The role of street-level bureaucrats in citizen participation: analysing the impact of the public comment mechanism on Indonesia’s supreme audit institution

Wahyudi, Muhammad ORCID: 0000-0002-1843-6422 (2022). The role of street-level bureaucrats in citizen participation: analysing the impact of the public comment mechanism on Indonesia’s supreme audit institution. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Internationally, Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), which carry out the external audit of public sector bodies, have started to acknowledge the importance of citizens in helping them to fulfil their mandate. SAIs are implementing innovative citizen engagement approaches, which consider inputs or comments from the citizens in their work. However, little is known about how these citizen engagement practices are designed and implemented or, for that matter, the impact of such engagement on the audit process. In response, the introduction, evolution, and impact of Public Comment Mechanisms (PCM) in the audit process is investigated through a case study of Indonesia’s SAI known as BPK (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan).
The case study is based on 42 interviews with BPK officials at both the national and provincial levels, and a secondary analysis of a public comment dataset and associated official documents. The thesis finds that PCM design choices shaped which citizens were motivated to participate, the level of public engagement with the SAI, and the degree of administrator discretion. The research shows that the volume of engagement reduced over time because of a range of factors, including the lack of citizen skills and knowledge, and a reluctance and lack of effort on the part of officers to inform or upskill citizens on how to participate. It found that front-line officers acting as ‘street-level bureaucrats’ who develop practices in dealing with public comments to make the task more manageable for them. These practices are shaped by factors including conditions of work, personal beliefs towards the citizen, the role of the first-line supervisor, and professional ethos and traditions. The research establishes that the majority of comments are not actually included in the audit process because they are judged not to meet officers' criteria.
These findings address an important gap in the literature through establishing a analytical framework for understanding citizen participation in SAIs, which focuses on both the ‘front-end’ (citizen engagement) and ‘back-end’ (officer response) of the process, and the connections between them. By bringing together insights from the established literatures on citizen participation and street-level bureaucracy, this framework can be applied to research on engagement in SAIs beyond Indonesia and within public organisations more generally.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Institute of Local Government Studies
Funders: Other
Other Funders: The Indonesia Endowment Funds for Education (LPDP)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia


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