Rooting Out the Rotten

The plan to register civil servants has received a cool response. The survey is meant, among other things, to find fictitious records of public personnel.

BY 10am the row of 20 office desks has only seven people, some of those present are not busy, they are simply playing computer games. The dull atmosphere continues all day until the office closes at 4pm. “It’s been a routine,” said one employee.

This was the scene at the office of the Bureau of Information, Communications and Public Relations, Central Java regional administration. It was a Thursday, not a holiday. It more or less represents the general situation of government offices in Indonesia, where employees have grown accustomed to missing work and slacking off. The program to reappraise the civil service, carried out from July 1-31, has not changed the “routine”.

Civil servants are well aware of the plan to re-gather personnel data, but they perceive this program as something different from past models of special assessment. “I’ve received the forms. They are only to re-register civil servants rather than evaluate performance. So we’re relaxed,” he said.

Not all civil servants are at ease with this personnel reappraisal, though. Some of them, such those in the regional administration office of East Java, are worried. “Can the government convince us that no rationalization or early retirement will involve employees without fixed job titles?” one employee who requested anonymity asked Adi Mawardi from TEMPO News Room.
In Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, civil servants in uniform sitting idly at coffee stalls around government offices are a common sight. One of these places is the Phoenam coffee shop in the Panakukang Mas zone. Even during working hours, they continue to hang around the café.

Why are civil servants so fond of leaving their desks? Mostly because the amount of work they have to do is indeed small and there are a lot of employees to do it. “There’s no work to do, why should they stay in the office until 4pm? They get bored and uninterested so that it’s natural that they are out,” said an employee on condition of anonymity.

Nunuk Tri Rochani, head of the data processing division of Central Java’s regional employees agency, admitted that the Central Java provincial secretariat was overstaffed. “A lot of employees have no fixed duties,” Nunuk told Sohirin from TEMPO News Room.

This excessive staff, according to Nunuk, is a result of the introduction of regional autonomy and the merger and liquidation of several government offices. Now the provincial secretariat has 20,093 employees, of whom 6,000 came from the central government and some departments that were liquidated recently.

The same is true in North Sumatra. A large number of employees filling different offices are not provided with sufficient work. “This re-registration will reveal which agencies have excessive or unproductive personnel,” Eddy Sofyan, North Sumatra’s provincial spokesman, told TEMPO News Room’s Bambang Soed.

Progo Nurdjaman, Director-General of Public Administration, Department of Home Affairs, said the national program was meant to obtain new data after the many shifts emerging from regional autonomy and the liquidation of several ministries and agencies, and also to assess the rationalization of personnel and their workload.

This second re-registration (the first program was carried out in 1974) is mainly designed to register employees, with the exception of the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. For the province at the western tip of Indonesia, it has an extra function: making sure that personnel abide by Law No. 43/1999 on Civil Service. “This law stipulates that civil servants are obliged to be loyal to the Pancasila state philosophy, the 1945 Constitution and the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia,” said Nurdjaman.

In order to try to gauge this allegiance the forms for Aceh are slightly different. For other regions, they contain columns to be filled in with current occupation, personal information, the names of family members and relatives, career data, past positions and appointments. In Aceh, data supplement sheets are added for statements of allegiance to the Republic.

This special treatment in Aceh is due to the suspicion that employees there are working for both sides, Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Recently a number of civil servants have been arrested including Marzuki Yahya, a public administration staff member at the Aceh Governor’s Office. The police allege that the 45-year-old donated funds to GAM.

The program is designed to accomplish more than simply re-registering civil servants. According to Nurdjaman, it is also supposed to track down fictitious personnel lists, which cause salaries to be paid out to fictional employees. He acknowledged the existence of such a practice though he had no idea of the exact number of fictitious personnel. Nurdjaman also said that some employees still receive child allowances after their children have died. “Though only small amounts are involved,” he added, “such cases cost the state money.”

Abdul Manan, Ecep Yasa, Syarif Amir

TEMPO, JULY 21, 2003-045/P. 25 Heading National

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