Q. Bahrain clearly made tremendous progress with e-government with its 2007 – 2010 strategy. Which pieces are having the biggest impact in your opinion?
A. Governments around the world are leveraging advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to enhance their service delivery mechanism so as to improve citizen satisfaction towards government.
The Kingdom of Bahrain appreciates the importance of eGovernment and has therefore, The Kingdom has set-up a Supreme Committee for Information and Communication Technology (SCICT)– headed by His Highness Sh, Mohammed Bin Mubarak AlKhalifa the Deputy Prime Minister – and the eGovernment Authority was established to provide direction and decision to developing and implementing a comprehensive eGovernment strategy.
The eGovernment strategy for the Kingdom of Bahrain is focused on ensuring effective delivery of government services to citizens, residents, businesses and visitors (customers). The eGovernment strategy is summed up by:
“Delivering Customer Value through Collaborative Government”
The Kingdom regards recipients of government services not as ‘Beneficiaries’ but as ‘customers’ with unique needs and requirements.
August 2007 witnessed the creation of the eGovernment Authority (eGA) to play a central role in strengthening the Kingdom’s status and pushing its economic growth forward in accordance with the Bahrain Vision 2030. In addition, the eGA was tasked with overseeing the coordination and execution of the eGovernment program put forth by the SCICT which aims to build Bahrain’s capabilities and make the transition to a pioneering knowledge economy that is immune to the ever-changing landscape of an increasingly globalized world.
Now, there are more than 200+ eServices available through the eGovernment Portal. The eGA also brought the other service delivery channels – National Call Center, Government Common Service Centers, and Mobile eServices – to the public to make eGovernment services accessible to everyone whenever and wherever they may be in every sense of the word.
Q. As a country, how do you create a multi-year e-government strategy? What lessons can you share with other governments?
A. It’s very important to get all the stakeholders engaged In the process of any plan. And that’s what we’ve done in Bahrain from the very start of the Strategy drafting process. We created small thinking groups between individuals, government, business, visitors – tourists, trade chambers and all other groups. We than took their exceptions and put them as a plan and the eGov strategy was developed. And while working on achieving that strategy we formed special working groups in each and every ministry in Bahrain to support the change towards the eGovernment and so everyone in Bahrain was working towards the same aim instead of each ministry or sector with its own plans.
Q. For the 2007 – 2010 deliverables has the cost of government been reduced monetarily and, if so, by how much? Have you seen improvements in terms of quality of service? Have new jobs been created?
A. 203 eServices are available now on the eGovernment portal which increases the efficiency and effectiveness of transactions. The eGovernment Authority (eGA) as part of its strategy, employs leading international research agents to conduct comprehensive surveys to measure the impact of eGovernment services on the public and it is evident that eServices are more efficient and cost-effective based the level of customers satisfaction. According to a study released by North West EGovernment Group (NWEGG), United Kingdom, the cost of a single transaction in traditional methods of payment ranges method ranges between BHD3 to BHD6.5 compared to the transaction on eGovernment portal which costs 90 Fils only.
Q. I know your 2011 – 2014 strategy will be launched soon, what are the major components of it that you can share with us?
A. The new strategy 2011-2014 is building upon the successes and achievements of the first one. It is a more comprehensive strategy that focuses on 3 main streams- the environment, readiness and usage. Furthermore, it is more oriented towards government to government and intra governmental projects. Broadly, the strategy is a well-established move to cater for leading next generation Government, The New Strategy will offer high-quality services, Enable administrative efficiency and effectiveness, Ensure operating sustainability via intra-Government collaboration, Incorporate and utilize state of the art and best fit technologies , and Become a leader among top international eGovernments.
Q. What are the plans, if any, for releasing open government datasets? Any plans for the use of ideation platforms like ideaScale, UserVoice, BubbleIdeas? Any plans for the use of other collaboration platforms? Any plans around social media on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere?
A. We at EGA understand the importance of Social Media and WEB 2.0 tools in interacting with our customers and to hear their instant feedback to improve our services presented to them. Therefore we highly rely on our Blog, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter account & YouTube channel to reach out to our customers and respond to them instantly and improve our services for them.