Saudi e-Government portal
MCIT, Saudi Arabia, YESSER e-Government Program
Saudi Arabia

The Problem

The lack of a unified e-portal for Saudi Government services and information was the main problem that citizens and government agencies faced in 2005. K.S.A needed a way to provide and facilitate access to all public services for government agencies, citizens, residents, and business sector, in an easy and simple way. But, Saudi Arabia needed this, and more, if the public agencies were to participate realistically in modern e-Government. The problem soon grew when the expectation and needs of the public were compared with what the government was attempting to do in a short period of time: to rapidly become a full service provider through a single entry point for all services. When this goal was set, the issues compounded because most countries’ e-Government portals had “grown-up”, or evolved, with new technological capabilities, so KSA’s had to be “jump-started.”

The provided e-Services were to facilitate government agencies' sites, but lacked general criteria compatibility in delivery and style presentation from one portal to another. For example, multi-e-Registration safe method, different methods of e-Identity verification, different payment systems for government fees, and multiple methods of delivering a service to the ultimate beneficiary, were just some of the problems.

The process itself was too complex for users to reach services. There were notable red tape delays due to the culture, nature, and great amount of paper work involved in delivering the required services. This, besides others, amounted to delays in productivity, dissatisfaction of applicants and petitioners, and many other annoying problems. Also, the government agencies were unable to measure the individuals' feedback due to inefficient service delivery methods and incomplete forms, which were monitored by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), quality assurance checks, and surveys.

There were no channels for e-Participation between the people in-charge, and the citizens, in terms of decisions, new policies, projects, new services and methods of service delivery. There was no participation in the development of proposals to improve public services, or to enhance the roles of women, youth, and the disabled in the decision making process. There was also a lack of a standardized open source e-Database for researchers to pool the results of all areas of government data e.g., health, education, economic, social, strategic, etc.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The nature of the problem itself spearheaded the new initiative to create an e-Government portal named "Saudi" to facilitate, improve, and develop access to public services. This enabled businesses, citizens, and non-citizens, to implement public services electronically, without having to physically go to government agencies' headquarters, sites, and/or remote areas.

All official government agencies are represented, and accessible via the Portal. All services, whether electronic or not, are listed on the Portal, and all requirements for obtaining these services are listed as well.
The Communication and Information Technology Commission CITC's surveys indicated a higher ownership of laptops than desktops. Field surveys revealed that households own 1.18 Desktop computers and 1.5 laptops on average, indicating an emerging trend towards more laptop usage The increasing number of PC and Laptop owners in KSA has lead to a real need for an e-Government portal to provide public services for all these segments of Saudi society.

Many objectives have already been achieved since the "Saudi" portal initiative was launched, by improving service delivery, analyzing the number of carried out operations, and measuring the beneficiaries increasing demand and growth. Government Service Bus (GSB) is one of the most prominent achievements related to "Saudi", which aims to link information and services between government agencies that provide public services, where they can be measured and analyzed on a daily basis.

"Saudi" also provides Single Sign On Service (SSOS), which facilitates the electronic identity verification process for the beneficiaries, and provides the online registration process to many sites from one place, with a single information entry. One of the most important achievements was linking the e-Payment service in "Saudi" through GSB to make it easier for the beneficiaries to pay government fees electronically via multiple electronic channels (Internet - Mobile - SMS - mobile applications - IVR – Automated Hardware).

"Saudi" has facilitated e-Channels between beneficiaries and the people in charge, to promote e-Participation in decisions, new policies, projects, services, and methods of service delivery. It encourages participation in development of proposals to improve public services, and enhances women's role in the decision making process, by allowing them to voice their opinions on public services. The public is invited to comment, and participate on various social pages such as blogs, facebook, and twitter to enhance the principle of dialogue with the external world.

Many initiatives (RFP’s) on different topics and multiple sectors were presented on "Saudi". The results of these views and their actual application have been posted, creating government social network pages to enhance communication between government and citizens. In regards to data, all government agency regulations, and open data have been added to "Saudi" as a source for researchers, academics, and investors to support their research in all targeted areas and vital sectors.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The first general objective of the long-term vision of the NCITP was aimed at raising the productivity of all sectors, and the dissemination of governmental, commercial, social and health services electronically for all people, encouraging networking through best possible utilization of ICT.

