Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives. (300 words maximum)
The key target of social reforms of the Government of Azerbaijan is minimization of barriers between power and citizens, incorporation of innovations and modern approaches for flexible and optimal mechanisms, maintaining social justice, transparency, accessibility and equality. Before the project impunity, procrastination in the social protection and security system, a lot of hours waiting for signing and stamping of papers, lack of physical conditions for those who applied to the system, lack of monitoring and reporting of citizens' appeals, and lack of flexibility prevailed. Citizens had to apply for one social service in at least 10 official departments in each administrative region and 10-15 sub-structures within the each. Citizens' protests, opinions, complaints, and loss of time were not registered and monitored. A lot of money was spent on the maintenance of the offices. The issuance of certificates or the provision of services was often bribed. The population was very dissatisfied with the system. There were gaps in the legislation. The initiative is to ensure universal access to labor and social protection services in respond to any risks in Azerbaijan. The mission of the Agency is to provide an easy access to labor and social protection services provided by the state through DOST Centers and modern IT solutions. The aim is to provide services to population on Single Window (One-Stop-Shop) principle through 31 DOST Service centers planned to be created on the territory of the country by 2025. Citizens are provided with 132 social services in the categories of labor relations, disability, issue of references, employment, labor pensions and social benefits, child adoption, targeted social assistance, assignment of presidential grant, registration of insured persons, social services and functional supportive services. The aim is to increase citizens’ satisfaction level through improving government-citizen relations, ensuring transparency and operative service implementation.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category. (100 words maximum)
By modern and innovative approach DOST Agency ensures transparency and accountability of social service provision. Human rights, dignity, equality, accessibility are the highest values of the organization. Population’s satisfaction is constantly evaluated and analyzed to bring changes and amendments in the service provision process. Involvement of people with disability, pensioners, people in risk group as stuff members and volunteers in the work process ensures that all needs of the target group are suggested and considered. Such integrated approaches and development plans create an opportunity for citizens to be engaged in and effect on decision-making and implementation process.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation. (200 words maximum)
17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.
Despite of fact that the initiative contributes to implementation of the several SDGs, f.e. “5.4” through the offering of 132 free, accessible for each resident services, including home based care, or “16.5” due to the one-stop-shop concept and permanent internal audit, and “16.6” through the open spaces for providing of services and managing staff, accountability and transparency of all procurement procedures, the SDG 17.17 “Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships” is more actual. DOST brings together partners from governmental and non-governmental, public and academic structures in volunteers’ movement. DOST effects curriculums. DOST connects partners around the right to equal opportunities and dignity: DOST TALKS project dedicated to the International Day of People with Disability, the Knowledge Competition gathering different sectors of society, the Culinary Competition with the involvement of people with disabilities and others. Elderlies and people with disabilities joined DOST staff. DOST inspires risk group to change the attitude towards themselves and manages to switch them from recipients to providers of social support. Moreover, DOST mobilizes resources of partners and potential of risk groups, even in the extreme situation like COVID-19 lockdown regime.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. (100 words maximum)
DOST Agency is an integral part of the governmental policy and is guaranteed by the legal-normative acts. Socially oriented State Budget, proven algorithm based on the accumulated experience of staff, volunteers, trainers, peer-educators, well-prepared infrastructure, centralized e-information system and procedures will be easy applied in all 31 DOST centers and administrative districts till 2023. This is reflected in documents signed by The President. Free of charge services, one-stop-shop with no needs for additional documents and CSI prevent corruption. Preparedness to extreme (COVID-19 lock-down) regimes; on-line, home-based and through the Call-Center-142 services, easy switching-on three shifts, 24/7 make the initiative sustainable.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
