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PATHOLOGY OF SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN PARTICIPATORY LOCAL DEVELOPMENT BUDGETING (A CASE STUDY ON KELURAHAN DEVELOPMENT FUND IN SURAKARTA CITY, INDONESIA)

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Abstract

This article explained why the biased-meaning symptom of social accountability practice occurs in Kelurahan Development Fund (thereafter called DPK) management, despite its management procedure through budgeting democratization process and participatory public budgeting. Development fund management by kelurahan (administrative village) and society was a manifestation of social accountability given by Surakarta City government. Its procedure was based on democratic elements including society representation, discussion to make decision and community group of village areas as beneficiary. The analysis on case study showed that civil society as the strength of social accountability enforcer was vulnerable to pathological contamination. Behind the apparently democratic procedure, the author found some things biased from substantive democratic value. The bias found in this study pertained to the elitist role composed of community representative. Another form was patron-client embryo incubation between community activist and government. Those two bias forms attenuated the accountee " s social power among active citizens. Biased function symptom resulting in the abuse of social accountability substance value is called social accountability pathology. This pathological symptom occurred due to democratic process contaminated by co-modified culture. In this context, the exchange of power had occurred as commodity. This pathology impacted on the society " s decreased trust in the active role of citizens and attenuated the public " s awareness of public problems.
Advances In Global Business Research
Vol. 13, No. 1
ISSN: 1549-9332
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PATHOLOGY OF SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN PARTICIPATORY LOCAL
DEVELOPMENT BUDGETING (A CASE STUDY ON KELURAHAN
DEVELOPMENT FUND IN SURAKARTA CITY, INDONESIA)
Rutiana Dwi Wahyunengseh, Sebelas Maret University, Indonesia
Abstract
This article explained why the biased-meaning symptom of social accountability practice
occurs in Kelurahan Development Fund (thereafter called DPK) management, despite its
management procedure through budgeting democratization process and participatory public
budgeting. Development fund management by kelurahan (administrative village) and society
was a manifestation of social accountability given by Surakarta City government. Its
procedure was based on democratic elements including society representation, discussion to
make decision and community group of village areas as beneficiary. The analysis on case
study showed that civil society as the strength of social accountability enforcer was
vulnerable to pathological contamination. Behind the apparently democratic procedure, the
author found some things biased from substantive democratic value. The bias found in this
study pertained to the elitist role composed of community representative. Another form was
patron-client embryo incubation between community activist and government. Those two
bias forms attenuated the accountee‟s social power among active citizens. Biased function
symptom resulting in the abuse of social accountability substance value is called social
accountability pathology. This pathological symptom occurred due to democratic process
contaminated by co-modified culture. In this context, the exchange of power had occurred as
commodity. This pathology impacted on the society‟s decreased trust in the active role of
citizens and attenuated the public‟s awareness of public problems.
Keywords: social accountability, public budgeting, pathology
Introduction
This article discusses pathological trap found in the role of civil society as the power
encouraging the organization of social accountability practice in participatory public
budgeting process. Previous case studies proved that civil society can play its decisive role
in requiring the public officials to be accountable, but its success is dependent on a
number of favorable contexts and institutions (Grimes, 2013). This article shows that in
certain context, the role of civil society is always in pathological trap attenuating social
accountability substance. The case presented is pathological trap of civil society‟s role in
participatory public budgeting process.
The involvement of citizens in traditional literature is encouraged by competitive
external powers. The intended external power includes ruling politician, literate citizen,
other governmental institution, legal organization, and professional organization. Previous
studies found that the higher the external motivation of citizen participation to ask for
budgeting process accountability, the higher is the quality of government‟s social
accountability (Ruben, 2006; Sirker, 2007; Russell, 2011). The larger the number of
citizen actors active and sensitive to government performance, the stronger is the demand
for social accountability (Clarke and Missingham, 2009).
