Transforming and Streamlining the Issuance of Building Permits through Advanced Technologies
Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning/ eGovernment Authority

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning (MMAUP) is responsible to issue building permits in Bahrain with cooperation with other ministries. Since the permit involves permission/endorsement from other ministries such Ministry of works (MOW), Civil Defense, Civil Aviation, Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) and Telecom Regulatory Authority. Also it requires endorsement from different directorate in each ministry such as Sewerage directorate and road directorate in MOW. Customer is requested to prepare copy of building drawings and other documents for each entity to get No Objection Certificate (NOC) from them. After getting all all NOCs, customers should apply to the Municipality in order to verify the drawings as the customer is expected to submitted the drawings once again in case of any amendments suggested by the municipal engineers. Also, customers visited each municipality separately to follow up their applications. It is obvious that it is difficult for customers to follow up with each entity which also takes a very long time to get the permit, as the process was completely manual. All the information required to analyze the buildings and location were also not in proper format which caused municipal engineers to spend more time to analyze the location. Also it was difficult to track the permits for municipal inspectors to identify valid permits in the field. On addressing these issues we conceptualized the following: Issuance of building permit service enables the applicant to obtain a permit for construction or demolishing in Bahrain. The ministry has established the e-permit system that allows applicants to submit (through engineering officers) the plans and other documents online. The system automatically conveys the required documents to the interfacing departments who indicate their approval online. On approval, the applicant is sent a notification that the application has been accepted and the fees needs to be remitted. On remission of fees the permit is issued. The applicant can also periodically check the status of his application online through a reference number.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The program was proposed by the Municipality and got a strong support from the Prime Minister of Bahrain as well as the Crown Prince whom were the keen to transform the municipal services by utilizing the innovation. Thus, the unique Building permits eService has come to be the first and leading service related to Building Permits in the regional level who automats the whole process with minimum human intervention till completion. The implementation was carried out primarily by MMAUP in collaboration with the eGovernment Authority to automate the whole process. Stakeholders included citizens, residents, Ministry of works (MOW), Civil Defense, Civil Aviation, Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) and Telecom Regulatory Authority, and Engineering offices across Bahrain. The initiative is sustained as the building permits service is facing a high demand as construction is growing in parallel, and automation the whole process has given no better choice for the citizen but to go through the Building Permit eService. Moreover, being the process of the Building Permit eService mandatory by the ministry, this has empowered the usage of the service and has given a sense of sustainability to the service. In addition, the initiative is aligned with the government strategy 2030 to transform the government services towards a better life. The eService utilize different aspects of capturing customer satisfaction and feedback for the purpose of on-going improvement based on customer needs, this is through personal interviews with Engineering offices, the Ministry’s One Stop Shop, eGovernment channels (National Portal, National Call Centre, eGovernment social media tools) and the ministry’s social media tools. As for the transformability of this service, it integrates many government agencies and their spatial data which can be easily transferable to similar services such as issuing commercial registration, way leave permission, corner plot permission, land subdivision processes etc. in local level and the whole integration process is easy to be implemented in other countries in the region.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
In order to streamline the process and provide efficiency in public service, and better coordination between Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning (MMAUP) and the other entities involved in the process, the Online Building Permits eService has been launched which is a single portal to fully automate the building permit process with no human intervention in the whole process to get approval and comments (NOC) from all government agencies involved in the process through the National eGovernment portal. Thus, the service is Cross Functional Service that connects 11 entities together with zero human intervention. This service enables engineering offices to register with municipality which allows them apply for all services related to building permit. In Bahrain, any construction has more than built-up area should apply through engineering offices which covers more than 95% of building permits. The eService also enables engineering offices to apply for an enquiry information certificate, Government strategic projects, Building permits, attach missing documents, submit modified drawings, renewal of permit, track application status, download permit copies, view location details as a map with all utilities, zone and satellite image and with the facility to pay the fees online as well. Great impact compare to before: The new process helped to maintain high quality service and reduce the period for issuing building permit