Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Awang Anwaruddin
Center of Research and Development for Information System and Administration Automation, National Institute of Public Administration of the Republic of Indonesia, E-Mail: awanglanri@gmail.com; awanglanri@ymail.com

The crisis of public service in Indonesia has spread out to almost all sectors for dec-ades. The poor level of public service performance suffered by customers is mainly indicated by sluggish service processes and excessive service cost. Various public policies have been undertaken to improve public service performance; however, no significant improvement is perceptible.
This paper attempts to find a strategic solution to improve the public service in Indo-nesia. Through a depth analysis, a positive answer is recommended: Indonesia should carry out a comprehensive approach of bureaucratic reform, including the bu-reaucratic institution, management, human resources, and service culture. Since the reform is complicated and massive, however, it should be carried out incrementally, through preliminary, implementation, and evaluation stages.

The crisis of public service in Indonesia has spread out to almost all sectors for decades. The poor level of public service performance suffered by customers is mainly indicated by sluggish service processes and excessive service cost. Various public policies have been undertaken by the government to improve public service performance; however, no significant improvement is perceptible.
Such conditions are a sign for all concerned to find a strategic solution to improve the public service. If analyzed deeply, the main problem lies in the low public service performance and excessive service cost. In this context, several illegal practices can be identified, such as uncertain service time, cost, and procedures; unfair service; long-table administrative service; deceptive service orientation; service based on distrust instead of trust; mismanagement of operational standards; and distribution of authority to legalize a single document.
Therefore, a strategic recommendation is a comprehensive approach of bureaucratic reform, including restructuring the bureaucratic institution, management, human resources, service culture, and the use of information and communication technology (ICT). Others may include establishing an interagency committee, assistance from academic institutions/NGOs, collaboration between government and private sectors, program evaluation, absorption of funding from foreign foundations, and encouraging comprehensive participation from the society.
Since the reform is complicated and massive, however, it should be carried out incrementally, through preliminary, implementation, and evaluation stages. All governance components should also be involved to reach the goal, as it is very crucial both to improve the performance of public service and to regain the decreasing trust of people in government due to unending multidimensional crisis and political instability.
This paper attempts to find a strategic solution to the problem. First, it will identify the picture of public service in Indonesia, especially its types, patterns and government efforts to improve the performance. Secondly, it will discuss the issues on bureaucracy, particularly the problems concerning its components. Based on a comparative study, this paper will finally offer a strategic solution to the problems of public service delivery in home country.

Public service may be simply defined as all activities delivered by government to fulfill the needs of society. Whilst a substantial body of research has emerged in the past four decades on innovation in the private sector (Mulgan and Albury, 2003), significant indication on innovation within the public service has just come out since 1990s when the UK Government announced the Next Steps project to improve the quality of public service. Several commonwealth countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore then implemented such project in various terms and models (Osborne & Plastrik, 1997). Triggered by the concept of Reinventing Government (Osborne & Gambler, 1992), he US government also launched a project with the same term in 1995 focusing on the improvement of public service.
The Indonesia government has actually initiated such improvement on public service since 1984 by publishing The Guidance of Simplification and Control of Business Permit (1984), Guidance of Public Service Management (1993), the Guidance of Reinstitution and Improvement of Government Apparatus Service to the Society (1995), and finally the Law of Public Service (2009). In fact, the innovations on public service have been traced in 2000, following the implementation of local autonomy policy. Since then each district tried its best to make various innovations on public service delivery in order to fulfill its typical social needs.
The implementation of current public service in Indonesia is based on the Decree of Supreme Representative (MPR-RI) Number XI/MPR/1998 on the State Execution that is free from Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism (or KKN-stands for Korupsi, Kolusi dan Nerpotisme). In order to carry out the decree, the apparatus who deliver the public service have to be professional, productive, transparent, and free from CCN. In practice, the activities of public service in Indonesia can be described in terms of characteristics and types of service institutions, patterns of service delivery, service performance, and indicators of customer satisfaction.