Public participation in social accountability of budget sector has been initiated since
1980 in Brazil. Activist encouraged an initiative to confront the community and its
members (citizen) in the attempt of voting for budget priority. They submitted the result of
meeting to government and urged the government inform the priority of public budget
policy and its implementation. A study on public budgeting theory shows that public
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budgeting is replete with interest contestation and negotiation process between budget
actors. For that reason, public budgeting should be associated with a social accountability
mechanism in the attempt of escorting the just government governance. Theoretically, the
importance of accountability norm and transparency is well-established in public
budgeting, but it implementation is often inconsistent (Morgan, 2002; Wildavsky and
Caiden, 2012). Franklin and Raadschelders (2004) wrote that the next stage of budgeting
approach as budget politics is democratic ethos approach. This approach views that public
budgeting builds on equality, justice and constitutional value principles.
Democratic ethos presupposes that budgeting actor should explain budget
information transparently to the public to prevent the certain group from coming
inappropriate action thereby in contradiction with the democratic principles of determining
budget allocation. Democratic ethos aspect of public budgeting explains that public
budgeting is not merely figures (numbers), but also political process. There is always a
conflict of interest between interest groups in budgeting process, for example, the conflict
between efficiency principle and program effectiveness, and political leadership
aspiration, and the conflict concerning to which group responsiveness and accountability
is prioritized. Interest contestation is inevitable so that a mechanism should be created that
replaces this bargaining with arguing habit (Morgan, 2002; Rubin, 2006, Kelly &
Rivenbark, 2011).
In certain environment condition, the transparency of budgeting information
conditions the society to require more accountability as answerability rather than
accountability as responsibility (Robin, 2006; Tembo 2013). This sample case occurs in
Dekalp, when public officials give accountability information to citizen. The officials in
Delkalb obligatorily explain the reason justifying the government‟s choice decision in
public dialog so that they can support the government‟s decision. Dialogue space is made
using mass media.
The political character of public budgeting results in critical room leading to social
accountability pathology. Social accountability pathology means a condition disturbing the
functioning of social accountability system substantively. Social accountability system can
run procedurally, but substantively the dysfunction occurs, leading to an unaccountable
condition. The finding above suggests that information transparency can prevent certain
group from committing opportunistic action. This proposition is opposed by Jonathan A.
Fox (2015) finding that information transparency alone cannot always activate the public‟s
awareness of requiring social accountability. It leads the community-driven development
to be captured frequently and socially by local elites (Mansuri and Rao, 2013). He also
found that another trap of participatory program is no actual collective overseeing despite
available participative mechanism. In addition, the trap of community‟s fear of voicing
becomes an opportunity to stimulate the infertility of social accountability function.
Pathological trap within civil society results from the actor‟s opportunistic behavior
tendency as suggested by agency theory that both agent and principal have hidden interest
potentially resulting in opportunistic behavior (Mitnick, 2013). Civil society variable in
social accountability refers to activity density of civil society group and the extent to
which the public pressure is to ask for the government‟s accountability. Social
accountability concept assumes that community group acts and is partial to community
group it represents so that it can preclude public resource stealing for elite group. The fact
shows that community group tends to behave opportunistically and to acts unaccountably
(Yang and Callahan, 2005 and Falaschetti, 2009). It is the paradox of civil society that
potentially generates social accountability pathology.
A study on civil society shows that the character of relationship between civil
society groups and between civil society and government is very decisive by power
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interest and it can change any time (Ackman, 2012). Certain group can take anti-
democratic stance by committing violence directly or indirectly (uncivilly), domination
and marginalizing other groups. Such the activity will harm mutual interest value
reciprocally (Chamber and Kopstein, 2001;Fung, 2003; Vitale, 2006; Cornwall and
Coelho, 2007; Ackman, 2012; Hoppe and Kondrikova, 2012). The power of society group,
in addition to potentially improving accountability, can result in pressure for other society
group as well. Thus, such the pressure can reduce other groups‟ capability of influencing
the ruling group. Government tends to refuse input from the suspected group and
considers it as a harmful problem. The competition for domination among these society
groups are often utilized as the opportunity of participating in political transaction interest
in the name of public interest (Yang and Callahan, 2005).
