Electronic Government Authority - Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Rak Al Khaimah (RAK) is one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and RAK Government consists of 22 government agencies along with large number of federal departments and authorities. Before RAK.ae initiative RAK Government identified many problems regarding services offering to emirate’s citizen, residents, visitors and businesses. One of the major challenges was lack of efficiency for face-to-face or call-center based services resulting in high cost per transaction for services offerings across RAK Government. And for all the services, personal presence was required. Also, due to lack of standards, methodologies or tools there were problems measuring end-user’s satisfaction for the services offered by the government. And, with individual government department doing their own e-Services initiatives and offerings resulted in lack of consistency, efficiency and resulting in lot of duplicate effort. And one of the main problems was the lack of any standards for Information Communication Technology (ICT) and electronic government development and implementation And for the Emirate society, there were problems with services accessibility and availability due to the limited working hours and services availability time-frame, resulting in limited number of transactions per day. And also it was hard for the citizens, residents, businesses or visitors to identify and access government-related information due to the lack of the standards and channels to access such information.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Under the vision and the directive of the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, the gateway RAK.ae was initiated by the Electronic Government Authority. Eng. Ahmad Al Sayyah, General Manager of RAK Electronic Government Authority (EGA) has transformed the vision of the Ruler by developing the e-Government Road Map to provide government informational and transactional services online by initiating RAK.ae where a single portfolio of e-Services, for different RAK government entities, were developed to cater the needs of citizens, residents, businesses and visitors of the emirate. RAK.ae framework vision is to “deliver end-user focused and world-class services” through “comprehensive design to benefit to all the customers” through “efficiency focused business model to save time, effort and money” by providing “high performing cross government services”. And its mission is to set up a framework that consists of the following 4 layers, “Access & Presentation”, “Core Applications”, “Content & Data” and “Integration”. To provide 24/7 access for citizens, residents and businesses to government services beyond office working hours. RAK.ae offers the largest potential savings and efficiency for RAK government, as it eliminates cost of staff, time delays, paper-based errors and incorrect forms completion. Increased ability to reach more users (G2C, G2B and G2G) through standardized access and delivery channels. The initiatives raised level of e-Services awareness across RAK government entities. Also Increased ROI by providing Government services on different channels (web, mobile and self-service kiosks) as the overhead costs like staff, administrative cost were reduced.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
RAK.ae is creative and innovative because of many reasons that include, but not limited to, the fact that the end customer for RAK.ae can choose their preferred channel among RAK.ae web portal, mRAK Mobile Application, RAKPay Mobile Application, RAKConnect SMS Services and RAKKiosk self-service kiosks, which makes the user-government interaction easier. Also, RAK.ae follows user-friendly design standards and best-practices, promoting top-of-the-line navigation concepts like 3-Click navigation for web passed solutions, 2-click navigation for mobile and kiosk applications. RAK.ae platform considers physically challenged and elderly throughout all channels by providing features like “Listen to the Page”. RAK.ae promotes and optimizes the accessibility for all information/services available through RAKSearch, a single enterprise search platform for all government entities websites.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
E-Government Authority has implemented the strategy by phased approach and defined intermediate milestones to review the implementation. The excellence team monitored the implementation phases. The strategy was broken down into goals and measurable objectives, where each objective was transformed into action plan assigned to respective sections of EGA. RAK.ae initiative was started in 2004 as a “Simple Website” with static pages and list of departments and their contact information. It included links to other department portals, policy statements, downloadable forms and documents. It lacked site reporting tracking or analysis features. In 2006, RAK.ae was enhanced towards the second maturity phase where a basic centralized e-Services portal was introduced with a limited set of informational services, online forms for applications and registrations. User interaction was via emails, online surveys and feedback forms, basic account inquiry, basic benefits