Senin, 01 November 2010
The Relevance of Deconcentration as a Central Government’s Instrument to Assure the Implementation of National Policy within the Regions in the Wide Decentralization Era
(Paper presented at The 4th APANDS Conference held by Graduate School of Public Administration, National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand. Bangkok, September 2-3, 2010)
This study is about the relevance of deconcentration as a central government’s instrument to perform national policies in the local level. The relevance of deconcentration will be scrutinized from various perspectives, i.e. the degree, the substance, and the subject.
The study is supposed to offer a concept on the program, mechanism, and budgeting pattern which is ought to, might be, or unnecessary be run in the framework of deconcentration. It can be stated that deconcentration is having significance and relevance when national program, mechanism, and budgeting pattern may not be altered by any other option such as centralization, decentralization, and assistance task (Dutch term: medebewind).
The study of decentralization is one of the most venerable issues in the field of public administration. It is also one of the most vigorous policy choices in creating a more democratic and responsible government. In spite of its impacts and benefits so far, there is almost no contention among countries in promoting decentralization. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is a large and growing theoretical literature on decentralization (Cheema and Rondinelli 1983 and 2007; Turner and Hulme 1997; World Bank 1999; Bardan 2002, etc).
In the academic discourse, deconcentration is widely perceived as a part of decentralization. As Rondinelli (1999) observes, decentralization consists of four types, i.e. political decentralization, administrative decentralization, fiscal decentralization, and market decentralization. In the context of central and local government relationship, administrative decentralization might be the most important issu.
According to Rondinelli (1999), administrative decentralization seeks to redistribute authority, responsibility and financial resources in providing public services among different levels of government. It consists of three major forms, i.e. deconcentration, delegation, and devolution. Deconcentration, however, is often considered to be the weakest form of decentralization, since it does not involve any transfer of real power to local governments. Delegation is somewhat perceived as a more extensive form of decentralization, while devolution represents administrative decentralization that underlies most political decentralization.
In the discourse of central – local government relation, the use of decentralization term largely refers to administrative decentralization, and more specifically devolution. In fact, deconcentration is relatively and widely applied in many developed and developing states as well, although the type and degree varied among individual countries. Unfortunately, many scholars seem to have trivial attention on this issue. It is probably the reason why there are insufficient academic sources regarding solemn study on deconcentration. The studies of deconcentration, in short, are far lacking behind those of decentralization.
The imbalances of literature supply tend to bring about the imbalance in empirical implementation of such concepts. Although deconcentration is used most frequently in unitary states (Rondinelli 1999), but decentralization framework is actually much more observable. In the case of
as a unitary state, there are eight decentralization laws have been implemented
(Decentralization Wet 1903, Law 1/1945, Law 22/1948, Law 1/1957, Law 18/1965,
Law 5/1974, Law 22/1999, and Law 32/2004). Ironically, there has been no single law
concerning deconcentration. It’s rather examined as a complementary
component. Up to now, there are only two government regulations (GR) on
deconcentration, i.e. GR 39/2001 and GR 7/2008. In addition, deconcentration is
often associated as the dichotomy of decentralization or devolution. In other
word, deconcentration has been mistakenly recognized as other form of
centralization, so that it is not a preferable policy both in Indonesia and
other democratic countries. Indonesia
Due to considerations above, it is fairly reasonable to propose a very basic question whether deconcentration is really relevance as a central government’s instrument to assure the implementation of national policy within the regions.
1. Decentralization – Deconcentration Relationship
This study notices that decentralization and deconcentration is not an opposing concept one to another; it produces a continuum, instead. In other word, decentralization (in this case: devolution) and deconcentration is not a matter of dichotomy, it is rather a continuum. As depicted by Cheema and Rondinelli (2007), the relationship between devolution and deconcentration / delegation should not be seen as a dichotomy or as mutually exclusive, but rather can best be understood as a matrix of relationships. Work’s study (2001, in
2008: 103) concludes
that decentralization is not an alternative to centralization. It implies that
in any country, a certain degree or extent of decentralization and
deconcentration are concurrently and simultaneously deployed in managing
governmental affairs between central and local government. Likewise, FAO in its
publication (2006: 31) underlines that deconcentration and decentralization are
far from replacing each other; they have always been considered as
complimentary by political decision makers. Gera
Similarly, Eko Prasojo (no year) affirms that centralization and decentralization is a continuum, not a dichotomy. It means that it is quite impossible for applying one single principle, either centralization or decentralization, in managing all governmental affairs. McBeath dan Helms (1983: 34), strengthen previous avowals by confirming that two types of decentralization, devolution and deconcentration, appear to enhance powers of subnational units. All of these statements imply that decentralization and deconcentration may be simultaneously deployed with different degree.
