This study examines the role of public oversight in evidence-based policy-making, and the capacity of civil society to exercise it effectively in Indonesia. The focus is on parliamentary oversight (e.g. select committees), though it will also look at other formal institutions mandated to examine the legal and/or substantive merits of policy and administrative actions in the public interest, such as: judicial review, and administrative and constitutional courts and tribunals; as well as public enquiries (funds and time permitting).
In countries with established traditions of democratic oversight, these institutions are relatively strong, and provide important channels for CSOs to secure policy change. In India, for example, Judicial Review of forest policy in response to public interest writs by CSOs led the Supreme Court to effectively set policy on land titling and cutting bans – based largely on narratives promoted by CSOs.
Indonesia, as a society where public oversight is still finding its feet following the 1997 overthrow of the Soeharto regime. Amongst others, rapid decentralisation has empowered local legislatures with active committee structures. Yet their capacity to provide effective policy oversight is hampered, not just by local power relations, but also by the lack of technical expertise in policy analysis.