DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF SOCIAL ASSISTANCES

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Before the initiative, the following problems were encountered related with delivery of social assistance services; • The same person had social assistance services delivered from different organizations; whereas some other had none. This resulted in social inequality. • The investigation to determine the neediness of an individual was being conducted by multiple organizations independently of each other; hence time, resources and effort were wasted for the same task over and over again. • There was no integrated database of needy people to perceive the real social situation; constant monitoring of social status was not possible and it was really hard to estimate social assistance budget accurately. There were 973 Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations in Turkey and every foundation had its own data bank. • During the social assistance application, applicants used to collect all the necessary documents by themselves. All reports and household files were kept and processed manually. All steps of the social assistance were recorded step by step manually. In summary, providing social assistance was taking too much time than it needed to be. • The type and magnitude of social assistance delivered to the needy were not being recorded simultaneously; hence the information regarding the households was not up to date. This situation made it impossible to determine and prevent duplicate social assistance. Moreover, the target population of the social assistance was remained unknown. • Paper works were time consuming. Besides, payment instructions and accounting information were logged manually, thus the overall process was error-prone and unreliable. • There were no categorization of the families according to their needs, thus it was hard to plan new social policies according to existing needs of the target group. Since assistances were not being monitored in the household level, impact of the social assistances remained unknown.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Integrated Social Assistance Services System (ISASS) is a component of Information Society Strategy Action Plan and is financed by State Planning Institute in 2009 investment program. ISASS is designed and implemented by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. ISASS is an IT project which enable collecting the applications of poor and needy people to any social assistance programs from each local SAS Foundations to a single database in which socioeconomic status of the applicants can be gathered from other central databases by using web-service technology and the decisions about the applicants can be given and tracked by using this online system. By using the ISASS all process starting from application to any social assistance till delivery of the desired assistance to needy people including the banking and accounting can be investigated centrally. Citizens can apply for social assistance with T.R Identity Number, all necessary information about citizen and his/her family are collected from online interrogations. 52 different interrogations from 16 different institutions are integrated to the system. Basic interrogations details are explained below; • From MERNIS database of Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality information of addresses, copies of civil-family registration and information of incident, • From the database of, Public Employment Services information about whether or not the person has a record to Public Employment Services, s/he receives Unemployment Insurance, Short-time Working Allowance and Job Loss Compensation, • From the database of General Directorate of Social Services and Children Protection, information about whether or not the person has received Home care allowance, • From the database of Social Security Institution, information about whether or not the person has Social Security, s/he benefits from health services • From the database of General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre, information about whether or not the person has real property ownership, System is used by 1002 different Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations in the country; there are 10000 system users in these locations. The system has 4500 active users on average. All of the socioeconomic information about 5.5 million household and 21 million people are registered in the database. The following information can be obtained by using ISASS in a few seconds: • addresses • copies of civil-family registration • employment status • unemployment insurance • short-time working allowance and job loss compensation • social assistance received from any local SAS Foundations • home care allowance received • existence of social security • benefit from health services • owning property or planted area and owning a motor vehicle • registration to tax system and running a business • scholarship Besides, all of this information for each family and people (21 million people) in the system is updated within a period of 45 days from other databases centrally and the changes in socioeconomic status of each household is tracked and the decisions regarding the social assistance delivery to that household are revised. The initiative solves the problem in the following aspects; • Collects information about needy individuals and the social assistance in a centralized database. • Enables fair and non-duplicate social assistance distribution. • Eliminates duplicate effort for social investigation of needy individual. • Helps in accurate estimation of social assistance budget. • Provides instant monitoring of ongoing social assistance. • Helps to improve service quality control because plans are based on measurements, not guesses. • Decreases the time between application and social assistance provision. • Helps to implement decision support system of determination of neediness. • Enables up to date and accurate social assistance statistics. • Enables to develop new social assistance programs to target audiences like disabled, elderly, soldier family and women.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
