Urgency of Bureaucracy Reform: An Introduction
As the oldest university in Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University (UGM) has many experiences in education. Established on early 1946, right after the proclamation of independence, UGM has been declared by our leaders as a “struggle university”. This title is reasonable because our republic was on war situation and our leaders thought that education was a very potential asset to be saved for younger generations.
By the journey of time, UGM has been transformed into a better university with better level of academic quality. As one of the biggest university in Indonesia with many students from all over Indonesia, UGM has contributed many things to Indonesia. Many intellectuals come from UGM like Anies Baswedan, Amien Rais, Anggito Abimanyu, Siti Fadhillah Supari, or Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X. UGM now become a research university, a prestigious predicate which imply many changes over its curriculum, academic activities, and quality of public service.
The development of UGM as a research university also implies a significant point: bureaucratic reform. We should remember, a good university does not only need facilities. It also need a system who support the implementation of academic agenda. Bureaucratic reform here refers to enhancing service quality, reducing bureaucracy obesity, and reinventing an efficient administrative procedure.
Why is bureaucratic reform needed in UGM? UGM has two ideal visions: “stuggling campus (kampus perjuangan)” and “populist campus (kampus kerakyatan)”. Both of these visions need a real manifestation. As “struggling campus”, UGM has to make campus as a dialectical arena for its students. It needs a model of bureaucracy which supports the academic culture in the campus.
Also as “populist campus”, UGM has to be open to people from all social strata, as long as the he/she could compete academically. UGM should concern any students who have intellectual capability but having no financial capacity. It needs a model of bureaucracy which helps the poor people to get normal education in campus.
This essay will try to answer a question, “how is a model of bureaucracy reform for UGM?” within some theoretical perspectives.
Model of Bureaucracy: Weberian Perspective
Olsen (2005) sees bureaucracy as an expression of cultural values and a form of governing with several intrinsic values . It means that bureaucracy is very normative; Bureaucracy needs a more practical view two answer the question above. According to Blau (1968) , Max Weber has given some principles of special characteristics in realizing ideal bureaucracy. Those principles, which are popular as “Weberian Bureaucratic”, are made of ideal types of bureaucracy which is used by our government as philosophical foundation of bureaucracy.
There are six important points of those principles according to Blau (1968).
First, organizational duty or job are divided into several positions as a formal duty. It means, the organization’s member has to be specialized in implementing their duties and it needs a specialty and professionality in bureaucrat’s character. The professionality also reflected by their attitude in doing the job description and in taking the public service.
Second, structural positions are organized into a hierarchical structure of authority. The hierarchy is made into a pyramid. All functionaries in all structure have their own responsibilities in implementing policy which is made by the very top management (decisionmaker). The authority is decentralized and the range of authority is designed with a hierarchical line. It implies a level of job and structure in bureaucracy.
Third, the rule system and regulations made by the very top management control the decision and functionaries’ attitude. It implies a general “Standard Operating Procedure” or “bureaucratic-politics” in foreign policy making (Allison, 1971) that is made for the whole activity of organization. The rules will take care of policy coordination and also take care of the effecitivity in organization’s programs. Generally, the regulations also made to reduce the misnomerity in organization’s activity,
Fourth, There should be special administration staffs whose duties are taking care of organization stability and bridge the differences or communication web inside of organization. These staffs are functional staffs; they work as the “implementator” of policy made by the very top management. They will face the real organizational problems and become the real “face” of organization, representing the organization outside. This kind of staff is very important for students in UGM.
Fifth, The functionaries of organization should have “impersonal orientation” with their jobs and clients. The functionaries should throw all emotional and personal relations to the clients, jobs, or workmates. It will reduce the corruption risks from the organizational activity and will prevent the emotional feeling among the staff and functionaries which will distort the rational attitude in implementing their duties.
Sixth, duties given by organization are kind of career for staffs. Staffs will start their career in bureaucracy from the very beginning, as a “special staff (look at the fourth point)”. Typically, a duty is given based on qualification of the candidate, not by political relations. A functionary of the bureaucratical organization will be examined before he/she remain on the position in order to knowing the clear qualification of the candidate.
Thus, bureaucratical organization is different with political organization that allows someone to hold some crucial positions without internal caderization process. Bureaucracy is full of system and evaluation, while politics is full of intrigue and . As the implication, it implies separation between politics and bureaucracy in our daily life .
These kind of bureaucracy principles is critisized because of its ideality and normativity. Our government actually tries to implement these principles in model of administrative system in our nation. But actually there are some misnomerity in practice. There are several bureucratical pathology like “envelope bureaucracy” or gratification which destroy the ideal means of bureaucracy. Another problems, corruption and nepotism became an usual activity of bureaucracy in the past.