In conclusion, the role of civil society of asking for social accountability (demand
driven) and government‟s decision to involve the public (society) in participatory
budgeting, in addition to potentially improving social accountability, likely generates
democratic meaning deviation from the social accountability mechanism. What is the form
of social accountability pathology in the case of Kelurahan Development Fund (DPK)
implementation in Surakarta City, Central Java Province, Indonesia? Why does the
pathology occur in the context of participatory public budgeting? The following section
will address these problems.
Result
The management of Kelurahan Development Fund or Kelurahan Grant thereafter
called DPK represents the society‟s behavior of being accountable for public resource
given to it. The committee of Kelurahan Development, thereafter called PPK, acting as
accountor should be accountable socially to citizen and formally to city government. One
pillar of social accountability is society‟s capability of understanding the accountability
and acting accountably. The history of DPK policy release is the part of civil society
activist‟s pressure to develop a democratic budgeting planning. This attempt is initiated by
IPGI (Indonesian Partnership on Local Governance Initiative) in 2001 for fiscal
devolution trial in the form of blockgrant for kelurahan. DPK is a miniature of social
accountability for government budget democratization in the attempt of answering the
public‟s questions: “What can we manage directly in our territory?” The management of
DPK fund gives deliberation space within the society to determine budget allocation in its
kelurahan scope. The members of society discuss from planning, writing activity proposal,
executing the activity to writing responsibility report. Development is planned,
implemented and overseen by the society itself. The utilization of DPK fund is facilitated
by TP3K (Tim Pengawal Perencanaan Pembangunan Kelurahan = Kelurahan
Development Planning Escort Team) and monitored by DPK‟s Monev (Monitoring and
Evaluating) Team trained and facilitated by facilitator honorarium by Bappeda (Local
Development Planning Agency). The members of TP3K and of Monev Team have
legitimate assignment based on the Mayor‟s Decree.
The story of citizen forum cooptation symptom was obtained from a study on the
implementation of DPK during 2009-2011 conducted by Yayasan Solo Kota Kita (YSKK)
NGO.
The result of study shows the elite-biased implementation of DPK. Bias is indicated
with activity inconsistent with planning (musrenbang = Development Planning
Discussion). The percentage budget use for LMK (Kelurahan Society Institution)‟s
operation is substantial, more than 45 percents, so that the fund implemented to the society
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is very small. Social accountability pathology in DPK case results from government and
citizen forum. From the government side, DPK is given to citizen to accommodate some
suggestion in musrenbang kelurahan that is not accommodated in RKPD (Rencana Kerja
Pemerintah Daerah/Annually local development planning) as the strategy to reduce the
citizen‟s disappointment. Giving the citizens the space to manage budget directly
continuously is expected to make them support the government. The hierarchy of PPK is
generally composed of society leaders close to government. It indirectly solidifies the
cooptation structure of government over citizen forum. Mayor‟s regulation contains
technical instruction of DPK use to be PPK controller as the government activity executive
agency. The procedure of applying for grant proposal and report to government provides
the government an administrative control space. In this way, unconsciously, the forum of
territory citizen at kelurahan level experiences is co-opted by government. Citizen forum
no longer debates the ideological reason of allocation accountability and budget use, but
only becomes a routine executor of budget ration.
From society side, the representation of PPK as DPK manager reflects the
domination structure of society elite. The citizens‟ less awareness of and submission to
PPK confirms the emergence of elite domination pathology and forum co-modification.
Although information on DPK fund amount and its use rule has been published, the
transparency of information not always encourages the collective revival to look for social
accountability or to act as social accountee. The presence of citizen in PPK becomes a co-
modifiable capital when it is needed to support legitimacy of proposed activity. PPK
policy to modify the self-help contribution value of society facilitated by DPK is intended
to relieve the society‟s burden of paying self-help money due. Substantively, however, this
policy inherits corruption pathology in the form of budget data mark up despite an excuse
that it is not forum‟s fault but it only makes regulation adjustment. This phenomenon
reflects on buck passing (throwing the responsibility away) pathology, meaning that PPT
states that it cannot be blamed for the policy it develops to relieve the citizen‟s burden.
