ASAN Service
The State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of Azerbaijan

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Before the initiative was in place, the following problems in the public administration and the delivery of public services were matters of serious concern: a. Lack of the required level of transparency, accessibility, efficiency and accountability; b. Unnecessary bureaucracy, subjectivity, incompetence, red tape and petty corruption; c. Lengthy process of document submission, unduly delayed consideration of applications, lack of access to services within one single building at all calendar days and outside of places of registration that caused discomfort, loss of time and undue costs for citizens; d. Lack of the gender-based approach and the negligence of the needs of social groups; e. Low quality of relations between civil servants and citizens, as well as the lack of the public confidence in the state bureaucratic apparatus; f. Absence of uniformed standards in the delivery of public services; g. Absence of a unified body responsible for: • standardization, coordination and electronization of public services provided by various ministries, • ensuring the realization of electronization of services to be rendered by state entities in a coordinated manner, • management of a centralized database about citizens, • organization of public and private services in electronic and mobile forms. There was an urgent need for the minimization of subjectivity and organization of a corruption free, transparent and citizen-centric public service delivery system. Such a system would, inter alia: a. ensure the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the citizens, b. be sensitive of the needs of various social groups, c. increase the quality of relations between civil servants and citizens, d. raise the level of public confidence in the state administration. The establishment of a modern management mechanism in the field of public service delivery was therefore crucial for subsequent actions aimed at reforming the system.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution was found with the establishment of the Azerbaijan Service and Assessment Network (ASAN) upon the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan in 2012. ASAN operates under the auspices of the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. “ASAN service” (“asan” also means “easy” in Azerbaijani) is a new generation and the most advanced model of a one-stop shop. It brings together representatives of various governmental agencies and private companies in one place. Its activity is based on the rule of law, protection of human rights, transparency, accountability and efficiency. The objectives are to: • streamline citizens’ access to public services, • uphold ethical principles and develop professional skills for civil servants, • provide high standards of public services, • maximize confidence in state structures, • achieve full transparency, eliminate corruption, • increase application of electronic services and enhance efficiency of institutional reforms. “ASAN service” is subordinate to the State Agency. The latter sets standards and principles and oversees daily functioning of “ASAN service” centers, while the government agencies are responsible for providing quality service. “ASAN service” centers are based on the “service mall” concept. They unify in a single administrative building 10 state entities and a number of private companies that altogether render over 250 public and private services. ASAN service is unique in comparison with similar entities in other countries. It provides “space”, where state and private entities are directly rendering their services. “ASAN service” offers services, such as issuance of ID cards, passports, residence permits, notarized documents, renewal of driving licenses, etc. Private companies render services such as banking, insurance, legal consultancy, etc. The opening of the first “ASAN service” center in December 2012 marked a cardinal change in public service delivery. Corruption was totally eradicated and ASAN service centers became zero-corruption zones with high degree of efficiency. ASAN represents the Azerbaijani model of public service delivery mechanism and is the latest Azerbaijani brand. More than 3 million people have applied for ASAN services so far. The public satisfaction rate of “ASAN service” is currently 98 percent. The target audience of ASAN is all segments of the Azerbaijani society and foreign citizen alike visiting or residing in the country. Any person in Azerbaijan can apply on equal footing for services at any “ASAN” service center regardless of his/her place of registration. Working regime of “ASAN service” is tailored to the needs of citizens. “ASAN service” centers operate 7 days a week without a lunch break. That allows citizens to apply for a particular service within a time frame suiting their weekly agenda without any need for excuse at working place. Meeting special needs of various social groups via application of innovative solutions is among ASAN’s priorities. As part of Mobile “ASAN service” well-equipped large buses offer services to the residents in remote areas and regions that do not have ASAN centers. Intra-city mobile ASAN buses are available free of charge to all disabled people and children under medical care. ASAN centers have all facilities for persons with disabilities, kids and mothers with infants. As part of its attention to the youth, ASAN has set up a sophisticated system of volunteership. Young and enthusiastic people eager to get work experience are involved in the operation of the centers according to the Law on Volunteership. This movement also led to the establishment of “ASAN School” and “ASAN Volunteers Youth Organization”. The UNICEF Child Legal Aid Center was launched in an “ASAN service” center as part of the efforts to protect and promote children’s rights.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
