Advancing knowledge management in Government/ Promoting whole of Government approaches in the Information age

The information age demands that governments keep up with technological innovation and use available tools to ensure enhanced service delivery. This section details experiences of countries with using technology for better governance.

e-Kasih, Malaysia 13

e-KASIH was conceived as an initiative to coordinate and monitor the poverty eradication effort of the Malaysian government by ensuring that the benefits of social programs actually reach the poor. e-KASIH is a national integrated information system on poverty. The main objective of the initiative is to avoid duplication of aid/ programs given to the poor and hardcore poor by establishing a central data bank which can be accessed and used by all aid agencies and other parties involved in the country’s poverty eradication program.

The tool has helped the State understand the country’s demographics more comprehensively and frame better policies to target specific groups such as the urban and the rural poor. The system’s functions range from having a poverty information repository to poverty mapping, feedback and analysis reporting. This has not only made government policies become more effective but has also helped implement NGO initiatives better and promoted more accurate research. Since its rollout in July 2008, the monthly tracking report from e-Kasih shows a significant reduction in the poverty rate, the overall number of poor and hardcore poor. As a result of aid programs targeted at specific beneficiaries, the overall poverty came down to 1.7% in 2012 from 15.8% in 1990. e- Kasih is an online web based application system operating on Microsoft platform. Every agency working towards poverty eradication is granted online access to the same database. The change over process included increasing awareness about the new system amongst all potential users through information campaigns. Constant feedback and responsive change management made e-Kasih more user-friendly. The State and management had to work through political barriers, but a good communication strategy and State support helped overcome implementation issues.

Before uploading data into the system, the Department of Statistics conducted a poverty census following international standards to verify the existing data. e-Kasih has been designed as a dynamic system to adjust to frequent changes in policy and procedures. Institutional capacity was built to deal with huge volumes of data collection. High turnover amongst officials handling e-Kasih was a potential problem due to interrupted functioning. This was overcome by training an adequate number of people to take over the functioning in case there was a requirement. Constant upgradation using feedback and strong technical and institutional capacity have helped e-Kasih become more effective over the years.

National Health Information System (I-SEHA), Bahrain 14

The Ministry of Health (MoH) brought in I-SEHA, Bahrain’s national health information system, to replace the traditional Health Information System with an intelligent health information system that is paperless and filmless. This integrated clinical administrative system assists in daily healthcare operations by providing real time online analytical decision support tools.

The program helps in quick transfer of information between healthcare professionals. Improved access to patient information by doctors helps them make critical decisions without delay, thereby improving the quality of medical care. Medical records are updated at the clinic/ doctor level and eventually get integrated and are available to all government hospitals and clinics. This helps increase patient satisfaction as multiple tests become unnecessary and all information is readily available. This also reduces costs and makes healthcare more affordable. I-SEHA can be considered as a self-financing system. It has led to significant cost saving in terms of reduced film and paper expenditure. Moreover, there are intangible benefits in terms of enhanced quality of care, better access and increased patient happiness.

The service was set up as a Public Private Partnership. The transition period was challenging, as both systems, paper-based and electronic coexisted. Frequent training of doctors and hospital staff, constant communication and strong institutional support helped overcome difficulties. I-SEHA was integrated with existing information technology systems in the country to avoid duplication of effort and use existing synergy. Sustainability of the initiative requires constant customization of the system to suit doctor and patient requirements. Having access to information has helped standardize medical procedures and ensure patient safety.

TTBizLink, Single Electronic Window, Trinidad & Tobago 15

TTBizLink is a Single Electronic Window (SEW) providing customers access to all trade related government services. The SEW was created to speed up and ease business transactions with the government. Prior to this, trade transactions were characterized by delays and duplication of paperwork due to a lack of coordination amongst departments. The absence of a single well monitored system also allowed for discretionary implementation of laws. These factors were contributing to a lack of global competitiveness for the country.

