Discourses on the integration of research and development (R & D) units under Ministries/Institutions (K/L) into the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) emerged during the formation of the Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN in the Indonesa Maju Cabinet in October 2019. The integration is a mandate of the Law no 11 of 2019 concerning the National Science and Technology System (Sisnas Iptek).

The implementation of ‘integrated’ turned out to be multi-interpretational, as there was a tug of war between several parties. Some interpret ‘integrated’ as merging all K/L R&D units into a single body, namely BRIN. If this is implemented, all Non-Ministerial Government Institutions (LPNKs), namely Batan, BPPT, LAPAN, and LIPI will be lost. The LPNKs, which coordinate with the Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN, are hereinafter referred to as the Research and Technology LPNKs.

Another interpretation, ‘integrated’ is defined as simply to synergize planning, programs, budgets, and science and technology resources in accordance with the elucidation of Article 48 of the Law on National Science and Technology System. If this interpretation is used, the existence of Research and Technology LPNKs will not change.

The Minister of Research and Technology (Menristek) concurrently serving as the Head of BRIN at that time made a breakthrough. The idea, which was considered a middle course, designed a Research and Development Organization (OPL) as a transformation of Research and Technology LPNKs and the R & D cluster of K/Ls.

Reportedly, a presidential regulation (Perpres) regarding BRIN under the structure of Deputy and OPL had been signed by the President on 30 March 2020. Despite the case, there was apparently a problem with the structure. This made the draft Perpres that had been signed by the President not promulgated in the State Gazette.

One year after the draft Perpres had not yet been promulgated, at the end of March 2021, the Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN received a new draft Perpres on BRIN. The draft was immediately discussed among Research and Technology LPNKs. It was apparently the final draft which was ready to be signed by the President. Research and Technology LPNKs responded to the draft by immediately sending a letter to the President. In the letter to the President, several crucial things were proposed for improvement.

Aviation and Space Research Organization

LAPAN submitted several proposals related to Law 21 No. 2013 concerning Space Activities. The Space Law and Presidential Stipulation No. 49 No. 2015 stipulate LAPAN as a space activity organizing agency placed under the President. The letter of Research and Technology LPNKs did not immediately receive a response. Then Presidential Regulation No. 33 of 2021 concerning BRIN was issued on 28 April 2021.

The Presidential Regulation No. 33 of 2021 is considered to have yet fulfill the mandate of the Space Law. Therefore, LAPAN proposed the amendment to Presidential Decree 33/2021 (along with other inputs from internal BRIN and Research and Technology LPNKs), through the Head of BRIN.

There were two main things proposed by LAPAN. First, LAPAN is as an aerospace research and development institution (aviation and space) and its use is subject to the mandate of the National Science and Technology System Law. It was then realized that program integration would not be possible without budget integration.

Budget integration is also impossible to be performed without institutional integration. Hence, LAPAN was ready to integrate their research, development, and utilization of aviation and space science and technology into BRIN. At that time, LAPAN proposed the nomenclature of ‘Research Organization’ (RO) as a substitute for the OPL nomenclature.

As a comparison, the Indian and Korean space agencies also have the status of research organizations, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) and KARI (Korean Aerospace Research Institute). At that time it was also proposed that the name LAPAN be maintained, considering that ‘LAPAN’ was already known as the Indonesian space agency. So the nomenclature proposed is ‘Aeronautical and Space Research Organization (LAPAN)’.

Subsequently, with regard to organization of outer space activities, amendment or replacement of Presidential Decree No. 33 of 2021, LAPAN proposed to include the considerations of the Space Law and include the organization of outer space affairs as BRIN’s function. Then BRIN’s function of space organization was delegated to the Aviation and Space RO, which acted as the Indonesian space agency.

This proposal was accommodated in a substitute Presidential Regulation, namely Presidential Regulation No. 78 of 2021. Details on Aviation and Space RO are accommodated in BRIN Regulation on Organization and Work Procedure of the Aviation and Space Research Organization.

