West Kalimantan autonomy awards given out
WEST KALIMANTAN, Jan 28: A new awards program in West Kalimantan is recognizing innovative district administrations for improvements in community engagement and responsive service delivery. The inaugural National Seminar and Autonomy Awards, which took place in the province’s bustling capital of Pontianak last month, rewarded the districts and cities that have been successfully improving livelihoods through effective service delivery.
The program is a part of a wider initiative already being implemented in South Sulawesi by the Fajar Institute of Pro Otonomi, and East Java by the Jawa Pos Institute of Pro Otonomi (JPIP), to facilitate the replication of good practices in service delivery and to encourage district governments to compete in delivery of basic public services.
According to Yan, the head of education in Bengkayang, a West Kalimantan district that scooped the award in the administrative services category, events like the Autonomy Awards are important in motivating governments to improve.
“Highlighting the fact that some West Kalimantan districts are doing much better than others is a crucial factor in instigating change, and motivating the non-winning districts,” he said.
Ever since decentralization was implemented in 2001, bringing autonomy to the archipelago’s culturally diverse regions, district governments have been given authority over public service delivery in areas that include health care and education.
The hope had been that bringing decision-makers closer to the people would make public services more in tune with local needs. This, however, did not happen automatically, with many services burdened by lack of accountability and attention to detail.
One example of this problem can be seen in West Kalimantan, where it does not appear that the benefits of the province’s rich natural resources have been reaching the region’s residents.
In fact, a significant gap exists between the province’s gross regional domestic product, which measures the size of the region’s economy, and its human development index, a statistic that measures life expectancy, education and income, which in West Kalimantan currently stands at below the national average.
Kinerja, a USAID-funded governance project, has been trying to address this issue by encouraging the Pontianak Post Institute of Pro Otonomi (PPIP) to support the establishment of an Autonomy Awards program in the province to increase the achievements of local governments and encourage other districts to improve their services.
“The main issue right now is changing the attitudes of public servants and building regional capacity,” said Yuliana Suliyani, the local public service specialist (LPSS) for Kinerja. “While improvements are taking place slowly, a number of local authorities in West Kalimantan are taking significant steps to ensure that services are more responsive to community needs.”
West Kalimantan’s first Autonomy Awards ceremony rewarded district administrations that excel in economic development, public service delivery and local politics. Sponsored by the provincial administration, the PPIP and the JPIP, the event presented districts with awards for achievements in health, education and administrative services, economic growth, as well as public participation and government accountability.
Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Eko Prasojo, who was one of the speakers at the event, said the key challenge to public service reform in Indonesia lies in strengthening accountability within district governments.
“The two key words are competence and competition,” he said. “By showing what is possible, the Autonomy Awards help raise the bar for government performance so decentralization can deliver the maximum possible benefit to the people.”
While West Kalimantan’s Autonomy Awards have opened the way to highlight service improvements in the province, many believe that airing good practices should not stop there. District improvements across the archipelago might soon be documented in an annual handbook.
“A new program was launched around two months ago requiring each local government to tell us about one innovation that they have implemented in their district in the past year,” Eko said. “We are hoping to get around 600 innovations each year, which Lembaga Administrasi Negara [Institute of Public Administration] will turn into an annual handbook.”
According to Eko, the ministry is planning to hold a public service expo in Jakarta in June to give local government the chance to showcase their achievements. “Hopefully this will encourage knowledge sharing and replication between districts,” he said.