Post-Legislative Scrutiny (PLS) is a traditional role of parliaments but one that has not always been consistently performed. Many parliaments have adopted a systematic approach to PLS within their committee structures. The Indonesian House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat - DPR) is one of the parliaments that have implemented innovative ways of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of PLS.
Evolution of post-legislative scrutiny in Indonesia
There has been a role for PLS in the DPR since 2004 but it is only after 2014 that a legislation committee started conducting a formal process. The focus of the committee is mainly on legal aspects, which includes whether a specific legislation has been challenged in a constitutional court. It uses the results of the PLS to plan the next legislative agenda as well as to determine whether a specific legislation needs to be repealed or amended.
The DPR established the Parliamentary Expert Support Agency which in turn hosts the Centre for Post-Legislative Scrutiny - a professional support centre whose role is to provide research and support services for the Standing Committee on Legislation and other subject committees relating to PLS. The Centre develops an annual plan to monitor and evaluate laws of national interest, laws that have a great impact on the national budget, and laws that are being challenged by the public at the constitutional court.
In September 2019, the DPR adopted amendments to the law on the legislation-making process whereby PLS became mandatory at both the national and local parliamentary level. That was a significant inroad in further embedding the importance of PLS in the functions of the DPR and ensuring that PLS became a formal part of the law-making process in Indonesia.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) has been supporting since 2015 the enhancement and innovations in PLS in Indonesia. Projects to date have focused on the inclusivity of evidence-based policymaking and internal accountability. The aim is to ensure that PLS is carried out in a systematic and formal way within parliament. The approach taken by the Standing Committee on Legislation on PLS is the one set out in WFD’s PLS guide for parliaments.
Strengths, benefits and challenges of PLS for the DPR
The importance of appropriate human resource capacity cannot be overstated when it comes to conducting PLS. The DPR is well resourced in terms of parliamentary and professional experts; each committee is supported by 10 to 20 experts at any given time. The challenge for the DPR in this respect however is that, while expert support is provided by research professors whose promotion is determined by the standards set by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, these research parameters can conflict with parliamentary activities. Often there is a clear disconnect which indicates that there is a need to align academic research to the research needs of the DPR.
The inclusion of PLS is ever evolving the aim being to improve law-making and encourage better regulation. PLS in the DPR has also evolved over time and is now regulated by law. Future opportunities include considering how civil society can be better linked to the PLS process.
DPR’s efforts show that improvements in PLS can be undertaken incrementally over time from the most unfavorable of circumstances, the unavailability of resources or the absence of a legal framework. Nevertheless, given a political will, PLS continues to be extremely important particularly when the objective is to improve legislation to meet human rights established standards.
For further Information on the PLS in Indonesia please contact:
The Indonesian Parliament
Agus Wijayanto, WFD: Indonesia Country Representative