1. Characteristics of public service
As to its functions as a part of government system, the current public service institutions in Indonesia contain the following characteristics (Lembaga Administrasi Negara, 2003:15):
a. operate on the basis of clear legal conditions;
b. cover a wide area of importance, including the target group of delivery;
c. include both commercial and social functions;
d. need to be more accountable to the public;
e. questionable transparency of work performance; and
f. often become the target of political issues.
Most public service institutions in Indonesia are in the form of State-Owned Corporation (Badan Usaha Milik Negara–BUMN) or Local Government-Owned Corporation (Badan Usaha Milik Daerah–BUMD) with a clear legal basis. Some institutions are established for specific service delivery, such as the State Electric Company (Perusahaan Listrik Negara-PLN) for electric power, PT Telkom for telephone service, Water Supply Company (Perusahaan Air Minum-PAM) for water supply, etc. In some cases, several institutions have to carry out both commercial and social functions, for instance, The Train Company Limited (PT Kereta Api Persero) provides transportation service for both the lower and higher levels of society.
All public service institutions, as other government organizations, have to present an annual report on their performance to the public. In this case, government has provided a model of performance accountability report, designed by the National Institute of Public Administration (Lembaga Administrasi Negara).

2. Types of public service
Based on its delivery products, public service in Indonesia may be divided into three types as follows:
a. administrative service, which comprises various kinds of formal documents, such as status of citizenship, competency certificate, land certificate, driver license, marital or birth certificate;
b. goods service, which facilitates various kinds of social needs, such as distribution of food and required daily, or installation of telephone, water or electricity networks; and
c. facilitating service, which includes various kinds of public facilities, such as education, health care, the post, and transportation.

3. Patterns of public service
In practice, the implementation of such services consists of three patterns of delivery as follows:
a. functional delivery, which is performed by a specific institution in line with its tasks, functions, and responsibilities, such as electric supply by PLN, telephone distribution by PT Telkom, water supply by PAM.;
b. centralized delivery, which involves authorized institutions, for instance, the Immigrations Office for the publication of passport, the Civil Administration Office for birth certificate, the Religion Office for marital certificate; and
c. combined delivery, which includes several service institutions in a single place, for example, the Police Department and local government, for issuance of a car ownership certificate.

4. Performance of public service
To meet the increasing demand for good public service performance, the government applies the customer-driven paradigm (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992:166-194). This approach, as suggested, contains the following characteristics:
a. focus on the delivery functions;
b. focus on the empowerment of society;
c. apply a competitive system;
d. focus on the achievement of vision, mission, goal, and objectives;
e. prioritize the needs of society, not merely the wish of political leaders;
f. in certain situations, generate incomes from the delivered service;
g. prioritize efforts to prevent internal problems on service delivery;
h. apply the market system in facilitating service delivery.

5. Indicators of customer satisfaction
To develop such a model of customer-driven service, the Ministry of Civil Service Reform has set up a General Guidance for Public Service Implementation, consisting of fifteen criteria as follows:
a. simplicity: the mechanism of public service should be easier, cheaper, faster, and more convenient for the customers, which is characterized by such a simple procedure;
b. reliability: the service institutions should develop a performance consistency by providing accurate accounting and data citation, and keeping punctuality;
c. responsibility: the service staff should carry out their duties truthfully, and inform the customers when something happens incorrectly;
d. capability: the service staff should have proper skills and knowledge to perform good service delivery;
e. closeness to the customer: the service staff should make contacts with their customers, either through direct meetings, or via telephone or internet;
f. kindness and patience: the service staff should be kind and patient when dealing with their customers to develop a good relationship with them;
g. transparency: every customer could access any necessary information easily, such as the service procedure, requirements, time, cost, and so forth.
h. communicativeness: the service staff should develop good communication with their customers, so any information can be presented properly using easily understandable language;
i. credibility: any public service should be based on truth and honesty in order to maintain the customer’s loyalty to the service institutions;
j. clarity and certainty: the procedures, details of service cost and methods, and delivery time should be clear and follow a logical order to develop the customers trust;
k. security: the service institutions should hinder insecure feelings as danger, risk, and uncertainty, especially concerning the physical or financial security;
l. uunderstanding customers’ expectation: the service institutions should conduct a survey on customers’ specific needs and pay more attention to individuals.
m. reality: the service institutions should develop provide service conveniences for their customers, such as proper building, professional staff, badges, and other supporting facilities;
n. efficiency: the service requirements should meet the target only to keep up the proper link between the service requirements and the products.
o. economic: the delivery cost should be in line with the value of the product and the financial capability of their customers.
The fifteen principles above should have been more than enough to realize a good public service. However, its implementation of the principles depends a lot on the service institutions. They are free to choose any principles suit to the types of service, characteristics of institution, and patterns of service delivery. In addition, consideration should also be taken to the social condition of their customers.

