A better understanding of Indonesian local government!

Greetings to all as preparations are finalized for me to join three other local government managers to visit Indonesian local governments as part of the U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Program. Sponsored by ICMA, the management exchange occurs as part of an effort to share local government issues, innovations, and partnerships. Relationships are to be established that can assist each other in business, management and knowledge.

Indonesia, only celebrating its 69th year of independence and the recent election of a new President, is one of the world.s most populous countries and is looked to as a leader in the Islamic world. Indonesia brings together the numerous cultures of the archipelago into one country. As it seeks to develop its resources and preserve the unique animal life and flora of its equatorial location, Indonesia is a country worth learning about. As a democracy, its leadership is critical to Asian Pacific region of the world.

Earlier this year, the City of Oak Ridge Tennessee had the opportunity to host two government officials: Hera Nugrahayu, Finance Administrator of Palangka Raya, Borneo and Irma Hutadjulu, General Services Director of Pangkalpinang, an island community off Sumatra . For three weeks, they served our city through reports and attending numerous meetings with our city staff. We also let them meet with professional women and learn of U.S. Women in the workplace . Historical preservation, environmental management, economic development, finances and education were the focus of the visit.

In the return visit, I will be examining the impacts of rapid growth, forest removal, economics and civic engagement with the citizenry. The impact on local animal life will also be explored as habitat is consumed. Conservation efforts in the U.S. May be shared with the local government in how efforts may yield new options for the future. Having gone through a recent regional planning project in East Tennessee, I hope to share the “lessons learned” from that process and compare how it has yielded new directions.

I look forward to sharing with you and adding to the depth of knowledge that we have about this country of Indonesia. If there are questions that you have as a result of my comments, please convey them to me and we can incorporate them into our inquiries with Indonesian officials.

Selamat Jalan! Or safe journey!

Mark Watson
City Manager
Oak Ridge Tennessee