World Bank Policy Reports

Mapping Indonesia’s Civil Service (with Audrey Sacks, Jan Pierskalla, and Adam Lauretig)

Executive Summary:

Indonesia’s civil service has expanded by 25 percent in the last 12 years, which presents opportunities for the government of Indonesia (Gol) to work toward the goal of reducing poverty and enhancing social welfare. Yet, civil servants must be skilled, knowledgeable, and effective at their jobs to maximize their contribution to society and the economy.

This report examines an original data set constructed from GoI data on all the country’s active civil servants to examine personal characteristics including age, gender, education level (which proxies for skill), and promotions. It addresses two important questions:

  1. Are highly skilled and knowledgeable workers currently being attracted, recruited, and promoted? The study finds that Indonesia’s civil service recognizes merit in practice, elevating highly skilled civil servants to leadership positions. Civil servants with a postgraduate education are now twice as likely to be promoted as before 1999. Yet there are discrepancies in the educational background of frontline service providers across Indonesia. Better-qualified teachers and medical personnel are concentrated in wealthier regions. For example, over 67 percent of teachers in Java have a four-year university degree, compared with only 54 percent in Papua and West Papua.

  2. Are civil servants from historically underrepresented groups, including women, being given equal opportunities for advancement and promotion? The data show large variation in gender balance between government departments at both the national and subnational levels. Men dominate the management-level positions at both levels of government, particularly at the top levels. Women are about 1 percentage point less likely than men to be promoted in a given year, and the gender penalty for women increased by 1 percentage point after 1999, particularly in the early stages of their careers.

The study recommends government action in three policy areas:

  1. Increase promotion opportunities for women and increase their overall representation in senior positions by 1) creating a leadership program that facilitates networking and mentoring for female civil servants; 2) encouraging more female graduates to apply to the civil service; and 3) initiating a high-level dialogue to implement solutions to the gender-based promotion penalty. A leadership program could help identify young talent that could enter the echelon scale and ensure there are sufficient numbers of women in talent pools for promotions.

  2. Distribute skilled civil servants more evenly throughout the country by improving the incentives for highly skilled service providers to rotate into poor and remote regions.

  3. Plan for the upcoming wave of retirements within the civil service by recruiting more women from top universities and hiring medical and teaching staff only from licensed and accredited institutions.