Developed with help from experts from Singapore, TTBizLink acts as an intermediary between government agencies and trade actors. Shifting from the old system to the upgraded one was not an easy task. Online tutorials and training modules for staff were used to make the SEW more accessible to its users and officials alike. The change management process included conducting feasibility studies to review best practices, international standards and public administration reforms. Strong leadership was emphasized and a clear communication plan was outlined to ensure that all stakeholders were aware of the features of the new system. Transparency and security were important concerns and the government made use of a number of security enhancing programs including firewalls and data intrusion protection systems.

Over the last two years the system has acquired a large number of satisfied users and is now capable of providing real time approval for 25 e-businesses and trade related activities. The portal has facilitated enhanced data sharing amongst agencies, which has increased productivity and coordination within the government. Shifting to an automated system has decreased processing time to a fraction of the original cost and increased the ease of doing business. All e-services are constantly monitored with monthly reports providing an opportunity for a continuing learning process.

Dubai Smart Government Department, Dubai 16

In 2002, Dubai used Electronic Shared Services (ESS) to shift governance in its entirety to an online portal. The ESS initiative was a whole of government approach aimed to increase ease of access and also to enhance consumer happiness and satisfaction. ESS has led to efficiency and cost saving through automated processes, enhanced knowledge sharing across government departments, easier implementation of policies and a reduced carbon footprint. Increased synchronization between government divisions allowed the government to centralize shared services and decentralize core functions to respective departments.

Dubai E-transformation and ESS governance evolved from temporary institutional mechanisms to a consolidated institution with a clear mandate. Since this was a first of its kind initiative, there was no precedent regarding dealing with the transition process. Institutional barriers and the autonomous nature of the government were obstacles during the implementation process. Making ESS a high priority, with constant monitoring and focus on results created a sense of urgency about achieving success. Staff engagement and skilling were given due importance.

The many benefits of ESS make it sustainable. Visionary leadership, support from the government, advance planning, the goal of consumer satisfaction and keeping it simple for the public contributed to establishing a highly effective system. Reduced overhead costs make this system self-financing. The availability of centralized information facilitates allowed access to key performance indicators and it became easy to share knowledge across departments to seamlessly accommodate changes in government policies. In the future, the government intends to make all these services available on smart phones moving Dubai towards a ‘Smart Government’.

Uruguay Concursa Portal, Uruguay 17

Uruguay Competes is a unique portal for selection and recruitment to the country’s Civil Service. The portal makes the process of intake open, transparent and professional. It allows central recording of information regarding vacancies in public administration. Earlier, each office used its own procedure for selection of candidates. This lack of uniformity led to inefficiencies and communication errors. It was difficult to keep a track of information and retrieve it when necessary. The new system has significantly reduced effort by formulating a single set of processes for selection. The information is stored in a single database that allows universal access for all public competitions.

16 Background paper and presentation in Annex 5.4

Uruguay Competes aims to make the management of recruitment and selection transparent and democratic to select the most suitable candidates. The country’s Civil Services are funding and implementing the program. The portal informs the public about openings, allows free registration and accepts personalized information about candidates. This information includes employment and educational profiles and related documentation such as Curriculum Vitae.

Ministries are kept informed about developments and changes in the processes and are allowed to customize some processes to suit their specific needs. This system boosts efficiency, reduces delay and makes the system more accessible to the people. The entire selection process becomes fairer and more transparent and helps identify the best candidate for a job.

Key Takeaways

Experiences from various countries highlight the facilitating role that technology can play in achieving a government’s objective.

  • Automating tasks helps save human effort and reduces room for error.
  • Technology driven systems can be made more transparent and provide enhanced services to consumers.
  • Switching from manual to digital systems often involves dealing with inertia from an established order. Overcoming this requires effective communication and consensus building.
  • Officials and consumers need to be familiarized with the new system and every effort should be made to provide training and tutorial services.
  • Political commitment helps bring in reform and ensure quick adoption.