The initiative minimized citizen-power barrier through the opportunities to express point of view through the Five-Factors-CSI to reflect service providing process. Vulnerable groups including people with disabilities (PWD), elderlies gained opportunity to join volunteers’ movement and then be employed by both DOST and ministry. 132 labor-social services based on One-Stop-Shop principle are provided through on-site, e-social portal, 142-Call Center, self-service. Agency considers possible troubles of vulnerable groups with accessing the Centers, so provides them with mobile services (most popular and widely used method). 142-Call-Center provides operative answers to citizens’ requests in all service directions. Citizens, enjoying technological advantages, can get necessary services from distance, enter e-social portal, use Smartboard for self-service. DOST focuses decreasing of spending, also aims to increase the quality of some problematic service spheres (home-based services, self-employment). For the first time, passports for each service, manuals and standards of services, monitoring rules, instructions and other necessary regulatory tools for employees have been identified. In the document “List of services” approved by the Presidential Decree N387 there are listed population groups: employers, employees, PWD, aged-people, women gave birth to 5 children, woman brought up children with disability till 8, single fathers, imprisoned citizens, children of martyr, homeless people and many others.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
DOST ensures gender equality among staff: F-53,5%, M-46,5%. Home-based services previously considered as woman job now are mainly provided by mail staff. Services also are provided on equal gender bases. According to Presidential Decree N387, woman that gave birth to 5 or more children, raised them to the age 8, women that brought up a child with disabilities to the age 8, women with more than five children, 57-year-old women that gave birth to 3 or more children and raised them to the age of 8, or brought up a child with disabilities to the age of 8, receive retirement pension, monthly benefits.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
Every resident of country, no matter gender, age, social origin is eligible for DOST services: PWD, people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans, child adoption families, women - victims of violence, elderlies, pensioners, terminally ill, imprisoned/their families, war veterans, women with 3 or more children. DOST, through its provided services, is participating at all stages of person’s life. Based on the DOST’s aim to increase social-economic welfare, Law “About the Rights of People with Disabilities” and “Urban Planning and Construction Code”, DOST centers are built in accordance with needs of PWD. To avoid corruption, all procedures, including medical-social expertise, are organized in accountable and transparent way. Remote monitoring of the 400 adopted children was carried out; 828 children deprived of parental care were temporarily brought back to their biological families, remote on-line monitoring of them was provided. The volunteer movement was involved in the services providing process: 327 young, 22 elderly and 10 volunteers with disabilities were trained to provide services. Some of PDW and elderlies were employed by DOST and ministry. As a result, rights and dignity of risk groups are respected, quality of life has been improved, citizen satisfaction has been achieved and outcomes for target groups has been improved.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
August 9, 2018: Presidential decree №229 DOST Agency was created as a public-legal entity under the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population. December 10-20, 2018: The Charter of the Agency, structure, full list of provided services and the rules on service provision were approved. The Concept of DOST, relying on the population number covered by the services, the area of service provision and number of services, classifies DOST centers in 5 categories was adopted. May 9, 2019: DOST Center №1 was opened covering 3 districts. May 22, 2019: in order to organize the activities of current and future DOST centers, “The Model Charter of DOST Centers” was approved by the Resolution №236 of the Cabinet of Ministers. December 24, 2019: DOST Center №2 was opened covering 2 districts. May 19, 2020: DOST Center №3 was opened covering 3 districts. Users receive services based on developed algorithm: receive automatic number; check the list of documents in information kiosks; operators check in e-portal all privileges/rights guaranteed by legal-normative acts; users receive instructions on self-service; managers, social workers, operators, physicians, lawyers, psychologists, notaries, bank employees and volunteers are involved. According to the international practice, 132 services were grouped in 10 divisions. Services are provided through the self-services, “Call Center”, proactive services, mobile services and on-line activities. Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are based on inquires, questions, complaints, interviews, feedbacks, internal audit, evaluation of implementation of working plan of strategy (meet main indicators of implementation) and Five-Factors-CSI (Citizen Satisfaction Index). CSI is regularly measured and corrects decisions of management Recent CSI (as of November 10): awareness rate of population 98.2%, rate by Q-NET 99.3%, rate based on monitoring 96.0%, rate via the “Call Center 142” 86.7%, indicator based on official responded documents 99.2%.
