Many countries struggle with the size, composition and affordability of their public sector work force. This is particularly true in the Middle East and North Africa region, which on a per capita basis is home to some of the largest public sectors in the world. Public sector “downsizing” or “rightsizing” efforts, with the goal of enhancing efficiency, improving the skills mix and contributing to significant wage bill savings, have often been difficult and problematic to implement. Many managed to achieve their fiscal targets, but also caused some undesirable consequences. Mandatory or targeted redundancies often encounter fierce resistance from public sector unions and employees, and are politically difficult to implement. Voluntary programs avoid some of these problems, but can also lead to the departure of the most talented and productive employees from the public sector. A fortunate few have been able to carefully design and implement their programs, allowing them to both achieve significant fiscal savings and to retain their best performing employees while relocating less productive ones to other sectors.
This study examines the experience of the Moroccan government in trying to solve the challenges and inefficiencies long associated with its public sector. It relies on data and sources obtained from the Moroccan Ministry of Public Sector Modernization, as well as on formal and informal interviews with various senior government officials and stakeholders. It assesses the financial and economic results from two voluntary departure schemes, one of which is generally regarded as a success (although not without its complications), and was another which clearly is not. It discusses how these programs were designed and implemented, as well as their overall outcomes.