Public Administration in Sri Lanka: An Analysis of Evolution, Trends, and Challenges in Personnel Management
Sri Lanka practiced a feudal type of bureaucracy until it fell into the hands of Western imperialism. Many administrative changes in the British colonial period still influence the personnel management practices of the present public service. As the first constitutional reform of Sri Lanka, the Colebrook proposals of 1832 established the Ceylon Civil Service and introduced a centralized bureaucratic system. Constitutional reforms in 1912, 1920, and 1924 introduced many changes to the public service; the Donoughmore reforms of 1931 expanded and democratized bureaucratic functions, and the Soulbury reforms of 1947 were introduced on the threshold of independence in 1948. The long-anticipated nationally oriented public service dream, however, did not come true until 1972, when the first Republican Constitution was introduced. This categorically shifted the public service into the hands of the political authority. Meanwhile, the second Republican Constitution appeared in 1978 with a highly politicized bureaucracy from top to street level. As this chapter shows, the development of public service in Sri Lanka has followed the historical trajectory and path dependency of politico-administrative change. One of the major trends of Sri Lanka’s public personnel management is to test various changes in ways that leave minimal space for professionalism in a politically neutral public service.
KeywordsPublic service Colonial-administration Public personnel management Politicization Administrative reforms
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