dramatically from more than six months to 15 days as maximum (for the full cycle process). The eService also has great impact on the efficiency of service delivery and there is no physical office in the Ministry for the Building Permit Service as it is only through the eGovernment Channels. It also helps to analyze the period taken by each entity to process in order to re-engineer the process if necessary. There have been huge benefits for the ministry behind the initiative by having better procedure, allowing municipal staff to retrieve the data easily through the proper digital information and to helped them in the analysis to improve their efficiency. Larger scale of beneficiaries: The service automation has great impact on serving larger number of beneficiaries; on the other hand, it has impact also on the other government agencies by enabling them to receive accurate applications with all necessary spatial and non- spatial information through the e-service. It also helped engineering offices to track their applications with Municipalities without paying any visit to any government agency. Also it reduced hard copies as the process carried out completely in digital mode. (From A to Z) Moreover, as the service been automated, the number and type of beneficiaries has been increased in the sense of the service has enabled the disabled, women (working in the engineering offices), and people who have minimum knowledge about the government processes to benefit from the service as well.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The eService has been launched as part of the ministries’ strategy to provide high-end services to citizens that serves towards national and cultural developments and promotes the collaboration between other ministries and government entities. The Ministry’s strategy comes aligned with the overall Government 2030 strategy to transform the Government services and provide the citizens with a better life. Thus, the initiative of the eService has the following objectives: • Establish Municipal One Stop Shop (MOSS) in Bahrain with representatives from all entities involved in building permit under one roof. • Develop application to issue building permit which allows MOSS to receive building drawings in digital format. • Develop an eService to receive building drawings in investment area only. • Provide an eService to attach modified drawings#. • Introduced SMS and E-mail interaction with engineering offices to carry out changes in the drawing and to know the application status. • Introduced GIS module to validate the land, automatic calculation of building regulation by zone details and to automate business flow. • Developed application to provide facility for all government agencies to process the application from their premises. • Enhanced service to receive all building permit application through eService. • Provided facility to renewal of permits. • Developed eService to pay the fees and to download building permit copies. • Developed eService to apply for amendments in the approved drawings.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Survey of Land and Registration Bureau (SLRB) is a key entity in this process as it issues title deeds, and survey certificate which are two mandatory attachments in all the process. Currently there is no integration with SLRB to specify the industry areas lands for building and certificate of survey and to obtain up to date property information. Approval are required from the below entities, depending on the type of construction: o Ministry of Justice o Sunni/ Shia Endowments o Ministry of Tourism o Ministry of Education o Ministry of Industry and Commerce o Public communication for the protection of Marine resources, environment and wild life. o Edamah company o Ossis Property Developers company o Civil Aviations Affairs • eGovernment Authority: eGovernment Authority is the entity responsible for the implementation of the solution and maintaining the solution for all the entities. The mail stake holders inside eGA contributing to the system are: o Service Delivery: Design, Develop and test and deploy the solution o Business Process Reengineering: Define and refine the process of complaints management o PMO: Project Administration o Marketing: Act as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) group for ministries and to do the marketing of the solution and design the front end portal theme o NGI Team: Advice and upgrade the NGI infrastructure based on the requirements of the solution o Quality Assurance: Test the Quality of the solution and System Environment change control o National Contact Center: Will act as one of the channels for accepting the complaints and suggestions o Support team: For the maintenance of the solution
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
In addition to the strong support and follow up by the leadership and the minister himself, the initiative has been established using in house resources and experts from the ministry as well as from other government entities such as eGovernment Authority and managers/ experts from the private sector such as Oracle and GIS programmers, engineering offices. Such development model helped the initiative to be established with a cost-effective model as well as reducing the cost and time required for the Ministry to deliver its new services. enefits include reduction in the cost and time required for the Ministry to deliver its new service. Additionally, there is an increase in customer/citizen satisfaction due to faster service. Also up-to-date information about building permits helped planners and other ministries in decision making process. The System was provided through these channels The Municipality website which is the store house of all the municipality services Municipal portal : Also this service is linked to which the national portal for providing government and authorities service to citizen, business and visitor. e-government portal :

