President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration has completed its first 100 days in office, which according to the office, ended Feb. 1. To have measurable targets within the 100 days, the government set up on Dec. 8 the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), headed by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the former chairman of the Aceh-Nias Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR). The Jakarta Post’s Evi Mariani and Prodita Sabarini, talked to Kuntoro about his new office. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Question: Many people think your work for the BRR was a success. What is the difference between the BRR and the UKP4?
Answer: The work of the BRR was to build something from ground zero, while the UKP4 is not work from ground zero. Most of the BRR work was physical, something we could see and focused on particular regions, Nias and Aceh. The UKP4, on the other hand, works for many sectors, from agriculture and health to transportation.
It is not focused on building from ground zero, but rather things we should continue. But it is not simple work, we deal with the top level of the government. We cannot afford mistakes because the impact of mistakes could be huge on the public.
We heard that you refused a ministerial job for this?
It’s not true. In the beginning there were talks that the UKP4 should be attached to a ministry and the monitoring job should be undertaken by a Cabinet minister. But later on, we thought such job should not be attached to a ministry. So we think it should be presidential support for monitoring. The idea was to set up something such as the [US] White House’s West Wing or the United Kingdom’s delivery unit. The difference is, delivery units can intervene.
It is attached to the Finance Ministry, so when an office cannot deliver, the budget will not be disbursed. Another thing is, delivery units have targets with a high level of detail. With the UKP4, on the other hand, we do not intervene, we only back up and remind the ministries but not intervene. We also do not draw detailed targets. Rather, we develop a master plan.
Can you tell us how the UKP4 works?
We are a small team of 16 people. I have four deputies, the deputies have assistants. The human resources here comprise of people completing economics, engineering, anthropology and urban planning PhDs. We work based on a matrix, meaning we work according to a target. The assistants can work with any deputies, depending on the job at that time. So one deputy can work under another deputy on a certain target, while an assistant can be a project leader. I once worked under one of my deputies.
We are a modern office, working with GPS (global positioning systems) and GIS (geographical information systems) and we are aiming to be paperless.
We are also encouraging the ministries to send digital copies of documents. I am the only one here with an office, the others work in open rooms and meeting rooms. Mostly we coordinate. A typical day of work consists of the deputies and assistants sharing the same room with their laptops. I also have a smartphone, allowing the ministers and myself to communicate at any time.
You should have seen us when we worked for the 100-day program. My deputies spent the nights here, some worked until midnight, mostly until 9 p.m or 10 p.m. We are efficient, no one should be idle at the office. This is the smallest team I have ever had. In the BRR I worked with about 1,500 people.
What projects are you working on now?
The de-bottlenecking of the geothermal power plant, gas pipeline project, bureaucracy reform, single identity system and railway system improvement.
We want to finish de-bottlenecking the geothermal project in two months. De-bottlenecking is unclogging the workflow of a project. Sometimes, a project does not work because of lack of coordination. Sometimes all a project needs to work is a piece of paper containing a ministerial decree.
What does Yudhoyono think of UKP4’s work so far?
We talk regularly with the President. Usually the President summons us at 1 p.m. every day to receive our report on the progress. For the 100-day, the President said he was happy with our work.