National Gateway Infrastructure (NGI)
eGovernment Authority – Kingdom of Bahrain

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small country in Arabian Peninsula of 1.381 million people. The country’s economy is open and boasts the second highest-valued currency unit in the world. For close to 20 years, Bahrain has heavily invested in the banking and tourism sectors. To ensure a vibrant economic future for all sectors of the economy, not just the wealthy few, Kingdom of Bahrain began a concerted drive toward a new knowledge economy capable of generating diverse and secure jobs for the national workforce. Despite many successful initiatives implemented in Kingdom of Bahrain to forge an effective transition toward a knowledge economy, eGovernment services remained fragmented. For understandable reasons, many services had been developed ad-hoc by their respective departments and therefore lacked any mechanism for sharing results between government organizations. In recent years, the Kingdom of Bahrain has risen to be one of the strongest eGovernment champions in the Gulf Region, thanks largely to the strategic ambitions of the Bahrain eGovernment Authority (eGA). The eGovernment strategy for the Kingdom of Bahrain is focused on ensuring effective delivery of government services to citizens, residents and businesses (our customers) in accordance with the following vision: “Achieve next generation Government excellence by delivering high quality services effectively, valuing efficiency, advocating proactive customer engagement, nurturing entrepreneurship, collaborating with all stakeholders and encouraging innovation” To ensure that the Authority continued to offer advance services to citizens, residents and businesses in line with the latest developments in the e-government field, along with new ICT trends and best practices, the eGA conducted a complete Enterprise Architecture Survey between 2007 and 2010 to examine synergies and gaps between each area of eGA operations. The survey illustrated that despite delivering excellent e-government services, the Kingdom lacked a common infrastructure - or ‘technological backbone’ which has the following ability: • Easily share and reuse the applications between organizations. • Share useful data between government agencies to maximize service synergies between government agencies. • Form meaningful collaborations between different government services to enhance services and streamline processes. Faced with the need to provide the common infrastructure - or ‘technological backbone’, eGA considered on provisioning a National Gateway Infrastructure (NGI) that is highly scalable, available and would help integrating assets from different Government Organizations to offer services to citizens, residents and businesses. As a result, the National Gateway Infrastructure (NGI) is being designed and built as a common and central integration platform for information exchange between heterogeneous systems and a platform that allows services to be consumed from various channels such as web portal, mobiles, kiosks, IVR etc. NGI is designed in a way to facilitate rapid reconfiguration of business processes and also caters for new government initiatives or future infrastructure to integrate and communicate with NGI.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The NGI (National Gateway Infrastructure) is a National Enterprise Architecture Project and is one of the objectives developed in Bahrain’s first eGovernment Strategy in year 2007 to 2010 to bring the government closer to its people. NGI is a unified electronic platform that facilitates electronic integration framework of government systems according to consistent standards and policies. In line with Bahrain’s Vision 2030, which will contribute to make public sector more productive and allow it to deliver higher quality services, eGA (eGovernment Authority) is keen to raise the level of maturity of NGI to be the single backend system for the Kingdom of Bahrain. NGI will provide better service management, secure, reliable, efficient, and highly available which is able to reduce the cost of development and maintenance. A new Economic Vision 2030 for the Kingdom of Bahrain was then launched in October 2008, striving to ensure the future economic sustainability of the Kingdom. To contribute to the realization of this Economic Vision, as well as the fulfilment of the Government Action Plan, a new eGovernment strategy was commissioned and a comprehensive eGovernment Modernization Framework was developed. NGI is a well-defined solid Enterprise Application Infrastructure Architecture that support IT Shared Service Rationalization objectives. NGI architecture principles are based on the principles and standards of Service Oriented Architecture, Component Based Architecture, and SOA Governance. These principles are identified based on strategic vision of eGA enterprise architecture group. Standardized Service Contract: Standardization of service contracts will ensure that the interface provides the NGI with services that are consistent, reliable, and governable. The contract also reduces the consumer efforts in understanding the service contract each time they look into the repository for discovering the desired service. Loose Coupling: This principle is advocated to NGI for creation of a specific type of relationship within and outside of service boundaries, with emphasis on reducing (“loosening”) dependencies between the service contract, its implementation, and its service consumers. Abstraction: This principle in the NGI delivers on the need to hide as much of the underlying details of a service as possible. Service abstraction also plays a significant role in the positioning and design of different services. Service abstraction also enables interoperability between the services. Reusability: The principle of Service Reusability for NGI positions NGI services as enterprise resources so that it can be utilized in different business processes and by various channels. Autonomy: The principle of autonomy allows NGI to address the various issues that pertain to the design of service logic