South Africa is not short of world-class policies and projects - the challenge is to effectively translate many more of them into reality. Our public institutions need to be strengthened and made to perform. This means better functioning state departments - including local authorities. We need to recognise the reality of a desperate skills shortage as well as the lack of organisational experience - and adapt our policy thinking and strategic planning accordingly. If we are looking for a role model, then the South African Revenue Services has already shown the rest of the public service how it should be done.