As noted in the document ‘Sub-National Level Engagement in Indonesia – A Framework for AusAID 2010 -2015’, the key lessons from AusAID’s experience of supporting sub-national development include the following:
How the government systems work in practice is often different to how they work in theory. Investing time and resources in gaining a comprehensive understanding of how they operate is a worthwhile investment (such as through PEAs and PFM assessments).
Key challenges at the local level are leadership and capacity, and there is a need to work with elected leaders and parliament. Also, reform minded leadership is critical to making headway in supporting public service delivery improvements.
Public financial management has central importance in making the whole system work.
Having a local presence pays off on numerous levels, including building better relationships with local partners and increasing responsiveness to real needs.
Stand alone short term training doesn’t give returns, and instead there is a need to embed training and capacity building initiatives into local institutions.
Acting as the facilitator to bring ‘active communities’ and ‘responsive governments’ together works.
Corruption risks should be managed, but strategies must be pragmatic and support building local systems of accountability and transparency.
Using the Ministry of Home Affairs for national scale up of pilot activities can work (e.g. PNPM and the ‘One Stop Shop’ concept).
There are a number of lessons from ANTARA that although perhaps not unique are nonetheless significant to its successes in supporting local government reform and sustainable outcomes:
Give greater focus to building government capacity to deliver services rather than supplementing these services using parallel delivery mechanisms, for example by supporting GOI university programs to train civil servants in PFM.
Maximise the use of locally sourced expertise / technical advice in order to help build sustainable local capacity and enhance cost-effectiveness.
Support participatory approaches that are led by local partners, for example in conducting public expenditure reviews.
Maintain a clear focus on a manageable set of integrated activities with clear and measureable results, in this case a clear focus on improving resource allocation and management (particularly PFM) systems that are linked to better service delivery outcomes
Ensure the legislature, not just the executive, are actively involved in program activities given their critical role in resource allocation/budget approval decisions.
Ensure staff and contractors have appropriate operational experience, and a strong knowledge of culture and context; and
Invest time and resources in building relationships and actively engaging with national level and P/LG authorities.
The last of these points is a key element of ANTARA success, which will continue in AIPD. ANTARA has been particularly good at building, maintaining and leveraging stakeholder relationships to better make sense of and negotiate the local “political economy”. This has helped identify points of influence and engagement to facilitate program development and implementation.
Having the right people to do this is crucial. Under ANTARA the PD plays a particularly strong leadership role, combining knowledge and experience of Indonesian culture, context and language with extensive operational experience in aid program management. Insights and contacts available to the PD, and understanding of the political landscape, have allowed for meaningful engagement with people of influence, assisting program development, implementation and expansion. For instance, from beginnings in NTT, ANTARA has expanded and is co-located with local government in NTB, Papua and Papua Barat. Engagement of local staff equipped with the skills, savvy and contacts to negotiate the local political economy in eastern Indonesia has also been crucial.
Experience attests to the fact that “one-size does-not-fit-all”. Different circumstances require different approaches, technically as well as politically. Leadership is one of the most critical determinants for success or failure of reforms. AIPD will build on the ANTARA experience, using smart recruitment and operational practices to ensure productive engagement with local political economies. AIPD will identify and leverage opportunities to support demand-driven reforms, helping to formulate priorities and support the implementation of the locally-set agenda, focussed on helping local administrations better spend public funds for better outcomes.
2.6.2 Technical Assistance
In recognition of the many previous failures of (inappropriately used/managed) TA to deliver sustainable benefits, AIPD will rigorously apply the following principles:
Use of TA must be based on demonstrated need and local demand.
TA should focus on institutional, rather than individual, capacity building, and generally play a facilitating/mentoring role.
Prioritise use of local expertise from within targeted provinces and Indonesia, as part of the overall capacity building and sustainability strategy.
Use local institutions as a source of TA (e.g. GOI agencies, universities, businesses, NGOs) to help build sustainable partnerships.
Develop the terms of reference for TA with local partners (the ‘clients’ of the services), and ensure TA is accountable to local partners for the quality of their product/services.
Support the development of local partner capacity to manage TA effectively (e.g. District governments); and
Only use expatriate expertise where it is clear (and agreed with local partners) that this is appropriate and cost effective.
AIPD will also engage at national level to support evidence-based policy making that impacts positively on P/LG resource allocation and service delivery capacity. AIPD will also engage with the targeted provincial and district legislatures as key partners. It will not directly engage in delivering services.