E-Recruitment System (JADARAH)
The Ministry of Civil Service

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The situation that existed prior to the initiative can be described as an age-old problem which contained numerous sub-areas of difficulties for those applying for jobs in the Civil Service as well as for ministries that were advertising them and who needed, in order that the levels of efficiency and the provision of public services did not deteriorate, an efficient, transparent and equitable system for recruitment. The previous system used a paper and manual method for advertising jobs and for applicants who applied for them. Apart from delays that such a cumbersome operation caused, there were often difficulties for the employers in understanding which applicants were applying for which jobs, in what their qualifications relative to the job specifications and requirements were and in terms of the preferences of applicants. There was, furthermore, a manual system for considering the job applications, with much subjectivity on behalf of those deciding who should be short-listed or not. While the extent of its truth was not known, there was a perception that applications were not always equitably judged which meant that the poorer and more disadvantaged people in society, as well as women, may have been particularly discouraged from applying. The lack of enforceable procedural regulations with regard to posting jobs meant that there were often delays in government agencies requesting that vacancies be advertised and even when they were posted, there was no system or single source for seeking government jobs, which led to a situation where the best candidates often did not even know of a vacancy and may therefore have applied for jobs for which they were less well suited. When applications had been submitted, the erratic system dealing with the return of them meant that in some periods the applications were not scrutinized for a period of time after receipt, leading to a situation where vacancies would remain unfilled for a relatively long time, which in turn created backlogs in the provision of public services and therefore to higher levels of frustration among users. The fact, furthermore, that the whole system was centralised within the Ministry of Civil Service not only exacerbated the inefficiencies described above but also led to disadvantages for people who lived in remote areas because these populations, which often contain the poorest and most disadvantaged in society, were the least likely to be able to succeed in applying for public sector jobs as well as being the most likely to suffer when the fact of unfilled vacancies had an impact on public services. The problems that have been outlined above can be seen as a summary of the main issues which had to be addressed and it is important to emphasise that they had an impact on all government agencies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as on those in the Ministry of Civil Service and its various branches, and particularly on the staff who had to work with such a difficult and out-dated system.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The problems that existed were identified by the senior management of the Ministry of Civil Service and were confirmed through an analysis of them following several extensive surveys and workshops that included important stakeholders in the system for civil service recruitment. This identification and subsequent proposal to solve the problem was also influenced by a growing awareness in the Kingdom that there should be a constant movement towards an integrated e-government system. Against this background, the Ministry set out to achieve the aim of creating a system for recruitment that was embedded in the highest levels of technical advancement and which reflected the best international practices from within that field. This led to the creation of the initiative, which has been named the ‘Jadarah’ system. It has come to be considered as being the most important initiative for government recruitment, and the most widespread and important one that is used in the Kingdom. The process of planning, creating and implementing ‘Jadarah’ included a comprehensive study by a group of consultants and specialists in human resources management in which a wide range of international experiences of the best practices in the recruitment process were used. The consultative process included those involved in the recruitment process at the Ministry and other government agencies. The planning of the initiative embraced the recruitment stages and procedures of the Ministry as well as global best practices in the field, which meant that clear and specific standards could be set according Ministry values and international practices and that an optimal model for a comprehensive and integrated recruitment system was arrived at. The initiative uses modern technology to solve the central problems in applications and particularly the difficulties faced by potentially excluded groups such as the residents of rural areas and women. Thus justice and equal opportunities were key elements in the development of ‘Jadarah.’ Achieving these aims meant ensuring that the system would identify the most worthy candidates, who would be chosen based on their skills, abilities and experience and with no other factors being taken into account or capable of being taken into account. To do this, Jadarah is designed so that there is complete transparency in showing the vacancies and these are matched by information contained in a database of candidates who only have to complete their details once (personal information can be upgraded). The system allows applications to be made from anywhere in the world over a 24 hour period and, if they are already registered within the database, the application is made based on stored details; thus there is a ‘blind’ system that notifies suitable candidates based on the information that they have stored within the Ministry database and their suitability is judged with no regard to location or other factors such as perceived social status. The new system has also been integrated with other existing systems and programmes held by the Ministry of Civil Service, for example ‘Saaed,’ which has been used for jobs that require semi-qualified applicants and ‘Competencies,’ which specialises in marketing professional biographies in the public and private sectors.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
