility studies into a “county directly administered by Province” model of governance, and PSU reclassification.  

In 2012 the programme entered its fifth phase, the main target of which is to help the government to realise its public administration reform goals by 2020.  Thematic researches have been undertaken on public sector reform with an emphasis on administrative reform in economically advanced towns. Shandong Province has been selected as a pilot and the experiences of this test have been integrated into the report of 18th Party Congress. A seminar involving key stakeholders on Governmental Structure and Staffing was organised, with a focus on streamlining departments’ operations. The programme has continued high level international study tours on public sector classification, public health administration and cultural development through view exchanges, and experience -sharing.

Who finances it?

Donor Amount
UNDP US$ 300,000
Government   US$ 1,500,000

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