A crucial question occurs in the context of centralization and decentralization discourse: where is the position of deconcentration, and how do we explain the relationship between centralization, decentralization, and deconcentration?
In some articles written by Dickovick (2003), Hutchcroft (2001), and Cummings (1995), decentralization has been analyzed from the reverse view of centralization. In this case, centralization has two major variants, i.e. concentration and deconcentration (FAO 2006: 31). Since deconcentration is one of centralization variants, then people starts to identify deconcentration as an expression of centralization. As a result, deconcentration is frequently thought as a contradictory concept to decentralization.
The most important thing in managing relationship between central and local government in a certain country, therefore, is creating a sustainable equilibrium between centralizing and decentralizing forces. According to Kauzya (no year: 9), in every country there are always centripetal forces tending towards centralization and centrifugal forces tending towards the periphery. All countries, centralized or decentralized, always seek to find an appropriate mix of these types, the central question always concerning how much decision making power to transfer to local governments. Decentralization is undoubtedly essential to promote good and democratic governance, but decentralization succeeds best in situations where there is a strong central government in terms of legitimacy and capacity (Kauzya, ibid).
2. Two Sides of Decentralization – Deconcentration and Need to Sinergizing
As a matter of fact, both decentralization and deconcentration show two different sides: positive and negative. Decentralization wave around the world has offered many positive results such as combating corruption (Arikan 2004; Fjeldstad 2004; Fisman 2002), reduction in poverty (Braathen 2008; Crook 2001; UNDP 2000; Moore and Putzel 1999), improving service delivery (WB 2001; Kolehmainen-Aitken 1999; McLean 1999, Dillinger 1994), fortifying accountability (WB 2000), preventing conflicts (Sasaoka 2007, Siegle and O’Mahony), empowering community (Brinkerhoff 2006).
On the other hand, decentralization may lead to soft–budget constraints, macro–economic instability, clientelism, and enlargement of bureaucracies (Cornelius 1999; Fox and Aranda 1996; Rodden 2000; Rodden and Wibbels 2002; Stein 1998, quoted from Falleti 2004: 3). Similarly, Prud’homme (1995: 202-209) stated that there are three dangers of decentralization, those are: 1) decentralization can increase disparities; 2) decentralization can jeopardize stability; and 3) decentralization can undermine efficiency. “Decentralization may therefore a two-edged of sword”, says Brillantes Jr. (2004: 39).
Since there is no guarantee that decentralization produces advantages only, it is logical that the central government have to play balancing roles to reduce negative impacts of decentralization. Balancing decentralization and deconcentration will lead to a more integrated development across level of government, i.e. embedding local policy into broader context of national development and interest.
In comparative case of
Turner’s study (2002: 354) explores the benefits of deconcentration in
managerial perspective. Most probably, deconcentration could lead to the following gains: Cambodia
§ Accessibility of officials. Officials are available for consultation, advice, and complaint. As local officials can exercise decentralized authority, they make the decisions and do not need to pass them up the line to distant central offices.
§ Mobilization of local resources. It is easier for locally based officials to identify local resources, both human and physical, and then mobilize them in the pursuit of locally determined developmental purposes. Officials should also be familiar with specific local constraints and the dynamics of local politics.
§ Rapid response to local needs. Officials are better placed to respond rapidly to local needs as they are in the territory and fully aware of local conditions.
