With justice and openness comes prosperity. Bojonegoro Regency, Indonesia, is a great example of this case. Previously known as one of the poorest districts in the Province of East Java, we have steadily climbed our way out of poverty.
Previously we faced low public welfare and high public distrust towards the government, but that is no longer the case. Since 2008, Bojonegoro has reformed our regency administration to regain public trust through open government implementation.
Reaching out to the public
We realise that low public welfare in Bojonegoro was caused by trust issues. Thus, one of our first refinements was aimed to connect the public with this administration. Through a public communication initiative named ‘Dialog Publik’ (Public Dialogue), Bojonegoro people are now able to have a face-to-face communication with their government in the Town Hall’s Pendopo (common hall). The dialogue is broadcast live through government and private radio stations.
Dialog Publik is considered the regency’s most effective platform for participatory problem-solving. It allows the public to voice their complaints and aspirations, and the government to respond directly to their concerns. The District Government of Bojonegoro choose to be open as a way to allow government to find solutions to the current challenges faced.
“The District Government of Bojonegoro chooses to be open as a way to find solutions.”
Selected as one of the pioneers for local government in open governance by the Open Government Partnership (OGP), Bojonegoro invigorates the idea that open government will lead to better, more proactive, accountable society. This idea is being implemented through five action plans.
First is data revolution. With this, Bojonegoro is publishing government datasets, updating the data on a timely manner, and encouraging transparency as a way to strengthen open government.
Second, we are strengthening local government’s accountability. As the smallest community unit, villages became both the object and subject of development. In Bojonegoro Regent’s Regulation Number 55 of 2014 on the Village Fund, the community is given the ability to participate in the planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the village government.
Third, we want increased budgetary transparency, as this will build public confidence. The District Government of Bojonegoro has published regional development plans based on public information disclosure, conducted by the District Government of Bojonegoro – Development Planning Agency, and Bojonegoro’s Board of Assets and Financial Management.
Fourth, we are strengthening transparency of contract documents on procurement of goods and services. Communities and people of Bojonegoro are involved in making sure whether the procurement of goods and services is above board.
Fifth, we are setting indicators for our work in health care, licensing, and education as the people’s basic needs. These areas must have an accountable process and procedure as to give the people what they require.
Ultimately, the impact of open government can be seen from how many issues are solved through the collaboration between the people and the government. In turn, such interactions will help rebuild the public’s trust in their government.
Open government is based on the belief that democracy can work, it will only get stronger and better, and it will be able to improve welfare of the people. With open government, public issues become government’s issues. Bojonegoro believes that an open government is the real proof that will restore public’s trust in their government.
Mr Suyoto Ngartep Mustajab is the current Regent of the Regency of Bojonegoro. His regency is one of those participating in OGP’s Subnational Government Pilot Program.