Sat, 15 May 2004

Sleman regency getting better with age

Sri Wahyuni, Sleman, Yogyakarta

Every Wednesday and Thursday over the past few months, Sleman government officials have worn two-piece uniforms of sky-blue shirts/blouses and dark blue trousers/skirts, instead of the usual yellow-brown national uniform, which has been the official uniform of Indonesia's civil servants for years.

Some female employees in the capital of Sleman regency, Beran, also wear scarves matching their uniforms, giving the impression of professional civil servants.

The new uniform, which has a more "civilian" look than the semi-militaristic style of the normal uniform, is just one of a string of initiatives aimed at creating good governance, said Sutrisno, secretary of the Sleman administration.

"This is part of our efforts to make the people of Sleman proud (of their officials)," he said.

Speaking at a press conference here in conjunction with the regency's 88th anniversary, which falls on May 15, Sutrisno said the Sleman administration had stepped up efforts to improve the regency's image.

He pointed to the achievement of getting Sleman's soccer team, PSS, into the country's top league, and building a Rp 150-billion soccer stadium in Maguwoharjo village, Depok, that meets international standards.

The stadium is still under construction and is scheduled to be officially opened by the end of this year.

In order to improve the image of civil servants, Sutrisno said the administration would implement performance-based budgeting, where budget allocations would be based on an agency's targeted products or services and outcome. Under this program, any agency whose performance exceeded set standards would be given incentives, and vice versa.

Sleman is a pioneer with this initiative, Sutrisno said, though many Sleman residents are not yet aware of the program.

"In discussions among officials, however, we are relatively well-known for the success of this pilot project. Every time I meet colleagues from other regencies, they promptly ask about PSS or our performance-based budgeting," he said proudly.

He said a planned "carrot-and-stick" approach to measuring officials' performance would further boost Sleman's image as a place for clean and professional government. This system is being prepared with help from a consulting company from Jakarta and the Building Institution for Good Governance.

"The main idea is for people to be able to distinguish civil servants who just come to the office to read the newspaper or who go shopping during office hours, from those who really work hard accomplishing their jobs," said Sutrisno, explaining that rewards would be given in the form of financial bonuses.

This new system is scheduled to come into effect through a regent's decree by the beginning of next year at the latest. If all goes according to plan, Sleman will be the first regency in the country to use such a performance-based appraisal system, a fact that will hopefully make Sleman's civil servants proud.

"We hoped to make this year's anniversary celebration the culmination point of all the efforts. However, some of the projects are still in progress, including the reward system we are preparing for our civil servants.

"Hopefully it will be ready for implementation by the end of the year or the beginning of next year at the latest," said Sutrisno, who is also the chairman of this year's Sleman anniversary celebration committee.

He said improving the image of the regency would instill pride in Sleman's residents, and help win their support for efforts to develop the region.

Theoretically, he said, by improving all aspects of life in Sleman, residents will think twice before doing something that could ruin the image of the regency.

"It is a different feeling, of course, from just being ordinary to becoming the number one region. We residents of Sleman from all walks of life will be proud of their regency, and will be motivated to give their best for their home," Sutrisno said.

Located in the northern part of Yogyakarta province, Sleman regency has prepared a series of round-the-clock activities to mark its 88th anniversary. These activities include a band competition for kindergarten students, an official ceremony at the regency legislative council, where all councilors are expected to wear traditional Javanese costumes, a carnival, an official ceremony at the local government office and a night-long shadow puppet performance.

Sleman only began celebrating its anniversary five years ago, after the local government decided to make May 15 the regency's official founding date. That decision followed a long, careful study involving local historians, cultural experts and councilors.

On May 15, 1916, Yogyakarta's sultan Hamengku Buwono VII (1877-1921) issued Rijksblad Van Jogjakarta No. 11 on the reorganization of the Yogyakarta government. Accordingly, Yogyakarta kingdom was divided into the three regencies of Kalasan, Bantul and Sleman.

"We are still in the process of letting people know about the anniversary, making it not just a celebration of the local government but most importantly a celebration for all of the people of Sleman," Sutrisno said.

He hopes that by creating a sense of belonging, everyone in Sleman will work together to accelerate development in the area.