finance administration

Changing a Civil Service Culture: Reforming Indonesia's Ministry of Finance, 2006-2010

Gordon LaForge
Country of Reform

By the mid-2000s, Indonesia had recovered from a devastating economic crisis and made significant progress in transitioning from a dictatorship to a democracy. However, the country's vast state bureaucracy continued to resist pressure to improve operations. In 2006, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tapped economist Sri Mulyani Indrawati to transform Indonesia's massive Ministry of Finance, which was responsible not only for economic policy making but also for taxes and customs. During four years as minister, Mulyani introduced new standard operating procedures, raised civil servant salaries, created a new performance management system, and cracked down on malfeasance. Her reforms turned what had once been a dysfunctional institution into a high performer. But ongoing resistance illustrated the difficulties and perils of ambitious bureaucratic reform in Indonesia.

This case study was drafted by Gordon LaForge based on research by Rachel Jackson, Drew McDonald, Matt Devlin, and Andrew Schalkwyk and on interviews conducted by ISS staff members from 2009 to 2015. Case published May 2016. Other ISS case studies provide additional detail about certain aspects of the reforms discussed in this case or about related initiatives. For example, see Instilling Order and Accountability: Standard Operating Procedures at Indonesia's Ministry of Finance, 2006-2007.

Gianni Brusati

Ref Batch
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Ashley McCants
Gianni Brusati
Interviewee's Position
United Nations Finance and Administration Officer and Adviser
Interviewee's Organization
National Electoral Commission in Sierra Leone
Date of Interview
Reform Profile

Gianni Brusati provides insight on election management based on his role as finance administration adviser to the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone.  He elaborates on the relationship between donor agencies and local personnel during the 2007 and 2008 elections, outlining the budget-management role of the United Nations and the mechanism for disbursing funds to local personnel.  He discusses the financial accountability structures in place, both in the commission headquarters and in the field, and suggests possible ways of improving the system.  Discussing planned post-electoral capacity building projects, Brusati outlines key focus areas, including training in financial planning and reporting.  He further suggests that the difficulty in designing electoral financial accountability systems lies mainly in the implementation of plans rather than their design.  He goes on to describe the steps involved in the recruitment and training of commission workers.  Brusati concludes by suggesting strategies that could help improve administration in future elections.    


At the time of this interview, Gianni Brusati was a United Nations finance and administration officer, acting as an adviser to the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone.  After spending a number of years working in business finance in London, Brusati went to Congo as a consultant for a non-governmental organization.  In 2006, he proceeded to Sierra Leone on a one-year fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, working as a technical adviser for Finance Salone, a local microfinance organization.  At the end of 2006, he was recruited into the U.N. Elections Unit, serving as finance and administration adviser to the electoral commission for the 2007 national elections.  Afterward, Brusati stayed in the country as a consultant for a diamond company.  A few months later, he was asked to resume his work as an adviser for the 2008 local elections.     

Full Audio File Size
38 MB
Full Audio Title
Gianni Brusati - Full Interview