In order to accelerate progress in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic in the regions, Minister of Home Affairs Tito Karnavian issued a circular letter promoting cooperation between government agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs), including non-governmental organizations, to deal with the impact of the pandemic. The Swakelola Tipe III scheme was mainly referred to in the circular letter.
The circular letter number 440/5538/SJ concerning Partnerships between Local Governments and Community Organizations including Non-Governmental Organizations in the Context of Accelerating Progress in the Handling of Corona Virus Disease 2019 in the Regions was issued on October 6, 2020. The mention of the Swakelola Tipe III in the circular letter shows the government's commitment to involve various parties to jointly face the Covid-19 pandemic. Swakelola Tipe III is a public procurement scheme implemented with participation of CSOs which are equipped with the required technical expertise and administratively eligible to take part in public procurement process.
The Swakelola Tipe III mechanism has several advantages compared to other procurement methods, both perceived from the standpoint of the government agencies as the project employer and that of the non-profit organizations as providers. For a government agency, the Swakelola Tipe III scheme provides an opportunity to acquire specific skills possessed by CSOs which cannot be supplied by the private sector or other government agencies. As for CSOs, Swakelola Tipe III provides them with alternative sources of funding, opportunities to build portfolios in their areas of expertise and influence that policy making to ensure that development policies will be more pro-poor and pro-marginalized people.
The contribution of Swakelola Tipe III scheme is undoubtedly significant in handling the impact of Covid-19, and this is why it was mainly referred in the circular letter of the Minister of Home Affairs. The utilization of Swakelola Tipe III according to this circular letter has a number of objectives, namely to assist local governments in improving the quality and expanding the access to health services by empowering CSOs, to increase community participation in the prevention and handling of Covid-19, to increase effectiveness and efficiency of the regional government’s responses to Covid-19, to provide opportunities for CSOs including NGOs to participate in Covid-19 responses, as well as to improve the technical capacity of CSOs’ personnel in handling Covid-19. "Thus, we can ensure efforts to deal with Covid-19 will reach out to the lowest level," said Minister of Home Affairs Tito Karnavian as quoted by Bisnis.com.
In this context, there are various types of goods and services that can be provided by CSOs. Quoting the Minister of Home Affairs Circular, these goods and services could be in the form of: organizing outreach / counseling regarding the prevention and handling of Covid-19; censuses, surveys, data processing, public policy formulation, and laboratory testing; development of certain health quality systems, applications, governance or standards; making socialization media about Covid-19, the latest conditions in handling Covid-19, and so on.
Bringing the Stakeholders Together
Prior to 2018, there was no legal basis for CSOs to participate in the public procurement activities, although they actually have an advantage over private sector providers as they have specific expertise that business actors do not have, such as those related to community assistance and implementation of policy studies required by the government to support development planning and policy formulation. This was one of the obstacles to the development of knowledge sector in Indonesia. This phenomenon was observed in a diagnostic study when preparing to establish Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI) program in 2010.
In 2014, KSI began advocating for the need to establish a legal instrument to promote the involvement of CSOs in public procurement processes. This step brought together many stakeholders, including Bappenas, Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Public Procurement Policy Agency (LKPP) and the research and advocacy organization AKATIGA, the Center for Law and Policy Studies (PSHK) and the Institute for Research and Community Advocacy (ELSAM). These efforts finally succeeded and Swakelola Tipe III scheme was incorporated into Presidential Regulation (Perpres) Number 16 of 2018 concerning Public Procurement of Goods/Services. This regulation paves the way for the involvement of legally incorporated civil society organizations or associations that have been registered with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights to partner with the government in the procurement of goods and services under the so called Swakelola Tipe III.
Swakelola Tipe III helps tackle one barrier in knowledge sector, which is related to provision of knowledge support to inform development policy making. This scheme also allows public budget allocation to engage CSOs that have expertise to conduct policy studies and works in other areas needed by the government.
