Omas Bulan Samosir: Quality Data for Indonesia Onward


Omas Bulan Samosir: Quality Data for Indonesia Onward

Nino Eka Putra ~ FEB UI Public Relations Officer

DEPOK – Tuesday (29/9/2020), An article written by Omas Bulan Samosir, a professor and senior researcher at the Demography Institute, FEB UI, entitled “Data Berkualitas untuk Indonesia Maju” (Quality Data for Indonesia Onward), appeared on the Opinion page of  Kompas daily. Below is the complete article.

Quality Data for Indonesia Onward

National Medium-term Development Plan 2020–2024 lays out the goal of Indonesia’s Vision for 2045, namely Indonesia Onward. By 2045, Indonesia is expected to become a developed nation whose gross domestic product (GDP) ranks fifth in the world. The goal will be achieved through human resources and infrastructure development, deregulation, debureaucratization and economic transformation as outlined by the President.

To achieve the goal, national development should be planned and carried out based on quality data. Quality data are accurate, consistent, objective, relevant, complete, updated data that can be easily accessed by the general public free of charge. Quality data also require the application of metadata and data custodianship.

However, discrepancy in concept and definition as well as data collection method have caused discrepancy in data based on their sources, such as population data and poverty rate, causing confusion among data users. President Jokowi said that data discrepancy is partly to blame for non-optimal implementation of Indonesia’s development policies.

Quality data issues in Indonesia are identified as data processing, data output, data producers and data users. The problems of data processing are the mechanism of coordination among government ministries/agencies or statistical work units that is not clearly defined, a lack of communication among agencies responsible for methodology of statistical and information activities, and a lack of an integrated data and information portal to pool the data at government ministries/agencies/regional governments.

There is also a lack of a mechanism for data harmonization to address the problem of discrepancy of data at government ministries/agencies to produce statistics covering the same subject. Other challenges are data usage fees, data format that prevents easy processing and a lack of quality data assurance.

Changes in the demography, social condition and people’s economy, marked by higher human mobility, an increase in people’s income and individualism have also made data collection more difficult because people are not readily available for interview or are not willing to be interviewed.

Sources of problems

Issues related to data output are data inconsistency, data dispersed in sectoral agencies, non-comprehensive data coverage due to high reliance on reporting (both by citizens and data collection officers), a lack data quality assurance a gap between the required data and available data, and changes in sectoral data flow following the implemention of regional autonomy.

Data inconsistency is a crucial issue in Indonesia, triggered by, among other things, discrepancy in concept, definition, methodology in data collection, and estimation technique. For example, the size of population according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) is different from the size of population according to the data at the Directorate General of Population and Civil Registration. Efforts to harmonize the data at the two agencies were made through the 2020 census using the administrative data on population as basic data to produce data on the size, composition, distribution and characteristics of the population for a single dataset on Indonesia’s population.

Issues related to data producers are, among other things, non-standardized data format,  metadata delivery (year, objective, benefit, organizer, and person in charge of activity, variables collected and periodization, as well as data collection method, observation unit, and expected delivery level) has yet to be applied, a lack of information data custodians, unequal and limited technical capability of data producers, poor understanding of the important role of data in development planning, weak data processing capability, data treated as activity, limited scope of data production activity, and the ambiguous role of statistical data producers. Efforts should be made to strengthen the role of BPS and government ministries/agencies in producing basic data and sectoral data in line with the mandate of Law No 16/1997 of the Republic of Indonesia concerning Statistics.

Issues related to users are a lack of user understanding of the importance of data to formulate evidence-based policies, a lack of understanding about the use of data for development planning, a lack of internal dissemination of data across government ministries/agencies/regional governments, a lack of promotion and education about data, and a lack of trust among government ministries/agencies/regional governments.

To cite an example, a lack of understanding about the possible cause behind the discrepancy in birth rates based on the results of the Population Census and the Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey has caused confusion among data users who lack understanding of estimation technique, leading to debates about which data to use as the basis for development policy formulation.

The following strategies are crucial to ensure quality data for Indonesia Onward. First, strengthening data processing through the strengthening of the National Statistical System and Data and Information Centers at government ministries/agencies. Second, improving the quality of data output to produce quality data. Third, strengthening data producers and ensuring the use of similar or consensual standards, definition, classification, unit and assumption. Fourth, strengthening data users through better access to quality data. Fifth, increasing the capacity of data usage for development planning. Six, promoting the use of quality data in policy formulation, decision making, and program evaluation. (hjtp)

Source:  Kompas, daily, Tuesday, 29 September 2020 edition. Opinion Section, Page 7.