e-Government Program

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Saudi Arabia like any other nation is concerned with delivery of services to a wider inclusive reach to cover vulnerable groups. The groups categorized as vulnerable consists of poor, women, minorities, youth, elderly, disabled etc. In addition to the above is the expatriates who work in Saudi Arabia. Before the advent of Government Service Bus(GSB), any member from the vulnerable groups would face the daunting task of moving an application in government agency via manual processing, that is impeded or expedited based on the cultural and social roots. In addition, Saudi Arabia could see from other international experiences that the problem of inter-ministerial collaboration and integration would require a distinctively new approach if the Nation was going to deliver, responsive e-services with citizen audit-capabilities within a reasonable amount of time, at the same time making it easier and equitable access. People who needed government services (which meant everybody) had the following problems individually or combined: 1. Massive inefficiencies from redundant documentation: For every government service people printed copies of IDs, certificates, entitlement sheets, proof of ownership, certified copies etc. Documents were used for a single time validation only and then thrown in the paper archive. This is causing waste in paper, time, effort, and environment impacting material and behavior. 2.A Common practice of favoritism and prejudice – Even after automation of applications for government service delivery, people still had to go to government offices to get the service (apply, follow up, and receive). People facing people would create a certain level of rest or unrest. Hence, people from similar cultural background might help each other more. The situation only further aggravates the case for vulnerable groups. 3. Inaccuracy and inconsistency of data – Since every government organization was storing data owned by other sectors, it was not confidently accepted. Inaccurate information and inconsistency of data formats used in government services resulted in giving a service to those who are not eligible for it or denying it from those who are eligible. To illustrate further, citing the example of financial support program for unemployed vulnerable group called hafiz. There was an incident were a few people including women were denied the support because of outdated records regarding . The records had shown the lady had owned shops but in-fact they were all shut down and cancelled because of losses, this information was not synchronized into other related systems.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Yesser; established to meet the demands from decree 40 (…); proposed Government Service Bus to be the single market for government services to facilitate seamless inter-agency communication. The solution needed to accomplish several critical objectives listed below: 1. Eliminate the number of times a member of the public had to visit a public office and expose themselves to potentially unjust treatment. Specifically, reduce the number of 1:1 meetings by 50 to 100%. 2. Ensure the access to information needed to provide government services in a free and standard way. 3. Create a solution which would eliminate the need for individual ministries, agencies and programs to do massive data integration projects using infrastructure which would have single source of master information for all to use confidently. Specifically, solving the problem of extremely long or failed integration efforts using a new innovative concept. 4. To employ the concept of build once and use many, the GSB Services are built once by provider agencies and the service is reused. The solution was based on the following concepts: • The solution should not be doing things on behalf of the government agencies (competition), but rather enable them to integrate into a common platform to deliver services with higher transparency, accuracy and efficiency (collaboration). • Each government agency will store only the data they are responsible for. Everything else they get through the solution. • Yesser will help each government agency to improve integrity, security, and availability of their data, provide reliable services over the centralized bus. • Yesser will build a master web service catalog that will host all government services needed to transform every government service from manual to eService based on the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach. • Yesser will work with every government agency to build their services in web service format and on-board them to the solution as services providers. • Yesser will also work with every government agency that need other government agencies services to transform their services into eServices according to the SOA approach and on-board them to the solution as services consumers. For the GSB to be adopted on a national level, an integration methodology had to be developed so that the implementation of the GSB will fall under an institutional framework. Hence, Yesser developed Yesser Enterprise Framework for Interoperability (YEFI). This framework was adopted based on various standard setting organizations(IEEE, ISO etc). and modified to reflect the actual need of the GSB. YEFI included two tracks. One track was for integrating service providers. Another track was for integrating service consumers. The strategy for developing the GSB was based on the following tracks : • Who : Who is our target customer ? The target customers for the GSB are all the government agencies in Saudi Arabia. • What : What are we offering ? The offering is a master web service catalog that hosts all the web services needed to transform all government services to eServices. We also offer the necessary consultation, funding, technical help, and marketing of the services transformed based on the YEFI framework and the GSB as an integration platform. • How : How are we planning to deliver ? Our delivery plan was based on impact and readiness. ? Our delivery plan was based on impact and readiness. The high impact services will receive higher attention. The government agencies who are readier to onboard their services will receive higher attention. The delivery will be based on Yesser dedicated teams plus system integrators and consulting houses who know YEFI and the GSB to help accelerate the process.