So, there should be a bureaucratical reform to bring back the norms of Weberian bureaucracy in bureaucratical activity.
Model of Bureaucracy Reform: Alternative Perspective
Allison (1971) categorized three levels of decisionmaking: Rational Actors, Governmental Organization, and Bureaucratic-Politics . Essentially bureaucratic-politics is a vital part of decisionmaking, especially for university policy. According to Kegley (2006), bureaucracy should be rational and efficient . Bureaucracy could increase its efficiency and rationality by assigning responsibilities for different duties or jobs to different persons. Kegley (2006) recommend that large-scale bureaucracy can be managed efficiently by devising standard operating procedures in general policy that is printed by the policy maker.
From the analysis of Weberian perspective, we can conclude that Weber’s purpose in designing bureaucracy is basically positive; Weber wants to design a characteristic of bureaucracy which is discipline, professional, well-coordinated and high-structured. But in fact, I assume that the normative purpose of bureaucracy in Indonesia is blurred by some pathologies. So, bureaucratic reform should be designed and give emphasize to local characteristics of the political system itself.
How can we redefine bureaucracy in our local context, especially in UGM? Bureaucracy reform, indeed, is an agenda. The first thing that should be done is identify the problem or deviation in bureaucracy itself and try to a paradigmatical change to handle the problem. We should remember, the change that is needed in reforming bureaucracy is a paradigmatical change; it is related to mindset. If we want a total bureaucracy reform, we should first change the actual paradigm of bureaucracy itself.
After the paradigmatical change, we should make the follow-up agenda of the bureaucracy reform. The change that is set from our mindset should be transformed to the public agenda. Academic stakeholders and bureaucrats should share the vision to change the model of bureaucracy. Here, the role of idea is very important. Discourses and dialogue between bureaucrat and academic stakeholders maybe inevitable, but the agenda should be move step by step.
The next level in reforming bureaucracy is executing the follow-up agenda to the real policy. After the discourses and the agenda is ready to be transformed as a real policy, the role of insider (decisionmaker and staff) will be important. The action plan should be clear; The execution of the bureaucracy reform needs contribution from insider and outsiders. We should also consider the intended and unintended consequences that may be happened on the process. So, the existence of new platform is also needed.
Turner and Hume (1997) categorizes five items which are considered as administrative reform strategies. Those items are restructuring the organization, optimalizing participation from members and stakeholders, Upgrading human resources or staffs, increase organization’s accountability, and mixing public interest and private strength. These items, according to Turner and Hume (1997), are functionally required to make an administrative reform in an organization.
Thus, is the bureaucracy reform possible to be implemented in UGM? Let us analyze. At first we can identify that there are some things that should be reformed in UGM bureaucracy. Those things are service quality and administrative procedure, information accessibility, academic planning and student’s welfare, rectorate’s leaderships, and transparency of crucial aspects like UM-UGM and RKAT. The most important point of these reform model, besides the rationality and efficiency, is a kind of pro-poor policy which was concepted and concreted by our national founding fathers in early age of UGM.
Concretizing Agenda with Real Acts
I have some agendas related to bureaucracy reform for UGM. First, the problem of service quality and also administrative procedure. On that problem, bureaucracy needs to be modernized by three solutions: developing Information and Technology (IT) to most sectors of academic life, Decentralizing university administration system, and placing a capable person as administration staff whose professionality is good.
Information and Techonology system in academic life is actually in progress; UGM has develop this system in UM-UGM or registration. But, we need more comprehensive acts by university. The existence of academic portal is questioned by UGM students: It is only used before and after the semester. Many students even do not like to open the portal because it does not give detail academic informations. For me, quality of academic portal should be increased by developing the content and adding suitable academic informations.
Decentralization in university is also needed. It will ease students to make the administrative procedure more effective and efficient. Sometimes students have to go to several places in central administration office (balairung) to finish one problem. It is very complicated and time-wasted. My opinion, university can decentralize the crucial problems for students in faculty; university only takes control and takes responsibility for vital things. With decentralization, administrative procedure will be easier than before.
Another important thing is the administrative staff. The competency of staff is highly required; It will influence the work of the system. The administrative staff should be professional, highly-committed, well-disciplined, and has a competency as a bureaucrat. In UGM context, academic staff will play a very important role. Academic staff should has basic competency of a bureaucrat because they adjust the parameter of academic quality.
