[ENGLISH DAY] A Story from Papua and The Future Assessment Center
BKD.NTTPROV.GO.ID - From 24th February to 2nd March 2019, I participated as an assessor for civil servant competence assessment at Fakfak Regency, West Papua Province. The competence assessment was under the P2K (Pendekatan Pelayanan Kepegawaian) program; a program on Acceleration of Official Service held by National Civil Service Agency (BKN) which took place in Papua and West Papua Province. In the P2K program of 2019, National Civil Service Agency engaged all the assessors from the local and central instance, included assessors from NTT Province. There were 17 assessors from NTT joined in the program. We were distributed to every regency/ municipality at Papua and West Papua Province.
National Civil Service Agency, of course, had a reason to choose competence assessment (for the supervisors) as the subject matter of P2K program in 2019. Nevertheless, I found a significant strategic point behind the program. What is it?
The main issue or the keyword of Law Number 5 of 2014 on State Civil Apparatus is about merit system management. The stressing point of merit system itself is about placing, promoting, or hiring government’s employees based on their qualification, competence, and performance rather than a political connection or socio-cultural identity background. Everything inscribed in that law number 5 of 2014 is the ‘footnote’ of the merit system concept. It is all about the mechanism, instruction, or prohibition in order to practice surely every aspect of the merit system in managing government employees.
The stressing point of a merit system based on the acute problem of human resources quality in Indonesia bureaucracy. There is a serious problem about the human resources capability in our governmental institution, either the unskillful employees, the mismatch between qualification and position seated, the gap of competence or the unproductive annual repeated programs. It is all about the lack of qualified employees which rooted in the problem of the process of recruitment and the process of promoting or distributing the employees.
Speaking about competence assessment is relevant until now. The competency assessment is the way to solve that human resources problem of bureaucracy. If we would like to look for a qualified person for a certain position, we use a certain professional method and mechanism, and it is the area of the assessment center.
So, from the perspective of bureaucratic reform, the decision of the National Civil Service Agency to take competency assessment as the subject matter of the P2K Program of this year is an appropriate decision. Competence assessment actually is one vital element in merit system management of bureaucracy and even can be said as one of the cores of the merit system itself. The competency assessment, however, is a way to supply a bank of data for the decision-makers in selecting, placing, removing, promoting, demoting or hiring the employees.
In such a spirit of the merit system, we work to success the competency assessment for about 57 supervisors in Fakfak Regency in order to supply a map of competence profile of civil servants for the local government. By so, the decision-maker of the regency could use the data to choose an exact person for a certain job or position. On the other side, it was also useful for the assessee themselves to get their appropriate job based on their competence level and personal characteristic.
The program became more interesting due to the participation of assessors from many different instances with a varied background of assessment experience. There was a sharing of experience and the light discussions among assessors either at the restaurant while tasting delicious burning-fishes, at tourism beach of Kampung Wambar while enjoying Tobelo Dancing of the teenagers and some assessors, on the boat while sailing to Palm Island, Goat Island, Cat Island, Queen of Sea Island, and Layar Coral, at Araguni Island while having a lunch of its traditional seafood, or at the garden of Fakfak town while tasting fried bananas with a cup of hot ginger-milk. It was really a free-tour-tasted assessment program.
Nevertheless, it was relaxed but serious. By the sharing of the experience of the assessors, I knew much more about national problems of assessment center occurred in almost every instance all over the country. It sharpens my insight to look to the future of assessment center. It was clearer for me that there are only a few instances pay attention seriously in improving their own assessment center program. Most instances become a faithful user of external assessment center just to follow the necessity of regulation; because competence assessment is an absolute requirement of national regulation in promoting employees.
Some assessors told about difficulties in recruitment of assessor due to the decreasing of the civil servant who interested in. There was also a problem of lack of budgeting to endorse the competency assessment program which implies automatically to the difficulties for the assessors to get credit point, to upgrade their functional position level or even to improve the assessment method. Another problem was about a complicated and awkward procedure to get a recommendation from State Minister for the Empowerment of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform and to pocket approval note from National Civil Service Agency to become a full-time assessor.