§ Orientation to the specific local needs. Because officials know the local conditions, they are well placed to make decisions and allocate resources which fit with the specific conditions prevailing in a particular territory. Each sub-national territory may have some unique features which can be taken into account when planning and allocating resources.
§ Motivation of field personnel. Appointed government officials are more motivated to perform well when they have greater responsibility for programs they manage.
§ Inter-office coordination. Coordination between offices dealing with different functions is more easily achieved at the local level where officials are physically close together and are often familiar with each other.
§ Central agencies. The decentralization of service functions relieves central agencies of routine tasks. Responsibility for these has been passed down to the local level. Central agencies can thus focus on improving the quality of policy. Monitoring local-level performance and providing assistance to sub-national units are key element of this reformulated central government role.
However, the potential for adverse consequences has also been recognized (Fesler, 1959; Smith, 1985, in Turner, 2002: 355). Distant central bureaucracies may simply be replaced by mini-bureaucracies at the local level which display many of the maladies exhibited by their parent institutions. Local officials may still be habituated to work according to central regulations and be unwilling or unable to respond effectively to local preferences and conditions. Local administrators may still opt for directing and controlling, rather than engaging in participatory partnerships. The quality of local officials may limit their capacity for innovation and even efficiency. Inadequate and/or unpredictable budgets may aggravate these capacity constraints. Continued orientation to national agencies by local officials may inhibit cooperation among local-level officials. Communications with central agencies may be weak, etc.
Considering that both decentralization and deconcentration have the same probability to produce positive or negative impacts, they shouldn’t be placed in a dichotomy principle; it should be seen as a complementary relationship. This kind of synergy reflects a continuum along the decentralization – deconcentration pendulum.
In the dichotomy principle, decentralization and deconcentration is replacing or overwhelming each other. There is only one choice available, either decentralization or centralization (deconcentration). Meanwhile, in the continuum principle, decentralization is complement to deconcentration. In addressing such dilemma, UNDP (1999: 3) concludes that decentralization is not an alternative to centralization; both are needed. Similarly, Cummings (1995: 109) also alleges that the question of centralization or decentralization is simply a matter of proportion; it is a matter of finding the optimum degree for the particular concern.
3. Dispersal of Power as the Essence of Decentralization/Deconcentration
The basic idea on the grounds to implement decentralization and deconcentration is to divide and distribute powers among local governments and between central and local government. This aims at preventing concentration of powers which is the characteristic of centralistic anthoritarian regime. By decentralizing powers while deconcentrating some specific authorities, two objectives may be achieved: effective developmental government and participatory democratic governance at the same time.
(in Prasojo, 2008) illustrates that national state is too small to deal with
huge problems, but it is too big to pay attention to tiny problems. Bell
Deconcentration itself constitutes a sharing of responsibility among multi-tiered of government. That’s why deconcentrated administrations exist in all countries (OECD, 1997). At the Ministerial Symposium on the Future of Public Services -- the first OECD meeting at the Ministerial level on public management -- held in
in March 1996, the Statement by the Chair (Alice Rivlin) noted that: Paris
“Developments are forcing, as well as enabling, changes in the structure and boundaries of government. There has long been a debate about the size of government, as well as whether to centralize or decentralize. We must now be willing to move in both directions -- decentralizing some functions while centralizing other critical policy-making responsibilities. Such changes are under way in all countries.”
As a model of power sharing and responsibility dispersal, both decentralization and deconcentration should be posed as an integrated part of nation building, so that functions among different levels of government become clear. In Indonesian context, decentralization Law of 2004 stipulates that the management of (central) government is applying the principles of decentralization, assistance task, and deconcentration. While the management of local government is applying the principles of self-autonomy and assistance task (Article 20 verse 2, 3).
The law emphasizes that both decentralization and deconcentration are not the principles in local government management as recently understood. It means that decentralization and deconcentration would be designed fully by central government, including its controlling and responsibility system. As a result of new decentralization framework, local governments’ authorities are getting wider, while central governments’ roles tend to be shrinking. In such situation, however, the central still occupy the single right to uphold national integrity and sovereignty. On behalf of national integrity, central government keeps absolute rights of “intervention” over the lower government levels, such as supervision, monitoring and evaluation, performance assessment and appraisal, etc. In that sense, the rights to interfere might be executed by ministerial or non-ministerial bodies in central level, or by local offices/branches of central government.
