The challenges of e-governance implementation in Indonesia
Fri, 11 May 2018 || By Habibah Hermanadi

Overview of e-governance in Indonesia

The popularity of electronic governance, or e-governance, has been growing worldwide. Amidst many definitions, e-governance by the definition of the United Nations is understood as a way of the government utilizing the Internet and the world-wide-web in the context of delivering governance-related information and services to citizens.[i] However, each country has the freedom to set their vision in implementing the kind of governance mechanism which primarily focuses on the role of technology. In 2016 President Joko Widodo released the initial plan of Nawacita, a thorough bureaucratic reform in the form of a 2016–2019 e-Government Roadmap. Unlike the long run implementation of e-government in the form of digital society which will approximately require 15 to 20 years, this agenda aims to complete the short-term objectives.[ii] 

The objectives which were designated for the short program are paramount to the needs of the Indonesian bureaucratic system. The focus of this program is divided into two primary targets. The first is the creation of a fast and responsive application-based mechanism, where institutions will be able to provide information and responses to ongoing issues and ensures transparency to the people regarding how each institution manage their finance and progress of their plans.[iii] The second target is to create an e-office between the various sectors to optimize the work of each government department and agency in a paperless system, so they could communicate, coordinate and follow up to other divisions without having to go through tedious paper-based mailing processes between the bureaucratic bodies.[iv] This writing wishes to address the general idea of e-governance in Indonesia by looking at its mechanism, how it is being implemented, and most importantly the kind of changes it would take effect on the country’s bureaucratic system.


Q1: What constitutes e-governance in Indonesia?

Firstly, the Indonesian government sees e-governance as a means to an end, not an end process of reforming the system. Thus, e-governance is a catalytic enabler that should be able to answer issues such as development gaps, provide better public services, and, most importantly, it must foster people’s participation. In Indonesia. What constitutes e-governance include interconnection between governmental bodies, the creation of secure government networks, data centers and regional command centers, secure back-up systems, along with disaster recovery mechanisms.[v] It also fits the paradigm changes of the government, which means e-governance must be people-oriented, resources must be shared instead of having multiple data silos, and e-governance must cater to all services, rather than just to electronic services only.[vi]


Q2: What are the ongoing challenges faced by Indonesia in implementing this system?

Infrastructure has been one of the main challenges in implementing a thorough and inclusive e-governance mechanism all over Indonesia.[vii] While e-government is hoped to reach the nation’s many islands, it could not be dismissed that e-government needs a mature ICT capacity. A well-distributed logistics infrastructure is important to attain such capacity. For some of the remote areas in Indonesia, infrastructure is still focused on the development of streets and public facilities related to the health and education sectors.[viii]

Moreover, the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reformation sees the importance of a unified conceptualization of e-governance. As this process is based on the President’s grand vision of improving the country’s public sector, it is paramount to revamp the law and regulations which governs the extent and limitations of the program.[ix] More importantly, there must be a mutual understanding of the digitalization process within the country. Human resources are also an obstacle for the e-government implementation process as Indonesia lacks the experts needed to work on the projects.[x] Moreover, there is a need to develop new set of skills for the state apparatus on the e-governance mechanisms, which differs from the conventional style of administration and bureaucracy.


Q3: What kind of changes are to be expected in the future of Indonesian politics regarding e-governance?

Some of the expected outcomes from the transition towards e-governance are the improvement of the democratization process and transparency, environmental incentives (paperless office system, speed, efficiency, and convenience), public approval, and public engagement (online discussions, e-voting).[xi] 

As a real-life example of how e-governance affected the society, we can consider Estonia as one of the leading countries in implementing e-governance. Estonia redesigned the entire information infrastructure with the consideration of openness, privacy, security and readiness for the future.[xii]  The X-road began in 2001 and the country gradually applied mechanisms such as user-centricity, where the government can find to what extent a service is provided online and how it is perceived.[xiii] The X-road also allows people to observe the government’s responsibilities and performance, the process of service deliveries and citizens’ data. And lastly, Estonia also created the electronic identification (eID), electronic documents (eDocuments), electronic safe (eSafe), and Single Sign-On (SSO) to assist the e-government implementation.[xiv]

