Post-conflict reconstruction programs increasingly include components designed to strengthen the performance of the public service and to support public sector reform. Although there is a growing body of literature on the relationship between public administration, and peace and development, there have been few case studies of donor efforts to strengthen public administration as part of post-conflict reconstruction. This study examines efforts to strengthen the civil service in Aceh, Indonesia, following the province's first post-conflict elections in 2006. It examines the impact of a donor-funded program designed to assist Aceh's first post-conflict administration (2007–2012) to reform its personnel management practices. The case study sheds light on weaknesses in current donor approaches to public administration reform in post-conflict situations. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.