As of the twelfth year of national reform era, which was officially declared in 1998 the 1999-2004 State Guidelines, the Indonesian bureaucracy has not performed any significant improvement. In this case, a diagnosis is put forward to identify the underlying problems using dynamic facets of public administration: (1) changing role of bureaucracy, (2) corruption issue within bureaucracy, (3) institutional and management problems, and (4) human resource quality.

1. A challenging role
It seems that the function of bureaucracy as “an institution with a certain position and role in running the government administration of the country” (Mustopadidjaja, in Mersmann and von Harder, 2002:8-12), or simply as “servants of the people” (Merton, in Shafritz and Hyde, 1987:113), has not been practised optimally. Bureaucracy has not really carried out its main duty to fulfill the needs of society, and to empower them in order to be capable to carry out their own activities. One of the causes of this malfunction might be the disharmonious condition of the authority, rights, and responsibilities of bureaucracy. As Gie (2003) says, “... no matter they are clever or stupid; the salary of civil servants (at the same level) is the same.”
In fact, the principles of Weberian bureaucracy seem to be still in use in governmental institutions. As we know, Max Weber, the great German sociologist, has summed up the principles used by which most bureaucratic institutions:
a. Bureaucratic institutions are centralized and hierarchical. “the lower institution is under the control and supervision of the upper bureaucracy” (Blau and Meyer (trans), 2000:24);
b. A professional apparatus is then “…only a single cog in an ever-moving mechanism which prescribes to him an essentially fixed route of march” (Osborne and Plastrik, 1997:16);
c. Bureaucracy is impersonal, sine ira et studio, working without enthusiasm or affection and offering to everyone the same treatment or service, which was “more or less stable, more or less exhaustive” (Max Weber, in Shafritz and Hyde, 1987:50-55);
d. Bureaucracy maximizes vocational security. Most civil servants involve the expectation of life-long tenure, in the absence of disturbing factors which may decrease the size of the organization (Merton, in Shafritz and Hyde, 1987:108).
These principles might have worked well in Weber’s day, when the tasks were relatively uncomplicated, and the environment was stable. But for the last three decades it has been coming apart. The world has changed rapidly, characterized by technological revolution, global economic competition, demassified markets, educated workforces, demanding customers, and severe fiscal constraints. Bureaucracy has become too slow, too unresponsive, and too incapable of changing or innovating (Osborne and Plastrik, 1997:17).
Such disharmony between the manner of traditional bureaucracy and a changing world may more or less cause the poor performance of bureaucracy. Powerless and incapable to carry out extraordinary tasks and responsibilities will make them apathetic or demotivated. Therefore, strategic and radical efforts should be prepared to improve the performance of bureaucracy, especially to develop an expected model of public service, and to cope for the changing world.

