Hivos International

Complaining to improve governance: four stories of complaint-handling systems in Indonesia

Since joining the Open Government Partnership in 2011, the Indonesian Government has shown some commitment towards implementing initiatives that increase citizen voice and government and service-providers’ accountability to citizens and service users. These include a series information and communications technology (ICT)- based complaint-handling systems that give members of the public an opportunity to highlight problems with the delivery of public services to those in a position to fix them. Yet the reach and uptake of these systems – which are both national and local – varies considerably across the country, for a number of reasons.

This research examines four cases of complaint-handling systems. At the national level, it reviews LAPOR!, a one-stop complaint-handling platform set up by the Indonesian Government to manage citizens’ complaints and requests via SMS, smartphone apps and a website.

The research asks how, and by whom, complaint-handling systems are used, identifies a series of barriers to citizens using them, and explores the factors that shape their effectiveness and impact.

Key findings

  • Campaigning is a necessity for raising citizens’ awareness of newly established complaint-handling systems.
  • Leadership by government officials is a key factor in implementing complaint-handling systems, at both national and local levels.
  • Local governments need to make better use of complaint-handling systems to monitor and evaluate their performance, and ultimately improve it. Bureaucracy often gets in the way of responding to citizen complaints.
  • Introducing advanced ICTs is no guarantee that systems will be widely used. Governments need to identify locally relevant technologies and adapt new systems accordingly.
  • Building trust is a major factor behind optimising the use of complaint-handling systems. Eradicating people’s fear of making complaints – a longstanding issue in Indonesia – is a large part of this.
  • The more non-state actors are involved in using and promoting a complaint-handling system, the more likely it is that ordinary citizens will be keen to use it as well.

Related Publications

When it comes to ICT-mediated governance participation in Brazil, Internet penetration still remains a major challenge, with only around half of homes having connectivity. Opportunities to influence public policy frameworks and government strategies through...

Accountability – the obligation of those in power to take responsibility for their actions – involves different types of relationship between different actors in state and society.

Many factors influence accountability. These are often...

When we walked in, the doctor was sat at his desk. We started asking about drug supply, maternal health, child mortality, which we knew were very problematic issues in the village. Then an old...

This research report explains how Tearfund set out to learn from and enhance its advocacy programme in Uganda. It carried out research in 18 communities in the Teso region of east Uganda, where the...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

In the public sector, Spain has made big efforts not to lag behind digital leaders in terms of public e-readiness and e-government, but the country's economic and political frameworks have dragged it downwards in...

This study aims to better understand the experiences of rape victims accessing governmental post-rape services in South Africa. It was part of a larger intervention to develop an e-governance mobile phone ratings app for...

Open data is often an integral part of promoting transparency, fighting corruption and harnessing new technologies to strengthen governance. But to implement ‘good’ open data, government departments must coordinate to share data that is...

In mid-2015, VOTO Mobile, in partnership with the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), applied to Making All Voices Count for a practitioner research and learning grant.

VOTO Mobile is a Ghanaian tech company...

Tearfund, a Christian faith-based international non-governmental organisation, has for 15 years  supported local churches to mobilise communities through a process called Church and Community Mobilisation (CCM). The CCM advocacy pilot project in Uganda led...

How can programmes such as Making All Voices Count utilise innovation as a strategy for addressing complex governance problems?

This think piece draws from a desk review of experience in using innovation to increase...

Holding power to account requires understanding where power lies and how it is exercised. It entails understanding how decisions are made and who makes them, and the nature of entrenched, institutional obstacles to change....

The Philippines has a long history of state–society engagement to introduce reforms in government and politics. Forces from civil society and social movements have interfaced with reform-oriented leaders in government on a range of...

When citizens exercise voice, what is it that makes their voices count, or not count? If citizens’ voices count, governments are being responsive.

This think piece draws from a desk review of experience on...

Much of the literature on citizen accountability focuses on citizen voices. This research briefing is one of four which turn the spotlight on the how the state behaves in instances of accountable governance. Each...