The best composition between decentralization and deconcentration in
indeed an ongoing process. It implies that degree of contribution of the two
principles is not clearly identified yet. Besides, the ideal balance of the two
principles is not obviously described as well. Ironically, deconcentration is
commonly recognized as a complement to decentralization. The urgency and
relevance of deconcentration is not proportionally acknowledged. Indonesia
It can be concluded that any alternative chosen, whether decentralization or deconcentration, has to contribute to the implementation of national policies within the regions. In other word, decentralization or deconcentration is not an objective; it is merely an instrument to support national policies in realizing national objectives.
4. Cross-country experiences on deconcentration and decentralization
As broadly accepted, either unitary or federal states may apply decentralized or centralized system, though the pendulum tends to move to the decentralized side. Among unitary or federal states, centralization practices are more easily observed in the first type. Because, the process of state formation in this type is not preceded by any agreement between the small states that already exist.
From Latin America region, centralized unitary state is represented by
Ryan (2004: 82) conveys that centralist tradition in that country is among the
strongest in Costa Rica Latin America. Efforts to move
away from this tradition over the past 25 years can be almost uniformly
characterized as tepid, disjointed, and ultimately unsuccessful. The
decentralization discourse was characterized primarily by ambiguity, as quoted
“…on the one hand, in their verbal and written statements [central political leaders] would affirm their support for decentralization and strengthening municipal government while in institutional practice they acted to strengthen the classical centralist model…. One is left with the impression that [these leaders] are in agreement with decentralization in any form that does not touch centralism.”
Comparable picture can be observed in the European countries. According to Jeffery and Wincott, 2006: 3),
has a reputation as one of the more centralized regime in contemporary Europe. The is in many respects
a highly centralized political system, with power formally concentrated in a
famously—or notoriously—strong and putatively sovereign parliament. Goldsmith
and United Kingdom Newton (1983: 216) also note that central
government has always been powerful in Britain,
which, with ,
is one of the most highly centralized, unitary states in the western world, but
in the last few years the centre has further consolidated its power by
increasing its legal, political, and financial control over local authorities. France
Other apparent centralized state can be scrutinized among
East and North African (MENA) countries. Overall, local government
systems in the MENA region can be characterized as a form of deconcentration rather than one of
devolved local self-government. In general, the public administration
system is highly centralized, equipped with an elaborate system of
deconcentrated field offices of line agencies. Decisions for the most part,
especially service delivery decisions, are made by the central government and
the role of subnational authorities is largely confined to carrying these out.
In the region, the general trend is to have two distinct types of local
government units: deconcentrated and decentralized (municipal) units. The
operations of these two types of local governments are subject to totally
different rules. In all countries, the deconcentrated units of the central
government provide a big chunk of public services, including health and
education, under strict guidance of the central government. Whereas,
decentralized units (generally municipalities) perform limited number of
functions such as street paving and maintenance, construction of local roads,
street lighting, garbage collection, library and park services, and issuing
permits for constructions (Tosun 2008: 7).
decentralization policy blends a deconcentration of service responsibilities
with an allocation of rights that resembles devolution. The latter, however, is
much less developed than the former, although provinces have considerably more
power and autonomy than sub-provincial entities. Even provinces are subject to
minimum expenditure requirements in some sectors, and the central government
still sets rates on major sources of revenue.”
(Smoke 2005: 29) Vietnam
decentralization is relatively unique. Following elections brokered by the
United Nations (UN) in 1993, the center reclaimed power from provincial
governors—who had previously ruled with a free hand—in order to impose
discipline on the intergovernmental system. Reforms adopted in 2001 led to the
election of commune councils and provided them small intergovernmental
transfers without formal service responsibilities or own-source revenues. This
approach focuses on meeting immediate community needs and developing trust
between citizens and the government as a first step in decentralization.
