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Connecting citizens to their governments: lessons from ICT-based governance initiatives in Indonesia

Date added: November 27, 2017

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In recent years, Indonesia has seen significant growth in the number of initiatives that aim to tackle governance challenges through information and communications technologies (ICTs). Established by both the government and civil society organisations (CSOs), these have sought to increase public accountability, improve the delivery of public services, and strengthen the capacity of civil society to engage in accountability work.

Some of these have been successful, helping to strengthen public accountability and contributing to the emergence of transparent government practices and better communication between the government and civil society. However, many initiatives still fail to achieve their desired impact, are unsustainable, or are used only minimally by the groups they aim to reach and involve.

To improve understanding of why some ICT initiatives fail, this research compared ten ICT-based governance initiatives in Indonesia, with a focus on Open Data initiatives. The key themes covered in the paper are:  ICTs for governance; ICT ecosystems; public service delivery.

The authors conclude that:

  • a participatory process contributes to the overall effectiveness of an ICT initiative. Participatory processes occur when: (1) the initiative opens up space for participation by other actors; (2) there is a flexible development approach that allows for actions beyond the project’s initial scope; and (3) the conception and adoption processes are circular rather than linear
  • a strong understanding of the ICT ecosystem, by the initiator and implementer, is central to success. Having this understanding makes it easier for these actors to identify the multiple disconnections that can occur (e.g. between government and citizens, between service providers and users, between information sources and communities). Often, these disconnections cannot be identified until the project is underway, so this understanding develops during the project
  • the wider ICT ecosystem, such as the policy environment, needs to be open and flexible. Government policies that create space for ICT initiators and implementers can support new initiatives and help them to be successful. For example, targeted policies can create the opportunities that project initiators need to identify the disconnections that occur among target groups, and to improve and adapt the selected technology to make the project more effective.

 

 

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