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
1. Lack of legal-normative acts: after Presidential Decree on establishment of DOST, staff developed “Charter”, “Structure”, “List of services”, “Rules of Service Delivery” and in-DOST regulatory documents: all are approved.
2. Absence of system, practice and trained staff under one-stop-shop concept: Learning and implementing of practice from 14 countries; implementing of well developed “Centralized E-Management System” (CEMS), Strategy, Working Plan, “HR Data Base” and “Volunteers project” contributed to effective functioning of 3 centers covering 8 districts.
3. Lack of relevant education in the social sphere: awareness students in universities through the special lectures, presentations, TALK-events; providing practice and volunteers opportunities for students.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
For the first time:
1. 132 labor and social services are implementing under the one-stop-shop concept, based on CEMS with 16 sub-systems;
2. Citizens’ Satisfaction Index combined from 5 channels of feedbacks;
3. Proactive delivery of services;
4. Image of people from vulnerable group has been switched from those who usually get services to those who now provide them. The project significantly changed attitude to the power of risk groups, inspired them to believe in themselves and reduced inequality within the society.
5. Citizen-institution relations have changed from the traditional-administrative management model to a multilateral universal service model.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
The process of establishing of DOST system started with learning of international experience of 14 countries with its positive experiences and mistakes. The Concept of DOST Agency was created based on Chile Atiende (Chile), Human Services Department (Australia), Service Canada (Canada), NAV (Norway) and ASAN Service (Azerbaijan) project and organization experience. Among all these practices, analyzing the aim and goal of the Concept, service delivery rules and service directions, the closest to DOST is Chile’s experience. Meanwhile, the main difference is wider range of service delivery of DOST Agency.
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how these were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
The project has been managing by the soft-based Central Electronic Management System (CEMS) consist of 16 operating subsystems which provide the "one-stop-shop" activities. Running algorithms enable remote control even in critical periods (COVID-19 pandemic mode). Call-Center-142, Query Answering Algorithm, Coordinated Back-Front Offices, United Database are in working condition, which allows us to cover the entire territory of Azerbaijan with services through the on-line and on-phone services. Official mailing and documentation in DOST as well as between DOST, MOLSPP and other sub-structures of ministry is completely implementing through the soft-based E-document Management Subsystem.
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
The pilot initiative has started in Yasamal district of Baku. Based on the created human resources database (managers, social workers, operators, physicians, lawyers, psychologists, peer-educators, trainers, volunteers), accumulated experience and lessons learned, one-stop-shop concept provided with 16 operating subsystems in the working mode, well-prepared infrastructure and procedures, initiative has been already replicated in 3 centers covering Yasamal, Sabail, Khazar, Pirallahi, Nizami, Sabuncu, Surakhani and Qaradaq districts (total 8) of Baku city, and persons displaced from occupied Shusha and Zangilan territories. The proven algorithm will be applied in all 31 DOST centers and administrative districts till 2023. As a new challenge, DOST Agency is obligated to develop strategy in the frameworks of post-conflict rehabilitation of de-occupied territories of Azerbaijan. According to mandate, 15 centers and 44 mobile stations will be created to provide social services to internally displaced people and refugees. DOST Volunteer Proqram gives an opportunity to transfer volunteers to other centers. By present time, among overall 499 trained volunteers, 55 of them were employed by DOST and MLSPP. DOST already shared its practice with Afqanistan, Qazaxstan, Hungary and Russia. At the world Social Forum (Europe) countries such as Spain, Portugees, Bulgaria expressed wishes to implement DOST project.