• Social assistance evaluation process is enriched with “household approach” that helps standardization of the evaluation process. After that, Decision Support System is developed for determination of neediness. A comprehensive survey is created for gathering detailed information regarding social, economic, and demographic aspects of the household. Various statistical models are constructed and studied to categorize the households and assign scores to them with respect to the information gathered by the conduction of the surveys. The final score calculated per household is then depicted in order to guide the social assistance personnel to choose the relevant assistance type for each household. • In Turkey, the first time services from 16 different institutions with 52 different interrogations are integrated and executed regularly in an automatic fashion for supporting continuous decision taking regarding the categorization and determination of household neediness. • The initiative not only aims to deliver social assistance; but also directs people to appropriate employment opportunities and training lessons in regards to their abilities so that to reduce their need for social assistance. • Periodic payments are delivered to beneficiaries in a fully automated approach via electronic payment channels in the whole country concurrently, and beneficiaries are informed about payment with short message service.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The implementation strategy is planned to be a module based software development and deployment cycle. The very first module to be developed has been the one that is to have an impact on maximum number of needy citizens. While the modules delivered are in use, upcoming modules are being developed simultaneously; hence immediate feedbacks and requests are gathered from the system end users and stakeholders. A chronology that details the most important activities in the implementation of the system is provided below: • By 2010, Conditional Cash Transfer Service was implemented and deployed gradually in all locations to the service of end-users. • At the beginning of 2011, project plan was revised according to feedbacks; where project schedule and scope priorities are changed. • By 2011, Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation’s services were implemented and deployed gradually in all locations to the service of end-users. • At the beginning of 2012, project plan was revised according to feedbacks; where project scoped was extended so as to cover new social assistance services targeted for disabled, elderly and women as well as a new service (income test service) to determine the income level of the households. • At the end of 2012, the services mentioned in the previous step are implemented and deployed for end-users. • At the beginning of 2013, project plan was revised again; so as to cover a new social assistance service targeted for the families of citizens who are on duty at obligatory military service (named as Soldier Families Assistance Service). Another addition to the scope was another service, named Unusual Case Detection And Notification Service that aims to determine problematic cases (such as violence targeted to children, use of drugs and extensive use of alcohol, etc.) within the household in order to notify other state institutions to take necessary actions. • At the end of 2013, Soldier Families Assistance Service and Solidarity Foundation’s Project service (a service that supports citizens to startup a business so that their need for social assistance is prevented) are opened for end-users in all locations. • At the beginning of 2014, project plan was revised again; so as to cover a new social assistance service targeted for unemployed and needy people. • At the end of 2014, new employment assistance service was implemented and opened for service use all locations, and an infrastructure to share social assistance data with authorized users at other state and governmental institutions was developed. • At the end of 2015, the named Unusual Case Detection And Notification Service will be developed and deployed so that whole ISASS modules will be completed.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Integrated Social Assistance Services System (ISASS) is designed and implemented by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey Integrated Social Assistance Services System (ISASS) is integrated with the following institutions to perform interrogations explained in Section 2. • Ministry of Education(E-school) • Ministry of Health(Family Medicine Information System) • Ministry of Finance • Public Employment Services • Ministry of Interior • General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality • Social Security Institution • Banks (PTT, Ziraat Bankası) • Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs • General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadstre • Directorate General of Foundations • Social services and Child Protection Agency • Institution of Scholarship and Dormitories • Ministry of Defense All System end-users are also stakeholders. They can send any suggestion, enhancement or improvement via online issue tracking tool, all end-users have an account in the system’s issue tracking tool and they can follow their issue status and results.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
• The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey is the leading agency developing science, technology and innovation policies, supporting and conducting research and development activities; and playing a leading role in the creation of a science and technology culture in Turkey since 1963. In The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey 5 teams with 24 members are responsible for the design and implementation of the Integrated Social Assistance Services System (ISASS). o Technical Teams: 4 teams with 18 computer engineers responsible for design and implementation of the ISASS. o Training Team: 3 software instructors who are responsible for training end-users. o Project Management Team: 3 engineers responsible for project management activities; planning, monitoring and control. • ISASS is basically described as an action in Information Society Strategy Action Plan; the action has strategic priority in Citizen-Focused Service Transformation. General Directorate of Social Assistance is responsible for the implementation of the action. In General Directorate of Social Assistance 19 members responsible for administrative details of the ISASS • ISASS is financed by Ministry of Development in regards to the details explained in 2009 investment program. • Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation’s staff participated in all analysis activities. They contributed to identify the requirements of ISASS.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
