| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The complexity and extent of GSB reflects a determination to transform the services provided by the public sector to an eGovernment system. This has been part of a systematic strategic plan whose origins can be traced back more than a decade. A chronology of plans and activities which led to the implementation of the system demonstrates this:
2004: The National Communication and Information Technology Plan (NCITP) included the establishment of Yesser.
2005: The Cabinet of Ministers in Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree to establish Yesser, which would enable and empower Saudi government agencies for e-Transformation. Mandate, authority and funds were established. The first strategy and action plan was developed, to be executed in the period 2006-2010. It included the need for the GSB to address the problems noted above (see sections 1, 2 and 3) and to deliver additional value through a clearly defined value chain.
2006: Work towards GSB was initiated and included the following:
• Documents defining the problem were initiated.
• The international practices and experience of leading countries were benchmarked.
• One RFP for consulting and another for the development of GSB were initiated.
• Tenders for the project were evaluated and awarded.
• The architecture of GSB as a canonical model was developed.
• High level design documents and access layers for providers and consumers were developed.
• Low level design documents were created.
2007: The character of GSB began to crystallize through the following activities:
• The development of a GSB Interoperability framework was undertaken and branded as the Yesser Enterprise Framework for Interoperability (YEFI).
• The development of GSB began.
2008: GSB was ready for testing and this included the following activities:
• The development of GSB was completed.
• Functional testing started and bugs and other issues were resolved.
• Performance testing was initiated and the system refined.
• The documentation of GSB was updated.
• A provider on-boarding process with the Ministry Of Interior Affairs was begun.
• A consumer on-boarding process with the Ministry Of Labor was started.
2009-2010: GSB was operational and this included the following activities:
• YEFI was revised.
• The second strategy and action plan, to be executed between 2012 and 2016, was developed. This was achieved through a co-creation approach where people from government agencies, vendors, private agencies, higher education, and the public were involved and made significant contributions.
This Second National Action Plan includes several initiatives to support the following:
• The measurement and improvement of the capacity of GSB.
• An acceleration of the on-boarding process.
• The development of communication plans to increase the understanding of GSB value and to increase the adoption of it.
• The development of change management plans and projects to create collective ownership of the concept and the practice.
• The promote and praise of success stories.
2010-Present: The GSB Ecosystem was mapped and included the following activities:
• Baseline GSB capacity established, with quota enforcement in place for consumers and with an enhanced response time of 600ms
• GSB Authorization enhanced to fine-tune service access and to protect the privacy of data.
• The development of a comprehensive GSB ecosystem and supporting services.
• GSB Express and a set of tools (for example Ertibat) to accelerate GSB provisioning and consumption installed.
• Initiatives to provide GSB As Service, Support for batch processing and next version of GSB architecture and services etc.
• The establishment of a service Identification process to identify and prioritize needs so that the coverage of government services to consumers can be increased.
• The delivery of location based services to assist in decision making and planning for government agencies, which can also be utilized by citizens to address their needs.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
A diverse range of individuals, business entities and organisations have been involved in the GSB initiative. The starting point was the assembly of a business consulting team by Yesser, which documented the business requirements and visited leading countries to benchmark their practices against the requirements of GSB. Following this, an innovative new hybrid model had to be designed to match these requirements. McKenzie analyzed the requirements, IBM designed the solution, while Yesser owned and oversaw the whole cycle.
The solution developed by IBM took much longer than planned for the following reasons:
• Being a new concept solution, there was no model to copy; thus, unanticipated obstacles had to be overcome.
• There was a lack of relevant local expertise and so individuals from all over the world had to be brought in.
• Legislative and social issues played a major role in the delay. For example, as team members changed, the delays increased.
The planned duration was 8 months but it took 18 months. However, once developed, the system worked well.
The stakeholders of GSB were represented by the following roles:
• Project Sponsor (Yesser Director General).
• Project Director (Software Engineering Dept Director).
• Project Managers (from the PMO of Yesser, IBM).
• Subject Matter Experts (from Yesser, IBM, and the Development Team)
Once the GSB system was built and put in place the responsibility for running it and making sure its goals were achieved fell entirely on Yesser. Thus, Yesser built the capabilities and competencies to make sure that the vision was put into action.
The stakeholders are now represented by the following roles
• Project Sponsor (Yesser Director General)
• Project Director (Software Engineering Department)
• GSB Business Owner
• Architecture and Standards Team
• Consumer on Boarding Team
• Service Provisioning Team
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
As can be observed from the following financial details, the costs range across the areas specified and may be seen on the one hand as being quite extensive but on the other as providing substantial benefits relative to these costs:
A range of individuals and groups have been involved in the process and some continue to be as the system evolves and develops.
The first group that contributed to the system were the legislators and senior government officials who not only established the National Communication and Information and Technology Plan but also established Yesser by decree within a wider concept of transforming public sector agencies.
The initial designing and building of GSB was undertaken by a team from IBM, which was supervised by the Development Team, and which also carried out quality checks on every deliverable. In addition, there was a team from Yesser which shadowed this whole process in order that necessary knowledge and skills could be transferred to them. This team also provided the necessary authority to enable progress from one stage of the project to the next. The result of this is that the Yesser team has built sufficient competency to improve on the design and is working on the next architecture version of GSB.
Yesser also has dedicated teams for the integration of consumer and provider services, which includes responsibilities such as integrating project management, providing tools, knowledge and guidance. These teams also work on R&D to provide for the enhancement and scaling of GSB, with initiatives being driven by the top management in Yesser, and which are focused on the needs of providers and consumers of GSB.
