Identifying Opportunities to Strengthen Data Governance in the Public Sector

As part of the efforts to improve the quality of data governance in Indonesia’s public sector, the Executive Office of the President (KSP) collaborated with Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ) ​​and Open Data Lab (ODL) to identify challenges that are likely to arise when implementation of the Presidential Regulation on Satu Data Indonesia begins. Understanding the journey of government data in Makassar and Kulon Progo, as well as gaining insights from the users were central to the initial analysis. The research results have thus formed the basis for guidelines that can help data stewards at the municipal/district level implement the policy.

Using A User-Centred Design Approach

The Government needs credible data to design public policies and to provide quality public services. The current system, however, is known for pain points of overlapping datasets, lack of data quality and difficulty in data sharing. The draft Presidential Regulation on Satu Data Indonesia seeks to overcome such challenges by establishing three principles for data governance in the public sector: one data standard, one standard metadata, and data interoperability. While the Regulation has not yet been passed, the central government acknowledges that this initiative can only be successful if data stewards in ministries and agencies across Indonesia understand and are equipped to implement effective data governance processes.

Instead of coming up with possible solutions on our own, KSP, PLJ and ODL agreed to first survey how data stewards in local government carry out their duties. PLJ employed a user-centred design, a method that supports information gathering by way of empathy to understand the difficulties and challenges data stewards in the public sector face. We began the study by examining the current state of data governance at the district/municipal level, specifically in Makassar and Kulon Progo. We interviewed various data stewards, ranging from those at the provincial level to those working at community health centres (Puskesmas) in both cities.

Based on our research, we have highlighted some key challenges:

1. Data stewards tend to have other responsibilities alongside data governance. While these other duties are normally still connected to areas in the public sector, they reduce the amount of time data stewards have to specifically fulfill data-related activities.

2. Inadequate coordination is common between levels and agencies within the public sector pertaining to the management and implementation of data governance procedures.

3. Skills and knowledge needed to manage and interact with digital data are lacking. We also observed this in a previous study on how data is used at the village level.

Addressing the Challenges

These challenges demonstrate that data stewards in the public sector could benefit from easy-to-understand technical guidelines in order to effectively implement the new governance procedures. The Draft Presidential Regulation on Satu Data Indonesia proposes such guidance.

We identified three areas that present opportunities to strengthen data governance in the public sector, and these are particularly useful for data stewards:

● Organisational Structure
As mentioned prior, poor coordination between government entities is one of the difficulties data stewards continue to encounter. To improve this, clear guidelines on the organisational structure can clarify coordination procedures related to the governance of data. These guidelines may include a comprehensive explanation of the data coordination steps, how to match competent data stewards with a particular task, and how to go about organising a data governance forum among government stakeholders.

● Data Flow
Indeed, data stewards within the public sector understand the importance of maintaining data quality. Despite this, not all of them are fully aware of the necessary processes, going from the stage of data collection to the point of data usage in policy making. Guidelines that can translate this overall process into clear steps can help data stewards to better perform their duties. Specifically, we identified five segments of the data journey that can help actualise the Satu Data Indonesia policy. These segments include: data collection and distribution flow, standardisation flow, validation flow, interoperability flow, and the data dissemination flow.

● Data Format
We found that data stewards across agencies and ministries in the public sector do not have a single, common format for cataloguing digital data. As a result, individuals use whatever preferred formats, and this makes it less efficient when it comes to sharing data between government counterparts. The development of a standard data format guideline has the benefit of helping all players meet the interoperability principles outlined in Satu Data Indonesia, while simultaneously improving data management skills related to collecting, processing and distributing data. This guideline can also serve as a glossary of data terminologies, metadata format and data type format.

Validating the Ideas with Prototypes

For opportunities to be useful within the public sector, they have to be carefully assessed and translated into tangible forms that allow users to see, feel and use them. Accordingly, KSP, PLJ and ODL prioritised these opportunity areas and developed three prototypes: 1) a diagram of data stewards and their related tasks, 2) a diagram of the flow of data collection and distribution, and 3) a Satu Data Dictionary to explain the terminologies used in data governance. These prototypes were selected based on the priority needs of the data stewards, as well as their feasibility to support the Draft Presidential Regulation on Satu Data.

Our next blog in this Satu Data series looks at the results from the prototype testings, including users’ feedback. Keep watching this space for more information.

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Pulse Lab Jakarta is grateful for the generous support from the Government of Australia.