as well as the service’s actual implementation environment. Isolation levels and service normalization considerations are taken into account to achieve a suitable measure of autonomy, especially for reusable services that are frequently shared. Discoverability: This principle ensures that NGI services are supplemented with communicative metadata by which they can be effectively discovered and interpreted. Interoperability: The NGI was designed with a sophisticated unified messaging system to cater for communication between diverse systems and standardize integration approaches. Integration provides a bridge between the heterogeneous operational applications and platforms. National Gateway Infrastructure (NGI) provides a simple-to-implement solution with no development burden on the ministries/agencies with an ability to support future/new channels of e-services delivery (e.g. mobile, kiosks) & enables better service governance. Citizens, residents and businesses alike also benefit from a wider range of services provided by eGA. Through NGI, Kingdom of Bahrain has already integrated over 200 eservices provided by more than 26 government ministries/agencies and this number is rising by over 40 eServices every year.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The National Gateway Infrastructure (NGI) is entirely state-of-art, designed and built as a unified integration platform for information exchange. The platform can be consumed from various channels across the Kingdom of Bahrain for the improvement of service delivery to the citizens, businesses and government employees through innovative incorporation in multiple delivery channels. NGI architecture is based on the open group SOA reference architecture that allows the integration of heterogeneous services using reliable delivery mechanisms and helps ensure the data being exchanged is delivered in the right format, to the right application, at the right time. NGI Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) adheres to the following principles: Universality: Provides a connectivity layer spanning extended enterprise environments in eGA. Heterogeneity: Provides multiplatform, multiprotocol, and multi-API message-oriented support layer capable of tying together heterogeneous systems. Incremental-Integration: Provides the ability to grow a system dynamically as needs expand. Quality-of-Service: Provides various qualities-of-service, such as security, performance, reliability, scalability, and so on. Event-Orientation: Provides the ability to decouple applications that generate business events from applications that subscribe and respond to those events. Service-Virtualization: Provides virtualization of Identity via routing, virtualization of protocol via conversion, and virtualization of interface via transformation.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The NGI (National Gateway Infrastructure) is a National Enterprise Architecture Project initiative developed for Bahrain’s first eGovernment Strategy in year 2007 to 2010 to bring the government closer to its people. NGI is a unified electronic platform that facilitates electronic integration framework of government systems according to consistent standards and policies. The implementation of this solution was outsourced to a company whose experience in the deployment of middleware solutions is exceptional in the region and internationally. The implementation plan consisted of multiple phases: (1) PLANNING PHASE [June 2010 – May 2011]: Business requirements detailing the overall solution level requirements were the starting point and were used as the base reference for building the architecture of NGI. Based on the requirements, the enterprise vision of the solution was identified, which can fulfill the main objective of National Gateway Infrastructure(NGI) that is to streamline and layout a framework for ministries/agencies to provide their services and consume the services hosted by other ministries/agencies. The proposed architecture and the solution building blocks of NGI are loosely coupled and highly scalable. The architecture can be easily extended with minimal impacts to accommodate any new building blocks (if required) such as Kiosk, IVR etc. The web services security proposed for current scope of NGI is built on interoperable standards such as ws-security which can be leveraged by various channels including web portal, mobiles, kiosks etc. (2) PILOTING PHASE [July 2010 – May 2011]: In parallel to the planning phase, this phase was started to develop pilot services to kick-start use of the NGI directly after completion. Business Requirements Documents were generated for each eService under the pilot delivery scope. Each of the selected pilot services was integrated into the ESB and exposed through the NGI. The web-portal platform was the primary consumer as the pilot phase of NGI project. The development phase adopted the ‘waterfall methodology’ for sequential design and development of a software system. Finally, several rounds of functionality testing were conducted to ensure that these services were correctly accessed and used by each of the channels connected to the NGI system. (3) ROLL-OUT PHASE [January 2012]: Once the NGI had been established with fully operational pilot services, the Roll-Out phase was implemented by integrating the full portfolio of over 200 online services into the NGI. Each service was integrated with the ESB and exposed over the NGI to allow seamless access across compatible various channels including web portal, mobiles, kiosks etc. (4) Monitoring and Evaluation [January 2013 onwards]: Continuous monitoring of the initiative was implemented from day one of deployment. NGI monitoring and evaluation uses an Integrated Enterprise Business Process dashboard provided by WebSphere business monitor to enable business executives to understand and measure how the IT business processes is performing and an Integrated Technical Operations dashboard provided by Tivoli Enterprise Portal Server to enable Operators and System Administrators to detect and resolve incidents proactively, view trends and historical data and calculate service level agreements. Officials from eGA regularly check both the performance of integrated services and ease with which new services can be added. Annual reports are compiled by the team and widely circulated to ensure the project continues to perform to the highest standards of excellence.