Which are the most effective civil services in the world, and what can countries learn from each other to improve their performance? A brand-new index that ranks countries according to their civil service effectiveness has been launched today. The International Civil Service Effectiveness Index (InCiSE) draws together a wealth of existing data to provide a concise assessment of how a country’s central government civil service is performing compared with others around the world. 

The InCiSE Index is a collaboration between the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and the Institute for Government. The project has been supported by the UK Civil Service and is funded by the Open Society Foundations. 

“An effective civil service can play a central role in driving forward a country’s progress and prosperity. At the Blavatnik School of Government, we work to improve government around the world so we are delighted to have been involved with the first ever InCiSE Index. The InCiSE Index will help both governments and citizens identify how well their civil service is functioning and how it can learn to improve from the best performers", said our dean Professor Ngaire Woods.

The first of its kind, the InCiSE Index covers 31 countries across Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australasia. By assessing civil service effectiveness based on how the civil service delivers its functions, the Index reveals what countries do well and where they can improve. It helps civil services to learn from each other and gives people the chance to discover how well their civil service is functioning. 

The top 10 countries on the civil service effectiveness are: 

  1. Canada 
  2. New Zealand 
  3. Australia 
  4. United Kingdom 
  5. Finland 
  6. Sweden 
  7. Estonia 
  8. Norway 
  9. Korea (Republic of) 
  10. United States of America 

As well as on overall effectiveness, each of the 31 countries is scored on a more specific breakdown which includes: tax administration, inclusiveness, capabilities, openness, integrity, HR management, crisis/risk management, regulation, fiscal and financial management, digital service, social security administration, policy making. The overall results present an interesting and surprising variety.

See the report, including a full breakdown of the rankings and interactive graphics.

The inaugural InCiSE Index is a pilot project, and the founding institutions have committed to support the development of the Index for four more years. The long-term goal is to broaden the scope of the Index to ensure that it can be produced every year and that it expands its country coverage. 

Julian McCrae, Deputy Director of the Institute for Government, said: “This Index can help governments around the world, including in the UK, successfully negotiate the immense challenges they face by allowing civil service leaders to identify other countries from whom they can learn. Our aim is to encourage collaboration on in vital areas, such as the adaption of digital technology, and to provide a transparent account to the public of how countries are doing.” 

In September, we will host an international conference at the Blavatnik School of Government to discuss the inaugural InCiSE Index results as well as the future direction of the project. The InCiSE project team welcomes feedback, suggestions and proposals at incise@instituteforgovernment.org.uk or incise@bsg.ox.ac.uk