Digital Transformation as an Opportunity to Advance the Knowledge and Innovation Ecosystem

Digital transformation is essential in promoting evidence-based policy to address various developmental issues, including the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic becomes an accelerator of digital transformation, where SPBE does not only provide long term benefits through the culture of innovation built within the bureaucratic machine and a large improvement on effectiveness, but also a quick and appropriate policy making based on data, leading to better public services and bridging the gap between the government and its people. Presentation materials are available through the link below.

One way to advance the Knowledge and Innovation Ecosystem is by improving the government’s business process through digital transformation within the government. Adopting information technology across all government levels can address the challenges of improving the quality of institutions, governance, and public service. The Covid-19 pandemic situation may very well serve as a momentum to accelerate this digital transformation.

This is one of the discussions in Katadata Forum Virtual Series entitled “Urgency of Digital Transformation within the Government to Respond to the Pandemic and National Development”, broadcasted online on Wednesday (3/3) in Katadata’s Youtube channel and Zoom. The event, which was held by Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI), presented a number of speakers, including the Governor of DKI Jakarta, Anies Baswedan, Governor of Central Java, Ganjar Pranowo, Covid-19 Task Force Spokesperson, Wiku Adisasmito, Deputy of the Institutional and Procedure Division of the Ministry of State Apparatus and Bureaucracy Reform, Rini Widyantini, and researcher from the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG), Dinita Andriani Putri. This event was moderated by Mulya Amri from Katadata, and was also attended by Deputy II of the Presidential Staff Office (KSP), Abetnego Tarigan, and CIPG advisor, Yanuar Nugroho, as discussants.

This event was opened by the Minister of National Development Planning/Head of National Development Planning Agency, Nasional Suharso Monoarfa. Minister Suharso said that the initiative to conduct digital transformation in the government had begun since before Covid-19. The pandemic becomes a reason to accelerate the digital transformation process so that the government can issue swift and appropriate policies to respond to various issues. One of the important things to do to promote digital transformation is data integration, because currently the data owned by various government institutions has yet to be synchronised. The Covid-19 mass vaccination policy and social aid distribution during the pandemic, for example, crucially need data integration. Therefore, he asked everyone to collaborate in promoting digital transformation in development.

In the context of national government, the Deputy of Institutional and Procedure Division of the Ministry of State Apparatus and Bureaucracy Reform, Rini Widyanti, explained that the pandemic has positioned Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE) as the foundation for government institution collaboration using four strategies, namely strengthening SPBE’s governance, providing integrated public services, preparing digital technology, and building competent and innovative human capital.

In the context of local governments, the Governor of DKI Jakarta, Anies Baswedan, elaborated that digital transformation plays a key role in the effort to mitigate the pandemic in DKI Jakarta. His office has established collaboration with various parties, and the digitalisation process is promoted to support this collaboration, considering that epidemiologists, medical and public health experts, and others, need data. This is done by, among others, establishing a data centre that can be accessed through the website corona.jakarta.go.id and Jaki application. Inside, there are many data-based features designed to make it easier for people to find Covid-19 related information. These data were taken from all test results in DKI Jakarta, equipped with information such as locations up to the community association (RW) level. These data become the basis to formulate pandemic handling policies, both from the health and social side, in the form of social aid distribution and providing support for small businesses. “We see this crisis as an accelerated change,” he said. 

Similarly, the Governor of Central Java, Ganjar Pranowo, conveyed that the pandemic has promoted an acceleration of the digital transformation due to the needs to provide public services. Various public service innovations have emerged, both at the provincial and district/city government level, from online tax payment, online community complaints channel, to the policy to use social media to enable easier communication with the people. “Innovation continues to roll and districts/cities are getting used to it. Initially it was stressful, but now they are used to it,” he said.

However, not all districts/cities can run with the same pace. There are a number of challenges facing them, from budget limitation and strong sectoral ego, regulations that still require printed documents, to insufficient infrastructure conditions. In addition, the commitment of every local leader becomes crucial. “Some of them are good, some are lazy,” added Ganjar.

The Covid-19 Taskforce Spokesperson, Wiku Adisasmito, explained that sectoral ego is indeed one of the challenges in promoting digital transformation. Efforts to realise one data to handle the pandemic, for example, is not an easy thing to do due to differences in mind-set and way of working among various government institutions, both at the national and local levels. The fact is data integration is essential in formulating policies to respond to the pandemic situation development. “Data must be able to be read, thus its collection must be synchronised so that we can continue to move forward,” he said.

In the endeavour to promote digital transformation within the government and evidence-based policy in general, the collaborative study between the Presidential Staff Office (KSP) and the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG) entitled “Promoting Evidence-Based Policy Making: Experience from the Presidential Staff Office and 2015-2019 Development Priorities” summarises that there are at least three tensions in the policy making process: political-technocratic, substance-communication, and elitists-populists. Regarding evidence-based policy making, CIPG researcher, Dinita Putri, explained that there is a need for regulations/conditions that ensure the implementation of evidence-based policies, for example structured institutions. “The approach for evidence-based policy making is an avenue for new knowledge. There needs to be a management for new knowledge so that it can be used in the future for feedback loop and policy evaluation. Unfortunately these have yet to transpire in KSP: monev and learning from evidence-based policies (KBB),” she said.

Looking at the speakers’ presentations, CIPG Advisor, Yanuar Nugroho, said that in public administration, we have to differentiate which one is the goal, means, and method. The goal is for the state to be present and provide public services, the means is evidence-based policy, while one of the methods is through digital transformation. The inability to differentiate these three will make the government lost. 

In the context of digital transformation, he viewed that leadership commitment holds the key. This commitment is regarding how to place vision, provide overview and direction, and how to implement them to become sustainable. In addition, he reminded that public policy is not only about what the government does, but also what the government does not do. “What they do not do is also policy,” he said. 

Deputi 2 of KSP, Abetnego Tarigan, considered literacy to be an important aspect in digital transformation. Whatever the system or application that is made will not be used by the people if not accompanied with literacy efforts. Another aspect is the trust with using digital applications. Many representatives of the people still feel the need for direct, face-to-face interaction because they do not trust the responses to complaints through digital channels. Also, many provisions are developed to service the bureaucracy rather than the people, thus becoming not user friendly. The sustainability aspect is also important, because there are many government applications that are useless because they are not being used. Therefore, he thought that there is a need for an incentive and disincentive policy in the effort to promote digital transformation.

Despite many challenges faced in promoting the government’s digital transformation, each attending stakeholder agreed that this transformation needs to be accelerated. This is because the government is swiftly forced to move into a digital future and use this significant opportunity to advance the knowledge and innovation ecosystem with technology, collaboration, and co-creation. Surely when the pandemic ends, the government needs to avoid going back to the old governance, process, and situation. The pandemic becomes an accelerator of digital transformation, where SPBE does not only provide long term benefits through the culture of innovation built within the bureaucratic machine and a large improvement on effectiveness, but also a quick and appropriate policy making based on data, leading to better public services and bridging the gap between the government and its people.

This online discussion was held to strengthen the knowledge and innovation ecosystem in Indonesia. Knowledge Sector Initiative, with the Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas, the Ministry of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform, Covid-19 Taskforce, the Provincial Governments of DKI Jakarta and Central Java, the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance, and Katadata, are leveraging the momentum to accelerate digital transformation in promoting evidence-based policy to address various developmental issues.**