Provincial reforms have been limited (Smoke, 2005: 27). Cambodia
became more of a political imperative in the late 1990s, which is based upon the two new laws drafted in 1999, known as big-bang
decentralization. The two laws drastically altered the
national-subnational relations by transferring powers, taxes, funds, and
personnel to the regions. The authority of the central government has been
devolved to subnational governments except for defense, diplomatic, judicial,
fiscal, and religious policies. The hierarchical relationship between the
province (the first-level subnational government) and the district/municipality
(the second-level subnational government) has been abolished (Ito 2006: 139).
However, Under the new decentralization law of 2004, the relationship between
province and district/municipality government has been slightly amended, by
which governor is given new tasks of coordination, guidance and supervision
over district/municipality government (article 38 Law 32/2004). In addition,
regional heads (provincial governors and district heads) are no longer
appointed by the central government, but are elected by and accountable to
regional parliaments (at the respective level). Indonesia
As a result of such massive decentralization, the deconcentrated agencies of central government have, for the most part, been abolished, but provinces continue to represent the center in certain instances. It means that governor is the head of provincial autonomous region, which is decentralization, and agent of the central government, which is deconcentration, simultaneously. The governor is responsible for implementing minimum standard of service and doing supervision to local government (district and city/municipal) on behalf of central government.
As decentralization is getting more developed, deconcentration turns into diverse side. Tambunan (2000: 54) notifies that deconcentration in Indonesia is still blurred through his following statement: “ ... the two laws, which are theoretically meant to complement each other, still leave the specific areas of deconcentration unclear, and have not specified the regional/local agents in the delegation process. In short, there is still uncertainty in defining decentralization in
Since decentralization and deconcentration is an inter-connected concept, obscurity of deconcentration policy design, for sure, will affect the implementation of decentralization packages. It implies that strengthening of decentralization should be simultaneously accomplished with refurbishment of deconcentration design. This is sort of homework for future decentralized
is indubitably an outstanding example of unitary state practicing
deconcentration principle. France
is a typical unitary state having long-rooted history that makes it essential
as a reference in the study of deconcentration and decentralization. France
In the political organization of
the so-called ‘Jacobean logic’ plays an important role. The logic is best
summarized by the expression ‘L’une et indivisible République’ (the one
and indivisible Republic) which stands for a tendency towards centralization
and uniformity (Edwards and Hupe 2000: 1). France is also known as a type of
the ‘Napoleonic state’, which integrates the nation through a single
territorial administrative structure. Sub-national units (e.g. ‘departments’)
represent subdivisions of the national administration and are governed by a
‘prefect’ who is an agent of the central government. From the administrative
point of view, the vertically integrated structure of the Napoleonic state
makes it an archetype of a unitary state (Ansell and
Gingrich 2003: 142). France
There has been significant decentralization across several of the Napoleonic states, including
France, Italy, and . In Belgium , there
were no major decentralization reforms until 1982. The 1982 reforms created a
regional level of government composed of multiple departments and a new tier of
elected government. This act also restricted multiple office-holding among
sub-national officials and reduced the power of the prefect (Ansell and Gingrich 2003: 147). Likewise, OECD
(1997: 18) notes that the 1982 decentralisation plan gave full independence to
the regions and the départements in a range of areas such as education,
economic support measures, and local transport. It also gave responsibility for
the construction and maintenance of primary schools to the municipalities,
while retaining responsibility for most other education policy at the central
Before 1982, however, administrative districts (circonscriptions administratives) have no legal embodiment or autonomy as opposed to sub-national governments. The administrative districts are run by state officials who are hierarchically subordinate to the Prime Minister and the ministers in
. In that period, hence, the distinction
between sub-national governments and administrative districts is relevant
(Edwards and Hupe 2000: 2). Paris
Then in 1982 there is significant progress on decentralization policy in
by the enactment of Law on the Rights and
Liberties of Communes, Departments and Regions, also known as Loi
Deferre. Knapp dan Wright (2000: 357) assertively pronounces 1982
appears as a turning point in central-local government relations in France , since
they really were transformed, in legal terms, by the flurry of decentralization
legislation. Nevertheless, it is important to notify that even though
the French system of government has gone through many major changes, the
underlying culture has remained the same. This culture entails a broad consensus
being a centralized nation, as laid down in the Constitution’s 20th Article;
the central government decides and directs the nation’s policy. This central
dominance affects the position of sub-national governments, which are
considered subordinate to the centre. More in general, it affects the relations
between the state and society (Edwards and Hupe 2000: 1). France
In 2003-2004, 20 years after the great reform of 1982, a new impetus was given to decentralization, still in the same spirit of consolidation and a search for balance between central and local powers. Therefore,
is experiencing a dual
delegation of power: on the one hand to local elected officials, which is
decentralization, and on the other to the appointed representative in the region,
which is deconcentration. From the perspective of deconcentration function, the
Prefect is the agent of the state’s authority and the delegate of the
prime minister and of each minister in the territory, and responsible for
national interests, administrative control and respect of the law. France
French’s experience shows a general drift that the reform of public administration is still running to find the best composition on the role of central and local government. This means that decentralization and deconcentration is seen as a reciprocal relationship, instead of a contradictive approach.
