Provision of quality services is an essential practice in the modern day society because it is the determinant of efficiency be it in public or private institutions. Government institutions are not exempted from this as they are key in provision of essential services to the general public. Appreciating this fact becomes the pillar to the need for improvement in service delivery in government institutions in Saudi Arabia. Government agencies are faced with numerous challenges when it comes to provision of essential services which are a preserve of the government and cannot be offered by private institutions (Akbulut 142). Examples of these services include; registration of birth, tax returns, vehicle registration, issuing of passport and registration of companies. These services are predominately offered by government institution all over the world and as such the government has to hire personnel in different department to undertake the different roles. This means that a government will have as many different agencies as the number of services it is offering. Additionally, these agencies will have to develop different systems and platforms each different from the other for services. The biggest challenge is because these service platforms are not integrated and that every citizen has to undergo the tedious process of giving his/her data afresh for every service required. It is for this reason that many governments are moving towards citizen focused identity management.
What is Citizen-Focused Identity Management
A citizen Focused Identity Management is a solution that allows citizens to access government services through a single login. It is designed to allow a person to login through one platform and receive services without moving from one government department to another. Presently, Saudi Arabia government stores and manages the data of all citizens in different data warehouses and the warehouse do not have ability to communicate together. Citizens seeking services have login in different platforms, the citizen focused identity management solves this problem.
By adopting the citizens focused identity system government institutions are able to offer quick and efficient services that are of high quality and meet the expectations of the citizens. Moreover, a citizen focused identity system allows the government to monitor its citizens in all their day to day interaction with the government while accessing the services they require. This fosters a sense of security to the data under the government warehouse thus minimizing chances of data interference and information leakage. It is worth to note that under the Citizen Focused Identity system there are minimal, if any, chances of irregular data alteration by external persons or unauthorized persons.
Saudi Arabia government like any other developing nation if widely known for use of manual ways of managing service delivery as opposed to technology based methods. Using modern methods to enhance service delivery has proved to be effective. Technology based service delivery is the most widely used in developed countries not only to offer services but also to monitor their efficiency, effectiveness and impact on the receivers of the service.
Countries like New Zealand, USA, UK, Canada and Australia have adopted the use of Citizen-Focused Identity Management for over some years. The truth is that government services in these countries are of high quality due to the high level of efficiency. Services like issue of ID, passports, company registration and tax returns are easily accessible and take shorter time to receive courtesy of the Identity management solutions.
Saudi Arabia stands a bigger chance to improve on its service delivery if it makes use of Citizens-Focused Identity management. However, the road to this important milestone requires the government to overcome the following challenges which stand in the way to a good and effective Citizens-Focused Identity management solution;
Firstly, there is a technological barrier in government e-services. Most of the services offered through the e-platform pose a privacy security risk and thus many people do not trust e-services. One important factor that many people are concerned about is the privacy of information provided and how it may end up in the hands of different persons other than the intended user (Akbulut 139).
Secondly there is consistent organizational barriers that are standing in the way of service delivery. This is seen through lack of qualified personnel who are familiar with use of technology-especially upcoming use of ICT infrastructure in service delivery, resistance to change and lack of systematic procedure and policies. Leaders in top management need to play their role in ensuring the implementation of quality service delivery by ensuring implementation of policies that will enhance service delivery and increase efficiency in government agencies.
Finally, the government should ensure there is sufficient financial support to build a strong service delivery in Saudi Arabia. Many institutions lack enough financial resources to ensure they deliver their mandate of efficient service delivery to the citizens of Saudi Arabia. There is either a case of few financial allocations of resources or misuse of allocated resources by the one to whom they are entrusted. These challenges among others are the motivators to move towards a citizen-focused identity management due to its nature of efficiency.
Advantages of Citizen Focused Identity management
Unlike the traditional management system, a citizen focused identity management has many advantages over the former. It ensures a common platform for sharing of data and information to the various government agencies. As a result, there is efficient service delivery as citizens are able to receive services in a faster and quick manner. As a result, there is reduced bureaucracy on delivery of services which is a common feature of government service delivery (Alawneh, Hasan and Batiha 280). The introduction and use of Citizen Focused Identity management lower the overall cost of running government costs. This is due to the fact that each citizen has a single identity and the government has one platform for all its data. This is unlike the traditional management system where the government has to build and develop a multiple system which costs a lot of money and resources. As a result, the government is able to save and deploy the extra resources in provided extra services to the citizens.