2. Issues of corruption
Corruption might be defined as “impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principles characterized by bribery or other unlawful or other improper means” (Merriam-Webster, 1977:256). In more detail, corruption may comprises ”... the misuse of office for unofficial ends, covering bribery, extortion, influence-peddling, nepotism, kickbacks, speed money, collusion and more” (Kilgaard, 1996). In Indonesia’s term (Law No. 31, Year 1999 on the Corruption Combat), corruption is meant as “all actions against the law that afflicts state finances or economy.”
Corruption started glowing in Indonesia when loans from donor countries in 1970s began flowing through this developing country, without any societal control over the governing bureaucracies (Atmasasmita, 2003). During this era, the practices of corruption were generally committed by bureaucracy in central government, and mostly unrevealed, because of semi-centralized system and the policy for national unity and integrity. Only some sensational cases emerged, such as the case of Pertamina (National Oil Corporation) during the Ibnu Sutowo administration.
Along with the arrival of globalization, people began critically and bravely revealing various corruption cases committed by top-level bureaucrats. The most sensational issue was the case of corruption, collusion, and nepotism by former President Soeharto jointly with his family and colleagues, which forced the president to step down on 21 May 1998. However, the end of the 32-year Soeharto tenure does not mean ending the corruption cases. On the contrary, since the Government put the local autonomy policy into effect in 2000, corruption simply decentralized across the country. Nowadays, corruption is not just the right of central bureaucracy, but it has extended to local leadership, from the mayors, regents, and governors up to the members of local representative house.
It’s not surprising if Transparency International has considered Indonesia as one of the most corrupt countries in the world for the last decade. The Corruption Perception Index for Indonesia in 2009, for instance, is 2.8. This score is far under other South Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, although better than the Phillippines and Cambodia (Lubis, 2010). On the other hand, another survey conducted by the Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd (PERC) has put Indonesia as the most corrupted country among 16 countries surveyed. With the score of 9,27. Indonesia is worse than Cambodia (9,10), Vietnam (8,07), the Phillippines (8,06), Thailand (7,60), Malaysia (6,47) and Singapore (1,42).
This shows that all efforts conducted by government to combat corruption within bureaucracy cannot change the negative perception on corruption. Indonesian government, therefore, needs to plan a serious agenda on bureaucracy reform, especially strategic steps to combat corruption with bureaucracy.

3. Institutional and managerial problems within bureaucracy
Apart from the corruption issues, as discussed above, several problems concern themselves with the institution and management of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy in both central and local government is now getting bigger and fatter. In such condition, bureaucracy becomes inflexible and slow in anticipating emerging problems. This excessive number of bureaucracy, in most cases, happens because of the misconduct of institutional framework, by neglecting the personnel number and qualification, decision making system, communication system, and span of control. Such framework tends to narrow the choice of strategies, or, as the well-known adage puts it, strategy follows structure.
The various problems with the institutionalization of bureaucracy can be divided into three categories (a) the overlapping structure of bureaucracy; (b) the vagueness of divisions between government functions and citizen obligations; and (c) the non-transparent political process on public policy formulation.
Likewise, the management of public bureaucracy also faces several problems, among others, (a) unclear planning of work and assignments; (b) inappropriate procedures and assignments; (c) poor enforcement of reward and punishment systems; and (d) lack of transparency in bureaucratic work performance that causes insufficient feedback.

4. Problems of human resources quality
Another latent problem is the quality of human resources, which still does not meet the expected requirements. This is indicated by the large discrepancy between levels of education and job positions. Bureaucracy is still dominated by high-school-level employees. The largest proportion of bureaucracy (about 60%) is high-school graduates, whereas university graduates comprise only 15%. The great number of high-school level bureaucrats may directly affect the government’s performance, for instance, the tendency to be slow and incapable to make innovations in their work.
Another facing problem is the bureaucratic prosperity, comprising salary, social insurance, and other living facilities, which is far from satisfactory. The poor level of salary can undoubtedly be the cause of the impairment of integrity, virtue, and moral principles such as corruption, collusion and nepotism.
Being a government employee is a career choice. Therefore, he is worth for getting a proper salary standard commensurate with his work load, responsibility, qualification, work performance, tenure, and cost of living. However, the salary system in bureaucracy does not meet the expectation. The same level employees will receive the same amount of monthly salary despite their work performance. Thus, there is no correlation between productivity and salary.
If truth be told, any remuneration policy should be based on the following principles: (a) the ability to attract the professionals to join the institution, and at the same time to retain existing qualified employees; and (b) the ability to provide rewards for employees with desirable behavior, such as good work performance, integrity, discipline, experience, responsibility, professionalism, and so forth.
The unfair of remuneration within bureaucracy may in the long term decrease the motivation, work ethos, and discipline, which triggers a great disaster for the institutions: employees will be increasingly pushed to turn elsewhere to fulfill their needs and neglect their main tasks. Finally, they may turn to illegal acts of corruption, collusion, and nepotism which cause pathology in the body of bureaucracy.

