Date added: February 24, 2017

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Since joining the Open Government Partnership in 2011, the Indonesian Government has shown some commitment towards implementing initiatives that increase citizen voice and government and service-providers’ accountability to citizens and service users. These include a series information and communications technology (ICT)- based complaint-handling systems that give members of the public an opportunity to highlight problems with the delivery of public services to those in a position to fix them. Yet the reach and uptake of these systems – which are both national and local – varies considerably across the country, for a number of reasons.

This research examines four cases of complaint-handling systems. At the national level, it reviews LAPOR!, a one-stop complaint-handling platform set up by the Indonesian Government to manage citizens’ complaints and requests via SMS, smartphone apps and a website.

At the subnational level, it looks at the wider ecosystem of complaint-handling systems in three regencies: Bojonegoro, Indragiri Hulu and Indramayu. As well as evaluating how LAPOR! is used sub-nationally, the research looks at other systems in these regions, ranging from radio shows to regular face-to-face consultation spaces with local officials.

The research asks how, and by whom, complaint-handling systems are used, identifies a series of barriers to citizens using them, and explores the factors that shape their effectiveness and impact.

Key findings

  • Campaigning is a necessity for raising citizens’ awareness of newly established complaint-handling systems.
  • Leadership by government officials is a key factor in implementing complaint-handling systems, at both national and local levels.
  • Local governments need to make better use of complaint-handling systems to monitor and evaluate their performance, and ultimately improve it. Bureaucracy often gets in the way of responding to citizen complaints.
  • Introducing advanced ICTs is no guarantee that systems will be widely used. Governments need to identify locally relevant technologies and adapt new systems accordingly.
  • Building trust is a major factor behind optimising the use of complaint-handling systems. Eradicating people’s fear of making complaints – a longstanding issue in Indonesia – is a large part of this.
  • The more non-state actors are involved in using and promoting a complaint-handling system, the more likely it is that ordinary citizens will be keen to use it as well.
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