e-government Program

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Saudi government has 160 government entities providing services to the public (citizens, residents, businesses, tourists and pilgrims). These services were annually surveyed by Yesser Program (The Saudi national agency for e-Government) to monitor the progress of all agencies in service transformation and e-Maturity. The surveys have shown a massive variation between government entities. Each government entity had its own definition of what a service is, what a process is and specific understandings of relevant service data and meta-data. This variation in the service information raised multiple issues that, negatively, impacted the services beneficiary, the government entities and the e-Government agenda of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The major encountered issues were: Inauthentic source of information: government entities had no standardized format for the services. information varied between different channels. The service provision process was not well defined, especially for services that had procedures shared between multiple government entities. For example, to register a new-born, a resident had to go through one government entity for the birth certificate, then another government entity for the visa, then another government entity for the ID. Different target groups including elderly and vulnerable people, businesses, citizens, residents of rural areas, girls, women and pilgrims found it difficult to apply for and acquire government services. With the lack of an authorized service repository, it was impossible for a service beneficiary to cross check and hold service providers accountable for deviations. Service beneficiaries had to travel back and forth multiple times to get their application complete. Lack of visibility of service transformation progress: Each entity had its own service catalogue comprised from different directorates and divisions of the entity. The service information was scattered in a variety of formats, lists, multiple versions and never complete or up-to-date. For Yesser (the Saudi eGovernment program), it was hard, time and resources consuming to follow up with entities and request them each year to update their service catalogue and send it for evaluation. The mechanisms for driving service modernization forward, setting KPIs, monitoring progress, or defining transformation roadmaps and priorities were very inefficient. Very often, Yesser had to do the review and analysis of services from scratch. Impediments in setting up OneStopShop: Setting up a one stop shop for government services necessitates compliance with interoperability, usability and technical standards. Prior to Marsad, it was impossible to track and govern the compliance and facilitate the transformation to one stop shop. With this lack of visibility at both levels, government and public beneficiaries, problems amounted from inefficient planning and mechanisms of providing services to duplication of projects for delivering services, opening doors to unintended financial corruption. This overlap in delivering government services was proving to be a major hurdle. The government needed a mechanism for consistently raising level of transparency, maturity and quality of government services, relating procedures and delivery channels. An innovative solution was heavily needed which can transform the whole business model of service transformation and delivery.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Marsad is the Saudi initiative for managing service transformation nation-wide. It has three key components: • guidelines and standards, • a government policy, and • a cloud based system that acts as a single point of truth for all the government services. MARSAD provides detailed information on procedures, dependencies, delivery channels, level of e-maturity (informational, interactive, transactional, and transformational) among others. In total, each service has 37 attributes

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The MARSAD initiative targets the Saudi government entities that provide services to the public and the service beneficiaries including citizens, residents, tourists, businesses and pilgrims. It mainly works towards the achievement of two objectives: • Driving service transformation, increasing transparency, accountability and service quality across the Saudi government entities. • Improving people’s lives by providing modern services that are accessible to all segments of the Saudi society at anytime, anywhere. Driven by the objective to transform services and improve people’s lives, the initiative has embarked on four guiding principles: Speed-up the service modernization process: Having a 360° view of the services, MARSAD managed to reduce duplication in services procedures by creating a national services matrix, which connects all services with each other and informs about the dependencies with other government entities. It also provides an automated roadmap in a report format that calculates the impact of services based on consumer needs and drives priority for services with high impact and high readiness to be transformed. Additionally, MARSAD initiates a service maturity level index that measures the government agency services transformation. This index is available online and keeps changing whenever a service is added. With these tools, the production of maturity reports, national rankings, transformation road-maps became more efficient, it is no more a manual and error-prone activity. It can be performed in real-time whenever needed and does not require a dedicated team for that. This change has brought enormous benefits for Yesser, the e-Government program, and the services beneficiary. For Yesser, it regained focus on its core mission, which is tracking the progress of the e-Transformation of government services and increasing their maturity level. Full-fledged service catalogue: The initiative provides an automated service catalogue, which gives access to detailed information for all the government services including a description of the services, mandatory documents needed for consuming the services and how to consume the service. Providing a 360° of the service information empowered the service beneficiary to become more confident about the service procedures and required official documents. It was no more up to the civil servants at different customer service points to request documents that are not needed or make procedures more complicated than they are. Service delivery became more and more customer and not entity oriented due to this holistic view on government services. A higher transparency was achieved and service beneficiaries could defend their rights, eligibility for services and provide their feedback. They can plan their service application journey ahead and, significantly, reduce the travelling back and forth to government entities. Easy access anywhere, at any time for everybody: The initiative provides the beneficiaries with an easy access via to search for the services and get the related information in real-time with all the necessary direction. Service beneficiaries could access services at any time and could even apply online for the services that exist as eServices; this reduced the amount of travels to the government entities, the paper work and gave more flexibility to the service beneficiaries. Break the silos and increase the interaction between the entities and the service beneficiaries: The initiative provides full transparency on the service level of automation and capture the service beneficiaries’ needs on that regard. Service beneficiaries could provide their feedback and escalate wherever there is a digression in the service quality. Customer preferring the automated services could use this information to pressurize the agencies to enhance their services by giving their feedback via the Saudi portal as well as using the social media. Getting this kind of feedback, motivates and urges the government entities to regularly enhance their service delivery.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The initiative, which started manual and ended fully digitized, has completely transformed the way government entities handle services provision and the beneficiaries journey in acquiring services. In its pursuit for modernization, it has utilized the concepts of digital transformation which were recommended to government service G2C. It also led a Business-Model-Innovation, which successfully transformed the whole business model in many dimensions: • Roles, responsibilities and accountability towards the government service catalogue have been returned to the respective government entities. • Manual error-prone activities have been automated. • Efforts in service transformation and progress monitoring have become accumulative. • Confusions around service data, meta-data and procedures have been eliminated on both G2G and G2C level. • The complexity of service transformation has become manageable. • Collaboration between government entities has become smooth and effective. Focus has been turned to results and beneficiaries’ benefit instead of excuses and avoiding responsibility. • The number of transformed services per year has increased dramatically. Within only one year from the launch of MARSAD, the number of interactive services has increased by 10%, transactional services by 12% and transformational services by 42%