enrollment and limited online help, support and FAQ. By 2009, RAK.ae was improved to include full transactional services portfolio including Online Payment and larger set of information services. Through 2011 to 2013, RAK.ae was moving rapidly to be “Integrated Government Gateway” with multiple user channels, RAK.ae Online Portal, mRAK Mobile Gateway and RAKPay Mobile Payment Application, which supported end-to-end electronic transactions, cross-department content sharing and information, centralized e-Services repository and cross-government reusability. RAK.ae as a framework consists of 4 layers, Access & Presentation, Applications, Content & Data, and Integration. “Access & Presentation” action plan includes, but not limited to, RAK.ae Online Portal design and development, mRAK & RAKPay Mobile Application Development, RAKiosk self-service kiosks development and maintenance, RAKSearch enterprise search engine development. “Application” layer action plan includes backend system applications that provide the core functionalities/business operations. The functionalities/business core systems include RAKConnect SMS Gateway, Solr Enterprise Search Engine Platform. And RAKServices for services exposure for cross-system communication.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
RAK.ae implementation and operations are managed by RAK Electronic Government Authority with association of different stakeholders across the emirate. One of the key stakeholder was Sheikh Saqr Program for Government Excellence (SSPGE) who worked closely with EGA e-Services team to implement RAK Government centralized e-Suggestion and e-Complaints system, as well as RAK Talent Development Service. “Al Hamra Real Estate” was major stakeholder where RAK.ae was utilized for Al Hamra Communities Utility e-Payment. Environment Protection and Development Authority (EPDA) in RAK toke care jointly with EGA of defining and implementing environment license e-Services for businesses around the emirate. Also Etisalat telecommunication company for mobile bill payment module. RAK Courts worked jointly with EGA on RAK courts’ notary e-Service. A list of charity organizations, like Rahmah Charity, Bait Al Khair Charity, Charity Authority and Emirates Red Crescent Charity, who worked together along with EGA to define centralized charity e-Service through RAK.ae framework. Also the list of stakeholders includes RAK Lands Department who was stakeholder for e-Services like statement of letter and Grant of Land. And the list also includes large number of governmental entities that contributed in the formation of RAK.ae framework, like, RAK Municipality, RAK Tourism, Human Resources Department, Economic Department, RAK Investment Authority, RAK Free Trade Zone and Ruler’s Court.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
RAK.ae is purely a government initiative with 100% funding from the RAK government. RAK.ae is a joint responsibility of EGA e-Services Section in collaboration with Infrastructure and IT Systems Section. RAK Government funded about 15 million AED for the initiative till 2013. RAK EGA e-Services section developed RAK.ae platform jointly with the Software Development Outsourcing partner for human and technical resources mobilization. RAK EGA e-Services section utilized 2 section managers, 1 Business Analyst, 1 Content Supervisor and Translator, 1 Customer Channel Supervisor, 1 Project Manager, 1 Enterprise Architect, 4 Software Developers, 4 System Administrators, 4 IT Administrators.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
One of most successful outputs was a centralized charity e-service that improves charity organizations businesses rapidly by ensuring their compliance with RAK Charity Authority rules and regulations. Also, RAK e-Suggestions and e-Complaints service as part of RAK.ae gateway was another successful output as it provides a single communication window for emirate’s society to interact with RAK Government regarding any suggestion or complaint related to RAK Government services. And the centralized e-payment gateway, for RAK Government entities, facilitated the offering of payment e-services aiding the emirate’s citizens, residents, businesses and visitors performing transactions anytime and anywhere. RAK Courts’ Notary e-Service is a very successful output as it improved the interaction between end-user and the courts system for notary issuance matters. All of that and much more being delivered to the end user through multi-channel platform, through web portal, mobile applications and self-service kiosks, ensuring high availability and accessibility.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
RAK EGA established a measurement framework to evaluate the Key Performance Indices (KPIs) that are pre-set for every e-Service proposal prior to development. The framework consists of measurement constructs, a process for deriving target values, possible corrective measures and reporting scorecard. A list of tools and systems were developed or acquired to evaluate activities and business performance. That list includes but not limited to the following, 1. Custom reporting based on Jasper reporting framework. 2. Web Transactions and User Interaction evaluation reports via Google Analytics. 3. Payment Transactions reports through Payment Gateway reporting dashboard. 4. Customer Satisfaction evaluation through RAK.ae online surveys, polls and feedback systems. And for systems (Hardware & Software) monitoring and evaluation the list includes, 1. Periodic and frequent security vulnerabilities scanning and penetration testing for RAK.ae different systems and user channels. 2. RAK.ae systems and user channels performance evaluation and benchmarking. 3. RAK EGA Datacenter systems and business services & processes management and monitoring platforms.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