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
Potential for transferability is based on the next factors:
1. Openness and transparency of MLSPP and DOST management;
2. Open minded friendly staff ready to practice sharing;
3. Existing of easy replicable innovative systems:
- the soft-based Central Electronic Management System (CEMS) consisting of 16 operating subsystems which provide the "one-stop-shop" activities;
- the soft-based E-document Management Subsystem which provide official mailing and documentation in DOST as well as between DOST, MOLSPP and other sub-structures of ministry;
- Running algorithms enable remote control even in critical periods (COVID-19 pandemic mode);
- Query Answering Algorithm;
- United Database and Coordinated Back-Front Offices in working condition;
4. A project’s algorithm that has passed a pilot stage and proved itself;
5. Ability to learn from lessons and mistakes and correct process and procedures in time;
6. Well build friendly services;
7. Existing of countries with needs on innovative model of social provision;
8. Existing of international platforms where DOST is able to present its model such as UNPSA, ESN, WSF, ESF etc.
9. List of countries expressed interest to DOST concept and model and sent request for practice and information sharing (Afganistan, Qazaxstan, Hungary, Russia, Spain, Portugees, Bulgaria). Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down, DOST has forced to postpone visits.
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
Mainly financial resources of State Social Protection Fund, State Labor Inspection Service, State Employment Service and State Medical-Social Expertise and Rehabilitation Service were used to create DOST Agency. Volunteer Program volunteers are involved in centers in order to organize and follow citizens’ flow, take surveys and feedbacks and generally support the work process. This serves for efficient use of financial resources, provides the training and gives experience for future potential staff. Till present day, the Program trained 499 volunteers and 55 of them are employed by DOST and MLSPP. Among employed volunteers, 10 are people with disability and 22 are elderly people.
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
Factors of sustainability:
1. Government, international and civil sectors’ support;
2. Approved legal-normative acts and Strategy on covering the whole territory of Azerbaijan with DOST centers;
3. Huge needs of population in innovative attitudes to social provision and positive expectations in this regard from DOST;
4. Openness to public control;
5.State Budget savings: each DOST Center replaces at minimum 4 sub-institutions (district representatives of State Social Protection Fund, State Labor Inspection, State Employment Service, State Medical-Social Expertise), on a Single Window principle and free of charge, resulting to gradual reduction of administrative expenditures in the state budget.
6. One-stop-shop concept leads to the decrease of citizens’ extra document gatherings and affects citizen’s time and finance savings.
7. Proven Model Charter of DOST Centers and algorithm of services.
8. Well-developed HR (including volunteers) data base, training-retraining system.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
Financial reports were audited by local UHY Audit MMC and covered the period from December 12, 2018 to December 31, 2019. The result states that all financial transactions within above-mentioned period were done accurately and followed International Financial Reporting Standards. The audit was implemented according to International Audit Standards. Audit referred to the consolidated financial statements of the DOST Agency and its subsidiaries (to be called the Group) and audited the consolidated financial statements including the statement of cash flows, as well as a description of the accounting policy and other explanatory notes. Audit referred to accordance of documents with International Financial Reporting Standards.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used. (100 words maximum)
Audit was conducted in accordance with International Standards on Auditing. Responsibilities of audit for mentioned standards are described in the “Auditor's Responsibility for the Audit of Consolidated Financial Statements” section of audit report. Audit Group was independent of the DOST Agency and its subsidiaries in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Ethics for Accountants, published by the International Council of Accountants' Ethics Standards on ethical standards related to the audit of financial statements, and Audit has complied with its other ethical obligations and the Code of Ethics. Audit underlined that the audit evidence which audit had obtained is sufficient and appropriate to substantiate audit’s opinion.
