Wednesday, October 4, 2023

There Are Too Many Government Apps: Minister

Jayanty Nada Shofa
September 15, 2023 | 8:21 am
Bureaucratic Reforms Minister Abdullah Azwar Anas becomes a panelist at Investor Daily Round Table in Jakarta on September 14, 2023. (B Universe Photo/Joanito de Saojao)
Bureaucratic Reforms Minister Abdullah Azwar Anas becomes a panelist at Investor Daily Round Table in Jakarta on September 14, 2023. (B Universe Photo/Joanito de Saojao)

Jakarta. The Indonesian government's adoption of digital technologies to enhance public services and transparency has led to an unexpected challenge, as various state agencies compete in the ongoing digital transformation.

Bureaucratic Reforms Minister Abdullah Azwar Anas addressed this issue during the Investor Daily Roundtable (IDR) event in Jakarta on Thursday evening while maintaining that e-government remains high on his agenda.

"We used to release an app whenever a new idea emerged. Vendors often approached newly-appointed officials to launch new apps,” Azwar told IDR host Enggartiasto Lukita, executive chairman of B-Universe Media Holdings of which business newspaper Investor Daily is an affiliate.

“As a result, we now have 27,000 government apps, and that's just the recorded number. There are simply too many apps in Indonesia, and they often fail to communicate with each other," Azwar added.


The minister pointed to a similar problem in the United Kingdom, which previously had 1,000 web-based services but reduced them to only 75.

In response to this situation, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has imposed a ban on ministries purchasing new apps. Azwar said his ministry has also initiated measures to restrict the release of new apps and promote the interoperability of existing systems.

During the discussions, Azwar mentioned a conversation with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who praised Indonesia's efforts in digitalization. E-government emerged as a major theme during Blair's visit, as President Jokowi sought to expedite digital transformation in various aspects of the country's public administration to attract investors.

"Tony Blair told me that the president made the right choice by adopting e-government. He also emphasized that a country cannot excel without implementing e-government, as it enables real-time licensing and helps us combat corruption," Azwar said.

Officials from the ministry were taken on a trip to the UK by the Tony Blair Institute, a non-profit organization established by the former British politician, to learn firsthand about the country's government digital services.

Azwar added that he had a working visit to Estonia, another leader in e-governance, in May. He underscored that Indonesia is now taking e-government seriously.

"Countries leading in e-government development typically have high investment and favorable corruption perception indexes. Look at countries like Denmark, Finland, South Korea, and New Zealand. I would describe this as the 'public service expressway' that the president aims to construct," Azwar said.

There Are Too Many Government Apps: Minister
Bureaucratic Reforms Minister Abdullah Azwar Anas hosts a visit by Former British PM and Tony Blair Institute Executive Chairman Tony Blair in Jakarta on March 6, 2023. (Photo Courtesy of Bureaucratic Reforms Ministry)

The Bureaucratic Reforms Ministry and the Tony Blair Institute have agreed to work together on e-government development, marked by a signing of a letter of intent in May.

A 2022 United Nations survey put Indonesia’s e-government development index in 77th place. This means that Indonesia climbed 11 spots from its 2020 ranking. Indonesia is banking on e-government, among others, to cut bureaucratic red tape as it wishes to become more investor-friendly. The Southeast Asian nation aims to attract Rp 1,400 trillion (around $90 billion) in investment throughout this year.

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