In this interview, Marwanto Harjowiryano describes institutional reforms in the Ministry of Finance, most notably the introduction of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Dr. Marwanto discusses the fiscal reforms and priorities throughout his career beginning in the early 1980s. The bulk of his interview details the structure and implementation of reforms in the ministry. He explains how the reformers distributed the power of the budget office by separating the Treasury, the Fiscal Balance Office and the Budget Office. Next the ministry introduced SOPs in every service that directly contacted the public, beginning with several quick wins or excellent services in every directorate-general. The ministry intended the SOPs to reduce and standardize service times, while also reducing corruption by establishing accountability regarding the cost and time of services. Within the ministry, evaluation teams ensured directorate-generals properly implemented their SOPs and made credible promises. The ministry engaged with other government agencies to encompass various aspects of their reforms, and Dr. Marwanto describes these joint efforts. One challenge he describes is the difficulty of changing not only behavior but also culture, both within the directorate-general’s staff and among customers. A major element was human resources reform through the introduction of performance evaluations, and Dr. Marwanto details the steps of this initiative. He ends with comments on the sustainability and spirit of the reforms.
At the time of this interview, Dr. Marwanto Harjowiryano was Director-General of Fiscal Balance in the Ministry of Finance. He had recently served as an Executive Director at Asian Development Bank (ADB). He began his career with the Ministry of Finance in the early 1980s. He took on various roles in the ministry, including serving as the first spokesman for the ministry and as the Senior Advisor to the Minister of Finance under Sri Mulyani Indrawati. He then became the Chairman of Bureaucracy Reform, the position he describes in this interview. Dr. Marwanto earned a doctoral degree from Gadjah Mada Graduate University in Yogyakarta, where he also completed his bachelor’s degree in economics. During his time in the ministry he obtained a master’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University.