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Policy Briefs Exploring Reform Options in Functional Assignments1 No. 5 - 2008

Considerable challenges remain in functional assignment in Indonesia - some introduced by the recent revisions, during the second round of reform in the period 2004-2007. The Government of Indonesia has accepted the offer from donors to undertake a study to delve more deeply into the progress made to date, the challenges that remain, and the opportunities to fashion a more robust, effective and stable assignment of functions. The study aims to help the The Government of Indonesia and donors in exploring new avenues for reform in this field.

Evolution and Status of Functional Assignments The term functional assignment in the study denotes a broad concept that captures the overall architecture of roles between levels of government and the specific construction of functions.

The robustness of functional assignment is seen to derive from the judicious choice of elements suited to the local context, particularly how these elements come together to form a sound and consistent architecture. The evolution of the functional assignment framework from the pre-decentralization period through two reform rounds reveals that progress has not been linear. On the positive side, the current architecture is more elaborate than many found in developing, or developed, countries. It makes explicit the three common intergovernmental modes of decentralization: devolved functions, agency tasks, and deconcentration tasks. The district/city has been made the general purpose government level responsible for much of basic service provision. It seeks to make clear what has to be performed by regional government, and it sets out specific (minimum) performance standards for basic service delivery. Its evolution over the two


Policy Briefs

completed rounds of reform has seen increased consultation across central government sectoral organizations and with regional government. However, little progress has been seen in terms of clarity and sustainable rules, as indicated in the continued deviation by central line ministries from the organic law on decentralization and its government regulation on functional assignment. A major weakness has been the lack of attention to the legal and other aspects of the architecture of functional assignment. The latter is a foundational aspect of intergovernmental relations and must be seen in its linkages to the legal framework, territorial divisions, roles between levels of government, organizational structures, funding and other features of governance. Much work remains to be done to improve functional assignments.

Policy Implications: The Way Forward Donors have supported, and are supporting, practically all of the reform work related to functional assignment. The support has waxed and waned over the three rounds of reform, and has yielded some success at times, and little takeup in other instances. This is par for the course in technical assistance. Having said that, experience in this broad field of reform suggests that donor support could have been more effective at times had it been more constant, or pervasive (e.g. acting in concert through sectoral projects/ technical assistance, across donors), or offered in a different way. In particular, it suggests that

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a shift in the approach may be needed, where a long term investment in Indonesian actors that could form a policy network is made, avoiding the shortcomings that direct donor technical assistance poses in terms of acceptability and sustainability. Donors have shown interest in supporting indigenous policy networks in the past, but have not scored many successes, primarily due to the short-term orientation and lack of learning from past efforts in Indonesia or elsewhere. While the notion of using intermediaries to support policy is increasingly accepted among donors, and to some extent employed, it is not clear if there is appetite among donors for a longer term commitment that would be needed to support such networks. Indonesian academics and other stakeholders appear to be fairly receptive to the idea of establishing policy networks in this field. Acceptance and participation should however not be taken for granted; sometimes the interest is very much as individuals rather than institutional, and it is conditional on a particular kind of relationship to donors. The desirability of developing these networks among MoHA and other the Government of Indonesia organizations is also an issue. The selective use of individuals from favored academic institutions, their participation preferably funded by donors in a hands-off approach, may be the desired mode for using intermediaries. Despite these cautions, a dialogue on this longer term perspective is needed to push forward this policy field in a developmentally sound way.

Ferrazi, G. Exploring Reform Options in Functional Assignments. DSF, March 2008. The full report can be downloaded from www.dsfindonesia.org. The views expressed in this paper are solely those of its author(s).

Exploring Reform Options in Functional Assignments


Policy Briefs

Exploring Reform Options in Functional Assignments

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