| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD) approached the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) with an offer to introduce ICT to their processes and services, including supporting agencies, as a tool for increasing efficiency and enhancing transparency to achieve much needed swift justice. Both the MOJ and the SJC welcomed the initiative and a cooperation framework was signed in February 2008. This cooperation created a high-level committee formed of both Ministers and other relevant members to run the implementation.
The scope of work was clearly defined by covering all types and levels of courts "Court of Cassation , Appeal Courts, Preliminary Courts , Family Courts" , prosecution offices, supporting agencies and other relevant bodies. System automation scope was set to include a case management system and an internal workflow automation system, to integrate all relevant judicial/supporting bodies and to establish a link to the National ID Database for accurate personal information for both plaintiffs and defendants. Setting up service provision outlets (one stop shop) within courts instead of in-office services was also considered.
In order to implement the initiative, the scope of work had to be carried out through two parallel tracks.
The first track aimed at:
- Developing judicial procedures in courts and general prosecution authority.
- Developing applications and procedures in supporting authorities and departments within the MOJ.
- Enforcing control, transparency and accessibility procedures and information.
- Developing new service delivery channels for judicial services.
- Rolling out and deploying new systems.
- Creating the national judicial case database.
- Developing highly qualified human resources capable of managing the new system
- Improving the work environment.
The second track aimed at:
- Enforcing ruling execution procedures.
- Securing the link of all executive bodies within the country to the national judicial case database.
- Setting quality standards and KPIs as important tools to monitor & evaluate the progress of the activities of the project as well as the processes involved
The first step of implementation was through institutional development experts who introduced necessary and appropriate enhancements ahead of information systems deployment, by following different methodologies including shadowing and mystery shopping. Institutional development experts delivered their reports, and their recommendations were implemented.
In parallel, extensive training courses started for civil servants in different judicial authorities. Next, the development partners came in and developed their respective components of the systems.
The project is currently completed in 62 different courts (of different types and levels), as well as in some of the supporting authorities. The total plan covers 8 appeal courts, 19 satellite appeal courts, 28 preliminary courts, 39 satellite preliminary courts, 5 family courts, 113 family prosecution offices, and supporting authorities, which are expected to be completed by mid-2015.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
As mentioned before, the initiative was introduced by the MSAD, as the lead government ministry for the e-Government program in Egypt, since late 2004.
The MOJ welcomed the idea, and the implementation of the initiative was through a cooperation protocol that was signed off between the MOJ (as the Ministry overseeing judicial public services and support authorities) and MSAD (as the Ministry responsible for e-Government).
In order to follow up the implementation of the project, it formed a committee consisting of the Minister of State for Administrative Development, Minister of Justice, their deputies and other relevant personnel.
That includes all different levels of courts involved , as well as supporting authorities (experts, forensic medicine and publicity and notarization). In addition to the Prosecution Authorities who are directed by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
The stakeholders of the initiative are public prosecution authorities, family prosecution/courts, general persecution authorities, administrative persecution, preliminary courts, cassation court, appeals courts, and administrative courts.
MSAD played an essential role as the main coordinator between the different stakeholders involved; in addition to its multinational software development partners and their local private-sector partners as the expertise responsible for the development and implementation of the system automation "Design".
The Judicial Information Center (JIC) plays the role of the central data center for the JPD initiative. It is the central hub which hosts all the related information from the courts and other relevant bodies with the exception of data related to supporting authorities such as the Experts Authority and Forensic Medicine Authority which both host their own applications and databases as they do not offer public services. Unlike the Experts Authority and Forensic Medicine Authority, the Public Notary Authority is highly concerned with the public preference which leads to providing adequate services to the public.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
It is expected that with such a huge project the resources utilized were numerous. Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD) led the project with a senior project manager, reporting to the high-level committee formed of the Minister of Justice, the Minister of State for Administrative Development, their deputies and other relevant personnel to follow-up the initiative’s implementation. Respective contact persons were identified within all participating judicial authorities. Those were all in direct contact with the appointed project managers from MSAD.
The financial resources went through two phases during the project. First phase, total cost was around 85 million Egyptian Pounds (around US$11.5M). This covered the costs for all hardware (servers, PCs, networks, etc…), software licenses (which in turn covers development costs, as per agreement with partners), communication lines, training & human resources development, and workplace development. The first phase covered developing all modules for the case management systems, as well as deployment at least one of each type of courts, or other relevant bodies.
The second phase, which is currently running, covers the deployment/roll-out of case management and other information systems at all remaining judicial entities. Its cost is estimated at 200 million Egyptian Pounds (around US$30 million).