One feature of the Ministry of Civil Service (MCS) in the past was long lines of people seeking government jobs who were armed with packs of ‘Green files,’ but Jadarah has completely changed this to one where the jobs and the responsibility for filling them are still there but the lines and the files have now disappeared. Another unique feature is that where there was uncertainty and confusion there is now clarity and a transparent mechanism for those who are placing the jobs and for those who wish to fill them. These electronic mechanisms include ways of identifying the needs of government agencies within annual plans as well as methods of online application which fully integrate the principles of merit, equity and fairness. They also include methods for differentiating and filtering applicants based on tried, tested and accurate equations which audit and document applications with precision and accuracy. They also inform applicants of the outcome of their applications without a need for them to travel to the MCS or other ministries and government agencies.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
This strategy has been implemented by focusing on three specific areas. This focus broadly follows a chronological pattern: The First Area: Legislation 1. It was necessary to amend and develop legislation, laws, regulations and procedures in the Ministry in order that strategic objectives could be achieved. 2. Specifically, procedural gaps in the legislations, laws, regulations and procedures had to be filled so that the rights of employees could be ensured, which had the additional effect of motivating them and increasing their productivity. 3. Procedures were simplified to the greatest extent possible in order that they could be directed towards providing the best services by the Ministry to the beneficiaries. 4. It was ensured that all processes and procedures implemented by the Ministry, particularly administrative and organizational aspects, are governed by clear and flexible instructions and systems. 5. The maximum benefits possible were taken from successful international experiences in the field of organized legislation. The Second Area: Human Resources Management Human resources management in the ‘Jadarah’ system was based on the following considerations: 1. An understanding of and an emphasis on the person as an individual so that employees and prospective employees can be developed by considering that a person is the foundation of growth and development, as he or she will be designing, manufacturing, arranging, and making decisions that achieve goals and will be therefore be the key determinant of success of failure.. 2. Attracting the appropriate expertise and involving this asset in strategic projects, including the development of recruitment procedures. 3. Taking advantage of appropriate expertise from outside the Ministry. The Third Area: Operational Aspects of the Project The executive policy of the project was drawn in accordance with a detailed plan of consistent objectives and stages which can be summarized as follows: 1. Develop and make adjustments to the organizational structure of the Ministry so that strategic objectives can be achieved. 2. Structure the project team work, to ensure that implementation is timely and accuracy. 3. Divide the project into small working sections in order that it can be followed up on and carefully managed.. 4. Develop standards to clearly govern and lead the project so as to measure the progress of the project in a timely manner and modify any defects in it. 5. Adjust the output through accurate quality procedures to ensure that there is product compatibility with the job requirements and that the efficiency of the product is maintained.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
This initiative had a wide range of stakeholders that included civil servants of the MCS and job applicants (who were consulted through meetings and surveys). However, a number of key groups can be focused upon in more detail. One is the consultants who conducted meetings with officials and specialists in this area. The results of these activities was part of a preparatory study into employment systems which also included key officials from a number of branches of the MCS and other interested parties, for example from the Ministry of Education, from the King Abdullah Project for the Development of Education, SABIC and the Board of Medical Specialties. It is pertinent to emphasise the role of identified groups of citizens, Ministry staff and job applicants within this process. Apart from the Project Team which planned and implemented the system that evolved from these extensive consultations, studies and enquiries were undertaken to gain a detailed understanding of what are seen as being the best international processes in the field of human resource management and the recruitment process, for example the US Bureau of Human Resources Management POM, the experiences of the Sultanate of Oman, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden and Australia, as well as a visit which was undertaken by the team to Japan.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The meaning that the name ‘Jadarah’ aims to convey is one where the initiative is comprised of a group of factors and resources that are supportive of each other and which come together to ensure the perfect implementation of the held vision. To fulfil this vision, the Ministry of Civil Service has used the latest technologies to develop its recruitment system. However, the resources used went beyond the technological as this factor had to be enabled by others. In terms of finances, the initiative was funded from the existing budget of the MCS, which included the fees of the Project Team. It also funded the technology but this had to be considerably supported by human resources from the Ministry, particularly during the implementation phase when staff were also undergoing training that was undertaken by the use of internal training personnel. It was also necessary to involve the human and technical resources of other ministries and government agencies, which included the training of their staff and ensuring that the system was functioning (as it was implemented) from their perspectives.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Five of the most successful outputs for what is a comprehensive and integrated electronic recruitment system that contains many of the regulations governing the conduct of the recruitment process in the Kingdom are listed below: 1. The development of an electronic system linking government agencies with the Ministry of Civil Service and applicants for jobs through the registration of government agency employment needs and the studying of requirements that are approved by the Ministry of Civil Service as being compliant with the laws and regulations of the Ministry and of the country. 2. Ensuring the highest degree of accuracy and comprehensiveness of data so opportunities are provided for those wishing to apply for vacancies according to their academic qualifications, skills and experience in a timely, easy and accessible manner and in conformity with the regulations and laws of the Ministry. 3. The automation of all the selection and nomination processes of the applicants that ensures the expeditious completion of the recruitment process, the accuracy of the results of the nomination, and justice in the nominations for the jobs posted. 