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Due to the cross-departmental nature of the National Gateway Infrastructure (NGI) and its main objectives, a diverse range of stakeholders were engaged to ensure the solution developed was both representative and fully functional. At the core of both the eGA’s ADVANCE vision and mission statement is a pledge to positively impact three key identified stakeholder groups within the Kingdom of Bahrain: Individuals, Businesses and Government; where Individuals refer to citizens, residents and visitors, Businesses refer to small, medium and large enterprises and their employees, and Government refers to government entities and their employees. This pledge defined four key stakeholder groups for the project: Government Organizations: A range of government entities were involved in the National Gateway Infrastructure (NGI) as the creators of different services. Government entities were required to provide technical information about the architecture of their solutions and the interoperability requirements of their own IT systems. Businesses: Businesses were consulted during the planning and implementation of the initiative to ensure that design of the solution met their need to access government services quickly and efficiently. NGOs: Kingdom of Bahrain’s NGO community was also consulted during the design and implementation to make sure that they can easily integrate services they need into their operations. An example of this, NGOs working with economically disadvantaged families, who were asked for their requirements in accessing the Ministry of Social Development’s financial aid, services to identify at-risk citizens. Citizens and Residents: A final group of stakeholders consulted extensively in the monitoring and evaluation phase were citizens and residents of Kingdom of Bahrain. Citizens and residents were asked to provide their feedback on access to services through the different eGovernment channels such as the web portal and mobile portal. Using their valuable feedback, the NGI team has maintained continuous monitoring and improvement of the solution.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
NGI was initiated, supported and funded by eGA to ensure the effective delivery of eGovernment services to citizens, residents, businesses and visitors to the Kingdom of Bahrain. eGA has the ambition to integrate all services not limited to government but related to the Kingdom of Bahrain to achieve better service governance, canonical message exchange, protocol independence and loosely couple. The execution of the project used a blend of resources both internal and external to the eGA. The project management was assumed by an internal eGA professional hired to supervise the delivery of the solution and to ensure the high standards are maintained. Other positions such as Business Process Reengineer Specialist, Business Analyst, Solution Architect, Quality Assurance, Developers and Testing were filled by a combination of eGA employees and external professionals. In addition, the technical execution and implementation was fully supported by IBM/GBM Technical Expert who has an extensive experience in implementing this project to deliver the best outcome which meet up to the highest standards and expectations. The value of this project was USD 1,251,283.51 (BHD 471,859) comprises 4 categories: 1. Hardware and 4 year hardware warranty 2. Software licenses and one year subscription fees 3. Services deployed across all layers of Software/ Service Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and 4. Training for eGA employees. The mode of payment term was varied. Hardware will be paid 50% on delivery and another 50% after hardware installation completed. Software Licenses was a one off payment upon delivery of the software. The service percentage payment was depends on the completion on every cycle of SDLC and upon completion of training, full amount will be paid.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The NGI is the Enterprise Bus for the Kingdom of Bahrain, linking all government and business processes together for a seamless and interoperable user experience. Within this overall architecture, a number of concrete outputs have supported the success of the NGI: Uniform and Consistent: NGI has been designed specifically with the ability to integrate heterogeneous systems, capable of handling all common formats (e. SOAP, REST, Web services) for information sharing. NGI creates interoperability as standard to facilitate seamless and simple integration of all government services into a common backbone. In addition, connectivity, data exchange and process integration efforts are simplified, reducing integration-related development and support costs. Service Automation: NGI has the ability to provide highly automated and complex services to government departments. The architecture of the ESB has been created to allow innovative synthesis and collaboration between government services and non-government to share information across. SOA ensures all stakeholders like businesses and IT specialists are closely aligned. Centralized Management & Monitoring: NGI provide the single point for managing and governing services across all agencies. This ensures agility, reusability and information sharing across various Ministries, Government agencies and business services. An extensive SOA Governance & Security policy is implemented along the development of the services realization. NGI has been developed with robust functionality to measure and improve service performance via a real-time KPI monitoring dashboard. The dashboard allowed the senior management teams throughout the government to improve oversight of services and maximize synergies between different services. Return on Investment: The economic returns of application development that leverages SOA improve over time, as reuse of services increase. Re-usability is the key approach to ensure integration and Process Automation expense across ministries are reduced. Simpler systems: Service-oriented architectures are based on industry standards and loosely coupled integration will reduce complexity when compared with integrating systems on a solution-by-solution API-based integration basis. They also enable future applications to mesh seamlessly with existing standards-based services. Loose coupling of components and processes also leading to improvement in service governance. Simplicity and ease-of-maintenance means that support costs are reduced and valuable IT staff freed up for strategic work. This will reduce time, cost, administrative burden, service fulfillment time and effort for the integration of eServices.