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The innovative aspect in the approach was not in devising a channel specifically for any group or section of society, but it was in opening up the government services across the board providing an open platform for free and fair access to one and any. This mode of access and delivery ensures equality in opportunity putting the under privileged on par with the privileged. The concept of integrating systems applications has been very common in the field of integration and automation. The aspects that distinguishes GSB is the concept of a single ‘service market’ for government services where services are available for free and at high quality levels. This concept, was innovative for such a large government (2 more than million employees) . The presence of GSB is in itself an innovation, but beyond that it has been disruptive innovation triggering the change in how processes work in government agencies, in automation of their service delivery, in optimizing the service delivery, making possible timeliness, client orientation and accessibility. The aspect of ‘build once, use many’ and taking the burden of complexities in integration in agencies and facilitating them to focus on their core business also is a contributing factor to innovation.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The GSB is a product resulting from a strategic plan for transforming the Saudi Government to eGovernment. The following is a chronological order of the relevant plans and activities to the GSB development and rollout : 2004 : The National Communication and Information Technology Plan (NCITP) included the establishment of Yesser. 2005 : The Cabinet of ministers in Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree to establish Yesser to enable and empower the Saudi government agencies for e-Transformation. Mandate, authority, and fund were established. The 1st strategy and action plan was developed to be executed 2006-2010 and included the need for the GSB to address the problems mentioned above and deliver additional value through the clearly defined and followed value chain. 2006 : The GSB efforts started and included the following : • Defined and documented the problem statement. • Benchmarked the international practice and experience of leading countries . • Developed one RFP for consulting and another for development of the GSB. • Evaluated the tenders and awarded the project. • Created a project charter and scope of work. • Developed the architecture of the GSB as a canonical model. • Developed the high level design documents and access layers for providers and consumers. • Developed the low level design documents. 2007 : The GSB character started to crystallize through the following activities : • Started the development of the GSB Interoperability framework and branded it as Yesser Enterprise Framework for Interoperability (YEFI). • Started the development of the GSB. 2008 : The GSB was ready for testing and included e following activities : • Completed the development of the GSB. • Started the functional testing and fixed resulting bugs and issues. • Started the performance testing and fixed resulting issues. • Updated the documentation of the GSB. • Started the provider on-boarding process with the Ministry Of Interior Affairs represented by their repository host the National Information Center NIC. • Started the consumer on-boarding process with the Ministry Of Labor. 2009-2010 : The GSB was operational and included the following activities : • Revised YEFI. • Developed the second strategy and action plan to be executed 2012-2016. The plan was developed using the Co-Creation approach. People from government agencies, vendors, private agencies, higher education, and the public. Everybody contributed seriously to the development of the strategy and the plan. The 2nd National Action Plan includes several initiatives to support the following : • Measure and improve the GSB capacity. • Accelerate the on-boarding process for providers and consumers. • Develop communication plans to increase the understanding of the GSB value and to increase the adoption of the GSB as one of the tools for e-Transformation. • Develop change management plans and projects to create collective ownership of the concept and the practice. • Promote and praise success stories. 2010-Now : The GSB Ecosystem was mapped and included the following activities : • Baseline GSB Capacity Established, Quota enforcement in place for consumers with enhanced response time of 600ms • GSB Authorization enhanced to fine grained service access, to protect privacy of data. • A development of Comprehensive GSB Ecosystem and supporting services • GSB Express and a Set of Tools like Ertibat to accelerate GSB Provisioning and Consumption • GSB consumers at 43 and 24 Providers at providing 59 business services. • Initiative to Serve GSB As Service capability to other Government agencies for their internal use. • Established Service Identification process to identify and prioritize services needed for increasing the coverage of government services to consumers. • Delivery of location based services, to assist in decision making and planning for government agencies, and also to be utilized by citizens for their needs.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Yesser assembled a business consulting team composed of people from consulting firms, people from Yesser , and advisers from universities. The team documented the business requirement and visited leading countries in various continents and benchmarked their practice against the business requirement. An innovative new hybrid model had to be designed to match the requirement. McKenzie analyzed the requirement. IBM designed the solution. Yesser owned the whole cycle. IBM was contracted to develop the solution. The solution took much longer than planned to develop for the following reasons : • Being a new concept solution, there was no model to copy. Surprises were imminent. • With the lack of local expertise in the subject, people from all over the world had to be brought in. Legislative and social issues played a major role in the delay. The more change in the team members, the longer it takes to implement any thing. The planned duration was 8 months. The actual time taken was 18 months. However, once developed, it worked well. The stakeholders of the GSB were represented by the following roles : • Project Sponsor (Yesser Director General) • Project Director (Software Engineering Dept Director) • Project Managers (from the PMO of Yesser, IBM) • Subject Matter Experts (from Yesser, IBM, and Devoteam) Once the GBS system was built and put in place the responsibility of running the GSB and making sure the GSB achieved its goals fell on Yesser entirely. Yesser built capabilities and competencies to make sure that the vision was put into action. The stakeholders at this stage is represented by the following roles • Project Sponsor (Yesser Director General) • Project Director (Software Engineering Department) • GSB Business Owner • Architecture and Standards Team • Consumer On Boarding Team • Service Provisioning Team