• Time between application of assistance and provision of assistance is dramatically decreased. • The information about all Government funded social assistance is collected in one central database. Duplicated social assistance is prevented. There was a saving which was more than the project budget achieved via prevention of duplicate and unfair assistance. • The effectiveness of the social assistance decisions are increased by the help of the management of social assistance information holistically. • A smart information system that helps providing a fair resource distribution is developed. • By integrating all necessary information the “household approach” in social assistance is activated.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Integrated Social Assistance Services System (ISASS) is developed as a software project. Iterative and incremental development model is used. ISASS is developed through repeated cycles and in smaller portions at a time, that allows team members to take advantage of what was learned during development of earlier versions of the system. Learning comes from both the development and use of the system. At each iteration new functional capabilities are added. The analysis of each iteration is based on user feedback and the program analysis facilities available. It involves analysis of the structure, modularity, usability, reliability, efficiency and achievement of goals. These analyses have consequences, for instance the project scope and schedule are revised as explained in Section 4. Project management monitoring and controlling process includes the processes to ensure that the project is managed and executed according to the Project Plan. This process execution is also used to monitor and to evaluate the activities. Project Monitoring and Controlling includes tracking, reviewing and managing the progress and performance of the project along with management of changes when required. While the process is being executed, project meetings are hold with stakeholders in order to review progress, schedule, risks, problems, change requests, open action items, and measures regularly. If necessary, action items are opened and tracked. Feedbacks from end-users are also helpful to monitor the progress and to evaluate the activities. The system is used in 1002 different locations in 81 provinces by a total of 10000 end-users. End-users can give feedback about the system via lots of different channels; • End-user trainings: while adding new functionalities to the system, end-users are trained about the new functionalities. These trainings which can be performed as online learning sessions or applied practical sessions. • Questionnaire: End-user satisfaction, which is also one of the goals stated in the project plan, is measured with questionnaires regularly. • Online issue tracking tool (named JIRA): the system has online issue tracking service to reach all end-users and get all end-users contribution to the system. • Help desk: help desk personnel support end-users about usage of the system and collect their feedback. • Automatic exception mechanism: Any exception that occurs during daily usage of the system is automatically recorded so as to provide technical development team the chance to solve it as soon as possible.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
• Since the system had 10000 users disseminated in 1002 different geographical locations; the training of them was a big challenge. In order to overcome this problem the training sessions were planned to include at least one user from each of these 1002 locations. Moreover, all the training sessions are relevant documents are provided online for immediate access. • In some cases, data transfer from legacy systems were needed; however during the process it was realized that the data was either incomplete or missing. This process took more time than planned in the project plan. In order to overcome this problem; project plan was revised with the contribution of stakeholders. • Some of the institutions from which information is to be integrated were lacking necessary technical knowledge and experience to provide it. The technical team of the project provided necessary support to prevent the project schedule extension.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
• All data of the applicant from the application for social assistance until the delivery of the necessary service is stored on a household basis in a digital environment. • Social assistance and employment integration is enabled via this system. Turkish Employment Agency is also notified about unemployed citizens who are targeted for social assistance. This means protection to promotion approach is used; where nearly 19000 citizens got a new job thanks to this integration, and about 50000 citizens got training; which might help them in finding jobs. • Reliable statistics are produced to plan effective social policies. • In January 2012 Income tests of General Health Insurance was carried out by this project. By the end of 2012, 14.6 million of people were registered by using this system. • The workloads of public institutions from which the citizens request documents about their situations, have been decreased. • The workloads of SAS Foundations have been diminished; the time, which the personnel of the Foundations allocate for social investigation, has been increased. • Bureaucracy has been minimized by abolishing the correspondence between public institutions in order to prevent duplicate assistances and this contributes using the public resources effectively. Because of the reduced bureaucracy 96 million pages paper is not used and 132 million TL paper and transportation expense is saved in a year. • According to a simulation done on 50.000 household, %25 of the social assistance is canceled due to being duplicated. • Neediness-poverty of citizens applying to the social assistances has begun to be determined by the state itself by using the central databases; citizens have been unburdened from proving their neediness. The needy citizens do not need to go from one state institution to the other to collect necessary documents anymore; the provision of their identification cards is enough to initiate the application for social assistance. This means the delivery time of the social assistance to the needy decreased considerably. • Because all the process is done electronically, 96 million pages (479 tons of paper), 210 tons of water, and 3 million 640 thousand Kw electricity is saved. • Citizens have an opportunity to track their social assistance information via government portal, so the transparency of the data is increased.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Integrated Social Assistance Services System (ISASS) is a sustainable system; new assistance services are easily added as new service types. ISASS is giving service at national level. New servicing locations can be easily created by using the system without any service interruption.

 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)
• Integration with other systems should be designed carefully, because this affects the maintainability of system. • Integration with other institutions can be a challenging process, when the institution has no technical capacity and active system. • Effectively reaching the end-users is really helpful for the success of the system.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF SOCIAL ASSISTANCES
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   MUSTAFA SENCER KİREMİTÇİ
Title:   FAMILY AND SOCIAL POLICY EXPERT  
Telephone/ Fax:   +903127058017
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   sencer.kiremitci@aile.gov.tr  
Address:   Eskişehir Yolu Söğütözü Mah. 2177. Sok. No: 10/A Kat: 17-18-19
Postal Code:   06510
City:   ANKARA
State/Province:  
Country:  

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