Initially, the Aviation and Space RO (LAPAN) consisted of 8 Centers (in the final draft of harmonization with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights), namely the Center for Space Science Research; Center for Atmospheric Science and Technology Research; Center for Remote Sensing Application Research; Center for Remote Sensing Technology and Data; Rocket Technology Center; Satellite Technology Center; Aviation Technology Center; and Center for Aviation and Space Standards Research.

These eight centers are transformation of 8 centers that existed prior to integration, some of them with nomenclature adjustment. The other two centers, the Center for Aviation and Space Information and Communication Technology (Pustikpan) and the Center for Policy Studies on Aviation and Space (PusKKPA) will be integrated respectively into BRIN’s Data and Information Center (Pudatin) and BRIN’s Deputy for Policy Research and Innovation. The bureaus are integrated into BRIN’s Main Secretariat. The Inspectorate is integrated into BRIN’s Main Inspectorate. While earth centers and stations in regions were not yet specifically regulated, and until then become the research facility for Research/Technology Centers in the Aviation and Space RO (LAPAN) in coordination with the Deputy for Infrastructure.

Why was it proposed to remain one RO? not follow LIPI which became four ROs. The main reason was that the continuity of an intact space agency (space agency) could be maintained. If it was split into several ROs, the Indonesian space agency would also disappear, because each fractional RO cannot be considered as a representation of the space agency. Meanwhile, BRIN cannot also be referred to a space agency, because its scope is very broad.

In subsequent developments, BRIN Regulation No. 5 of 2021 concerning the Tasks, Functions and Organizational Structure of the Aviation and Space Research only mentions 7 Research Centers/Technology Centers, namely the Space Research Center; Atmospheric Technology Research Center; Aviation Technology Center; Rocket Technology Center; Satellite Technology Center; Remote Sensing Technology and Data Center; and the Center for Aviation and Space Standards Research.

The best choice

Integration of research institutions is the best choice, although not a perfect one. Why is it considered the best choice? The main problem in our research world is that research programs are fragmented by institutions with relatively small budget allocations because they are divided into many Ministries/Institutions (K/L).

At the beginning of President Jokowi’s administration, it was initiated to integrate programs with the National Research Priority (PRN). Each PRN is carried out by several K/Ls coordinated by one K/L. For example, N219 Aircraft PRN is coordinated by LAPAN and MALE (Middle Altitude Long Endurance) Unmanned Aircraft PRN is coordinated by BPPT.

The problem is that program integration cannot run well without budget integration. The most obvious example is in the event of budget savings, in which usually the budget that has been planned for the PRN program jointly with other K/L can be sacrificed for saving, except for the position of coordinator. Of course, the coordinating K/L cannot properly complete the program without the contribution of its member K/Ls. Then what if the budget is also integrated?

Under our current financial system, budget integration is not possible without institutional integration. Program integration needs budget integration, and subsequently budget integration will not work without institutional integration. Hence integration of research programs must be carried out with institutional integration. That is what is happening with BRIN which integrates all research units in various K/Ls.

What is the pattern of institutional integration currently taking place at BRIN? After intensive discussions between BRIN and the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform, in principle, integration of research units in K/Ls into 12 clusters of fields of science called Research Organizations (RO) which is split into 85 Research Centers has been agreed (PR).***

This article was written by Prof. Thomas Djamaluddin (Professor of Astronomy-Astrophysics Research, Aviation and Space Research Organization, Head of LAPAN for the period 2014-2021), harmonized by Dr. Dyah R. Sugiyanto (Coordinator of Public Communication/Public Relations of BRIN).

Source: https://tdjamaluddin.wordpress.com

  • Transformation of LPNK LAPAN into the Aviation and Space Research Organization (LAPAN) – BRIN (11 September 2021)
  • Integration of Research Institutes into the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) (31 January 2022)