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Marsad initiative was envisioned, implemented and administered by Yesser, the e-Government program of Saudi Arabia. Yesser is responsible for raising the public sector's productivity and efficiency, providing better and more easy-to-use services for individual and business customers, increasing return on investment (ROI) and providing the required information in a timely and highly accurate fashion. It leads enablement of the implementation of e-government by reducing centralization in e-government implementation while ensuring the minimum level of coordination between government departments. The initiative is administered in cooperation between Yesser, the government entities and the Ministry council: • Yesser Role: o Collecting requirements o Design & development of MARSAD Platform o Definition of Guidelines and Standards • Government Entities: o Providing needs and perceptions on the service catalogue o Feeding MARSAD Platform with relevant service data o Implementing service transformation roadmaps • Ministry Council: o Issuing MARSAD Policy o Reviewing e-Transformation Rankings o Sponsoring and enforcing service transformation The size of the population effected by the initiative went far beyond 32,556,199 Saudi citizens to include residents, businesses, tourists and pilgrims.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
To avoid earlier problems and ensure a comprehensive solution, multiple workshops were organized in cooperation with Civil Servants, Executives and Decision Makers, Citizens, Businesses, Academic Bodies and Government Boards or Ministry Council to gather their requirements and needs. These requirements were then translated into a central online platform serving and accessible to all the stakeholders and many other groups through different channels including, Yesser portal, Saudi portal, Qiyas (The National Centre for Assessment in Higher Education) and many others. Identified as a key Enabler of the national transformation vision 2030, MARSAD implementation went through 6 phases led by the Yesser team: Phase 1: Initiation and Planning A first draft of the initiative MARSAD was developed by the Yesser Program team. The draft introduced a new business model that is supported by an online central system, which organizes the collaboration between government agencies. The MARSAD initiative constituted of three main components: • Standards & Guidelines • MARSAD Online Platform • Government Policy/decree Phase 2: Standards & Guidelines Definition Standards and conventions were developed and compiled in a booklet called MARSAD Guide. Government entities were then invited to review the draft version of the guide and give their feedback. The guide was published and communicated by Yesser to government agencies through multiple channels including, but not limited to events, workshops and emailing. Phase 3: Design & Development Activities were underway by the Yesser Program for the design and development of an online platform that hosts the unified government service catalogue and organizes the workflow and collaboration between Yesser and government entities. In February 2015, the solution was successfully launched. “Looking through the citizens’ lens” was the most important message of the initiative and it got emphasized through multiple channels. Phase 4: Marketing & Awareness Means Several workshops, events, site visits and meetings have been conducted to ensure all government entities are fully aware of the initiative and how to collaborate and contribute. A 24/7 hotline has been allocated to ensure continuous support to MARSAD users. To guarantee full abidance by the government entities, a government policy was prepared and presented to the Ministry Council. The latter issued the policy mandating full compliance to MARSAD guidelines and declared MARSAD Platform as the single source of truth for government services. Phase 5: Services On boarding At this phase, 160 government entities started to include their services on MARSAD platform. They were required to provide a 360° view on each service. Soon, MARSAD hosted information about 8,000 services, where each service has around 32 attributes. The validation workload was very challenging; it took high dedication and commitment from the Yesser program to have it done. After the validation, according to MARSAD Guide, the number of valid services has been reduced to 4000. At the end of 2015, a central and approved service catalogue was published to the one stop shop ( Citizens, tourists, businesses and pilgrims could finally get all relevant information about services. Phase 6: Business Intelligence Scheme With the service repository being ready, a series of advanced analysis and prioritizing action were conducted. At this stage, a two-dimension prioritization scheme has been implemented into MARSAD to allow for prioritizing services with the highest urgency and potential for transformation. The prioritization scheme calculated the readiness and impact score of each service and enabled automatic creation of service transformation roadmaps for each ministry.Further, the system helped to create a National Service Matrix that highlights dependencies between cross-agency services. This helped in recognizing which services can be integrated together to form a transformative service that releases the citizen from visits to many agencies to accomplish one goal

