Indonesia, open government and the SDGs

open-gov-indonesiaLuiz de Mello, OECD Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development (GOV)

The approval of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 provides a useful occasion to explore how countries’ multi-lateral reform and development initiatives, such as those in the areas of open government, can support and advance the ambitious aims of the SDGs. Linking the SDGs to broad public administration reforms will be particularly important given their complexity; consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets, they cover a wide range of topics that will help shape countries’ priorities for public governance reform in the coming years.

Indeed, this is particularly relevant for Indonesia. As the country is both a founding member of the Open Government Partnership and simultaneously played a leading role in the United Nations Post-2015 development design, Indonesia is well placed to be a strong advocate for open government reforms, and to link such reforms to other multi-lateral reform efforts.

The SDGs deepen and expand upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and set out an ambitious agenda that aspires to be universal, integrated, and transformational. The aims of the SDGs therefore reinforce the need for cross-cutting and effective governance. Goal 16, in particular, reflects this consideration by promoting inclusive societies for sustainable development and seeking to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels – many of the same goals that open government principles seek to achieve.

Open government policies can support both the substance of SDGs implementation (by directly contributing to the achievement of the goals) as well as to the process by which countries pursue the SDGs (namely, during their design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation).

How countries are already working towards Goal 16: what OECD data tells us

Open government policies and principles are most notably relevant to a number of the substantive targets found in Goal 16, such as those that concern the development of effective, accountable and transparent institutions (16.6), the promotion of responsive, inclusive, participatory decision making (16.7) and the expansion of access to information (16.10). Transparency, inclusion and responsiveness are indeed main characteristics of open government reforms, and OECD research and policy reviews have highlighted their role in promoting good governance.

For example, the OECD Survey on Open Government found that 88% of all survey respondents, including Indonesia, claimed that one of the key objectives they hope to achieve by implementing open government initiatives is to improve the transparency of the public sector, thereby directly supporting Target 16.10. Additionally, 73% of respondents claimed that a key goal of their open government initiatives is to improve the accountability of the public sector, responding directly to the objectives laid out in Target 16.6 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Objectives of countries’ open government strategies


Source: OECD (forthcoming), Open Government: The Global Context and the Way Forward, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris

The survey also shows that many countries are already pursuing activities to increase inclusivity, another key component of Goal 16. For example, 67% of respondents have implemented citizen consultation initiatives, and 71% are involving citizens in policymaking. In addition, 58% of the countries involve citizens in service design, and half provide for citizen participation in service delivery (see Figure 2). Together, these initiatives provide governments with feedback and new ideas and allow stakeholders to offer inputs, thereby enhancing both the quality and capacity of policies to achieve the intended outcome.

Figure 2: Open Government initiatives with a focus on public engagement


Source: OECD (forthcoming), Open Government: The Global Context and the Way Forward, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris

Examples from Indonesia

For its part, Indonesia has already made important progress in pursuing the kind of initiatives necessary to realise the governance targets laid out in Goal 16 and to support the process for inclusive design, implementation and monitoring of all SDGs. For example, through its creation of a National SDG Secretariat in 2016 and the establishment of the National Open Government Secretariat in 2015 (which built on previous government initiatives to support open government reforms), Indonesia has already put in place important institutional support structures.

The government has supported transparency and participation through legal protections for whistleblowers and the establishment of Pejabat Pengelola Informasi & Dokumentasi (Documentation and Information Management Offices, or PPID), which serve as essential public resources to handle requests for information. Indonesia has already established 694 offices throughout the country, with more on the way. Indonesia has also made rapid advancements in its ability to engage civil society in public affairs via its participatory forums for national and local development planning (Musrenbang) and a national online complaint management tool (LAPOR). As of September 2015, LAPOR had over 300,000 users, receiving 800 reports per day, thereby illustrating the widespread reach and interest in connecting the public and its government to solve practical challenges.

Additionally, the Widodo administration has supported programs that share the spirit and principles of open government that simultaneously help to achieve the SDGs beyond Goal 16. For example, the Pencerah Nusantara and Nusantara Sehat programs – originally established to support the MDGs – seek to improve the quality of life for people living in remote areas with limited access to health facilities. By training community members to provide such services and expanding the pool of healthcare providers, the program contributes to Goal 3, which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. The program has already improved the health of around 133,000 people. In this case, by applying the open government principle of citizen engagement to encourage a broader range of the population, especially young and rural Indonesians, to become involved, Indonesia is creating a more inclusive society.

The way forward

Other countries can learn from Indonesia’s experience, and Indonesia itself can expand upon its successes. As a way forward, countries seeking to support their various multilateral initiatives by linking open government and the SDGs could focus on:

  • Continuing to develop the links between open government reforms and the design and implementation of the SDGs. In Indonesia, this could include supporting additional institutional collaboration between the National SDG Secretariat and National Open Government Secretariat. During consultation events for the development of the National Action Plans, furthermore, the sustainable development goals can be explained in the context of open government and each commitment in the National Action Plan can be linked with the relevant SDG goal or target (as Macedonia has done in its Third National Action Plan). This will help ensure coherence between the two initiatives and will facilitate joint monitoring of the progress and results.
  • Promoting the use of open data for reporting on SDG achievements (see, for example, Mexico’s open data portal designed to track the SDGs). This would not only support the role of CSOs as watchdogs, but it would foster the reuse of public-sector information in a way that is relevant for the implementation of the SDGs.
  • Increasing the involvement of citizens in the policy cycle of the SDGs to ensure that the initiatives are inclusive and that they fully reflect public needs.

The above-mentioned recommendations are included in the OECD Open Government Review of Indonesia, launched by the OECD Secretary-General on October 24, 2016, in Jakarta. The Review highlights the achievements of Indonesia in the field of open government and SDGs, as well as the country’s remaining challenges. Ultimately, by promoting transparency, accountability and participation, the Review has helped to identify how countries can use open government principles to inform their implementation of the SDGs in such a way that meets the broad range of targets.

Useful links

OECD & Open Government

OECD Open Government Reviews

Sustainable Development Goals and Public Governance

OECD & Open Government Data

Trust in Government

OECD Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development

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