Overview assessment of DSW institutional structure, Myanmar

1. Background

HelpAge International has supported Myanmar since 2004 and has been an implementing partner of the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) since January 2010. Building on its field experience, HelpAge began a policy oriented project funded by the LIFT donor consortium in 2014, called Strengthening the Ministry of Social Welfare To Fulfil Its Role in Expanding Social Protection. In August 2017, a second phase of this project began. The project aims to help build the capacity of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR) to clarify its mandate on social protection as a whole and make informed decisions in choosing and designing specific instruments, particularly its new universal social pension scheme.


MSWRR has always had a wide range of responsibilities related to social welfare, encompassing such areas as programmes and services for children, women, youth, ageing and disability. In December 2014, Myanmar’s government approved the National Social Protection Strategic Plan, which laid out eight flagship schemes including four cash transfers. Among those schemes are the social pension for older persons, mother-child cash grants, and allowances for people with disabilities. In 2017 MSWRR received a substantial budget allocation to initiate two of these social protection schemes: the social pension for everyone aged 90 years and older, and mother-child grants for Rahkine State and the Naga Self Administered Zone. In addition, MSWRR is working closely with LIFT and Unicef to deliver a mother-child grant in Chin State, where the direct costs of the cash transfers are being met by LIFT. (Plans for the disability allowance are still under discussion.) These schemes fall under the mandate of MSWRR’s Department of Social Welfare (DSW), although delivery at field level is largely through the local authority structure under the General Adminstration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Largely because of these new social protection schemes, MSWRR’s budget has tripled since 2014/15.


Despite this tremendous growth in budget, and substantial new work related to cash transfers in particular, MSWRR’s institutional structure remained unchanged until some recent adjustments. For the most part, the staffing and operational structure were based on the functions and responsibilities of MSWRR over the past decade or more, before the rise of social protection in particular. However, changes are now gradually being introduced, including the creation of a new section, the Social Protection Section, in September 2017.


Below Union (central) level, the Department of Social Welfare has an office presence only to State/Region level in many areas, and to district level in parts of the country. There are no DSW offices at township, village tract, or village level. However, DSW has other facility-based staff placed below that level in certain functions, particularly early childhood care and development centres. DSW has also taken first steps towards the phased introduction of township-based case managers, by appointing the first such staff in certain locations.  DSW plans to recruit additional case managers in coming years. At sub-national level, DSW offices (like much of the government) have historically been dependent on centralised instruction and funding, although there is discussion about the need to decentralise some functions to State/Region level in coming years.


As reflected in the recent changes, there is a clear appreciation within MSWRR that its institutional structure will need to evolve as its functions change and expand, particularly with DSW. For that reason, one activity is included in the LIFT-funded project, “Overview assessment of DSW institutional structure”.


2. Purpose of the study

The purpose of this assignment is to assess the strengths and limitations of MSWRR’s current institutional structure in relation to its evolving responsibilities and to propose options for structural/functional reform at Union and State/Region levels, for MSWRR to consider further. 


3. Specific tasks for the consultant

The key tasks required to carry out this study are:


  • Hold initial discussions with DSW and HelpAge to clarify the scope of the task.
  • Gather background data and other information on Myanmar’s context; DSW’s history, structure, staffing and functions; government plans for overall departmental and civil service reforms; and other information relevant to the study.
  • Review international lessons on organisational development and reform, particularly in relation to government bodies with responsibilities similar to those of MSWRR. The Consultant is expected to be generally familiar with organisational development issues and no extensive literature review is anticipated.
  • Propose an Assessment Plan outlining the main points of investigation and methodology, along with a timeframe. This is Output 1, to be discussed with HelpAge.
  • Prepare assessment tools.
  • During a trip of about 7-10 days to Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, meet with MSWRR, HelpAge, Unicef and other key stakeholders (government, UN, civil society) identified in Output 1. Conduct interviews, other discussions and a review of documents, as agreed through Output 1. Hold a final debrief meeting with MSWRR and HelpAge before departure and present preliminary findings for discussion and feedback.
  • Incorporating the findings from the trip and final debrief, draft an initial version of Output 2. Note: The government is now preparing a five-year plan, to be drafted by February 2018. The Consultant should offer initial findings of the study as possible before end January to support that process.
  • Revise Output 2 based on feedback from MSWRR and HelpAge and submit the final version of Output 2.


