Reconstructing Indonesia: A journey toward dynamic governance
April-July 2016
By: Azhar Kasim

Indonesia needs a knowledge-based and innovative public administration. The state civil apparatus must be qualified, with a merit system in place and, more important, utilized. Applying the principles of good governance, especially transparency and public accountability, is crucial, as is formulating and implementing public policy. The current linear approach should be replaced with an all-round approach to systems thinking; public administration processes as a cycle of planning; organized implementation; and monitoring/feedback for an appropriate evaluation process. Governments must make the right strategy choice to gain leverage and overcome challenges, although choosing the strategy is a dilemma.

One example of successful innovation in local government development in Indonesia is the East Java city of Surabaya. Efforts to transform Surabaya into a “cyber city” have improved the performance of the local government. The application of a government resources management system that includes e-budgeting, e-project planning, e-procurement, e-delivery and e-performance evaluation processes has increasingly benefitted the public through increased local revenues, improved transparency, the acceleration of public services, increased efficiency and an improved utilization rate of resources. The local government also is teaching the public to become technology literate, which can change the culture and mind-set of the city. In the era of globalization, only a knowledge-based economy will win the competition.

Changing Indonesia’s priorities

First, political leadership – strong and visionary political leadership – and strong personal integrity can play a major role in radical change, such as aligning governmental organizational elements to create dynamic governance. It is through the intervention of public policies that more conducive conditions for radical change are made. Transformational leadership that sets an example to the public via moral integrity and efficiency is necessary. The leadership role includes pioneering cultural changes (value changes, paradigm shifts) toward a more dynamic system of good governance. As Lim Siong Guan, former head of the Singapore Civil Service, said, a government “must constantly reflect on itself, anticipate future scenarios, adapt to changing circumstances and have the capacity to respond well to unexpected events.”

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