Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Implementation of Civil Service Reforms in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan: Legal Framework, Opportunities and Challenges

Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Implementation of Civil Service Reforms in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan: Legal Framework, Opportunities and Challenges

Article excerpt


Kazakhstan is undergoing a process of transition from a command-style political system towards more inclusive and bottom-to-top style of decision making. The lessons of other countries that have successfully accomplished such transitions (e.g. Japan, South Korea, Singapore, etc.) suggest that it is essential to nurture a class of civil servants who can provide the relevant expertise and knowledge for multiple actors in decision-making processes (Khorasani & Almasifard, 2017). One of the most important factors in this respect is to institutionalize the public (civil) service system(Khorasani, 2014). Kazakhstan has attempted to reform its system of governance and enhance the transparency of this process and the government of Kazakhstan placed the task of reforming its civil service among its top-priority goals. These goals indicate that the efficiency of the state apparatus primarily depends on the professionalism of civil servants.

However, improving the professionalism and competence of Kazakhstan's civil servants and the quality of the services offered by them continues to be a challenge. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and Kazakhstan's declaration of independence, the young country developed new civil service legislation and created an authorized body for civil service affairs: Agency for Civil Service Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan (hereinafter referred to as the Agency).

The Academy of Public Administration, which is under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, was established in 1998 on the basis of the National Higher School of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Institution of Civil Servants Training under the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan; the Academy's goal was to create a unified system for training civil servants. New legislation has been developed to provide for procedures and rules supporting a merit-based system of appointments and promotion, in addition to protecting civil servants from political pressure. Despite support from the leadership of the country and legislative support provided for the bureaucratic corps, the efficiency of public service and its functions are continually acknowledged to be in need of further reforms and improvements.

What specific types of administrative reforms-and what specific features of such reforms -would be necessary to constitute an effective civil service in the Republic of Kazakhstan? What are the measures that a government undertakes to institutionalize its system of merit-based promotion and to modernize its bureaucracy? What are the challenges to this process? What are the lessons that can be learned from the case of Kazakhstan for other states in Central Asia as they undertake their own civil service reforms? The goal of this paper is to answer these questions and outline the specific process of the administrative transition of Kazakhstan's civil service bureaucracy.


The scope of analysis of the current paper is the 1991-2011 period, which laid the foundation for the creation of the legal framework, principles and legal institutions of the civil service sector. To answer the questions discussed above, this paper first outlines the discourse on the reform of public service among scholars and public officials in Kazakhstan. It will then outline the laws and institutional measures that have provided for the establishment of a public service system Kazakhstan. Finally, this paper will outline the challenges faced by the government and public service institutions on the way to increasing the efficiency of public services in Kazakhstan.

The discourse in Kazakhstan regarding the role and place for civil service is divided along several lines of argumentation. One way to argue for the steps necessary to undertake reforms of civil service in Kazakhstan has been to posit the idea that the Kazakh bureaucracy is not efficient because the system of promotions, salaries and other motivational factors are not properly aligned and functioning. …

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