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The resources used for the initiative to build and to operate are as follows : People – The initial design and building of the GSB was performed by team from IBM with one team from Devoteam to supervise and do quality checks on every deliverable. In addition, we had a team from Yesser shadowing everyone to transfer the knowledge to them and to provide the necessary authority. As of now the Yesser team has built sufficient competency to improve on the design and is working on the next architecture version of the GSB. Yesser has dedicated teams for consumer and provider service integration , roles they perform include integration project management, providing tools, knowhow, and guidance. The teams also work on R&D to provide enhancement and scaling of the GSB, the initiative is driven by the top management in Yesser, and the need of providers and consumers of GSB. Money - Cost was US$2 millions for consultation, US$8 million for development, and US$4 million to support it for two years. On-boarding cost is approximated at US$1.5M per provider, and US$200K per consumer for the first service integration, and US$50K for every additional service integration ever after. However Yesser is now technically capable of supporting agencies to build new integration without any additional cost.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The highlight of the output from GSB is its unique position as single market for all Government Services. This enables to aggregate information in ways that was impossible before, there by becoming a platform for service delivery across broader sections of society. Jadarah the youth employment program was powered by GSB Services. GSB fetched and provided up to date and accurate information from various organization’s helping to deliver much needed Youth employment program. The program was a big success, supporting various vulnerable groups. Listed below are some of the high impact services offered via the GSB. 1. Educational Certificate Services Educational certificate services such as High School Certificate, University Entrance Results, Graduate Record, Vocational Training Certificates etc are provided via the GSB. These services catered to more than 1.5 million students. There by enabling agencies to identify and verify credentials, provide trainings and placement for people. 2. Electronic Medical Record The high EMR was used by government hospitals to provide health services to for 300,000 people. The high value of the services is made evident in event of accidents, the location of accident places constraints on providing health care. The service provides accurate health information from hospitals, from where the patient’s medical history can be retrieved. This critical information can be the bridge for taking life and death decisions . It was not possible prior to GSB and benefactors also included huge section from vulnerable group. 3. Real Estate Development Fund(REDF) The GSB Services were used by REDF agency to provide government home loans for Millions of people which was not possible prior to GSB and of those included from vulnerable group. The initiative was executed on first come first serve basis. To apply for the loan, the person does not need to visit any government office and accessed via web, had that been the case the people living in remote locations would have been at disadvantage. 4. Ministry of Commerce and Industry(MCI) The Services from commerce and industry helped people setup companies easier, here again minimizing visits to government agencies. This was a much needed convenience for people from different cultural background to engage with government agency to earn a decent living. 5. Zakat Certificate The Zakat Certificate(Tax certificate) service was used by numerous people, to comply with tax regulations. The service facilitated many and specifically from the vulnerable groups a convenient access to government in procuring Zakat certificates. The GSB has made it easier for government agencies to deliver their programs and E Services to the citizens and expatriates. The GSB and Yesser teams have reduced cost and time to market for the government agencies.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
There are two modes of monitoring the progress and evaluate the activities. Firstly GSB ecosystem is built with an integrated business intelligence system, an audit logging and non-repudiation system. The system monitors, measures and has dashboards that display performance indicators in terms of Service, Consumers and providers. The intelligence generated is used to plan for future services and also to utilize and promote existing services better. The second mode is via the yearly performance measurement system Qiyas that would measure the advancement in eTransformation including but not limited to the effective utilization of GSb in eTransformation. Using the above two approaches, we are able to ensure that the services that are selected for wider reach to the vulnerable sections of the society are being utilized properly. The comprehensive monitoring system and report generated is utilized by the Yesser Business Development (YBD)in their planning activities so that the purpose behind realizing on the GSB is met. Yesser has a GSB business owner, who is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation strategy and goals for the GSB Services which includes providing services that cater to vulnerable groups. YBD is also in touch with the government agencies to communicate to them the benefits of utilizing these services and the end benefits that can be reaped from whole of government point of view as well as the agency point of view. Yesser consulting group(YCG) is also involved with assisting and guiding the government agencies in their eTransformation journey by providing consultancy services. YCG mandate includes the effective utilization of services provided on the GSB for automation and execution of agency business processes. Hence there are multiple touch points that Yesser uses to monitor and evaluate implementation strategy.