The concept of bureaucracy reform in Indonesia was basically triggered by the low performance of public service as indicated by the following conditions (Gajah Mada University, 2003): (1) Uncertain time, cost, and procedures of service; (2) Unfair service caused by political, ethnic, religious, or personal relationships; (3) A long process to obtain legal documents such as passport, driver’s license, etc. which may cause the practice of bribery and corruption; (4) Too much distribution of authority just to legalize a single document, which takes longer time and higher cost; (5) Culture orientation tends to the needs of authority instead of society; and (6) Service is based on distrust; the operational standard is to control customers’ behavior instead of facilitating them.
Such empirical phenomena appear in various social settings. This shows that the bureaucratic patterns developed in the public sector make it ineffective. The concept of traditional bureaucracy, characterized by centralized and hierarchical institutions, rigid work standard, impersonal and uncreative staff, seems inappropriate anymore to be applied, especially in this competitive era.
After observing the conditions of public service, and discussing various issues, we come to a conclusion that to improve the bureaucracy performance a reform should be carried out. The reform is also of importance to regain the people’s trust in government, which has been decreasing due to the multi-dimensional crisis. However, in line with the context of this discussion, the area of reform is limited to the components of public service implementation, covering the institution, management, human resources, service culture of the bureaucracy, and making use of ICT.

1. Restructuring the Public Service Institution
Reforming the public service institution means restructuring its components. This includes aspects of service policy and optimalization, operational cooperation, work system and procedures, and delegation of authority. The actions to be taken include the following activities:
a. reformulate the definition of service institution, including its vision, mission, strategy, goal and objectives, as well as the standard operating procedure;
b. audit the service institution, at both central and local levels, to find out the intensity of institutional needs to perform its main tasks and functions;
c. slim and restructure the service institution, especially to meet the results of institutional auditing;
d. target the service orientation to customer needs by developing a customer satisfaction index, through the optimal use of information technology; and
e. empower the society through cooperatives and NGOs, so the public service will be more competitive, creative, and innovative.

2. Restructuring Personnel Management
Personnel management is a crucial factor to improve the staff performance. Therefore, changes have to be made in the following components:
a. reformulate the systems of personnel recruitment, promotion, and layoffs in line with employees’ competence and work performance;
b. provide rewards for the best employees, and appropriate punishment for those performing bad behavior;
c. formulate a standard of public service, characterized by fast, accurate, simple, low-cost, safe, and transparent service for all levels of customers;
d. formulate a system of performance measurement on the basis of outcomes, aligned with the institutional vision, mission, goal, and objectives; and
e. empower the competent employees, so they can contribute their creativity and innovation to the best achievement of institutional goal.

3. Reformulating Human Resources Policy
Human resources constitute to be the best asset of the public service institution. Therefore, the policy of performance development and employee prosperity should be emphasized, especially including the following efforts:
a. improve the employee prosperity, for instance, by fastening the remuneration system based on employees’ performance, and reward and punishment system;
b. improve the employee integrity, for instance, by building attitudes and behavior which are oriented to the spirit of forwarding the public needs, and the neutrality of public service; and
c. improve the employee competency and professionalism through appropriate training programs, so they can perform the best and solve service problems.

4. Building Service Culture
Service culture is another crucial component of effective public service performance. Therefore, any public service institution should prioritize the building of service culture through the following efforts:
a. change the slow, uncertain, overlapping, high-cost, closed service culture into a fast, certain, simple, low-cost, transparent one;
b. develop the service ethic by building good habits, such as patient, empathetic, caring, friendly and interactive service to society;
c. develop resistance to the corruption, collusion, and nepotism that may inflict a financial loss upon the society, institution, and country;
d. develop high integrity to the work and institution through commitment and cooperation building among public service staff; and
e. build a competitive but fair culture among the staff so as to develop a healthy competition, which will produce a higher work performance.

