In his second term in office, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has appeared to take bureaucratic reform seriously, given the Grand Design of Bureaucracy Reform 2010-2025, Bureaucracy Reform Roadmap 2010-2014 and the government-sponsored bylaw on state civil servants and bylaw on state administration. Deputy Administrative Reforms Minister Eko Prasojo discusses the agenda with The Jakarta Post’s Ina Parlina and Dwi Atmanta.
Question: What is behind the bureaucratic restructuring and what will the government do in its remaining 1.5 years?
Answer: We have short-term and long-term strategies. The former will last until the end of the Yudhoyono administration, while the latter will require us to prepare the machinery of government for the next president.
Given our limited resources, we may be only able to review the organizational structure of existing ministries and government institutions. The changes won’t be radical, but limited to internal reform.
In the coming 18 months, we will conduct an audit of each of the ministries and government institutions, which will be grouped in 13 clusters.
We will propose organizational restructuring. Our target is to reduce the number of director generals and directors in each of the ministries or institutions. Vice President Boediono has met with all the ministers and asked them to follow the restructuring plan. We will only need to provide them consultants who will help them arrange an efficient and effective organization.
The long-term strategy will be presented to the new president. We will submit a white book on the new organizational structure of government, along with the number of ministries and government institutions.
How does the restructuring correlate with the bill on civil servants?
The bill is part of the short-term strategy, especially pertaining to human resources development. Hopefully, the House of Representatives will endorse it this year. The underpinning issue is how we can move civil servants out of their comfort zone, so that we can dismiss them if they do not perform. The problem is [under the current law] civil servants cannot be fired, unless they commit treason or a crime punishable by four years imprisonment.
We want to regulate that civil servants can be dismissed if they do not perform three years in a row. An official cannot hold his or her post for more than five years. He or she may extend the term only after applying for the job and going through the selection process.
Starting from last year, we have also adopted a passing grade in the recruitment of new civil servants, because we want to employ qualified people. In the past the number of civil servants recruited followed the number of vacancies.
Is there resistance to the plan?
Definitely. Resistance to a reform movement is natural and embedded with the reform itself. Many perhaps have begun to feel their posts are at stake or their organizational structure will be affected. Therefore, we will start from the ministers. They have expressed their commitment to the restructuring.
Will this bureaucratic reform save public money?
We don’t have estimates on efficiencies from the restructuring, but there will be a cut in spending on pay, the unnecessary procurement of goods and services as well as travel allowances and so on. Many posts will be removed if they create overlapping structures that also mean duplicating jobs and activities.
Overlapping structures have forced us to spend a lot on activities and programs that have no correlation with outcomes. Restructuring will slash the numbers of civil servants, expenditure and the state budget.
It’s natural for us to build a central government structure that is minimalist, because of its responsibility to set norms, standards, procedures and general policies. The result of the efficiency will be reallocations for public spending, productive community activities and improving civil servants’ remuneration based on their performance. Civil servants must be paid in accordance with their achievements, job risks, responsibilities and so forth.
There should be no more government employees who seek extra income through marking up travel allowances, consignments or stipends. If we can accumulate the various income sources into a transparent, performance-based remuneration system, we may boost the productivity of civil servants. Today, civil servants may stash huge income from certain disguised activities that discourage transparency and are difficult to measure.
How many people will be affected by the restructuring?
The number will depend on the results of their competence tests, but we will cut the number in stages due to our limited budget. There are many civil servants who are asking for early retirement.
Will the reform affect regional governments?
In principle they accept our policy, because the recruitment of government employees will have to follow our requirements. New jobs will depend on job analysis, work load analysis, human resources development planning for at least five years, job evaluation and personnel spending that must not exceed 50 percent of regional budgets. Many regional governments say they cannot reduce personnel expenditure, but they have to.