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Indonesia Open Government Jam: Reforming e-government, increasing public participation and renewing the spirit of collaboration and co-creation

Megan Abigail |

Consistent with the efforts of having an open government, the Open Government Indonesia National Secretariat carried out the OpenGovJam on September 30th.

With the topic of “Government Digitalisation: Transforming the Public Services and Interactions”, OpenGovJam aimed to maximise the potential of e-government, which in turn would result in better public services.

OpenGovJam brought together professionals from a variety of sectors to discuss and innovate implementing e-government; making the most out of the technology while at the same time pushing forward with the open government agenda; and having a government that is accountable, transparent and participative. With 32 main participants divided into eight small groups of four, OpenGovJam brought together the government with people who had insights into business processes, governance, and digital technology.

The President’s Chief of Staff Teten Masduki, presenting the keynote speech, and Deputy II Chief of Staff Yanuar Nugroho from the Executive Office of the President, delivering the warming-up discussion, represented the Indonesian government. From the private sector, OpenGovJam invited the CFO of BukaLapak, Muhamad Fajrin, and the co-founder of the US Digital Service (USDS), Emily Tavoulareas.

Through ignite talks and the warming-up discussion, speakers from different backgrounds elaborated several key points on how to make the most out of e-government and improving public services, such as:

•    Data driven

Open Government Indonesia has pushed the One Data portal, which consists of data regarding and from the ministries, government bodies, local government and all other institutions with Indonesia-related data. It aims to improve interoperability and utilisation of government data, made possible by an open government. This, according to Fajrin, will be useful in many ways, ranging from policymaking to problem-solving, while ensuring accountability both in private and government sectors.

•    Design with the users, not for them / Collaboration and co-creation

Too often, designers – and in this context, government – forget that the users are standing on the other side, and the products/services should be a bridge that connects rather than walls that divide the two. Products and services creators are often passionate about what they are about to offer, and know a lot about the product/services. The users – and in this case, the public – may use the product for the first time and have little to no idea how it works. Thus, it is important for the government to reach out to the public, not just during user testing but also during the creation of the products. Tavoulareas brought forth the example of the Presidential Innovation Fellowship programme in America, describing how it became the gateway for the public’s participation in the bureaucracy and government digitalisation.

•    E-government for open government

During his keynote speech, the President’s Chief of Staff conveyed the importance of making the most out of information communications and technology to ensure an open government. ‘An open government means there is more space for public participation in policymaking. This is vital, as no country should be controlled only by the government, or winning political parties, or the House of Representatives.  In addition to that, the people are also in need of better public services. Right now, we are in a situation where bureaucratic procedures take ages to be done; some government officials get tangled in the corruption web, with public servants not giving their best in ensuring good public services. I hope that we can all discuss and find the solutions for these issues through programmes like Open Government Jam.’

At the end of the day, there were eight prototypes for how the Government of Indonesia can better improve public services. Looking at the prototypes created, it became apparent that the participants are concerned with strengthening public service application. The first point made was one regarding LAPOR! – Indonesia’s complaint handling system, which works across the country with reporting on all public services. There is a need to make it more user-friendly and more inclusive to those who are not smartphone-savvy or frequent internet users. The second is in regards to the ease – or lack thereof – of civil registration and administration, and the need to minimise the bureaucratic hassle and reduce costs.

OpenGovJam once again proved that to have an open government that is also participative is not just jargon; it is protected under the Constitution Number 25/2004 on the National Development Planning System, and is implemented through public engagement in the development planning process through the Development Planning Forum (Musrenbang).

This may be the first time that Indonesia held its own OpenGovJam, but it will not be the last. Judging from participants’ feedback, along with the Government of Indonesia’s commitment to having a government that is open, accountable, participative, innovative, and trustworthy, it is safe to say that there will be more OpenGovJam to come.