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Added Value for the public Reduce the applicant’s visits to concerned entities in order to obtain approval letters. The different entities will be granted access to the system to provide their input. 3. Allow other ministries to receive the requests required automatically. Reduce the required attachments as information will be provided electronically from the sources. Example, authentication details, validation details One major advantage of the system automation is eliminating the unnecessary manual processes like Sanitary Engineering Planning & Projects Directorate Verification process where engineering firms can be provided access to MicroStation v4 to access all sewage related information. Another unnecessary manual process is purchase of stickers placed on the final drawings; in the future system the stickers can be printed from the system along with the drawings. The future system will also introduce online payment, which will reduce the applicant’s visit to the center to complete the payment. Public able to apply for building permit anytime and able to track exact status of their application through email, SMS and municipal portal Geographical Information System (GIS) widely used in this application which allows public to understand building regulations easily. Users able to download their land in digital format and able view all spatial details GIS integration is done to view the plots and other details. The Users can follow the ministry for the latest release over their social media accounts. Added Value for the Government The system will able the ministry to monitor performance and help to identify bottleneck in the processes. Also it is an easy track for pending tasks this helps better manage tasks for the ministry. All information available at one place to make quick decision and the accuracy of the decision will be very high. The ease of decision making is made possible by the information richness of the system It made possible to integrate more organizations electronically involved in the process there by reducing the time gap in commuting between ministries Increased security for the application as it resides online and not handled manually by the employees Cost benefits in terms of the ministries expenditure to handle each file from the application desk till allotting the permit. Automatic data validation and system based decision improved performance and the ministries turnaround time to an application has been reduced considerably especially it save engineering firm’s time and efforts in completing manual form and online form; Another advantage is integration with SLRB for information about the property. The information that will be provided includes cadastral maps. This information is used by all entities during verification stage. Automation of the payment process will reduce the reconciliation issues and increases the efficiency of the finance department

