New index ranks best performing civil services in the world

Canada, New Zealand and Australia top a brand-new index that ranks countries according to their civil service effectiveness.

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 first of its kind, the Index covers 31 countries across Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australasia.

By assessing how the civil service works in many different countries, 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

The report assesses civil service effectiveness based on what the civil service delivers and how the functions are delivered. 

Each of the 31 countries is scored on overall effectiveness, and 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, and policy making.

The overall results present an interesting and surprising variety. For example, if the scoring is adjusted by country GDP, then the overall effectiveness score is:

  1. Estonia (the country also scores first on the tax administration variant)
  2. Mexico (which scores first on regulations)
  3. Korea (Republic of) (which scores above average on most variables).

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.

Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, said: “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.”

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 in vital areas such as the adaption of digital technology, and to provide a transparent account to the public of how countries are doing.” 

The report, including a full breakdown of the rankings and interactive graphics can be accessed on the Blavatnik School of Government website


Notes to editors

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.

The Blavatnik School of Government will host an international conference in September 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 or

The InCiSE Index provides a comparative assessment, meaning that all country scores are relative to others rather than an absolute measure. This means that even where a country scores well in a particular area, they may still have performance issues.

For more information please contact:

Giulia Biasibetti, Blavatnik School of Government | | +44 (0)1865 616733 

Nicole Valentinuzzi, Institute for Government | Nicole | +44 (0) 785 031 3791

The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford exists to inspire and support better government and public policy around the world

The Institute for Government (IfG) is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.