| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The main elements of the Action Plan were:
• Capacity building:
o Construction of high-tech building(s) meeting the requirements of transparency, comfort, citizen-friendliness and corporate standards.
This is a well-demanded criterion for citizen-friendly accommodation. The purpose was to gain public confidence, leave the feeling of trust to every citizen and create cozy atmosphere. Style of building and its interior were among the most important actions to set up totally different – transparent, reliable and friendly – commencement!
o Construction of communication lines enabling smooth and effective rendering of electronic services.
Highly-qualified IT staff ensured the installation of necessary equipment that would allow for the electronization of services and minimization of subjectivity and human factor.
o Installation of server center with special entry rule.
Server center combines the data base belonging to various ministries acting within an ASAN service center. Thus, it will enable to centralize the mutually accessible data base to interact upon requests.
o Construction of well-observed servicing floors and comfortable waiting halls
The waiting hall is the most frequently used by the citizens. Moreover, comfortable conditions serve to the good commencement of whole process of delivery.
o Construction of an administrative floor convenient for dynamic work style.
Administration has to be in harmony with the efficient work style of ASAN service centers. Thus, the same administrative philosophy has been followed. The aim was to put in place working conditions stimulating team work and spirit.
o Installation of security facilities to ensure the physical integrity of the citizens and avoid any possible disturbance thereof.
o Construction of special floors for services to be provided by the private companies within the framework of PPP.
ASAN also provides public space open to private companies. This increases the effectiveness of centers. It also meets the expectations of public needs to access private and public services in one place.
o Allocation of a wide parking area
• Resource building
o Preparation of Document on Structure of Administration
o Preparation of Regulation of each Department
o Preparation of job description for each position within the Departments
o Preparation of Strategy Papers of each Department and their sectors
o Preparation of specific rules and instructions tailored for each process (such as organization of meetings, greetings protocol, rules recruitment exams and interviews, etc.)
o Preparation of documents to ensure the management of ASAN service centers.
o Recruiting officers for key positions within the Administration of the State Agency
o Recruiting the rest of staff members
o Training for members of staff of the Administration
o Training for civil servants representing the ministries to render public services (on psycho training, customer satisfaction, stress management, time management, etc.)
o Preparation of human resources for ASAN service centers.
PR and international cooperation
o Propaganda and publicity of ASAN services
o Information and awareness raising about ASAN service and centers
o Acquaintance with the work style of similar entities abroad in order to analyze the pros and cons of each system, particularly of our mechanism and possible difficulties to face.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
a. State entities envisaged to render public services were the principal partners – contributors for the design and implementation of the initiative. They provided qualified personnel and appointed experienced professionals.
b. This was mainly because of legal structure of “ASAN service”, whereby the ministries had to serve citizens themselves without any intermediary, but under the ASAN standards.
c. Local outsourcing companies in the area of IT, internal design, equipment and furniture have been involved to set up the IT facilities and install electronic queue machines and other devices.
d. The State Committee for family, woman and children problems co-organized together with ASAN kids’ areas. The Ministry of Telecommunications assisted in the installation of communication lines and devices.
e. The local executive authorities were also very helpful to find out an appropriate location for ASAN service centers and to make ASAN service known.
f. Civil society: NGOs and human rights activists also took part in content-based issues in the area of protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the application of right to be informed, right to freedom of expression, guarantees of equality and non-discrimination in the process of public service delivery and overall work of “ASAN service” centers. They helped design the work structure with emphasis on these particular topics, among others, and provided their valuable feedback thereon.
g. Furthermore, the services such as banking, insurance, medical laboratory and first aid, translation, legal support have been prepared for use through collaboration with the representatives of the private sector. Newspapers and journals distributed free of charge among the visitors were provided by the publishing house, while the books were offered by the local book store.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The initiative implied the multi-aspect approach and the implementation of various processes parallel to each other. Besides the financial aspect, which was due to the budget of the State Agency funded by the Government, the technical and human resources were the urgent issues on the agenda.
• The technical solution came through the cooperation with private and some other public entities that helped design ASAN service centers. It included the installation of optic cables, computers, security and other electronic devices, including electricity and other utility services. Plus to that, the internal design of offices was also made up by private construction, design and IT companies. Public entities such as the Ministry of Communication were helpful in setting up communication lines, secure network.
• The crucial part of the process was human resources management. The tough objectives were finding appropriate experts, selecting well experienced specialists and enthusiast young employees. For that purpose the strategically correct and well-tailored recruitment process was in place. It envisaged the two-fold recruitment process (written exam and interview) that was transparent, objective and professionally organized. The recruitment of these knowledgeable and enthusiast young staff members in fact was a decisive factor in responding to challenges and overcoming difficulties.