Much of the literature on citizen accountability focuses on citizen voices. This research briefing is one of four which turn the spotlight on the how the state behaves in instances of accountable governance. Each...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

Development Initiatives (DI) and Development Research and Training (DRT) received a Making All Voices Count practitioner research and learning grant to examine the purpose, use and users of citizen-generated data in two case studies....

Developing innovative solutions for accountable governance – with or without a tech focus – involves trying out new ideas and learning from the process. Throughout our support to innovations and technologies that have the potential...

Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC), a South African civil society organisation (CSO) working on transparency and accountability, has been heavily involved in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) since its inception. Through its contributions to...

A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging...

The change Making All Voices Count wants is more responsive, accountable governance. The programme has contributed to this change by supporting tech-enabled initiatives for amplifying citizen voice and nurturing government responsiveness, and by building...

Since the implementation of the first Open Government Partnership National Action Plan (OGP-NAP) in Uruguay in 2012, open government has evolved from a focus on e-government that was non-participatory, towards a multi-stakeholder, transversal approach...

Whose voice has value and why?  This think piece draws from a desk review of experience on voice, and an exchange of ideas in an e-dialogue between practitioners and scholars in January 2014. It...

This report shares the findings from an impact assessment of Accountability Lab, conducted between August 2016 and March 2017 as part of a research and learning grant from Making All Voices Count.

Accountability Lab...

As a democratic country, the Philippines values citizen participation in ensuring that people's voices are heard and that they are part of important decision-making processes. ICT-mediated and enabled participation plays a particularly significant role...

Yayasan Kota Kita (Our City Foundation) is an organisation of governance practitioners who focus on urban planning and citizen participation in the design and development of cities. Following several years of experience with participatory...

T4T&A (tech for transparency and accountability) initiatives intend to make the public functioning of government visible, and states accountable to citizens for their actions. This summary presents findings and reflections from two studies of...

A number of journalists have recently been harassed and their equipment confiscated by state authorities and political goons. Safety and protection of journalist is, therefore, now a major concern in Kenya. Between November 2012 and January 2013,...

This paper takes as its starting point the perspective that civil society participation in governance—particularly policy processes such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and related policy developments—largely takes on a mere consultative rather than a transformative role when initiated and driven by government or donors.

This report highlights the ideas and practices that underlie the work of crowdsourcing intermediaries: actors who collect and analyse citizen feedback using digital platforms, and use it to support positive change. Most studies of...

South Asia is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s population and is a region of dynamic economic growth, yet it performs relatively poorly on health and nutrition indicators. As a potential route...

In this study, ICTs are defined as consisting of the hardware, software, networks, and media for the collection, storage, processing, transmission and presentation of information (voice, data, text, images).

Most ICT initiatives examined in...

In citizen-led accountability initiatives, we understand much more about how citizens mobilise around accountability demands than we do about what leads state agents to respond to them. This report highlights some key themes that are...

In February 2016, 55 researchers and practitioners met in Manila to discuss the role of technology in transforming governance.

It was a fast-moving conversation, with discussions on what 'transformative' means for people actually implementing...

Many governments, international agencies and civil society organisations (CSOs) support and promote open data. Most open government data initiatives have focused on supply – creating portals and publishing information. Much less attention has been...

Much of the literature on citizen accountability focuses on citizen voices. This research briefing is one of four which turn the spotlight on the how the state behaves in instances of accountable governance. Each...

Tanzania coffee farming 4s@scale programme for women

In ‘When Civics go governance’ Ria Brouwers analyses the stormy ascent of African NGOs in the field of good governance. Tracing the tracks of the NGO-boom in Africa, Brouwers brings together key academic writings with ISS led field on NGO interventions in Zambia, Uganda, Kenia and Tanzania conducted under the banner of the Hivos/ISS Civil Society Building Knowledge Programme.

Colombian e-government development has been internationally recognised by the UN as a leader in Latin America, and one of the 20 most developed nations of the world in the area. However, ICT tools and...

Much of the literature on citizen accountability focuses on citizen voices. This research briefing is one of four which turn the spotlight on the how the state behaves in instances of accountable governance. Each...