Monitoring the Implentation
Efforts to involve CSOs in the public procurement process should not end with the issuance of this legal instrument. Therefore, KSI continues to monitor the implementation of Swakelola Tipe III. Together with AKATIGA, KSI collaborates with LKPP as the implementing agency of public procurement to promote the use of Swakelola Tipe III. To support outreach activities implemented by LKPP on behalf of the government, KSI together with AKATIGA organized a series of similar activities for CSOs, with representatives of government agencies present at those events. Attendance by both CSOs and government agencies in such events were important to build and align understanding of Swakelola Tipe III scheme. AKATIGA and LKPP also created promotional video and a pocket book to disseminate information about Swakelola Tipe III.
Efforts to monitor the implementation of Swakelola Tipe III continue during Covid-19 pandemic. On May 4, 2020, for example, KSI in collaboration with Pujiono Center held an online session on Swakelola Tipe III in an event entitled "Training on Optimizing Covid-19 Response Funding for Civil Society Organizations/Non-Governmental Organizations (CSOs / NGOs)". The speakers in the event came from the Ministry of Home Affairs, LKPP, the National Secretariat (Seknas) FITRA and AKATIGA.
This activity aimed to introduce Swakelola Tipe III and its potential use in handling Covid-19 to around 350 participants, most of whom were part of networks of CSOs/NGOs from various provinces (SEJAJAR). The training also aimed to harmonize the understanding of civil society organizations and that of the government regarding the mechanisms for procuring government goods and services that CSOs could take part in related 5to the response to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 27 August 2020, KSI together with SEJAJAR held an online consultation on the use of Swakelola Tipe III for a number of CSOs that were eligible to implement this scheme and their respective government partners. This effort was made to encourage cooperation between the government and CSOs, including in the response to handle impact of Covid-19.
Working with development partners
KSI is also active in promoting Swakelola Tipe III to development partners at the national level, particularly to other DFAT-funded Indonesia-Australia partnership programs, including SIAP SIAGA. SIAP SIAGA is an Indonesia-Australia partnership program for disaster preparedness, which, among others, collaborates with the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) and other ministries to strengthen the performance of the National Covid-19 Task Force. SIAP SIAGA program was one of the important proponents of the issuance of the Minister of Home Affairs Circular Letter promoting the use of the Swakelola Tipe III in Covid-19 response.
T. Safriza Sofyan, the Public Policy Advisor for SIAP SIAGA Program, said that in dealing with a pandemic, local governments inevitably faced many challenges. CSOs with vast experience could be encouraged to cooperate with local governments to overcome these challenges. Therefore, SIAP SIAGA Program sought to promote Swakelola Tipe III to be used as part of effort to deal with the impact of the pandemic. This received a positive response from the Director General of Regional Administration of the Ministry of Home Affairs. "The Director General of Regional Administration is very supportive because he knows exactly the potentials of CSOs and how some government programs can benefit from the cooperation with these CSOs," he said.
According to Sofyan, SIAP SIAGA received input from KSI regarding Swakelola Tipe III. So far, KSI has been promoting the use of this scheme to various CSOs, including in the context of handling the impact of the pandemic. This collaboration between SIAP SIAGA and KSI to promote the use of the Swakelola Tipe III to respond to Covid-19 had provided a good practice and experience. “In some areas the collaboration was quite intense, as we push Director General of Regional Administration to endorse this, and yesterday KSI tried to do the same to CSOs. In several workshops held by KSI, SIAP SIAGA was present," he said.
He added that this circular letter would serve as the basis for encouraging local governments to maximize cooperation with CSOs that have experience in areas under the scope of the cooperation. However, the ability of local governments to implement the scheme is the key. For this reason, implementation of this scheme needs to be continuously monitored.
KSI will continue to promote the use of Swakelola Tipe III to encourage more governments to cooperate with CSOs under this mechanism. The Minister of Home Affairs Circular Letter which promote local government cooperation with CSOs in Covid-19 response can scale up the use of Swakelola Tipe III. Together with CSO partners who are competent and experienced in their fields, local governments can jointly accelerate the progress of responses to recover from Covid-19 pandemic.