To this end, the following could be qualified as the main processes associated with the realization of this initiative:
a. premises built for ASAN service centers,
b. citizen-friendly interior design,
c. installation of equipment and cable/communication lines,
d. training of newly recruited staff members including the officers envisaged to render public services
e. PR activities and international cooperation to share the ASAN experiences
The implementation of this initiative has been realized by the Government with due involvement of private entities and organizations. It has been included into the State Investment Program for the 2012 year.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
“ASAN service” proved itself to be a totally new concept representing the best national and international practices of public service delivery.
a. It unified 10 state and several private entities in one place. Such an approach enables the citizens to apply for public and private services within the same administrative building without any additional loss of time and money.
b. It simplified procedures for receiving public services via new standards and innovations. For instance, in order to ensure the accessibility of services and equal opportunities for the citizens, Mobile ASAN service rendered services in 37 destinations to 60.000 citizens residing in 41 districts (regions) in 2013.. This year, Mobile ASAN service offered services to another 60000 citizens in 25 destinations residing in 30 districts (regions).
c. It established efficient work style through electronization of services and convenient work schedule. This allowed the avoidance of bureaucratic obstacles and cumbersome formalities.
d. ASAN service achieved the high ethical behavior of civil servants towards citizens. It created a good example of how state service providers should respect the rights and dignity of each and every citizen. The comfortable conditions installed in the waiting halls of service centers were also exemplary of human factor upheld by the content and nature of ASAN service.
e. This body ensured a “zero corruption zone”. ASAN service excludes “cash-to-hand” payment and increases transparency. The latter has been achieved via a series of measures, such as e-queue system, transparent offices, payments via banks only, service process recording, and public participation via Facebook, Twitter, website, exit poll and complaint devices on the quality of services.
f. The new concept made significant contribution in the sphere of realization of democratic reforms carried out in our country. It proceeded from the best interest of citizens and acted as the space for right to freedom of expression and right to be informed. It encouraged each citizen to provide his/her feedback on the quality of services and provided exhaustive information about the details of a particular service, including their rights and freedoms.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
There are four types of systems in place to monitor progress and assess the activities:
• Monitoring the quality of each service and civil servants of the respective ministries and private companies;
• Monitoring overall activity and outcome of the ASAN service;
• Assessment of the staff members of the State Agency and ASAN service centers;
• Third party monitoring (ISO 9001:2008 QMS) and evaluation of the quality management system of the State Agency
The Department for Monitoring and Assessment is fulfilling the function of watchdogging the daily work of services and civil servants. Its controllers are keeping under their thorough consideration personal indicators of servants in terms of:
• ethical behavior,
• stress management skills,
• psychological preparedness, and
• percentage of co-relation of total number of citizens served against the overall number of satisfaction.
Further, they equally assess the co-efficiency of performance by each service to evaluate the line of evolvement and dynamism.
There are also e-survey, exit poll equipment, Skype complaint kiosk, inter-active questionnaire on the website (www.asan.gov.az ), on-line chatting, 108 Call Center, as well as the official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/asasn.gov.az ) that directly accumulate feedback of the citizens about the services and their quality.
For instance, the exit poll equipment provides the feedback by hundreds of citizens each week that benefitted from ASAN services.
To enable the older generation to express their valuable reactions transparent exit poll boxes and paper-based questionnaires are applied throughout the service. Journals for complaint and suggestions are also at the disposal of citizens to help evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the system, pros and cons of procedures in place.
To achieve in-depth evaluation of progress the results of surveys are compiled and processed by the Department for Development of E-services and Social Innovations and reported back to the leadership every week.
On a regular basis the personnel of the State Agency is examined against the required criteria and standards. For this purpose, the Agency organizes periodic test exams and attestations to verify skills and knowledge of each individual. This helps define existing shortcomings and enables to ensure the required abilities.
To ensure outside evaluation of the quality work ASAN service applied and successfully obtained the ISO 9001:2008 certificate. This is the best tool to guarantee the compliance of the activity and statutory documents of ASAN service with the international standards.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacles encountered were the following:
• Setting-up a single database accessible for all state entities rendering ASAN services.
It had to be inter-operable and capable of receiving requests and returning replies. The access to the data bases of different state entities rendering services in ASAN was critical in terms of ensuring efficiency of services.
The main course of action was achieved through creation of integrated and mutually accessible database. This was key for effective and efficient service.
• Selection of experienced representatives of state entities to serve citizens at “ASAN service” centers.
There was a great need to train civil servants that meet high standards with the capability to manage stress and time, to communicate with hundreds of people a day, to treat citizens within ethical behavior after a long working hours, etc.
The urgent action was to set standards on quality of service, elaborate code of conduct for civil servants and citizen-friendly working schedule. Another set of measures was to enforce the assessment and monitoring mechanism over the work of civil servants to constantly check their professional records. These steps played significant role in recruiting those meeting high standards and being enthusiastic to maintain their professional capacity.
• Awareness raising and dissemination of information
This can be characterized as the main obstacle to tackle. There was no information about the uniqueness of the newly established structure among the public.
Immediate actions were taken to raise awareness of the citizens, enlarge the circle of publicly available information about ASAN service and apply the latest creative and innovative means such as Facebook and website, amongst others.