The Case for an International Online Public Service Academy

BRISBANE, Australia - Oct. 12, 2017 - PRLog -- David Fellows, Co-Principal of PFMConnect has proposed the creation of an online academy for the professional development of government officials with particular emphasis on the advantages it would offer to developing nations. He has suggested that improving the effectiveness of government institutions around the world, especially those in developing countries, is unlikely to be achieved without increased professional development for public servants.

A conventional campus format would bear a heavy cost-base and bring the practical difficulties of assembling the teaching staff necessary to deliver the standard of education required. It would also incur the loss of public servants from the workplace for substantial periods of time, together with the costs of travel and accommodation.  A different capacity building approach is therefore required.

Why not an online public service academy?

It is suggested that governments and development partners should consider the merits of establishing an online public service academy to provide world-wide public service capacity development.

The positive advantages of an open learning format for permanent officials include the flexibility of study time demands on student availability and the benefits of an international experience for participating students given their interaction with students and teachers from around the world.

Establishment issues

There is no need to create a completely new institution. A variety of universities, civil service colleges and development agencies provide potential starting points for such an initiative; some universities already offer online MBAs. A modest group of nations and development partners could launch this proposal.  Nor is there any necessity to suppose that the initial institution would be located in the northern hemisphere amongst the traditional developed nations.

Seminars and staff meetings could be held online, academic material developed collaboratively over document handling systems, and student work could be dealt with by email or in-house systems.

The model is capable of being funded jointly by client governments and development partners. Cost-sharing could be flexible. Costs could be contained through collaboration agreements with founding institutions and a variety of organisational expertise could be achieved in this way.


Initially the prospectus should be developed around core governance-related topics such as policy development; management and leadership; human resources; public financial management; law; ethics; and economics. Courses would have action-oriented elements so that client governments gain demonstrable benefits from each programme of study. Relevant benefits would be stated at the outset and evaluated in student assessments. Satisfactory course completion would be formally certified.

Without increased professional development for government officials the very ambition of improving state institutions is most likely fundamentally flawed.

Note: (i) the full text of this article is to be found on the Australian National University Development Policy Centre blog site at – and is reproduced on our blog site at

(ii) PFMConnect is a consultancy that supports the development of good standards of public financial management, governance and capacity development.

John Leonardo
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Tags:Online, Academy, Public Servant
Location:Brisbane - Queensland - Australia
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