When he won Indonesia’s October 2004 presidential election, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono found he had inherited a struggling land administration system that would block progress on some of his key policy initiatives. The National Land Agency (known by the abbreviation BPN, for Badan Pertanahan Nasional) managed records on landownership and transactions. But the organization was dogged by corruption, high costs, and delays. On average, it took 33 days, six visits to a local land office, and US$110 for landowners to register property transactions. In addition, the BPN held ownership records for only a third of the estimated 89 million land parcels on the thousands of islands in the sprawling archipelago. In keeping with his campaign pledge to spur rural development, Yudhoyono appointed a new leadership team to revamp the BPN and get the agency on track. The team partnered with the World Bank in a program to title unregistered land and then rolled out a new land database that digitally stored all new transactions, equipped vehicles to deliver mobile services in rural areas, and worked with other ministries to design a comprehensive OneMap for the country. Although the reforms improved efficiency and sharply increased the pace of property registration, 10 years after Yudhoyono’s election it remained clear that additional measures were still needed to reach the goal of a well-functioning, corruption-free, comprehensive, and sustainable land registry.
Leon Schreiber and Jordan Schneider drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Jakarta, Indonesia, in March and April 2015 as well as in October and November 2017. Case published December 2017.