One of the main obstacles that we ran through, during different phases of RAK.ae initiative, was the alignment of different missions and visions of the different stakeholders to harmoniously comply with RAK government global vision and strategy. The obstacle was overcome by conducting frequent collaboration sessions and meetings with the stakeholders and by performing sufficient analysis and studies for e-Service proposal. Also, market exposure and awareness of services availability within RAK society was an obstacle that is being overcome through designing and implementing annual marketing campaigns as well as continuous digital marketing through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO) to track organic traffic towards RAK.ae services and user channels. Other obstacle was the lack of technology awareness and trust in technology in RAK society, and it was overcome through conducting free training programs for RAK society that took place in RAK EGA training center. And finally, another obstacle was the lack of backend systems and automated processes in some of RAK governmental entities and authorities. This obstacle was overcome by working closely with RAK EGA PMO office, through their plans for implementing complete automated paperless processes and systems for different authorities and departments, and finally integrating with these backend systems.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
RAK.ae implemented 111 information e-services and 24 transactional and payment e-services and achieved high satisfaction figures, based on polls and surveys results, where 47% of the total gateway users’, who voted in RAK.ae online poll with total 919 votes, found it “Very Easy” to use the gateway & its e-Services and 26% found it “Moderate” for the same. And for another study 64%, out of 240 votes, evaluated RAK.ae portal as “Excellent” and 14% voted as “Good”. And for Mobile and Tablet evaluation, RAK.ae got 95%, out of 19,760 votes, as “Excellent”. And for RAK.ae payment services, the framework witnessed more than 200% increase in year-on-year revenue and average of 300% increase of online transactions in the last 4 years. And for the site-traffic, which increased by almost 70% in the last 3 years with more than 1.6 million page-views for RAK.ae online portal.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Yes, RAK.ae framework is sustainable because it’s designed on basic’s principle of simple, cost effective, process driven and efficient solutions. And delivering increased customer satisfaction year on year. The services provided are flexible, alternative methods, locations and timeframes for RAK society to connect and complete business transaction with all the RAK government departments. Also, RAK.ae solution development is engineered to provided simplified interface and enhance process efficiency. The framework is extended to provide enterprise-level information standards and definitions. All of that is performed with complete involvement of business stakeholders in information/service governance. And in terms of transferability, RAK.ae framework ensures that e-Services are extensible, scalable, adaptable, maintainable, reliable, secure and standard based. The framework provides technical “pattern” configurations and solutions to eliminate unnecessary custom engineering and to concentrate on business engineering by building e-Services through “reusable component-based solutions” where commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions do not apply with guarantee of redundant IT development elimination.

 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)
This initiative helped creating a common governmental services and community under one umbrella. Lessons learned in the process of developing RAK.ae include, the importance of involving all stakeholders at the early stage of the project. Also the importance of the support for encouraging different government entities to move into centralized e-Services platform rather than individually initiated services. Learning experience by Studying and benchmarking with local and international e-government entities in their approach to implement E governance, Analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures. This helped us to minimize our risk.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Electronic Government Authority - Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Ahmad Al Sayyah
Title:   Eng.  
Telephone/ Fax:   +97172337551
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   a.anneaimi@ega.rak.ae  
Postal Code:   4114
City:   Ras Al Khaimah
State/Province:   Ras Al Khaimah

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