The Road to Satu Data Indonesia

By Maesy Angelina and Diastika Rahwidiati

Last week we attended a genuine, honest-to-goodness-we-want-your-opinion, public consultation for the new draft presidential decree for Satu Data (One Data) Indonesia. Over 100 representatives from civil society, the private sector, and government agencies gathered at the recently launched Jakarta Creative Hub, eager to provide feedback to The Executive Office of the President, BAPPENAS, and Open Government Indonesia. Below we highlight the key features of the decree, the main concerns raised at the consultation, and also the opportunities the decree presents.

The aim: better data governance for better policies

The beauty of this draft decree is that it hones in on a crucial — but oft neglected — aspect of ensuring the availability of high-quality data for decision-making: the governance structures that make it easier to assure quality, integrate, share and use datasets across government agencies. Some of the technical features include: mandating that each and every data set produced by government agencies should comply with an official standard for data production; requiring that the data produced come attached with metadata explaining the rationale and methodology behind the data; and requiring commons standards of interoperability on all data produced by government agencies.

In the draft decree, the strategies for Satu Data will be implemented by a range of cross-agency actors through a Steering Committee, a national level implementation team, and implementation teams at subnational level. This proposed governance structure clearly shows an attempt to overcome the frequently expressed pain points of overlapping datasets, lack of data quality, and difficulty in data sharing. Two particular roles stand out in this aspect. The first is Pembina Data (Data Mentor), which are national agencies authorized to build the capacity of other government agencies to implement Satu Data and, most importantly, to resolve any data disputes between agencies. The second is Wali Data (Data Custodians), a unit responsible for collecting, managing, assuring quality and disseminating data produced by their agency. The decree does not stipulate which particular unit in an agency shall act as Wali Data, but it will most likely be the role of each agency’s Data and Information Centre (Pusdatin). What the decree does stipulate is that the Wali Data will be the only unit in that agency that is authorised to release data publicly.

In its heart of hearts, this decree represents a foundational push towards making data produced by government freely available for public use. Article 20 of the draft decree, for instance, takes a clear “open by default” stance: it requires that the Wali Data open all data and metadata produced by the agency on one shared government data portal, except in cases where the release of that data is restricted by another regulation. Also of interest is Article 21, which deftly eliminates the need for cost and superfluous paperwork when sharing data across agencies (which, we quietly hope, will translate into similarly unburdensome arrangements for public use of the data).

There is very little argument against the philosophy of Satu Data. Taking sex disaggregated data as an example, deciding between ‘male-female’ and ‘man-woman’ as the official standard for data classification will go a long way in enabling better gender analysis. It also makes sense for the government to have only one official data in cases of contradicting data sets even when both claim to use the same methodology. However, there were many concerns around implementation challenges and unintended consequences raised during the public consultation.

Will Satu Data deter government agencies from using data produced by other sources?

The push for unified standards may unintentionally become a disincentive for government agencies to accept and use data produced by research institutions or service units for decision-making. This is a major area of concern, first because there is usually a significant time lapse between collection of official government data and when it can be used; and secondly because tapping into the wealth of data produced by other parties can provide new insights for a policy issue.

The Wali Data function, while essential for coordinating quality assurance and sharing of data, can also potentially become a barrier for data collection by non-government entities if they are mandated to become a gatekeeper for all research activity in the area. Although the decree does not stipulate any restrictions against the use of data produced by non-government entities for government decision-making, it might be worth clarifying this stance in articles pertaining to the functions of Wali Data to avoid ambiguous interpretation.

How can civil society be involved in Satu Data?

The open by default and one data portal clauses in the decree will undoubtedly be a game changer for better implementation of the government’s open data policy; however, the decree has yet to identify a clear mechanism for civil society involvement in governing Satu Data. The attendees repeatedly asked whether Satu Data enables the public to actively contribute to data production, share their data with the Government, or provide feedback to the data quality or governance mechanism. One possibility is using existing public consultation fora of data mentors or custodians as a platform for providing feedback to the Satu Data initiative. Statistics Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik), for instance, already has a public consultation arm called Forum Masyarakat Statistik, an equivalent for which could be explored for different types of data. Another possibility is to include public representatives in the Steering Committee or Implementation Team, following the existing model used by Open Government Indonesia.

How can the decree nudge government agencies to implement Satu Data?

Implementing Satu Data properly means many government agencies will need to change their existing behaviors, which is challenging in any setting. Moreover, the decree is currently fuzzy in laying down incentives for implementation. Many concerns were raised over the potential overlap between the Wali Data function and existing PPID (Pusat Informasi dan Dokumentasi / Center for Information and Documentation) and PeDASI (Pejabat Pengolah Data dan Informasi / Data and Information Management Official) functions. Clarifying the difference between these functions early on will help minimize confusion and resistance that can lead to non-action.

Some of the private sector representatives raised the idea of using existing technology for faster, easier implementation of data interoperability. This includes technological solutions for converting various forms of existing datasets into machine readable formats, as well as more efficient ways of integrating data across agencies and automating preliminary data analysis. As we’ve expressed in other posts, our sense is that technology is only one aspect of a larger system of knowledge production. The efficacy of such technological solutions lies in whether they are able to empower implementing agencies and public services to harness the power of their own data to make better decisions. In order to do that, technological solutions would need to be combined with other approaches that support local sensemaking of data. It would be quite interesting, however, to test this concept of data empowerment in several districts to see what learnings can be gained for the national roll-out of Satu Data.

Other cool things we’re really liking…

  • Missed the public consultation session? Don’t worry, the amazing people at Open Government Indonesia made the materials publicly available. This presentation provides a high-level view of some of the policy imperatives around Satu Data, and this one details the main features of the draft decree, as well as some context around the pain points that the decree attempts to address, while this is where you can read the draft decree itself.
  • If you have any inputs for the Satu Data decree, you are not too late. Send your feedback to before 31 May 2017!

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