4. The development, furthermore, of an integrated mechanism which validates the results before announcing them electronically, thereby making sure that the highest degrees of transparency and justice are maintained. 5. The offering of an extended service which has the capacity to include all areas of public sector employment within specific areas so that candidates can easily identify the area(s) in which their applications are most likely to be successful.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The monitoring and evaluation of the initiative has not only been conducted at several levels but has also been an ongoing process since before it was implemented. This is because the initiative itself was part of a consultative process with users which included the encouraging of electronic feedback through a number of channels, including email and via the Ministry website as well as other such means, including via technical support and the National Contact Centre. These means of monitoring and evaluation continue to be encouraged and significant amounts of feedback continues to be received. The Ministry has also developed a system for the collecting and collating of intelligence reports and statistics, which is part of a permanent review process that also includes evaluations of how the system is functioning with regard to the numbers of applicants for jobs generally and for each job specifically, and the number of vacancies in relation to the number of applicants, all of which are submitted to internal and external authorities and individuals to contribute to the ongoing decision-making processes. The staff responsible for overseeing the recruitment process are periodically measured in terms of performance and productivity by the use of key performance indicators as measures of the continuing development of the system.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
In a general sense, the main obstacle encountered was the size of the task and the fact that the extent of change meant that there were inherent dangers that this factor would overwhelm the initiative due to the increased workloads and challenges that this entailed. The solution to this was within the system because the result of it, once it was successfully running, meant that these workloads would decrease dramatically and the Ministry and other stakeholders would reap the benefits of the new system. The fact that the recruitment of government employees was centralised around one entity and involved beneficiaries from different educational, geographical and even socio-economic levels meant that the new system had to account for many needs and these had to be accommodated. Associated with this challenge was the inclusion of international experiences and standards and these had to be adapted to the laws and regulations of the Kingdom. This problem was overcome by informing staff across the range of agencies involved of the size of the task facing them in terms of workloads, system design and training. Motivational techniques were employed to gain an acceptance that the future value and benefits of the system were worth the investments of time for a limited period. Alongside this formal and informal (hands-on) training was comprehensively instigated, with employees sometimes being involved in training for the new system while others covered normal workloads on a rotating basis and specialist were involved in the actual implementation of the initiative. A further example of the problem with the unwieldy nature of the system was in the many different categories of subject areas and their categorisation by educational institutions. This was overcome by re-categorising them into broader headings for similar disciplines, which also contributed towards the fairness and equity of the new system.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The system for advertising and applying for jobs under the previous system has been comprehensively presented in another section and, in summary, is described as being very inefficient, very time consuming from the point of view of applicants as well as MCS and other government agency staff. It can also be described as having unfairness built into it in terms of the subjectivity of some of the decisions made in the processing chain and in terms of the socio-economic status of applicants based on the relative remoteness of where they lived, distance from offices and the classification of their educational achievements. This unfairness, furthermore, was inevitably skewed towards already disadvantaged groups such as the poor, the disabled and women. Measured in these terms, the initiative has had an impact on applicants because they now have a system which allows them, if they wish, to make one application for government service in the knowledge that the system will seamlessly and ‘blindly’ (in terms of making subjective assumptions about them) match them with the most suitable vacancies. They no longer have to travel to offices to submit applications for each job that they apply for and do not have to complete a separate application form for each one. The fact that users are now able to have confidence in the inbuilt fairness of the system has led to a huge impact on the number of applicants and the diversity of their backgrounds because of the level playing field that has been created. This in turn means that the MCS and other government agencies have gained substantial benefits with regard to the quality and diversity of applicants and subsequent appointed employees. Because the system is very efficient in the processes while the previous system was so inefficient, it also means that there has been a significant impact on the MCS and other government agencies with regard to their efficiency – vacancies are now not only filled with new employees who are most likely to be the most suited to the jobs but they are also appointed much quicker, which means that other staff do not have to fill the gaps and this in turn has significantly improved their morale and their senses of job satisfaction. The impact has also extended to the private sector because while employers from this part of the economy could, in the past, gain benefits in terms of applications for jobs in the knowledge that the public sector was not a realistic competitor for the best talents, now it is. Therefore, they now have to compete more effectively in the labour market and such competition can only be beneficial for the Kingdom as a whole because the more efficient the labour market as a whole is, the more efficiently the human resources of the nation will be utilised. As time passed and there has been a constant flow of new employees that have been equitable, efficiently and fairly selected into ministries and other government offices, the level of government services has improved and continues to improve. While it would be misguided to claim that such improvements are solely due to this initiative, it would be accurate to suggest that it is an integral part of the wider modernisation of services through consistent moves across the public sector towards e-government. Thus, the initiative has had a significant impact on the wider Saudi society, which can not only see a new era of fairness and equity in public sector recruitment policies but can also feel that these services are reaching out to them, that they are really being served rather than just being accommodated. The measurement of these impacts can be seen as being direct and some indirect. For example, a comprehensive range of statistics are produced which shows figures for variables such as the number vacancies, the number of suitable applicants for each and the time taken to fill each vacancy in each category. Alongside these quantifiable measures are those such as feedback to the Ministry and other government service websites, emails and a range of other tools which show a dramatically changed picture from the complaints and dissatisfaction of the past to the praise and encouraging words of the present.