The Wilsonian Dichotomy and Public Policy in Good governance

Penulis: Al Mukhollis Siagian (Student of State Administration at Padang State University)

Padang – Since the beginning of the new millennium until now, the government’s ability to respond has increased the complexity of public policy issues is still threatened by philosophical neglect and the degradation of the role of the bureaucracy in the realm of public policy. The bureaucracy has an important role in linking the implementation of policies with the stated goals. In historical lines, the mentality and paradigm of the Indonesian bureaucracy is a legacy of clientel politics and colonial patronage which is very detrimental.

In the Wilsonian dichotomy paradigm, there is an emphasis that the existence of bureaucrats must be independent and professional. Where there is a principle that governance depends on how effectively the bureaucracy can achieve public policy goals. Thus, a competent bureaucracy is very important to realize the wishes of the people and their political institutions. Governments everywhere including Indonesia face significant challenges to adopt and implement good public policies through ideal bureaucratic arrangements. Simultaneously, the bureaucracy is now threatened by competition from the private sector for policy delivery and advice. Policy problems that are increasingly confusing and difficult to solve are fiscal narrowing, globalization, and growing political fragmentation.

In Indonesian governance, the ideas of the wilsonian dichotomy have been well institutionalized through the ministry of empowerment of the state apparatus and bureaucratic reform. Likewise, his assertion in regulations, for example bureaucrats must be independent and professional, can be seen from Undang-Undang Nomor 5 Tahun 2014 tentang Aparatur Sipil Negara which has a merit system (ASN professionalism) and strictly regulates ASN not to be involved in practical politics (independent).

Although theoretically the position of the wilsonian dichotomy lies in the classical government paradigm, but in contemporary Indonesian government, the wilsonian dichotomy position is articulated in a modern way under the auspices of the good governance paradigm. Where the condition of the bureaucratic paradigm with the concept of bureaucratic reform in the context of public policy in professional practice has shown that government decisions can be challenged and negotiated by all stakeholders. The government’s service delivery strategy must be transparent. Apart from stakeholders, public participation is very important in the policy process for the success of any program. Although in various realities, bureaucratic pathologies are still found, such as illegal levies, corruption, nepotism, and others. Rather, this portrait is a different matter which shows that we still have to maximize improvements. Because efforts to improve the pradigmatic scale have been intensified in such a way.

In contrast to the classical and NPM paradigms, the good governance paradigm is based on the assumption that the former system and in particular NPM have become redundant. The government has adopted new methods that suit contemporary society. The governance model deviates from the principles of market versus state provisions, recognizing that public values cannot be addressed by market calculus. It denotes the collective preferences of citizens and not individuals. Good governance emphasizes “Steer, don’t Row”. To achieve efficiency in the delivery of public services, he encourages the creation of a self-managed environment by the community and the task of the bureaucracy to manage policy networks.

The development of good governance is actually not only about policy outcomes, but also means such as justice, equality, and efficiency. An effort to build social capital by developing public values and trust. The people must be involved in government decision-making together with elected officials, the bureaucracy and the private sector. It recognizes the legitimacy of multi-stakeholder inclusion and proposes an integrative framework for policy-making.

Good governance combines efficiency, quality, security and reliability of the private sector with public preferences. Bureaucracy must be more than just directing and realizing that the government is not like buying and selling goods. This includes high-level aspirations such as national security, poverty reduction, quality of human resources, and public health. Bureaucratic policy strategies and solutions must be legitimate and operationally and administratively feasible. Public policy ethics stands out as the main concern of government that has been marginalized by previous paradigms.

Modern governance regarding public policy is unquestionably complex. This requires a collaborative effort because of the interconnectedness and interdependence. The collaboration reaches within and across institutional boundaries which means coordination, communication and deliberation with all relevant actors from civil society. It is important for any reform agenda to ensure “what” reforms to “what”. A very important aspect is the awareness and acceptance by the bureaucracy that its methods are redundant and counterproductive. Reformers must also be careful about dismantling existing structures. Unconsidered relaxation of hierarchical control may be a step towards mismanagement and corruption.

Indonesia should take this lesson from its past futile efforts towards bureaucratic reform. The irony is the ignorance of the national reformers to understand this. Most of the reforms promoted by western donors and their protégés in the Indonesian government naively believe that governance lessons drawn from western experience can be placed across the board in our national context. It is understood that the incumbent government’s reform agenda may be as unsuccessful as those drawn from neo-intuitive and neoliberal western philosophies. This can be understood from its emphasis on government efficiency, austerity, simple measurement of economic value and ignorance of ethics.

Good governance refers to partnerships with private actors, networks, and the active participation of individuals as citizens. It should also be borne in mind that the sustainability of public sector and bureaucratic reforms is highly dependent on a dynamic civil society, the accessibility and reliability of community partners for the production and delivery of government services, institutionalized morals and norms, academic think tanks and legitimate democratic governance. In short, Indonesia should adopt a system of government that is more cooperative, flat and devolved than our bureaucracy usually thinks and practices. (Red/M.H)