5. Making use of ICT
In order to improve the public service performance, the Indonesian government has actually published the Presidential Decree No. 3/2003 on the Policy and Strategy of e-Government Development. After seven years, however, there are only several local governments that really implement e-Government and make use of ICT to improve public service. Based on the best practice in several local governments that successfully make use of ICT to improve public service, the strategy to implement e-Government include:
a. Political leadership along with a strong and clear vision, which is very useful to build commitment and manage change among the bureaucracy;
b. Involvement of all parties, including all levels of bureaucracy, private sectors, and society in developing e-Government;
c. Preparing human resources, especially the ICT-based ones, to operate, maintain, and transfer ICT skills and knowledge to the users;
d. Incremental implementation based on a clear and reasonable grand design of ICT development to realize e-Government;
e. Building partnership, especially with private sectors, university, local and foreign NGOs; and
f. Routine evaluation on the current implementation of e-Government.

In fact, improving public service is a complex and massively effort, especially in Indonesia. This is reasonable enough as there are thousands of public service institutions with different types and characteristics across the huge country. Therefore, the reform should be implemented incrementally and thoroughly in the following stages.

1. Preliminary stage
Commitment from the top leader is required at this stage. In addition, the involvement of experts is recommended, especially to identify weaknesses in service practice. The result is essential for the formulation of a strategic plan. Alternately, this stage is divided into the following assumptions (Caiden, 1976:142-164):
a. government must be aware of the importance of improving public service, and explicitly announce to implement effectively;
b. government should appoint experts in the field of public service to identify weaknesses existing in public service practices;
c. the experts, supported by government, publish and distribute their findings;
d. the experts formulate a strategic plan to implement the improvement.

2. Implementation stage
This stage is the most critical, and so it should involve all components of public service. The key success factors are the commitment to carry out the improvement, and consistency to the commitment (Mersmann and von Harder, 2002:82).
a. plant the awareness among the bureaucracy on the importance of public service improvement to the nation and themselves;
b. build a commitment among them to implement the improvement effectively, and provide them with necessary instruments prepared by the experts;
c. spread the plan of improvement around the other components─private sector, and society; so as to gain their support and control to the implementation;
d. keep the commitment consistently up to the achievement of the improvement.

3. Evaluation stage
The end of implementation means the beginning of the evaluation process. In this stage, the following components of improvement should be involved:
a. the experts formulate indicators for the evaluation standards, for instance, using three dimensions of public service achievement, namely, care to customers, employee capability, and costs and productivity (Reichheld, in Berger, Sikora and Berger, 1994:92-100);
b. the top management should be definite, objective, and persistent in implementing the evaluation standards (Fogleman, in Ken Shelton (transl), 2002:67-72);
c. the evaluating institution should conduct the evaluation truthfully; and
d. the society, via legislative institutions and NGOs, should be empowered to participate in the evaluation.
Hence, the improvement of public service should be implemented incrementally. Rush and radical steps in carrying out such massive and complicated work, without careful planning and systematic implementation, will not be effective. The pathology in the bureaucracy’s body has been so chronic that the improvement of public service needs a hard work and involvement of all governing components.

The condition of public service in Indonesia has been so unsatisfactory that it needs a comprehensive improvement. Several phenomena prove this, such as time consuming, high cost, long process and other misconducts that lead to the practices of corruption, collusion and nepotism. To cope with, various kinds of system, approach, and policy have been set up, but no significant progress has been indicated.
Such poor condition of public service is a sign for the government to find a strategic solution. Analyzing the above phenomena, the main problem likely lies on bureaucracy as the executor of public service. Since the past five years, bureaucracy has not performed satisfactory improvement. The rigidity, hierarchy, and impersonality of bureaucracy principles have hindered its capacity to solve global problems, including the increasing demands of society toward the public service.
Thus, bureaucracy must be reformed so as to fulfil the needs of society. The improvement mainly covers the institution, management, human resources, culture of public service, and make use of ICT. Since the reform is complicated and massive, however, it should be carried out incrementally, following the well-planned steps. All governing components should also be involved to reach the goal as it is very crucial both to improve the performance of public service and to regain the decreasing trust of people to government due to the unending multi-dimensional crisis and politic instability..

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