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Obstacle : Delivering services to the varied vulnerable groups is done through the government agencies. There were challenges of convincing the agencies to use those GSB services Counter action : Yesser mobilized Yesser Business Development group , Yesser consulting group and Software Engineering to sell those services and also to help them build solutions and processes to utilize those GSB Services. Obstacle : Mind-Set – Government agencies were used to own and control all the data they need or might need in delivering their services, and having the choice to interpret the system as they please. Changing this to a service bus model where they only own and control their own data and everything else they get from the GSB was a challenging concept to their authority and level of control. Counter action :Yesser utilized methods of evangelization, hiring staff from government agencies for better co-operation and coordination, selling value of GSB etc . Yesser also used the annual eReadiness measurement (Qiyas) to report the status of compliance for each government agency compared to the expected level of eTransformation. Obstacle : Know-How - Since the GSB was designed using a hybrid model hence it was harder to find documentation or experts with direct relative experience to help. Counter action : Yesser closely worked with all the relevant stakeholders to understand the challenges in the architecture and the design. The team was very aggressive in making decision to keep the wheel turning. Obstacle : Service Identification & Prioritization – Lack of visibility into value of services provided by various agencies and how to prioritize them Counter action : Yesser created an innovative process to evaluate the services in E Government context and based on the value service was prioritized into a service pipeline. The services fed from the pipeline were on boarded into the GSB based on the allocated priority Obstacle : Challenges of Technical Know-How at government agencies. Counter action : Yesser guided and supported government agencies with integration by providing, technical knowledge, mentoring, hand holding during integration, providing tools like GSB Express and Ertibat etc.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The below critical services have impacted GSB, its pertinence and sustained delivery in a positive way. Council of Health Services Council of health services utilized GSB to integrate hospitals for Electronic Medical Record. This provided the impetuous for improving health care by addressing critical gap for unified medical record and service delivery. SNSDI (Saudi National Spatial Data Infrastructure) GSB is being proposed to be leveraged as an infrastructure for providing Geospatial Services, as such this will be an innovative way to reduce public financial expenditure the other option being setting up an additional infrastructure and systems for delivering the needed services. The best measure of benefits is the results toward meeting the goals of this initative: Reducing the number of times a citizen is exposed to the threat of unjust treatment through 1:1 office visits. One fundamentally important National service alone, Worker Permit Renewal, reduced the number of office visits per transactions by 60 to 80 %. This was accomplished by building on the GSB’s capability of data integration and calling from master repositories. The GSB creates exponential value as it continues to resolve major issues: 1. Documentation – The GSB allows any government agency to get the necessary credentials and details necessary to deliver the eService using any eChannel. The details are collected from other agencies through the GSB: a. Personal details from MOI. b. Confirmation that he/she is not a government employee from MCS. c. Educational background from MOE/MOHE. d. Existing permits of licenses issued from MOMRA, MOCI, SAGIA. All of the necessary documentation that used to take lots of trips to various government agencies and lots of papers to be submitted are now totally transparent through the GSB. 2. Prejudice – Since the GSB is enabling government agencies to serve the public through their portals or any form of eChannel, the possible prejudice in treatment is eliminated completely. Random opportunities to distinguish between sex, tribe, ethnic group, disability, or any other factor is eliminated. This transparency and fairness encourages people to follow the system and avoid gray market or illegal channels to get government services. This saving in this factor is much harder to calculate. But, it is approximated to exceed 30% from the service cost. 3. Accuracy of data – The GSB is based on the distributed data model where each government agency will host and maintain the integrity, security, and availability of the data they are responsible for. Hence, any eService reaching the GSB for a piece of data, will be tabbing into the correct accurate up to date version of the data. The effort needed by every government agency to manage their own data compared to everything they need is 4:1. 