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Continuous measurement and monitoring using best practices principles of Project management was deploymed during the implementation of NGI. eGA used the best tools and techniques recommended by the PMI (Project Management Institute) in their PMBOK standards with proper guidelines. All work was carried out in full conformity with the ISO 21500 standard for project management eGA developed a suite of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each of the key projects developed by the authority including the NGI. The purpose of the KPIs is to ensure that all projects fully support Bahrain’s integrated eGovernment vision. The key KPIs that NGI contributed to are as follows: • All government online services are managed through the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB): NGI is the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) for the Kingdom of Bahrain. • Yearly to support 3 eGovernment Projects technically: NGI supported then from 2010 onward • NGI started implemented and continuous implementing service efficiency and readiness between all services between 2 government-wide systems in order to gain interoperability. • Three eGovernment Channels significantly upgraded and integrated by 2013 – NGI supports upgrade of web portal, mobile portal and eService Centers & Kiosks • Information available online – NGI enables simple discovery or services These metrics were monitored throughout the lifetime of the system. NGI’s KPI and development are discussed in the Supreme Council for Information and Communications Technology (SCICT) which is chaired by H.E. the deputy prime minister of the Kingdom. Technology awareness campaigns were conducted with various ministries, government agencies, NGOs and private sector partners to create the necessary awareness and set project expectations accurately. The Pilot Phase is the self-explained success of NGI. It creates the confidence and capabilities of the solution. Training was conducted to familiarize and educate people on the usage of the infrastructure as well as to introduce it to the development team to adopt it internally.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
As part of National Initiative Project, NGI encountered and overcame the following problems during implementation: Resistance to Change from Service Providers Challenge – One of the main obstacles to the successful integration of the NGI was the resistance to change in the development teams of certain services. The NGI team experienced a number of entrenched practices and a wish to stick within technological ‘comfort zones’ rather than explore a new system. Solution – The NGI team implemented a comprehensive and far-reaching change management plan that managed to gradually get the necessary buy in from the impacted stakeholders by creating the awareness and the extensive training provided. Challenging IT Formats Challenge – Some services were developed using more difficult IT formats that were initially incompatible with the ESB. Such services were often built using closed IT systems sold by a technology provider and not designed to be interoperable with other formats. Solution – Wherever possible, the NGI team undertook specific development work to include all available formats through the ESB. Where development was not possible or financially feasible, the NGI issued guidance to all government entities on supported formats and provided support for any agency who wished to redesign services to be compatible with the NGI. NGI with the help from Enterprise architecture team develops Standard. Lack of IT Expertise Challenge – NGI encountered immature understanding of available technologies and incomplete knowledge about integrating services into a common middleware in some government agencies. Solution – NGI overcame this challenge by providing a far-reaching and flexible training Programme to all new and existing personnel to prepare them to use the solution.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
With the establishment of the NGI, the vision of a whole of government service backbone became a reality for Bahrain’s previously fragmented online services. The NGI has made the delivery of services more efficient for citizens and unlocked the enormous potential of integrated services to make life easier and save time. The following key impacts have been felt from the NGI: Services are available for adaptation and reuse across government departments: The NGI has made it possible for government departments to collaborate and exchange services across the traditional boundaries of ministry and ICT solution. This new opportunity for collaboration means departments no longer have to repeat development work when a suitable solution is already available through the NGI. In addition, the fact that granularity of the service is very low, and that the services are analyzed to a very fine and low level makes the concept of reusability an applicable and suitable approach, which is a basic principal of the SOA. NGI has provided the whole of government with a rich list of reusable components, development and testing times would be greatly shortened. Fully-Automated Services: Another impact for the NGI project is that services are now capable of