ASAN is the most advanced model of public service delivery. It unifies in one building state and private entities that directly offer their services. Hence, a conflict of interests and duplication of functions between the State Agency and servicing entities are avoided. ASAN activities are totally transparent, efficient and corruption-free. Activity reports are made public. All services have fixed fees paid only via banks located in the centers. ASAN employees are well-trained, highly competent and ethical. About 55% of them are women. Public opinion about ASAN’s work is obtained through: - website; - social networks; - Call Center; - paper-based and e-surveys. ASAN’s Facebook page enjoys around 250.000 “likes”. ASAN’s website is visited by 25000 visitors weekly. ASAN’s Bank of Ideas serves for collecting the public’s ideas on future development of service delivery. Innovations include: - electronic queue machine; - website and Call Center-based queue system; - exit poll equipment; - Skype Complaint kiosk; - touch-screen monitors displaying information on services and fees; - special equipment for handicapped people: special elevator and automatic step-lifter; - inter-regional and intra-city Mobile “ASAN service”; - “ASAN mobile Signature” for access to public e-services from the country and outside.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The main elements of the Action Plan were: • Capacity building:  Institution 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  Normative-legal resources 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.  Human resources 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, • professionalism, • 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.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
• Qualitatively new relationship between civil servants and citizens ASAN service established totally new, qualitatively exemplary relationship between service providers and citizens. It increased the level of confidence and trust towards state entities and their activities. Furthermore, ASAN service proved the significance of public’s feedback, views and opinions for the state entities and demonstrated how the public’s view serves as the main indicator for decision making at the state level. • Large application of e-services and minimization of subjectivity ASAN service was the best manifestation of the Government’s will to end the bureaucratic routine and long-lasting formalities. It demonstrated the Government’s interest in fighting against the arbitrary intervention of public officers and therefore inventing electronic services to get rid of the corruption-based subjectivity. • Transparent and corruption-free environment ASAN service is the Government’s latest initiative to fight against corruption. It ensures a transparent working style during a service process. E-queue system, all-glassed offices, recorded servicing, ban on “cash-in-hand” payment, large awareness raising measures on list of documents, fees, procedures, addresses, servicing duration, and rights and freedoms of citizens vis-à-vis the services rendered determine transparent environment. Today each citizen that witnessed ASAN service mentions with proud humor: ASAN is the Wi-Fi and corruption-free zone! • Ensuring accessibility through innovative public service delivery ASAN service has also received the sympathy of citizens due to its creative and innovative way of work. Among the most welcomed by the citizens are queue booking via website www.asan.gov.az or 108 Call Center and mobile ASAN service. The following statistical data can serve as the indicators of the level of the public’s accessibility:  Each of 6 ASAN centers renders services to more than 2500 people daily.  More than 3 million people have accessed ASAN services so far.  More than 120 thousand persons in 62 destinations have received services through inter-regional mobile ASAN service.  Launched in March 2014, intra-city mobile service has been rendered to 604 families in Baku. 173 of them were received free of charge by persons with disabilities.  More than 400 thousand calls have been received by 108 Call Center. Citizens also addressed around 73 thousand inquires via the ASAN Facebook page, 30 thousand via the ASAN website and 2200 via email. In total 289 complaints have been received, and all of them have been responded to.  ASAN’s Facebook page enjoys around 250.000 “likes”.  The ASAN website is visited by 25 thousand persons weekly.  The public satisfaction rate is 98%. • High respect to dignity, right to freedom of expression and right to be informed in the course of public service delivery ASAN service upholds high respect to human dignity. It proceeds from the best interest of citizens, right-based approach and their legitimate stands on the issue. To respect the right to freedom of expression the ASAN service has done commendable work on:  standardization of its work on the basis of views and opinions of citizens;  setting up ethical and high moral treatment of visitors,  design of accessible space for interaction with citizens,  survey-based indicators of progress and increase of quality. • Satisfaction of citizens due to efficiency, comfort, ethical behavior and minimization of loss of time and money Since the establishment of ASAN service the citizens witnessed the new and qualitatively high public service delivery. Now they do not need to run throughout the city for several services in traffic-rich roads. ASAN service combines the public and private services the most applied for. E-services make the life much easier. Efficient work style allows the citizens to send their applications from distance. Comfort has been ensured in two ways: one is the physical comfort designed for visitors, such as e-queue system, bank, post office, photo studio, emergency aid, laboratory, kids’ area, mother-care room, Wi-Fi café, self-service area, modern art corner, etc. Another type of comfort is through the working schedule of ASAN service: from 10 am until 8 pm without lunch break, including weekends from 10 am until 5 pm. Thus, the citizens do not ask permissions at their workplace, nor do they look for any reason for excuses.