They only do their responsibility of securing the common duty. In addition, this practice
also inherits the culture of dependency on government‟s gift thereby increasing cooptation
opportunity and decreasing the community‟s critical power. Despite the design for budget
democratization practice, in DPK management by PPK in Surakarta City, not all of
RT/RWs (Neighborhood Community) hold discussion. Development discussion in
environment level, called known Musling (Musyawarah Lingkungan = Neighbourhood
General Meeting), is institutionalized as a social accountability forum. Social
accountability principle assumes that this forum is established to debate and to dialogue
problems and community need priority. In fact, however, this forum is not functioned as
the social accountability confirming forum, but as the forum legitimating the proposal the
RT/RWs have developed. Even some RT/RWs do not hold environment discussion; they
only fill in the form of activity proposals to be brought into musrenbang kelurahan. Thus,
the society representative plays its role as elite that dominates and co-opt the voice of
society it represents.
The phenomena found in this DPK case confirms the relevance of agency theory‟s
basic principle believed in, in which information and hidden interest between principal and
agent bring about opportunistic behavior. Social accountability pathology in DPK case
occurs when the link of supply driven and demand driven has been contaminated by
personal interest motive tending to be opportunistic. Information asymmetry of budget
becomes the source of information co-modification pathology. Community elite group in
DPK case is PPK group understanding the budget that use information it has for personal
interest or for power negotiation. The interaction of supply and demand driven in social
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accountability institution contributes to resulting in a pseudo-social accountability forum,
because it has been contaminated by pathology.
This pathology incidence shows that the accountability of budget decision maker is
still oriented to the fulfillment of demand (accountability as responsibility). Normatively,
the accountability of public budget is the government‟s and DPRD (Local Legislative
Assembly)‟s ability of answering/explaining to citizen as accountee (accountability as
answerability). The accountability as answerability orientation is marginalized because of
cooptation pathology and co-modification of social accountability forum.
In conclusion, the form of pathology found in DPK case in Surakarta City includes
cooptation, elite domination, buck-passing, and co-modification. The form of pathology
results because the power relation environment is dominated by patron-client relationship
and co-modification is packaged in the format of formality culture and democratic
procedure.
1. Conclusions
General conclusion that can be drawn from this DPK case is formulated in the
following propositions. Firstly, pathology occurs due to the interaction between
accountability social elements: accountor, accountee, and social accountability forum
running in formality culture-oriented bureaucratic environment and co-modification-
oriented civil society environment. Secondly, the representation of publics in a social
accountability forum, co-opted by a procedural forum mechanism, results in
elitist/exclusive/dominative accountability. Thirdly, supply-driven formality of social
accountability institution creates forum cooptation thereby resulting in a pseudo-social
accountability. Fourthly, contestation of civil society group interest triggers forum co-
modification thereby accountee becomes infertile. Fifthly, elite domination, forum
cooptation, forum co-modification, and infertile accountee contribute to generating a
pseudo-social accountability. Sixthly, the intensity of social accountability mechanism in a
democratic value-based budgeting planning process not automatically impacts on the
improved accountable budgeting quality when its pathology is not reduced. Seventhly,
social accountability pathology can be reduced when the quality of democratic system and
bureaucratic environment is improved, from formal procedural-orientation to substantive
orientation.
This study‟s findings recommend further researches to be conducted on the critical
variables affecting the accountor and accountee‟s attitude oriented to accountability as
answerability, rather than removing the obligation or co-modification of forum. Practical
reformation policy of democratic and bureaucratic system oriented to the ability of
answering/explaining argument uses evidence to the public (accountability as
answerability). The internalization of accountability as answerability paradigm is
recommended as the strategy of reducing the risk of democratic system and bureaucratic
practice organization that is biased-responsibility in its patron/client/constituent‟s need so
that the meaning of social accountability is dwarfed.
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