The Bureaucratic Labyrinth: Jokowi’s Call for Liberation from Administrative Chains

In the dimly lit corridors of bureaucracy, President Joko Widodo, a figure known to many as Jokowi, recently voiced his discontent with the performance of Indonesia’s civil servants (ASN). In a speech delivered during the National Meeting of Civil Service Corps (Rakernas Korpri) on October 3, 2023, Jokowi expressed his unease about the unyielding focus of ASN on the intricacies of the Statement of Accountability (SPJ) paperwork. He described witnessing numerous instances where ASNs became excessively engrossed in the administrative maze of SPJ, neglecting their actual fieldwork, which should have been their paramount concern.

For Jokowi, the heart of the matter lay in the skewed priorities of the local bureaucracy. He argued vehemently that the bureaucratic machinery should not be fixed solely on SPJ. Instead, he advocated for a shift in focus towards enhancing economic growth, setting a minimum target of 6 percent, curbing inflation rates above 3 percent, and grappling with the persistent issue of poverty. To him, these challenges should form the nucleus of the local bureaucracy’s endeavors, eclipsing the bureaucratic labyrinth of SPJ and administrative protocols.

Jokowi, in his characteristic style, underscored the imperative need for an overhaul of Indonesia’s ASN system. He called upon Azwar Anas, the Minister of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (Menpan-RB), to devise a new system after the approval of the revised ASN Law. In Jokowi’s vision, the bureaucratic apparatus should adapt to the evolving times, liberating itself from mundane routines that revolve incessantly around SPJ and administrative intricacies.

This critique of SPJ was not a novelty in Jokowi’s discourse. His proposals for simplifying SPJ, dating back to 2017, were grounded in the belief that ASN should focus on the qualitative essence of their reports rather than being drowned in the sheer quantity of paperwork. This sentiment resonated deeply within the hearts of ASN. Agus Pramusinto, the sage Chairman of the Civil Service Commission (KASN), acknowledged that Jokowi’s concerns echoed the sentiments long harbored by ASN.

In the shadows of bureaucratic complexities, voices like Agus Pramusinto and Adinda Tenriangke Muchtar, the astute Executive Director of The Indonesian Institute, called for an evaluation and simplification of SPJ. They urged for a paradigm shift, one that would empower ASN to channel their energy into tangible public work, yielding outcomes directly felt by the populace. The emphasis lay on ASN’s commitment to public service and the consequential impacts of their endeavors.

Yet, amidst these voices for change, there existed a staunch defense of SPJ as the quintessential tool of ASN’s accountability to the public. Riant Nugroho, the resolute Chairman of the Indonesian Public Policy Society (MAKPI), argued vehemently that SPJ’s essence should remain intact. According to him, the crux of the matter was the simplification of the reporting process, not the obliteration of SPJ itself.

In the tapestry of bureaucratic debates and presidential critiques, the quest for simplifying SPJ emerged as a fundamental step. It was a call to unshackle ASN from the suffocating burdens of administrative intricacies, allowing them to breathe freely and devote their energies towards providing more effective public services. In the labyrinthine world of bureaucracy, these changes bore the promise of transforming Indonesia’s administrative landscape.