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
In financial terms, the initiative was funded from the budget of the MCS. With regard to its financial sustainability, this is not an issue because the savings gained from the efficiency of the new system means that it is effectively a relative contributor to the finances (compared to the costs involved in maintaining the previous system). With regard to economic sustainability, the efficiency benefits of the system means that the productivity of staff at the MCS has improved and this net economic saving is also true of other involved ministries and government agencies. In a wider economic sense, the system is very much sustainable as it contributes to the efficiency of the public sector through the employment of the most suitable candidates in a timely manner and this in turn has contributed to the levels of competition and economic efficiency of the whole labour market of Saudi Arabia. In societal terms, the initiative can be seen as being a significant part of the wider e-government philosophy that has been adopted, a philosophy that has made great strides in the provision of government services to a society which was previously frustrated by the levels of service but which now increasingly sees this provision as positive, inclusive and as something that is a positive contributor to society. Culturally, furthermore, the initiative is sustainably aligned with a culture that values equity, fairness and social justice. Environmentally, the initiative is more than sustainable as it can be seen as representing best practices in this field – the system has been changed from one which was based in paper, the duplication of documents and the physical movement of these to one that minimises the use of a product (paper) that is so based in the use of natural resources. The institution that the MCS is and represents, as well as other institutions of government, have been sustainably strengthened by the initiative because it not only means that an opportunity was taken to strengthen laws and regulations but also to bring government closer to the people of Saudi Arabia. The initiative de facto has been disseminated across the public sector because the MCS is responsible for public sector recruitment. There is evidence, furthermore, that it has been taken up by a number of public sector organisations. As it was very much influenced by the best of international practices and the alignment of these with Saudi cultural values, it is likely to be of particular interest within the region and, from here, may have the potential to be adopted further afield.

 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 lessons learned from the ‘Jadarah’ initiative are: That it is of great importance to involve as wide a range of stakeholders as possible, from users and employees on the one hand to the most respected international experts on the other. That the notion of organisational change as a positive and enduring force can be instilled within public sector organisations, thereby transforming a traditional and bureaucratic belief in conservatism and in retaining status quos. That by showing fairness and equity in the recruitment process, significant and positive returns can be gained with regard to efficiency and the value of human resources. That the integration of and communication with other government agencies positively assists in steering a process of change. That the very significant technological shifts and the evolution of communication tools in the Kingdom, along with the increase of young users, helped in the success of the initiative; therefore, measuring the potential external factors affecting the initiative was of high importance in making the changes. That leadership and the involvement of leaders within all of the processes that led to the successful implementation of the initiative was probably the most important aspect of Jadarah. That in order to facilitate such a change to such a system, it is necessary that sufficient time and energy is committed at an early stage so that the number of unexpected obstacles that are subsequently confronted are kept to a minimum. In similar vein, that attention is paid to all of the legal and regulatory requirements so that there can be no doubts about the legitimacy of such a new system and so that it is therefore aligned with the culture and society of the nation. That it is or great importance that there are strong and constant communication channels between all stakeholders of the system in order that others (for example other ministries and government agencies) can prepare for changes on an equal footing with the main project provider. From these stem a number of recommendations: The extent to which resistance to change may exist should never be underestimated. By the same token, by knowing and accepting this belief means that what may be a negativity can be motivated and led towards positivity. While it may be prestigious to believe that such a change can be handled internally, the possibility of introducing external expertise and assistance to ensure that departments continue to function and do their jobs during periods of significant change should be carefully considered. The point of government service provision should never be forgotten, which is to ensure that individual users and society at large gain the maximum benefits and returns from investments made, and this includes constant assessments of how technological and administrative as well as human resource improvements can be introduced.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   The Ministry of Civil Service
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Dalal Alharthi
Title:   programmer  
Telephone/ Fax:   00966532375882
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   dalal.harthi@mcs.gov.sa  
Address:   Riyadh
Postal Code:  
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh
Country:  

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