advanced automation. Where once most services were ‘submission-only,’ requiring staff to conduct complex backend operations manually for each different person, under the new NGI departments have the power to integrate complex logic and full automation. A fully automated system provides great flexibility and reduces the time to complete a service. Seamless Join-Up for Different Services: NGI services provide the ability to seamlessly integrate multiple services using the ESB. Integration further allows all services to access the full range of common data resources shared by the government. This functionality advances the vision of a ‘Single-Sign-On government by providing all services with access to information about users wherever it has been entered. This process not only saves the user time but also allows the government to maximize the synergies between different services by contributing to a common data pool about citizens and residents. Improved Services for Citizens and Businesses: NGI ultimately provides simple, interoperable services across the full range of eGovernment portals. With over 200 services available to citizens through the web portal and 55 online using the mobile portal, the NGI has powered a new wave of eGovernment across Bahrain. Citizens can also expect to see new services coming online every year, with eGA providing at least 40 new online services annually. The following positive impacts have been achieved within 2 months of deployment: Number of Successful Driving License Renewal Transactions on the portal is 1882, and the amount collected is USD 102,943.52 (BD 38,820.000) and average Business Rule validation time is 0.046 seconds. Number of Successful Vehicle Registration Renewal Transactions on the portal is 485, and amount collected is USD 29,071.86 (BD 10,963) and average Business Rule validation time is 0.069 seconds.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Financial Sustainability Currently, the solution is being financially sustained by the government as a mission-critical aspect of eGovernment service provision. This project does not have any Revenue Generation but indirectly it provides self-sustainability and supports multiple Revenue Generation national projects throughout the Kingdom of Bahrain. Moving forward towards SOA Maturity Level 4, NGI is extending the integration framework connect with private sector companies to share the cost of ownership in return of enriching private sector services and providing them with government channel securely. Institutional Sustainability The development and maintenance of the NGI is regulated by a set of governance rules and policies enforced by the (SCICT) Supreme Council for Information and Communications Technology. The strict adherence to established operational practices within the governmental system ensures that the NGI will remain in full compliance with the best practices of the government and remain relevant. Technological Sustainability The NGI has been designed as ‘service-agnostic’ to allow for the integration and seamless interoperability of different APIs and Web service formats. This flexible approach has also ensured the architecture has sufficient flexibility to easily adapt to any new technologies as these come on-stream through technological development. On the other side, the system is also capable of connecting more legacy service formats such as SOAP to up-to-date services, thereby removing the burden on government departments to update technologies that are still fit-for-purpose. Scalability The NGI solution can be replicated internationally by adopting the SOA principals that define the architecture and the middleware. The wide acceptance of SOA along with the flexibility and benefits of a ‘technology agnostic’ system make the NGI an ideal candidate for implementation in other governmental contexts as it can already connect the full range of common service formats with the minimum of adaptation.

 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)
There were several lessons that were learned during the project implementation and during the operation of the solution: Remain Technology-Agnostic: The NGI team learned that to successfully integrate a wide variety of governmental services often developed using radically disparate technology solutions, it is crucial that the solution itself should not attempt to impose a top-down format. Only through successfully showcasing that integration will be both easy and without development cost can you hope to engage all the different service providers necessary to make the system a success. Change Management is Crucial to Success: The NGI solution, being a National Enterprise Service Bus, has significant impact on a great number of stakeholders around Bahrain. Thus, with similar projects, the awareness and the change management has to be properly planned and managed. The NGI team found that it was critical to both manage expectations and educate stakeholders regularly to ensure that buy-in was secured early and often during development. Communication Clearly and Regularly: Communication is another important aspect that had proven to be one of the most crucial elements throughout the NGI implementation. Clear and informative communications to all stakeholders was very important to achieve all objectives, especially that the success depends on the cooperation of all service providers and consumers. Listen to Your Customers: Listening to customer demands is also a lesson taken away from this experience, among many other experiences. Customers are the ones who define the success and the failure of any public service. Fulfilling customers’ demands and needs should be one objective government entities aim to achieve.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   eGovernment Authority – Kingdom of Bahrain
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Nurazlinda Abdullah
Title:   NGI Project Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   +97317387467, +97334137574
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   nabdulla@ega.gov.bh  
Address:  
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