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The major stakeholders for this initiative can be categorized as follows: Yesser Program Main agency leading the requirements engineering, design and implementation of the MARSAD initiative. Government Entities They are the public services owners. They were involved in reviewing and commenting Yesser’s design of MARSAD. Their role is primary in uploading their services information on MARSAD platform. The government entities were involved through a variety of workshops, events, emailing campaigns and 24/7 hotline. Ministry Council The council was responsible for issuing the policy for declaring MARSAD as the single source of truth about government services. It was also responsible for holding government entities accountable for the integrity and accuracy of their respective services published through MARSAD. Press & Media By publishing MARSAD reports on the maturity of government services, Saudi Press and Media played an important role in pressurizing government entities that rank low in services maturity and urging them to take the required measure. The urgency of service transformation became a matter of public opinion and no more up to the specific judgment of an entity. Service Beneficiaries The services beneficiaries have the chance to comment on the services in the catalogue over the Saudi Portal. Those comments are valuable input for government entities to take an immediate action and to be considered during service transformation.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The implementation of MARSAD has been having a great impact on different levels: • Citizens can now access services at their convenience anywhere at any time and powerfully shape the transformation vision. As statistics show, within the last 6 months, electronic service usage has increased to 5.4 million in comparison to the consumption of traditional services, which decreased to 2.5 million. Additionally, 53% of the submitted applications are now completed in one day or less. The rapid increase of online transactions has a strong and vital environmental impact if we consider the amount of traffic, air pollution an energy consumption reduced. This can be directly linked to the SDG of sustainable cities and communities. • Efforts in service transformation and progress monitoring have become accumulative. The complexity of Service transformation has become manageable. Within only one year from the launch of MARSAD, the number of interactive services has increased by 10%, transactional services by 12% and transformational services by 42%. A total of 200 services has increased its maturity in only 1 year. Up-to-date, the initiative has managed to transform multiple traditional services to online services. Currently, online services make 89% of the total number of services. This allows all society segments to acquire a majority of government services from anywhere and this is a major inclusion for vulnerable society groups, especially if we consider the vast geographic area of the kingdom and its very specific culture. • MARSAD is meanwhile a valuable source of information that is used in multiple ways from a diversity of systems and from all agencies, citizen, academic bodies and Saudi media. The development of national strategies rely on MARSAD, Anti-Corruption committee relies on MARSAD and the annual e-Government measurement initiative also relies on MARSAD. All these is vital to a sustainable economic growth, social justice and attraction of international investments.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The MARSAD initiative faced some minor obstacles and major ones. Among the major obstacles, there were the following: • Changing the traditional processes by introducing a paradigm shift is services definition, delivery and maturity. • Convincing government entities to re-work all their services as per the new standards and filter them to what is agreed on as a service. • Allocating proper resources from government entities to attend MARSAD workshops, lead the services re-formulation in the respective department and update the services continuously. To defy these challenges and get the government entities to cooperate, a diversity of change management practices has been used: • Continuous communication and awareness campaigns: A series of workshops, events, trainings, visits and face-to-face meetings were conducted to highlight the MARSAD long run benefits and encourage the entities to cooperate. Weekly emailing has been broadcasted to 160 government entities to raise awareness and provide support and assistance. Furthermore, a 24/7 hotline has been introduced to enable new users of MARSAD solution to use it properly and comply with standards and guidelines. • Stakeholder benefits: in the design and implementation phase of MARSAD, the team has considered very well the benefits that each stakeholder group can gain from MARSAD. This benefit-driven approach allowed different stakeholders to value MARSAD as a comprehensive solution that would benefit them on different levels including performance, ROI, transparency, modernization among others. • Sponsorship: The involvement of the Ministry Council as a sponsor for the initiative has had a great impact in terms of holding government entities accountable for the integrity and accuracy of their respective services published through MARSAD. • Governance: Following a rigorous approach towards governance and validation of MARSAD content has reduced the workload on government entities and encouraged them to always strive for better quality