4. Fat database – Addressed already in the previous point. Second, the GSB allowed us to deliver new citizen directed “eServices” that are beyond individual government agencies authority and mandate. Examples of such composite services are: • I lost my wallet. • I want to start a business. • I want to build a house. • What happens when I retire? • Being an expatriate what is the impact on my life if I bring my family here? • Since I am coming for Hajj/Omra, what else can I do? • What can I do with SR300,000? Third, we are in a process of designing services that would cater to vulnerable sections of the society, for instance based on person’s age, gender, geographic location. The system would be provide intelligent suggestions to services that they can utilize to improve their qualities of life. The services would greatly accelerate the growth and progress in vulnerable groups. GSB As A Service:- Integration of applications, Processes and people are a challenge to every single government agency in Saudi Arabia. To address this pain point, Yesser is taking steps to deliver its expertise, platform, software as a service to the government agencies for free. This would in turn result in cyclic optimization and improvement in delivery of government services across all of Saudi Arabia. The above listed elements indicate the huge impact GSB has made, and is continuing to make. The facts and figures of this are captured by using Business Intelligent systems and dashboards part of GSB.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The GSB, is a government owned and funded operation supported by decree number 40. Yesser maintains necessary teams, capabilities, processes etc. That ensure the delivery of services via GSB 24/7 and 365 days during the year. All the aspects of GSB are fully documented and the agencies who would like to use GSB Services can use a varied number of technologies to deliver or consume services via GSB. Sustainability is a controversial subject from definition to practice. Our approach to developing a sustainable solution/service is based on the three pillars that we considered in designing the solution/service. These are the who, the what, and the how. Who are we serving, what are we providing, and how are we providing it ? Our approach to a sustainable service focuses on following elements as well: The GSB is a component in a larger structure called government shared services for eTransformation. It is government owned, operated, and maintained. The model is hybrid between central and federated, unique and repeatable under similar circumstances. This is a government service provided to government agencies. It is free of charge to all government agencies. When we are ready the GSB service to the semi-government or non-government agencies we might associate a charge to the service. Since the GSB is a member of the national shared infrastructure platform provided by Yesser to all government agencies, we would like to shed some light on the various layers of shared services provided : 1. Connectivity and Security – The Government Secure Network (GSN) is a government private infrastructure cloud owned, created, operated, and financed by Yesser. All agencies can link to each other or to the GSB directly through high speed fully redundant infrastructure. 2. Integration – This is the GSB. It is providing the integration layer between all government agencies and hosting the master web service catalog where all government services are published. 3. Presentation – The national portal “Saudi” at provides the presentation layer for all government services with very flexible service access through service type, service provider, or key words. Each service is described in a service card with full details and a link to the service if transformed already. 4. Applications – Government agencies have some applications common to some or all of them. For example, eProcurement, eCorrespondence, eEmployment, National contact center, SMS gateway, and so on. We build national applications as cloud applications (SaaS) with two layers. The first layer is the subscription layer for those who do not have the application yet. The second layer is for those who already have it and can use it to integrate with the others without having to link with each one individually. Resources were and still are rare. We faced a problem in bringing them to Saudi Arabia and that caused some delay. Yesser is continually building additional capacity beginning from a stage of transfer know-how from current M&O contractor to Yesser staff and today through vendor driven training and qualification programs (FEP), and direct training and OJT.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
1. Removing the need for multiple office visits radically removes “vulnerabilities” for those who are vulnerable to prejudice and unjust treatment and is a very powerful “equalizer” which is done without the need for broad change management—it just happens. 2. People who have improved access are empowered with an incalculable amount of new freedom. 3. Transforming traditional government services based on manual business processes is a major paradigm shift requiring detailed communication and change management planning. 4. Technology implementation is only part of the solution—a more serious factor is mindset and cultural changes that can only come about through education and extensive promotional programs to foster buy-in and eventual adoption. 5. Serious bottle necks are encountered in the GSB on-boarding process that needs to be addressed. These processes need to be simplified and where possible automated to reduce the cycle-time for on-boarding. 6. Technology platforms and frameworks exist to implement a whole-of-government integration. The challenge is to implement the technology in a way that makes it simple to become part of the integrated whole. The government of Saudi Arabia achieves this through the GSB/GSN integration platform. 7. New ways of defining the value of eGovernment to leaders and managers. Also, the way egovernment is explained to the people for more public support and government “purpose for change” acceptance to further advance the responsibility and seriousness of adoption of eGovernment is needed. This can be the “residual value of the UNPSA exercise” 8. The GSB has emerged as a key capability in E Government of Saudi Arabia, this learning or capability can be provided to the Agencies for their critical Internal needs

Contact Information

Institution Name:   e-Government Program
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Motref AlSahli
Title:   Engineer  
Telephone/ Fax:   +966564433440
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Riyadh, MCIT
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh

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