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Faces of Open Government: Siti Juliantari Rachman

Rostros del gobierno abierto: Siti Juliantari Rachman

Siti Juliantari Rachman|

Siti Juliantari “Tari” Rachman has been an anti-corruption advocate in Indonesia for 10 years. In this interview, Tari shares how her interest in fighting corruption began and how she’s currently supporting Indonesia’s OGP commitment to open up contracting information and publish emergency procurement information on the national procurement portal.

You’ve been working at Indonesia Corruption Watch for 10 years. What inspired you to start that career path? 

I was born into a poor family. When I was growing up, elementary and secondary education was not free in Indonesia. From a young age I was always reminded that if I wanted to go to school, I had to go to a public school because there was no money for private schools. Therefore, I always tried hard to get good scores on my entrance exams in order to attend a public school.

When I was in high school, I met a student who entered school after the school year had started. While it is legal for the school to accept new students once the school year has already started, we suspected that the parents had donated air conditioning for the classrooms. I stayed silent at that time because I felt I couldn’t do anything.

After a few years, the same thing happened again. This time the school accepted a new student because it was suspected the payment given was greater than the usual entrance fee. Again, at that time I could only feel angry and could not do anything.

Tari facilitates a group discussion on potential fraud of procurement in e-purchasing in Indonesia. Participants were from the National Public Procurement Agency (LKPP) and Indonesia Corruption Watch.PHOTO: Credit: Wana Alamsyah, Indonesia Corruption Watch

This experience made me realise that corruption is close to us. Corruption is not only carried out by officials with positions that are often seen on television. Corruption in schools is a sad thing. Schools are supposed to promote anti-corruption values but can be places of corruption themselves. Corruption in the education sector not only results in state loss, but it also hinders access to education especially for poor people, worsens inequality, and leads to poor infrastructure.

From there, I became interested in the issue of corruption. I began to explore it when I joined Indonesia Corruption Watch as an intern in 2012.

I don’t know if this is a coincidence or destiny, but I was placed in the public service division, where one of the campaign issues was corruption in education. I began to understand how corruption happened in the education sector. The most common corruption is related to the procurement of goods and infrastructure. How can children get a good education if the school building, books, lab equipment, and operational fund are all corrupt?

Tari and others join a demonstration on Earth Day to remind the public and the government that corruption in natural resources is still a big issue.PHOTO: Credit: Indonesia Corruption Watch

Each year, Indonesia loses about 4 billion USD through public procurement corruption. Through your organization’s support, Indonesian reformers are now opening up access to public procurement information through a commitment in their latest OGP action plan. How do you hope this reform can change that corruption narrative? What changes have you observed in the course of co-implementing this reform with government reformers?

Opening up public procurement information does not immediately eliminate the potential corruption. However, disclosing public procurement information is the first step in providing information to the public about government spending and providing space for the public to monitor public procurement. It also gives business actors access to better understand government needs and know how to participate in the public procurement.

With the disclosure of procurement information, Indonesians can use the data to build procurement monitoring tools such as This tool displays all public procurements and their potential fraud score. The higher the score, the higher the potential for fraud. This tool also helps the inspectorate supervise procurement. Monitoring initiatives such as Monitoring Marathon (Monithon), an event where people monitor public procurement in 24 hour and report the finding to LKPP’s complaint handling mechanism, began to emerge. In fact, government procurements that look odd often go viral on social media and encourage the government to explain the purpose of the procurement or eliminate the procurement, such as procurement of curtains for the official houses of members of the House of Representatives that are valued at Rp 43.5 trillion (US$2.98 million). This procurement went viral on social media and news because of the amount of money allocated for it.

Indonesia Corruption Watch and the National Public Procurement Agency (LKPP) hosted a training about monitoring public procurement for CSOs and journalists.PHOTO: Credit: Indonesia Corruption Watch

Walk us through your role in its implementation. What lessons have you learned so far that could help other reformers in the community implementing similar reforms? What opportunities do you see in the future?

Advocating for proactive information disclosure in the procurement sector is a huge lift. A lot of information is expected to be disclosed by the government. We need to implement the reforms step by step to ensure success. For example, if we request that all procurement information be disclosed right away, this might make the government or national public procurement agency resistant and feel that too much needs to be done. Therefore, we can gradually encourage the government to open their procurement information. For example, in one year’s action plan, we could focus on encouraging transparency in the procurement planning process, then in the following year on the selection process, and so on.

Tari presents the process of e-purchasing and its potential fraud.PHOTO: Credit: Wana Alamsyah, Indonesia Corruption Watch

There are several factors for successfully implementing an OGP action plan. First, there must be a strong relationship between government institutions and civil society before pushing out the OGP action plan. This shows that the relationship is not only transactional but fruitful. Some issues can only be resolved together through the OGP process.

Second, you need a commitment from top-level and mid-level leadership. Mid-level leaders will carry out more intensive communication, but top-level leadership must also support the activities being carried out.

Third, hold a forum or meeting outside of the main OGP co-creation meetings. While the OGP Indonesia meetings bring reformers inside and outside of government together, they don’t always provide sufficient time to discuss the challenges and achievements of reforms included in the country’s OGP action plans.

Last, ensure mutual openness between the parties involved. Open in terms of the challenge as well as progress in achieving the action plan, and availability of resources. For example, Indonesia Corruption Watch and the National Public Procurement Agency (LKPP) agreed to build capacity for the community. The resources needed to carry out this activity were also discussed together, who is responsible for the place, transportation, and others.

The Indonesian government has made many changes in terms of promoting open contracting in public procurement. This includes a clearer policy about information disclosure in procurement and a system that supports the publication of procurement information. However, there is still homework that needs to be done to strengthen transparency in procurement and encourage community participation, for example publishing more detailed procurement information, such as the specification of good or service.

Comments (1)

Gladys Estela Riveros Rojas Reply

Primero: la corrupción, es vista como un acto normal, la misma ocurre por la falta de principios y/o valores desde el núcleo familiar.
Segundo: la participación de las instituciones gubernabilidad da realce, unión y oportunidad para el Estado.
Tercero: Legalidad, transparencia y participación ciudadana son la base para un Estado Democratico.

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