The problem became more and more complex because of the lack of commitment and political will of local government leaders. Consequently, there were still too many people who accuse the competency assessment program as merely an artificial event to follow the formality of national regulation. Moreover, some shared the tendency of local power to interfere even to manipulate the result of competence assessment due to any vested interests. How come to pull out local bureaucracy from those deep mud of problems?
The hardest challenge of developing a merit system and assessment center is the resistance of ‘power’. It is easy to find many local authorities enthusiastically support civil servant’s effort to accelerate public service e.g. at the hospital, at the district office, at trade certificate bureau, or at local demography department to get E-Identity Card. But it is not easy to find a local government that enthusiastically and transparently practice competence assessment in managing the bureaucracy. The problem is that the first one is about to purse public satisfaction rate just by supporting or stressing the civil servant to improve the performance or by repairing the service method, but the second one is about to limit the power of the local leaders itself in deciding person for certain position. In other words, the first one is about the power of managing the others, but the second one is about the (de)power of self-management. The first one is about to power, but the second one is about to lose power. The first one, of course, is easy to do, but the second one needs serious commitment, political will and great vision to be better.
Just a few leaders are aware of a very simple conclusion that the competency assessment program or merit system management is the key way to build up a better public service. A better public service of course handled by qualified employees only. That’s why I have said above that competence assessment is the core of the merit system. It is the heart of merit management because it touches the most difficult thing to be changed away in the bureaucracy.
The problem of competence assessment actually is the only one among a lot of problems in bureaucracy management. But the unprofessionalism in managing bureaucracy seen clearer in the unseriousness to manage competence assessment well. Basically, I believe that the commitment to build up a professional assessment center and to develop competency assessment program are great ways to finish all other problems in bureaucracy management.
Nevertheless, the future of assessment center itself is on the hand of local government’s leader. Developing an assessment center is like a measuring instrument whether the local leader has a commitment to reform governmental bureaucracy or not.
Projects for Future
In the middle of those crucial problems of assessment, I did feel little confidence because NTT Province is better enough, however. I mean that we have tried to finish more than half of the problems above. We have started programming competence assessment since 2012 in promoting employees and we have recruited our own certificated assessors since then. Our assessors have made an assessment for all the regencies/municipalities at NTT Province since 2014, either for open bidding or for job fit program. We have 25 civil servants who have graduated from the assessor training and have pocketed assessor certificate some of whom have been proposed to become a fulltime assessor. We have ever made a Letter of Agreement with at least two provinces for co-working assessment and for advanced training of the assessors, either with Central Java Province or latter with West Java Province. We have ratified the Governor Regulation Number 46 of 2018 on Managerial Competency Assessment for Local Civil Apparatus of NTT Province. And now in 2019 with the new structure of the organization, we have a particular unit to handle specially the competency assessment and performance appraisal.
However, the way is still long enough to reach a more ideal destination. The human resources, the regulations, and the facilities are triple elements in developing whatever in bureaucracy included in managing assessment center. We have done a lot related to these triple elements but it is not enough.
From the aspect of human resources, we still have homework to process legalizing of assessors’ status from part-time assessor to full-time assessor. A fulltime assessor can focus on working to develop local assessment center, either to run all competence assessments needed, prepare and renew assessment instrument, develop assessment method, make plan for advanced trainings of assessors, manage the data bank of assessment results, make a feedback to the assessee, or to supply the data to the authorities either for the sake of employee’s placement or for training and education purpose.
On the side of regulation support, we need to continue preparing local act on assessment center, in order to build up a special unit that handling competence and performance assessment. It is not only for NTT Province but also open to another instance, especially to the regencies/municipalities in NTT Province. Last but not least, facilities supply is also an important aspect, either a building with standardized assessment rooms or modern computers and internet facilities.
Technically, to prepare those triple elements of assessment center is a simple thing, as simple as to make planning paper of budgeting or to complete all administrative requirements. But behind that, as what I could conclude from the light discussions at West Papua, it requires a commitment and political will of the leaders and also needs the supporting spirit of all stakeholders related. By so, we may slowly bring the NTT government bureaucracy to a competitive and productive zone and leave behind a comfortable ruled based zone of the past time bureaucracy culture.
Luis Aman (*Staff of Regional Civil Service Agency of NTT Province)