"Saudi" itself is among the first e-Government action plan objectives of 2006-2011 that has been achieved in the targeted timeframe, according to its basic requirements. A specialized team fine-tuned the plan to meet the essential requirements determined by the Strategic Planning Department.

The design and implementation of the portal was given to the IT Department in partnership with big IT private sector companies, and have participated in the portals creation in terms of internal restructuring.
Content and government agencies e-Services distribution are relying on a large survey, covering employees in those agencies, as well as a large number of citizens and residents, in all categories. "Saudi's” evaluation continues, even after the portal’s launch, to ensure compatibility with international Web standards, as well as the usability standards.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
This initiative, among the first e-Government action plans for 2006-2011, has been defining the project objective to "design and implement the portal to be available through a single entry, for all services: "G2C-government - citizens," "G2B-government - business" and "G2G- government – government".
The portal contains information on government agencies, and their own e-Services, and also provides the possibility of some specified electronic transactions. The e-Government National Portal "Saudi" vision was determined: "to be the favorite channel through which users can utilize all e-Services, information and directories offered by the various government agencies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

One of the essential strategies was to eliminate all haphazardly gathered data on the net, which were neither authorized by the concerned government agencies, nor connected to their official sites, but rather, were mere personal efforts in an attempt to cover a needed subject. Such data was weak, shallow, at times inadequate, and improperly updated. Another strategic objective was to ensure transparency, assess Governmental services and agencies, decrease direct contact between customer and government agencies, avail e-Services to all members of the community, ensure elimination of abuse to authorities, and increase women's opportunities to apply for services (because the actual service providing facilities for women is less than that for men).

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The establishment step was the most important stage of development and implementation, where a survey has been made on many of the government agencies, and the public services they provided to beneficiaries. That survey was to determine the requirements of each service, classifying its forms, from the beneficiary point of view, to be converted to e-Services.

To complete such a stage, improvements are being implemented on a regular basis on "Saudi", studying the market changes and making sure that the portal is compatible with the international standards for e-Portals, via continuous evaluation of the level of services provided. At the same time, the portal's content is enriched weekly, assessing the beneficiaries' feedback, regarding public service delivery satisfaction.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Lack of understanding by some government agencies to the service concept, and lack of effectiveness in the e-Services development were some of the difficulties faced by the implementation of this initiative.

"Saudi" overcame this difficulty by changing the thinking and understanding of how to serve the beneficiary, how to support government agencies in their move to e-Services, how to support the electronic transactions consultants, measure the achievement level in e-Government transformation on an annual basis, and finally, how to support this transition with government decisions to implement the e-Government vision.

Since citizens' feedback had been neglected by the public service provider, we tried to change that habit by completing the quality process with the promising initiative. This was the main reason for Implementing a survey on e-Government customer satisfaction indicators in Saudi Arabia, covering two main components: Government/Citizens (G2C) and Government/Business (G2B).

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
One of the most important resources for implementing the initiative is the government support given to the first e-Government action plan for 2006-2011 through huge e-Government budget identification.

The plan established the infrastructure, consisting of the Governmental Secure Network GSN, the data center, and the Government Service Bus GSB. Such a plan served the "Saudi" portal implementation, the human resources that served the portal, and the partnership with the private sector, through contracts with major international and local companies in the technical field.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
"Saudi" is a national service project covering all aspects of public services, and can be developed by the development of the public services sector. This fact certainly gives it the sustainability to be deployed in all parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, covering all visitors' public services from outside Saudi Arabia, all over the world.
"Saudi" is also covering the economic level in terms of providing public services completion and implementation. It covers the living requirements achievement through the social affairs services, as well as services that facilitate access to higher education, and public education requirements enhance the environment conservation and public services of public and private sectors institutions.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The most important learned lesson is the scalability and the possibility of change in government agencies, and thinking as well. The need for continuous evaluation of work and improvement is also important in regards to public benefits. One of the important points is the establishment phase, the need for strengthening the infrastructure, the feasibility for the transformation measurement, and to assist the government agencies that have not achieved deserved degrees in one measurement to make progress in the other one.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   MCIT, Saudi Arabia, YESSER e-Government Program
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Faisal Almuteri
Title:   Mr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   0096611542487 - 0096614522353
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   King Abdul Aziz Communication Complex, Al-Morsalat Quarter
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh
Country:   Saudi Arabia

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