The main technology consultant in the project was the multinational partners, who brought in their local development partners through the strategic rebate agreement between them and the Egyptian Government. Institutional development experts were brought to review and reengineer the internal processes and public services offered by judicial entities. On top of that, the Ministry of Justice offered the services of its Judicial Information Center’s ICT team.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The initiative has many successful outputs, the most significant are:
- Automating the process of filing police reports in police stations, as well as integrating police station information systems with those of prosecution offices/district attorneys’ offices, in order to decrease lead time in processing cases, fight corruption and increase accuracy. Such information systems would also aid in building a decision-support system for crime-fighting. Egypt currently has 358 police stations, and the scope targets the central office and 50 police stations, along with integration with corresponding prosecution offices.
- Increasing the number of beneficiaries “citizens, Lawyers and judges” through availing different service delivery channels with different payment methods "e-payment & cash on delivery" such as: Availing online services through the internet (more than 100 services related to Preliminary Courts, Appeal Courts & Court of Cassation are available on the internet); Mobile WAP (Wireless Application Protocol); Front Offices (One Stop Shop); Public Kiosks. Lawyers also benefited from the personalization of services where they had access to all cases they are working on and can receive push notifications for updates on their cases.
- Publishing the new application in the Court of Cassation, 26 Preliminary courts out of 28 , 8 Appeal courts, 22 Family prosecutions , a number of sub-courts , some branches of the State Council , some Public Notary Authority offices in different governorates and linking courts of different levels with the Justice Information Center (JIC). This has decreased the queues in the judicial entities saving time and effort for both the citizens and the service providers and aiming at separating between the applicant &the service provider "fighting corruption and increasing transparency". Decreasing the time needed to end the procedures of a case submission. Case Submission procedures used to take about 3 days and now with the new system it only takes 10 minutes.
- Improving the work environment in the entities, automating the work-cycles & deleting the unnecessary procedures which led to increasing the employees' productivity as well as the number of the services delivered to the citizens. Raising the skills of the employees through capacity building programs which increases their sense of belonging.
- Increasing the Egyptian Post's revenue through the cash-on-delivery method “services via the internet” reflecting the number of transactions done through the internet which is around 10 thousand monthly transactions.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
- Making sure that objectives & activities of the project are "SMART" : Specific , Measurable , Achievable , Realistic and Time-Based.
- Using key performance indicators " KPIs" as a very important tool to monitor & evaluate the progress of the activities of the project.
- Generating periodic reports on the status of the activities and budget through a Performance Management System.
- Arranging regular meetings with the stakeholders & the entities participating in the implementation process to make sure that the plan is completed according to the schedule and the agreed upon deliverables.
- Availing regular training programs to the service providers to improve their skills & increase their performance.
- Following up with the service providers to solve any problems & avail any requirements.
- Giving great importance to the feedback of the applicants " citizens" through questionnaires on their satisfaction regarding the services they have "customer satisfaction".
- Keeping record of the daily statistics related to the services delivery channels "website visits with the number of transactions, number of services done through front offices & public kiosks ….etc".
- Taking the feedback of the entities providing the services regarding the productivity of the employees , number of services offered to the citizens, number of problems solved ….etc.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The project faced several obstacles. Most importantly, were the cultural obstacles represented in the digital divide, computer illiteracy and resistance of civil servants to change who felt threatened by such development and thought they would be replaced by younger, computer-literate civil servants. This was overcome by providing them with extensive IT training courses over a relatively long period of time. Also, they were engaged in requirements’ gathering and design phases of the case management systems to promote their sense of ownership and belonging, hence their keenness to make it a success.
A strategic challenge was the lack of IT-skilled personnel within judicial offices. Top management secured a budget for hiring qualified personnel and/or creating service contracts with private sector partners to provide systems with periodic updates and maintenance.
From a technical perspective, interoperability and multiple service delivery channels were also challenges, as the information systems were to be integrated with other authorities. This was overcome by the project’s technical consultants, through setting interoperability and multi-model standards for the local development partners, in order to ensure smooth operation in the future.
Unreliable electricity, bad internet connections and weak infrastructure at some remote judicial offices were unforeseen infrastructure obstacles. Strong high-level government support came in action to develop infrastructure at those locations.
Unsuitable work environment was a further obstacle, which was addressed by setting aside part of the budget for workplace improvement.
The final obstacle was the large number of stakeholders involved in the project in addition to the IT partners. Aligning vision had to be ensured, as well as building a sense of ownership within all relevant stakeholders. Extra effort was put into strengthening co-ordination, improving collaboration, as well as providing leadership at many levels. A special high-level committee was formed to ensure commitment and follow-up of all initiative‘s activities.