Second, information accessibility. A good competition between students require the information accessibility to all sides. Here, bureaucracy should support students in getting sufficient information, like scholarships, seminars, or events held in UGM. The existence of Career Development Center (UGM-CDC) needs this aspect. If UGM wants to give the same opportunity to its alumni and students, information accessibility is a “dead price”.
A way to make information accessible to all UGM students, in my opinion, is by optimalizing the Information and Technology system. Each students have their own academic portal. With an accessible IT system, the information will come to the students and there will no injustice except the student is lazy to open the portal. Thus, it is important to the university bureaucrats to upgrade the quality of IT system first.
Third, rectorate’s leadership. According to Blau (1970), bureaucracy needs supports, both internal and externally . Weber identify that the leadership –charismatical leadership—and authority are main parts in the supporting systems of bureaucracy. There are three types of authority: traditional authority, charismatical authority, and legal authority (Blau, 1970) . Beindix (1970) remarks that charisma of leadership is also important for a leader to get legitimacy .
In UGM context, rector and his staffs play a very significant role. If a rector has delegitimated by the students by several demonstrations, rector’s charisma will be decreased, even it will be lost. Rector should accommodates every “inputs” which come to UGM; Rector should also show his stance on policy he produced and also, it is the most important, show his credibility as an UGM rector.
There are several points to match the bureaucracy reform to leadership: accountability, transparency, Intelligence, and responsibility. Rectorate shuld be accountable to all civitas academica by managing the programmes well and transparent with crucial projects such as UM-UGM or research funds. It needs intelligency and sense of responsibility from rectorate.
Fourth, academic planning and student’s welfare. Each students in UGM has a right to get an optimal process of education. A good academic planning is highly required; a dialectical process needs a well-planned academic system with a well-educated lecturer. In UGM context, schedule, presency system, and curriculum should be concerned. Academic schedule should be consistent in time, place, and agenda with a good presency system. A curriculum also important to be redesigned; Student-centered learning can be developed to a better curriculum which accommodates global challenge in competitive labour markets.
On other hand, student’s welfare cannot be forgotten. Each student has a right to get access for scholarship, career information, and university’s facility. These rights are legalized by Kode Etik Mahasiswa UGM Chapter I, Article 1 . That ethic code tells us that each students has a right to (1) gets sufficient academic service; (2) use facilty in university; (3) active in student’s organization or UKM; and (4) speak his/her idea to all civitas academica fairly and consequently.
Fifth, transparency. Transparency is needed in some important projects like research, UM-UGM, or RKAT itself. Students has a right to know the use of money they paid in the first year, and it implies a honesty from university bureaucrat. UGM should open its reports on financial condition or income-outcome condition over the project or activity. Maybe it is hard to be implemented, but as long as the bureaucrats take care of their honesty and credibility, what is to be feared?
We can look at UM-UGM. Every year, UGM gets much money from new students, by PBS, UTUL, PBUPD, or PBOS in UM-UGM. As information, PBS or PBUPD require a student to pay more than Rp 30 Millions if he/she is selected as UGM student. It is not included UTUL (Selection Test) which require a student to pay more than Rp 5 Millions if he/she is selected as UGM student.
We can imagine how much money that rectorate gets in UM-UGM. As an implication, there will be a question: what is the money for? This question should be answered by transparency to UGM stakeholders, students, and public about the total income of money in UM-UGM and the expenditure reports. Turner and Hulme (1997) called this decision –to be transparent—as “public-private mixes” .
Conclusion: Will Bureaucracy Reform Succeed?
Bureaucracy, according to Hulme and Turner (1997), is ubiquitous in developing countries like Indonesia. Thus, bureaucracy is an important aspect in our government. Yet the bureaucracy is ubiquitous, bureaucracy can also be met in university with all of its variation. In an academic institution like UGM, bureaucracy should be rational and efficient (Kegley, 2006) . It implies a search for new bureaucracy model that conforms important aspects and supports dialectical process in academic activity.
Thus, bureaucracy reform will be a vital agenda to build a research university. The agenda to reform UGM bureaucracy is not an easy task; but it is not an impossible mission. By five items that I recommend, agenda to implement bureaucracy reform can be started as well. It needs contributions from the whole civitas academica of UGM, especially students who use facility and are the main part of UGM bureaucracy.
Yet the reform is not maximally implemented, but at least we could see a new hope come by this agenda to transform UGM into an ideal university. Immediate acts are needed and comprehensive solutions are required. Begin from now on, begin from ourselves, and begin from the smallest thing to bring a brighter future of Indonesia.
“Opinions alter, manner change, creeds rise and fall, but moral laws are written on the table of eternity”
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