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how is this information being used to inform the initiative’s implementation? (200 words maximum)
Citation from audit report: “We conducted the audit in accordance with International Standards on Auditing. Our responsibilities for these standards are further described in the “Auditor's Responsibility for the Audit of Consolidated Financial Statements” section of our report. We are independent of the Group in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Ethics for Accountants, published by the International Council of Accountants' Ethics Standards on ethical standards related to the audit of financial statements, and we have complied with our other ethical obligations and the Code of Ethics. We decide that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to substantiate our opinion…We decide that the attached consolidated financial statements provide the consolidated financial position of the group for 2019 and 2018, for the period 12 December-31 December, 2018 and year ended 31 December 2019 and the end date 12 December 2018 (date of formation) 31 December 2018, accurately reflects the consolidated financial results and consolidated cash flows for the period up to the year in all material respects in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)”.
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how is it situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how have these institutional relationships been operating). (200 words maximum)
Citizens’ appeals are answered on-site by social agents in DOST Centers. Otherwise, the appeals are sent to back office, the ministry or institutions under MLSPP and, according to its category, are answered as soon as possible. This is an example of how the initative works horizontally. Regarding the vertical governance, the Agency, being a public-legal entity, has an advantage to cooperate with other state institutions, local and international organizations both as a sub-institution of the Ministry and as a separate entity. DOST can be a beneficiary in local and international projects of the Ministry. As being a front office, DOST faces and discovers existing difficulties, knows citizens’ will, demand and problems. Considering this feature, the Agency proposes amendments of legislative acts to the government with the aim to increase the quality of services provided to population. The amendments are prepared based on the surveys of citizens and analysis of problems arising during the process. As the Ministry is a policy-making body in labor and social provision sphere, all amendments are addressed to the government through MLSPP.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
DOST Agency closely cooperates with the Ministry and its sub-institutions, in order to implement the activities of the Agency in decision-making, policy execution, creation of back office, appointment of pensions and allowances, review of citizens’ appeals, proactivisation of services, improvement of procedures and general work on service provision. Therefore, State Social Protection Fund, State Labor Inspection Service, State Employment Service and State Medical-Social Expertise and Rehabilitation Service are the main partners. Moreover, the Agency cooperates with other government institutions such as Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, ASAN Service and SMB Development Agency. In order to increase the quality of services, analyze and implement international best practices and promote DOST Model on international arena, the Agency develops international cooperation. For example, there are joint ongoing projects and signed agreements with UNFPA, UNICEF, British Council, UNDP, diplomatic representatives. Furthermore, DOST cooperates with public and private organizations and NGOs for reaching the goals, discovering new opportunities and improving the performance. Azerbaijan University, Baku State University, ADA University, Azerbaijan University of Economics, “Umid Yeri” orphanage, “The 3rd Spring” Public Union, “Together and Healthy” Public Union, Baku Convention Center and Azerbaijan Youth Foundation are among local partners.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
DOST sees lessons learned (LL) and ways-to-improve (WTI) as next:
1. LL: Public Awareness on new services and self-services skills of clients are mandatory conditions for effective social services. WTI: strengthen communication strategy including volunteers’ involvement and in-centers radio-stations.
2. LL: Services must be client-driving and permanently corrected. WTI: Build regular (daily, weekly, monthly) regime of monitoring and evaluation of inquires, questions, complaints, CSI, interviews, feedbacks, internal audit, provide regularly correction of decisions of management; organize services more close to clients/users including home-based services.
3. LL: Strategy/working plan must be manageable and transformable for emergency cases (returning of residents to motherland liberated from occupation, COVID-19 pandemic lockdown). WTI: Effective design and use of Human Resources Database reflecting staff’s knowledge and skills, replicability of centers based on proven algorithm of building and HR procedures, re-training program and ability to re-shifting services from stationary to electronic and mobile services.
4. LL: Absence of coordination and clearly articulated procedures may block ambitious plans and intentions. WTI: Develop Responsibility Matrix with clearly description of obligations and sequence of steps.
5. LL: Anti-corruption measures and transparency should be well secured. WTI: provide digitization, transparency, centralized e-information management system. DOST is in-preparation to implement ISO anti-corruption index.