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Innovative character of the initiative gradually increases the opportunities for its analogical application in other areas of public administration. Apart from improving public service delivery it established high standards of citizen-centric mechanism. The initiative with its unique features shapes the new model of relations between civil servants and population. The essence of the concept is that a citizen applying to “ASAN service” center gets the opportunity to benefit from services of several state entities at a time. This centralization enables the citizens to significantly reduce time spent. Application of the most advanced information technology makes the use of services simpler and more transparent. After the establishment of ASAN service the additions to its mandate have been made couple of times. Two more services and 25 functional auxiliary services have been complemented to the previous 30 group of services. The new mandate has been discharged with high success and remarkable indicators of citizen satisfaction. Strategic planning and research is being done by the management of ASAN service to keep the system sustainable and up-to-date. The expansion of ASAN geography within the country to cover all regions is another focus area. Meeting the needs of localities is the issue of transferability of ASAN. There is a good example of the mobile ASAN service. However, this case is about technical and geographical transfer of a static ASAN into a mobile one. Mobile ASAN service in fact demonstrated the accessibility, equal treatment of population in regions both with and without an access to ASAN public services and innovative delivery style, hence proved the ASAN’s transferability. The use of the intra-city mobile ASAN buses is another valuable experience to be replicated. It enables citizens to receive services at their addresses, home, work or elsewhere. As a modern social and innovative concept "ASAN service" attracted the attention of a number of states and international organizations. There is a growing interest abroad to learn from ASAN experience. Due to its unique characteristics "ASAN service" was named as "The new brand of Azerbaijan" by the public and in foreign press. It is worthy to quote Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, who after getting acquainted with the work of ASAN service said that “This is a unique model. I think many European countries could benefit from Azerbaijan’s experience. … ASAN is the best project for the public service delivery”. The participants of the International Conference on “Public service delivery in the context of human rights and good governance” organized by the State Agency on 24-25 September 2014 in Baku also underlined the importance for other countries to learn from Azerbaijan’s experience on public service delivery. A number of foreign countries have officially expressed their interest in cooperating with ASAN in this area.

 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)
The principal lessons learned are: • Transparency, accountability, public participation, new tools for feedback, accessibility For newly designed public service like ASAN, the transparency is of utmost importance to demonstrate the difference of quality and create the opportunity for value-judgment by the public. This equally implies the accountability of service providers toward citizens. ASAN’s activity reaffirmed the importance of building upon the public’s feedback in order for the qualitative advancement and achievement of satisfaction to be gained. Ensuring transparency and accountability of its work is ASAN’s modus operandi. This is reflected in the periodic statistical data released for the public on a daily, monthly, quarterly and annual basis for each center separately, as well as services rendered separately and altogether. • Ethical behavior, respect to human dignity and human rights and freedoms ASAN service proved the relevance of ethical behavior in relation with the citizens. That is the starting point for the citizens’ successful completion of the procedures to receive public services. Respect to dignity, personality, human rights and freedoms of citizens irreplaceable. It can be substituted neither by technological advancements nor by the modern buildings. • Citizen-centric approach and comfort in a broader meaning A citizen is always seeking care and respect by the state and its bodies. The comfort regime was successful enough to extend these feelings among the citizens that applied for ASAN service. • Electronization of services and minimization of subjectivity ASAN service created space with zero corruption. This was achieved mainly through minimization of subjectivity through electronization of services. • Significance of awareness raising, information sharing, publicity and propaganda A citizen well informed about the activities of state entities feels more confident. He/she can easily pass procedure for receiving public services once is aware of his/her rights, freedoms and obligations. For that purpose PR activity was a valuable experience of ensuring the best interests of citizens. Equally PR was critical to make the new service known and attractive.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   The State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of Azerbaijan
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Azad Jafarli
Title:   Director of International Relations Department  
Telephone/ Fax:   Tel: +994 12 444 74 10 / Fax: +994 12 444 74 75
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   e.huseynli@asan.gov.az  
Address:   36, Academic Hasan Aliyev street
Postal Code:   AZ1078
City:   Baku
State/Province:   N/A
Country:  

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