The necessary infrastructure for the use of GSB substantially existed within Saudi Arabia prior to the implementation of it. Therefore, the main technical resources came in terms of extra and ancillary hardware required for service providers to run the system and in the software that was developed by IBM and which continues to be developed by Yesser.
All figures are rounded to the nearest USD 500,000 or, if less than this amount, to the nearest USD 100,000:
The total cost for consultations was USD 2 million
Total development costs were USD 8 million
Support costs for two years were USD 4 million
On-boarding costs averaged approximately USD 1.5 million per provider, USD 200,000 for the first service integration and USD 50,000 for each additional service integration thereafter.
It is relevant to note that the Yesser now has the technical support capability to build new integrations without any additional cost.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
In general terms, the most significant and rewarding output that contributed to the success of GSB is the fact that it enables a single market for all government services, which effectively means that it is a platform for equitable service delivery across all sections of society.
One concrete example of this is Jadarah, a youth employment program that is powered by GSB Services. The programme provides up to date and accurate information from various organizations that are helping to deliver much needed youth employment assistance and guidance. It has been very successful and has supported a number of vulnerable groups.
Four further concrete outputs offered via GSB are:
1. Educational Certificate Services
Educational certificate services such as high school certificates, university entrance results, graduate records and vocational training certificates are provided via GSB. These services have catered to the requirements of more than 1.5 million students by allowing agencies to identify and verify credentials, thereby enabling training and placement for people seamlessly and equitably.
2. Electronic Medical Record
The high value of the Electronic Medical Record Service (EMS) becomes apparent by noting that in the event of accidents, constraints can exist for the provision of health care. The service provides accurate health information in the form of medical histories, which can be retrieved from a single source. Prior to GSB this was not possible.
3. Real Estate Development Fund(REDF)
GSB Services are used by the Real Estate Development Fund (REDF) to provide government home loans for millions of people, something which was not possible prior to GSB and those assisted include significant numbers from vulnerable groups. To apply for such a loan, an individual does not need to visit any government office, a factor which, had that been the case, would have disadvantaged people living in remote rural locations.
4. Zakat Certificate
A Zakat (a tax based on the principle of reducing income inequality) certificate service has been used by numerous people to comply with tax regulations. The service has assisted many individuals because it enables convenient access to the government in obtaining these certificates.
In summary, GSB has made it easier for government agencies to deliver their programs and eServices to citizens and expatriates. GSB and Yesser teams have reduced financial and time costs for users of government services and agencies.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The monitoring and evaluation of the strategy is part of an ongoing process for future enhancements and improvements of the system. It is therefore the key element for the development of future strategies for evolution and change. Two distinct approaches are employed for this. One is that GSB has an integrated business intelligence system, effectively an audit logging and non-repudiation system. This system monitors, measures and has dashboards that display performance indicators in terms of service, consumers and providers. The intelligence generated is used to plan for future services and also to improve existing ones. The second approach is via a yearly performance measurement system, Qiyas, which measures the extent to which eTransformation has been achieved generally and with the effective use of GSB specifically.
Within these two approaches, it is possible to ensure that the core aim of equitably enabling the access of services across the entire population, including vulnerable groups, is achieved. The responsibility for this is conferred upon the Yesser business owner who, with the assistance of a dedicated team (Yesser Business Development – YBD), is able to ensure that the underlying purposes of GSB are aligned and achieved.
A part of this responsibility is to maintain close contact with government agencies and to coordinate actions with them in order that the benefits of the services provided are maintained and enhanced through the optimal use of them, effectively to ensure that the system functions properly by being fully utilized and maintained, something that both these agencies and Yesser have a common interest in achieving.
Yesser Consulting Group (YCG) is also a part of this process as it provides assistance and guidance to government agencies with regard to GSB specifically and in terms of their eTransformation generally. The mandate for this part of Yesser’s responsibilities includes the effective utilization of services provided by GSB for the automation and execution of agency business processes. Hence there are multiple touch points that Yesser uses to monitor and evaluate its implementation strategy.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacle encountered during implementation was ensuring that GSB was not only adopted by government agencies but also that the vision of delivering efficient and equitable services to all groups in society was achievable by them through GSB.
This obstacle was addressed by the mobilization of the Yesser Development Group, the Yesser Consulting Group and the Software Engineering Department who sold the idea as well as showing government departments and service providers how GSB could be used to meet the vision and their needs.
A further obstacle to change was that government agencies showed reluctance to effectively give up ownership and control of data, even though it was no longer necessary for them to hold such quantities of it. This can be related to feelings of losing their independence, with GSB being seen as a challenge to their authority.
This challenge was met by persuasion and demonstrating the rationality and superiority of using GSB. The company also employed people who had worked in government agencies to assist in these efforts as well as Qiyas, an annual measure of compliance status for government service providers, and which could be compared with the anticipated levels of eTransformation. The arguments were ultimately won because GSB is demonstrably far superior to previous methods employed and the management and staff of government agencies have a deep sense of responsibility to citizens which, in the final analysis, is a stronger force than feelings of authority and control.
Two further obstacles were technical understanding by government agencies and an ability to isolate specific aspects of service so that they could be prioritized.
These were overcome by mentoring and guidance during the implementation phases and by creating an innovative process to evaluate the services in eGovernment, based on the value of services provided.