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Prior to the initiative implementation, there was no transparency about the services procedures, delivery channels, pre-requisites, inter-connectedness with other government entities or any related information. The service beneficiary would always approach the government entity and then start a non-ending journey, which might go for months and require travelling between different places to end up with no results. There was a tremendous lack of transparency and no one had a full coverage of what a service entails. This caused frustration on both, government level and customers level. With the implementation of the MARSAD initiative, the government entities were provided with clear guidelines of what a service is and what it should include as information to make the customers journey in applying for a service much easier. Following these guidelines, the channels at the government entities (contact center, website, kiosks, online applications…) became fully aware of the service procedures and what a customer is expecting. This kind of transparency at each channel helped the customers obtain a 360° view of the service and how they can apply for it. Customers can also get information on the channels that provide the service and choose whether to apply online or via contact center or approach the kiosk. Sharing this information with the customer has balanced the workload across different channels; not like before where everybody was approaching one single point. Within the last 6 months, electronic service usage has increased to 5.4 million in comparison to the consumption of traditional services, which decreased to 2.5 million. Additionally, 53% of the submitted applications are now completed in one day or less. Customers are no more consumers only, they now have an empowering voice by sharing their feedback and input on provided services. They can even request for certain services to be given priority and modernized. As not all customers enjoy the same level of literacy and accessibility levels, MARSAD ensured that the services information is clear, straight forward and easy to understand for everybody. Additionally, they emphasized that information obeys the accessibility guidelines to allow people with disabilities to use the service catalogue on their own. For government entities, they now have a full picture of the services they provide, how they are consumed, which channels are preferred more and which services are highly demanded. They can easily plan their resources and the modernisation strategy for the services. Within only one year from the launch of MARSAD, the number of interactive services has increased by 10%, transactional services by 12% and transformational services by 42%. A total of 200 services has increased its maturity in only 1 year. Up-to-date, the initiative has managed to transform multiple traditional services to online services. Currently, online services make 89% of the total number of services.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Prior to the implementation of MARSAD initiative, service delivery processes were loose, there were no tangible metrics to measure what were the customers getting and in what way. With traditional processes, it was difficult to drive integrity and place the customer first. Customers would spend their time travelling back and forth between different employees at the customer service as they provide contradictory statements. With lack of a single repository to go back to, the customer would be easily mistreated and abused, especially in the case of elderly people from the pilgrims or tourists who could be easily exploited by unauthorized third agents. With the implementation of MARSAD initiative, services information has been made available for everybody, everywhere at any time. Customers now have access to an authentic, centralized repository where they can view all information for any services they want, starting from what the service is about until acquisition. If customers find any contradiction between this information and the information at the service desk, they could easily report it to the government. They can also issue a complaint and hold the government entity accountable for the information they provide. Those complaints and costumer comments on services are then taken into consideration during service transformation projects.

 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)
One of the main objectives of the MARSAD initiative is to provide services that are accessible by everyone, everywhere at any time. Women, girls, poorest and most vulnerable people surely come on top of this objective. With that regard, the initiative made it a priority to ensure that services are delivered to these groups at their convenience. In Rural areas, people usually find it difficult and demanding to travel to the city where the government entity provide its services. To solve this issue and reinforce the social inclusion, a dedicated team from the MARSAD initiative toured the rural areas to introduce people to the online government and how they can benefit from it. A “mobile customer service” was dedicated to women, girls, elderly people and those with accessibility issues. The service can be applied for online. Currently, MARSAD is used by the Anti-Corruption committee in government procedures and services to identify potential weaknesses in service procedures that could be misused and could lead to corrupt practices, which mainly impact the vulnerable society groups.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   e-government Program
Institution Type:   Ministry  
Contact Person:   Adel Asiri
Title:   NEA Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +966569090330
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Riyadh
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh

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