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Service Management Group (SMG) will be a team that will mainly looking into the eService Lifecycle and Health. The Group is a representation of different teams with in eGA and extended support from ministries. The Services brought under the radar of the SMG will be going through a selection and ranking process. The Top Management will benefit from the real time dashboard that will be made available by the group. There will key reports shared with ministries with respect to the health of there services provided through the different channels Different roles Service Management Core : • Review Analysis. • Periodical review of governance. • Review critical reports. • Way forward plans. Service Management Analytics : • Detailed selection of services. • Detailed monitoring. • Generating & analyzing reports. Marketing team : • Receive customer feedback. • Analyze customer feedback • Suggest enhancement priorities • Ensure customer satisfaction across the service lifecycle. Business Process Re-engineering : • Determine the Value of the service. • Do process optimization to achieve the 100% uptake model. • Evaluating Enhancement priority Service Delivery & Channels: • Execute analysis of the Service KPI periodically. • Technical ownership of the dashboards. • Interact with ministries on the service details. • Define the service roadmaps. • Plan enhancement implementations. QA: • Conduct periodical health check-up. • Communicate the changes required and govern the standards. This mechanism ensures the service is monitored from a 360 degree view

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Coordinating all external entities, establishing MOSS and agree upon process period by external entities were the initial major obstacle in this initiative. With H.E Minister and Undersecretary’s support and follow-up able to bring all entities together. Engineering offices resisted to submit the drawings due to fear of security of their drawings and lack of knowledge. Series of workshop and seminar conducted and explained about secured way of submitting the digital drawings and explained the benefits. Internet connection and lack of knowledge prevented engineering office to use eService. ISD staff visited each engineering office to provide support and reduced of cost internet helped. Lack of spatial information such up-to-date land parcels and zone were overcome through sharing municipal spatial data with other ministries which helped them to share their data. Not all applications are submitted online and follow the same process. Currently, the e-Permit system is only used for construction or demolishing of investment projects. For non-investment projects, they have to complete a manual process of obtaining approvals and submitting hard copies of documents. There is no integration with CIO to retrieve the applicant CPR/CR details; the data is currently being entered manually into the ePermit system. There is a lot of time spent in communication between the different entities to obtain up to date information. A lot of documents are attached during the process, which might in many cases result in sending those attachments back, which lengthens the process. Map Browsing System used to study the property area has last been updated in 2006.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1 Provide investor friendly mechanism to obtain building permits: Before the system was available the requestor has to approach different authorities across the government to obtain the certificate and the tractability of the application was very difficult 2 Provide facility to obtain building permit easily: The information made available in the site will help the user channelize there application it eh right direction to obtain the permit with less complication and long queues. 3 Provide single point of contact to obtain building permits: As mentioned the requestor has to apply once and the system workflow engine will take care of the necessary approvals from the right entity based on the type of request. 4 Carry out all transactions electronically: Manual processing of this application which required approval from different government entities will go for long waiting period for the application to be routed from one place to another. This can even end up in losing the file. The System helps in completely solving this issue 5 Provide facility to apply , track and obtain building permit from anywhere and at any time. In today’s fast moving world people expect things to be handled independent of place and time. Having this seamlessly integrated system helps its users achieve this. The system is currently integrated to 14 entities 6 Provide transparency in business procedure and improve staff efficiency The alerts and notification brings the customer the proactive nature of the application to keep the users posted on their application and it also enables the user to track the application ad identify where it is stuck.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The interoperable and interconnectivity levels are based on the following criteria’s 1. Process demand: The integrations are made to make sure the process is the most effective and the optimized one with minimal manual interventions 2. System demand (technical): The system will have the inherent demand for certain integrations to achieve its goal this will be considered as system demand 3. Regulatory demand: The requirement to satisfy the local and international regulations. 4. User demands: certain integration are done based on the type of users(individual, business and visitor) Inter-operability is based on the e Government standards National Enterprise Architecture Frame work(NEAF) . It aims at: • Better alignment of Business Strategy and Information Technology: Enterprise architecture enhances the alignment between the Business Strategy and Information Technology utilized to support the strategy. Enterprise architecture provides a strategic context for the use and development of IT system in answer to the ever changing needs of the business. This also provides for an improved traceability from the business requirements to the IT systems supporting those requirements. • Improved integration and interoperability: Enterprise Architecture through Reference Architectures, Standards and Guidelines would provide guidance for enhancing the integration and interoperability of the IT systems. This would provide benefits such as o reduced complexity of information systems o reduction in the software and data redundancy o enhanced enterprise information sharing by ensuring that accurate information is available to the government bodies and other organizations as and when needed. • Better return on existing investment, reduced risk for future investment: Enterprise Architecture provides a structure and capability for reducing the complexity in IT infrastructure. Also by ensuring that the existing investments are best utilized, it ensures improved return on investment in existing IT infrastructure. By establishing the context, Enterprise Architecture provides the flexibility and capability to make decisions to make, buy, or out-source IT solutions, thus reducing the overall risk in new investment and the costs of IT ownership. • Faster, simpler, and cheaper procurement: By providing coherent plans that make the information governing procurement readily available, Enterprise Architecture ensures that the buying decisions are simpler. The procurement process is faster - maximizing procurement speed and flexibility without sacrificing architectural coherence. The service conforms to the following Standards – Reference a. SOAP Version 1.2 (SOAP) is a lightweight protocol used for exchanging structured information in a decentralized, distributed environment. It uses XML technologies to define an extensible messaging framework providing a message construct that can be exchanged over a variety of underlying protocols. The framework has been designed to be independent of any particular programming model and other implementation specific semantics. b.WSDL is an XML format has been used for describing network services as a set of endpoints operating on messages containing either document-oriented or procedure-oriented information. The operations and messages are described abstractly, and then bound to a concrete network protocol and message format to define an endpoint. Related concrete endpoints are combined into abstract endpoints (services). c.Portlet standards- Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) has been adopted for an XML and Web Services specification that will allow for the plug-n-play of: portals, other intermediary web applications that aggregate content, and applications from disparate sources. d. Web services security standards - WS-TRUST , WS-I Security ,WS-I Basic Security Profile , SAML Token Profile , SAML - WS-Access Control profiles, WS-Security mark-up profiles

 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)
Today, the service involves all stakeholders in a fully automated service which saves them time, minimizes cost on commuting to-and-from the ministry for engineering offices, and decreases the impact on the environment through reduction of hard copy requirements. This project also helped the kingdom realize the benefit of sharing the spatial data and the impact on business processes. The project has also benefited the Ministry and the members of the decision committee as they can gain insight from the digitally archived permits. It also helped to attract more investments and improve country image in worldwide. World Bank report on doing the best business has ranked Bahrain as two in the region and 13 in worldwide after we implement the service in 2010. One of the lessons learned is that major initiatives should be split into mini projects which will be helpful for implementation. Improvement Opportunities: • Quality of the interface • The Information richness of the application • The ability to use a national authentication mechanism • Limitation in accessibility features on all the tabs • GIS system can be more interactive in nature Future Plans: • Create and view 3D building drawings • Certain aspects of the Service through mobile apps • Digitally signature on approved drawings and permit certificates • Some more ministries such Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism will be integrated to cover a wider scope of permits

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning/ eGovernment Authority
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Abdul Hadhi Abdul Sukkur
Title:   Leader, eService Delivery  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  

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