4. Nature and scope of the study

  • Depth of the study: The assessment is an overview as described under Output 2, and not a detailed institutional analysis or organisational development plan. The scope is limited to the broad institutional level, not an analysis of staffing requirements or organograms e.g. number of posts, job descriptions, specific reporting lines etc. The broad financial sustainability of the proposed reforms should be kept in mind, but no budget calculations or detailed financial projections are required – the main issue is structure rather than scale. Areas for further investigation should be proposed by the Consultant.
  • Institutional scope: The assessment will consider DSW and all its units, rather than MSWRR as a whole (i.e. excluding the Department of Relief and Resettlement). As described below, the scope includes both Union and sub-national levels, in broad strokes.
  • Timeframe: The assessment indicatively should focus on a timeframe of five years, coinciding with current medium term strategic planning exercise. However, the Consultant should keep an eye on immediate practical steps that can happen over the coming year or two, also with longer term trends (a decade or more) in mind.


Other aspects of the scope of the study may be raised by applicants for discussion during the negotiation phase or in expressions of interest. HelpAge welcomes suggestions from applicants.


5. Outputs

The Consultant is responsible for producing the following 2 Outputs:


  • Output 1 – Assessment Plan. This will lay out the plan for the investigation along with a timeline. This includes the topics to be explored, methodology/tools for the investigation, parties to be consulted, an overview of documents to be reviewed and an indicative structure for Output 2.  This Output should be approved by HelpAge before the Consultant proceeds and travels to Nay Pyi Taw.


  • Output 2 – Assessment Report: This will be a report of about 25-35 pages plus annexes as appropriate addressing the issues below (may be revised through discussion of Output 1):
    • Executive summary
    • Purpose of the study
    • Background
      • Myanmar’s changing policy and governance context/priorities
      • Overview of historical and evolving role, sub-sectoral functions, staffing and structure of MSWRR
    • Critical changes occurring and expected in MSWRR’s role, responsibilities and functions
    • Union level
    • Sub-national levels
    • Strengths, limitations and points of functional unclarity in MSWRR’s current institutional structure and staffing
    • Union level
    • Sub-national levels vis-à-vis Union MSWRR
    • Analysis and options for institutional reform
    • Staffing and human resource development priorities
    • Issues for further research and analysis
    • Conclusions and recommendation
    • Annexes e.g. diagrams of institutional structure, staffing numbers and types


6. Time requirements and duration

  • Late November 2017 – Consultant appointed
  • December – Desk-based research and Assessment Plan (Output 1)
  • January – Investigation  in Myanmar (ending by January 27th)
  • Late January – Initial findings presented for planning purposes
  • January-February – Report writing
  • End February 2018 – Assignment including reporting finished


The entire assignment is expected to be completed by late February 2018.


7. Qualifications of Consultant

HelpAge is seeking a Consultant individual, team or firm with expertise in conducing institutional assessments and with knowledge of organisational development challenges and solutions, especially for the public sector in LICs/MICs.



  • Advanced degree(s) in a field directly relevant to the assignment
  • Demonstrable senior expertise in conducting institutional or organisational development assessments and producing similar studies
  • Familiarity with public sector institutional challenges and reforms in LICs/MICs, preferably in Asia/Myanmar and social sector ministries
  • Strong understanding of mechanisms and structures for delivering public social services and social welfare functions, ideally including social protection and social cash transfers
  • Skills in human resource/HRD functions and planning
  • Strong analytical, strategic planning and summarising skills
  • A practical approach to organisational problem solving
  • Experience in conducting semi-structured interviews and other information gathering
  • Strong writing skills in English with a clear, simple writing style
  • Strong IT/computer skills including Excel 



  • Burmese language skills
  • Knowledge of Myanmar’s political and governmental history and structures
  • Significant public sector work history or advisory experience, ideally in Asia


8. Expressions of interest

Interested consultants are invited to submit an expression of interest for carrying out this documentation by 21 November 2017 by email to Ms Chitlekar Parintarakul at fon@helpageasia.org. The short expression of interest (about 3-4 pages) should include (1) comments on the TOR, (2) proposed outline methodology for carrying out the study, (3) workplan and (4) budget including daily rate x no. of days to complete the work and any other costs. The CV of the named consultant(s) (plus organisational profile, if submitted by a firm) and contact information for 2 professional references should be attached (not included in 3-4 pages). Any relevant studies previously produced should also be attached (1 or 2 only).  


Final negotiated fees will be specified in the consultancy contract. The costs of any travel, accommodation etc. for one trip to Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, can be met directly by HelpAge and do not need to be included in the EOI budget. Preference will be given to candidates who can commit to completing the visit to Myanmar before 27 January 2018, as hosting the consultant’s visit during February will not be possible. Selection of the consultant will be by a panel and based on the experience of the consultant, the quality and relevance of the expression of interest, and cost, with value for money in mind.


Download TOR - Overview assessment of DSW institutional structure, Myanmar

Tags for this page