Guiding Bahrain to e-government excellence

The Bahrain eGovernment Authority is working with public and private entities to continue the drive for e-government adoption

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Guiding Bahrain to e-government excellence Mohammed Ali Al Qaed, chief executive officer, Bahrain eGovernment Authority. (ITP Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  August 30, 2015

Bahrain’s eGovernment Authority has been instrumental in helping develop eGovernment services for the Kingdom. Mohammed Ali Al Qaed, CEO of the Bahrain eGovernment Authority (eGA), explains how the authority has assisted in achieving the country’s eGovernment vision by working with public and private partners, as well as future plans.

What is the role of the Bahrain e-Government Authority?

The eGovernment Authority is responsible for coordinating and executing the Kingdom of Bahrain’s eGovernment strategy, in line with plans and programs set by the Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology (SCICT) which are aligned with the Bahrain Government Program and National eGovernment Strategy.

The authority seeks to improve the lives of citizens by ensuring effective delivery of government services; thus, its role entails everything from proposing overall ICT policies and appropriate legislations to the SCICT for approval, up to overseeing the execution of the approved SCICT programs. This includes suggesting required IT programs, facilitating communications and services between all government entities, opening new electronic channels for e-government services to the public, and offering technical as well as knowledge-based support to the ministries and other governmental entities.

What government departments and entities are you working with?

The eGovernment Authority’s mission and objectives are a pledge to positively impact three key identified stakeholder groups within the Kingdom of Bahrain — individuals, businesses and the government.

Currently, there are a total of 41 government entities providing nearly 340 electronic services. The authority is presently collaborating with a number of governmental institutes and their various departments to continuously develop eServices, diversify channels and boost the ICT environment with the purpose of facilitating easy-to-use services to various audiences. Additionally, eGA seeks to offer more enhanced services to every stakeholder and increase beneficial rates of presented public services through the several delivered eChannels.

Every popular, widely-utilized service of governmental entities joins the eGovernment program via the national eGovernment portal alongside a number of private institutes. Some of the most leading services include the Student Exam Results, Payment of Traffic Contraventions, Pay Electricity and Water Bills, along with Civil Service Employee Services.

What is the Tawasul system, and how many entities are involved in it?

The National Suggestions and Complaints System ‘Tawasul’ facilitates the handling of customers’ suggestion and complaint cases with international standards of communication across all governmental organisations in the Kingdom. The system also possesses a dashboard at the offices of the Prime Minister and the First Deputy Prime Minister to offer a tracking system that monitors the progress made on these submitted cases by individuals, corporates and visitors, along with all relevant information.

The system is more effective and less expensive, it enhances the coordination and transparency among government authorities as well as raises the qualitative performance — relieving the burden of repeating procedures as it adopts the approach of an effective response to solve citizens’ problems.

Linking citizens with public organisations directly and permanently, Tawasul displays the importance of activating the role of the public in the evaluation of government services. It also utilizes modern technologies in all governmental bodies to follow-up with citizens and residents’ suggestions as well as effectively manage their various comments and complaints.

There are 28 public entities integrated within the system, the total number of cases received up until mid-June this year was 6,780 cases — including complaints, suggestions and enquiries. The number of cases within the Service Level Agreement (SLA) reaches 80% which amounts to 5,424.

How do you work with government departments to decide what projects to implement and who initiates the projects — do government departments come to eGA or do you suggest to them?

Developing initiatives and refining existing services involves the engagement of the public to meet their needs. eGA adopts different approaches to create a more dynamic government,  based on such engagements and personal communication which are carried-out by various channels of participation including the year-long customer care polls, customer satisfaction index, focus groups, ForeSee and roadshows. For instance, the launch of the ‘Gov. App Star’ and ‘Open Data Platform’ competitions were formed in order to increase interaction of the public via eParticipation.

While highly valuing and considering suggestions of citizens and governmental bodies, eGA works in coordination with government organisations to decide upon the services that can be transformed into eServices; followed by a prioritisation process that bears in mind the level of demand, readiness, complexity, impact, cost and timeline.

Specific services are also developed as a result of observing public demand and becoming consistent with particular seasons — such as services related to students exam results, the Hajj and Ramadan rituals, among others.

What shared services does the eGovernment Authority offer to government departments?

The eGovernment Authority is committed to providing integrated government services under one umbrella, using modern technology, as well as providing a one-stop-shop portal which is a key service delivery channel for individuals, businesses, public organisations and visitors. The portal integrates and provides all types of vital services while reducing direct costs, not to mention the process and timeline in which the service takes to be completed.

Some of other shared services offered to government departments include the National Contact Centre (NCC) which is a strategic move to enhance communication amongst the public, private, governmental authorities and ministries.

The National Authentication Framework project ‘eKey System’ is a system that provides a uniformed digital identification mechanism and enables citizens to utilize a single authentication login profile to access all government eServices as well as eGovernment transactions via multiple channels.

Some of the other major recent projects achieved in the IT and eGovernment fields this year include the ‘eMeeting++ System’ which has made a major stride towards conducting secure, paperless meetings via tablets at any time and place. It saves time, resources and automates repetitive processes by providing its users with easy access to data from previous, current and future meetings such as agendas.

The Integrated Workflow Management System ‘Zajel’ is another shared service that promotes the exchange of information by providing a simple, integrated interface to network national entities electronically. Also, it provides advanced tools-of-work and enhanced options of security, confidentiality as well as efficiency of correspondences.

The Business Licensing Integrated System ‘BLIS’ development project is another example which operates as a unified, integrated directory for setting-up businesses in the country. The directory for registration and licensing contains all relevant requirements, procedures, laws and regulations while being in coordination with all governmental bodies tasked with granting of licenses.

Additionally, Tawasul was also established as a shared system amongst the eGovernment Authority and other governmental departments in order to engage all society segments and their inputs with these organisations in a transparent manner to ensure excellence in service delivery based on their valuable insights.

The impact of services on the public and the government is rapidly growing as the adopted services provide access to a wide range of public service at their conveniences. They promise cost savings, increased operational efficiency as well as advanced implementation activities, only to name the least.

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