Based on the above explanation, it can be formulated the research problem as follows: the implementation of deconcentration function in
is relatively weak as an
instrument to assure the national policy within the regions. Such kind
of weakness, in turn, leads to the implementation limpness between
deconcentration and decentralization functions (asymmetrical implementation). Indonesia
The weak implementation of deconcentration function itself might be contributed by the following more specific problems:
1. Unclear in the delegated authority of deconcentration functions. Governor as central representative in the region (deconcentration body) has no clear and specific authorities delegated from ministerial/non-ministerial institutions.
2. Lack of deconcentration apparatur in the region. The only central representative officer in the region is governor, but he doesn’t have deconcentration staffs and secretariat.
3. Weakness in financial management of deconcentration fund. There is no standar guideline among ministeries regarding the financial management (from planning to reporting) on deconcentration funds. As a result, there are many cases found of improperly usage of such funds. In addition, there is an indication that deconcentration fund is somewhat overlapping with that of decentralization.
Problem statement above illustrates that Indonesian government is not serious enough in designing and implementing deconcentration as a tool to maintain fruitful synergy among different level of government. This situation is reflecting a way of thinking that deconcentration is not a priority and not an important function in terms of managing relationship across government as well as implementing national policies within the regions.
Considering that, the research question would be: “Is deconcentration really relevance in assuring national policy within the region, as well as strengthening local development in
relevance of deconcentration itself might be scrutinized from various
perspectives, i.e. the degree, the substance, and the subject. Indonesia
1. To describe the relevance of deconcentration in assuring national policy within the region, as well as strengthening local development in
2. To propose a policy recommendation on effective deconcentration based on historical perspective and cross-country experience. This is expected to bring about the new equilibrium between deconcentration and decentralization.
The first step to build comprehensive concept on deconcentration is identifying empirical phenomena and facts (existing condition). The next step would be analyzing causalities and possible alternatives to improve the situation. In the step of analysis, literature review and cross-country experiences would be very beneficial. Therefore, this study will be applying three approaches as follows:
1. Theoretical approach, to elaborate basic concept of deconcentration and its relation to decentralization, advantages and disadvantages of two concepts, and varied models likely to be applied.
2. Comparative experimental approach, to observe and to compare the implementation of deconcentration in some countries, particularly unitary states. From such comparison, we can draw a lesson learned to be adopted in the context of Indonesian government system.
3. Normative empirical approach, to elucidate the current regulation on deconcentration and its impact on the governmental programs both in central and local level.
Those three approaches, in turn, will be exercised to formulate deconcentration model which is more precise for unitary state like
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 This part is mostly excerpted from my publication titled Balancing decentralization and deconcentration: emerging need for asymmetric decentralization in the unitary states, Discussion Paper No. 174, Graduate School of International Development (GSID),
August 2009. Nagoya University, Japan
 Centralization might be transformed into two different variants, concentrated centralization and deconcentrated centralization. Such variation leads, in turn, to a misleading conception that deconcentration have been perceived as, more or less, identical to centralization.