Gradually, Indonesia’s master plan has been directed toward that direction, starting from governmental reform and followed by digitalization of data to improve the well-being of the people. Moreover, these changes aspire to decrease the chances of corruption and misuse of bureaucratic power that occurred in the lengthy bureaucratic procedures, both on the regional and national level.[xv]   It also wishes to cater the needs of the region and its people in attaining their administrative requirements without geographical limitations. Moreover, e-governance is seen as a mechanism that will enhance governance openness in decision-making processes, especially in regards to the nation’s development agenda.[xvi] In the past, people needed travel far distances to cities to get their citizenship documents processed. Now, e-governance might be the answer to this geographical challenge that Indonesia faces when ensuring comprehensive public services to every citizen.



E-governance is an adaptive reaction towards the vast development of ICT. The sole purpose of the transformation by the public sector is meant to improve the well-being of the people through comprehensive institutional changes. Indonesia faces plenty of challenges to bridge the relations between the government and its people. Meanwhile, this transition should not be neglected because the government must move forward, not only under a democratic agenda but policymakers in between departments must also be able to communicate effectively and in synergy to solve Indonesia’s complex problems. In that limelight, e-governance allows not only the engagement from the public to observe the government up close but also the elimination of the gaps between departments, so that decisions and discussions can be conducted without dreary bureaucratic processes.

Editors: Atin Prabandari, MA(IR) & Nabeel Khawarizmy Muna, S.IP


Picture: KBRI Tokyo

[i] Zambrano, R. and Seward, R. (2013). From Connectivity to Service Delivery. UNDP Report. United Nations Development Program, pp.9-10.

[ii] Widiartanto, Y. (2016). Pemerintah Siapkan Roadmap E-Government 2016-2019. [online] Kompas. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[iii] KOMINFO (2016). Pemerintah Selesaikan Petajalan E-government 2016-2019 yang bernuansa Nawacita dengan Menyerap Inisiatif dari Semua Kementerian dan Lembaga Terkait. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[iv] KOMINFO (2018). Kominfo Targetkan Percepatan Layanan Perizinan. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[v] Kelleher, J. (2017). Implementation of e-Government to be accelerated in Indonesia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[vi] KOMINFO (2016). Pemerintah Selesaikan Petajalan E-government 2016-2019 yang bernuansa Nawacita dengan Menyerap Inisiatif dari Semua Kementerian dan Lembaga Terkait. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[vii] Anggono, I. (2016). eGovernment Indonesia Update 2015 - 2019. Jakarta: Kementerian Komunikasi dan Informatika.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Bayu, D. (2016). Ini Penyebab Penerapan "E-government" di Indonesia Belum Maksimal. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Bashar, M.R., Rezaul, K.M. & Grout, V. (2011). E-Government vs. Ordinary Bureaucratic Government: A Comparative Study. [Paper presented at The 4th International Conference on Internet Technologies and Applications, Glyndwr University held at Glyndŵr University, 6-9th September, 2011].

[xii] Björklund, F. (2016). E-government and moral citizenship: the case of Estonia. Citizenship Studies, 20(6-7), pp.914-931.

[xiii] Tamkivi, S. (2014). Lessons from the World's Most Tech-Savvy Government. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[xiv] European Commission (2016). E-government in Estonia. e-Government factsheets. Brussel: European Commission, p.17.

[xv] (2016). E-Government Sebagai Wujud Reformasi Birokrasi. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].

[xvi] Kantor Staff Presiden. (2017). Tujuan Pembangunan Berkelanjutan dan Keterbukaan Pemerintah Mendukung Pencapaian Nawacita – Kantor Staf Presiden. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2018].