The use of Citizen Focused Identity Management ensures that services are brought closer to the people and not the people going where the services are, as such access to services if from anywhere at any time (Akbulut 143). This builds a great value for the service rendered by the government and ensures continuous consumption of government services in a prompt manner with minimal hustle to reach services. Achieving this important milestone, the government eliminates the structural and systemic challenges brought about by the traditional multi-departmental system of management.
Noting the nature of Citizen focused identity management, it is clear that service delivery is more proactive and efficient. This means by deploying the system Saudi Arabian citizens are able to receive services quickly with minimal time wastage. This is what most people aspire and desire when it comes to service delivery especially in government organization and institutions (Alawneh, Hasan and Batiha 279). It is worth appreciating that people who seek government services are either in private practice or undertaking business and thus time spend in receiving services is as important as time taken in their business undertaking. Therefore, if a government will establish efficient services it goes a long way in relieving them the cost associated with inefficient serves.
A major characteristic of Citizen Focused Identity Management is that it is real time in nature. That is, decision is able to be made without undergoing long processes and this is justified by the fact that the data to make decision, in regard to a citizen’s need, is centrally stored in the same warehouse. This, also enables the government to provide citizens with personalized services depending on their needs.
Finally, a Citizen Focused Identity Management ensures deployment of few employees and thus there is minimal spending on the part of the government in hiring the personnel. Most governments spend a lot of money in building different system for the different department as well as hiring diverse personnel to work in those departments. Therefore, by adopting the citizen focused management the government will go a long way in cutting un necessary spending in the government.
Since citizen focused management uses a single profile for each citizen, the data and information relating to the citizen is more private and thus user’s privacy is protected. It is the use of this system that speeds the efficiency of public services. Identity management stretches further to offer strong adherence to compliance thus reduces cases of fraud and theft. This is a key aspect in minimizing cases of theft and cybercrimes which have become rampant in the recent years. The identity management has enhanced security because of its features that prompts a confirmation incase a system detects an erroneous login or use of unrecognized IP address. This confirmation is done through a verification code or security questions
Features of a good citizen focused identity management
An identity management system should meet a set level of performance for it to be adopted for use by the whole government thus the system should be evaluated and tested to make sure that it meets the under listed qualities. The vendor of such solution should bring out the best qualities of the solution that make it qualify to be used. This is very essential as it saves the government the challenges associated with use of poorly developed solutions (Alshehri and Drew 43). Some vendors will claim their solution is of high quality but one should not fall into that play but just seeing a demo. The solution should be run on a live mode for it to be a proof that it can work. If by any chance a solution takes long to take off either during installation or in live mode; this should be a red flag that the solution is not up to standard.
A good Citizen-focused identity management solution should meet the following qualities discussed below: –
Firstly, it should be able to accommodate large traffic of users without being overwhelmed. The citizen focused solution is used by a whole county and thus should be able to allow multiple users to login in at different times and access services. This quality is essential because the system is being used by everyone seeking service in government office. By ensuring the solution can absorb large numbers of users the system can be relied upon for use by the government.
The main reason for developing a citizen-focused system management is to offer services to the citizens in a more efficient manner (Al-Sobhi and Weerakkody 130). Thus, such a solution should be able to solve the people’s problems and not to compound them. This means the solution should be able to offer the services that the citizens need in a better way. It should be easy to used, access and navigate through. Another important feature of a citizen focused identity management solution is that it should be able to generate uniform profile for all citizens across the various departments of the government. This uniformity enables the user to undertake decision making without having to generate different results for comparison purposes. It is this feature that enhances trust and reliability of the system among its users.
Given the nature of government services, that is, they are ever changing in that a new service will be rolled out depending on the needs of the citizens. It is therefore important for a citizen focused identity management solution to allow for integration of other services without beginning from scratch every time a new service is being added in to the existing list. This quality ensures seamless transition in the event there is a change of service delivery in a given department. Similarly, due to the growth and increase in number of the users of a citizen focused identity management solution, the system should be scalable. This means it should have the capacity to be increased and enlarged depending on the user needs and increase in volume of users. This quality ensures that the system is able to enlarge and increase its output to cater for the user needs without crushing or going down.
Finally, a good Citizen focused identity management solution should be context -aware. This refers to its ability to know its environment, detecting the surrounding devices that relate to it. It includes having ability to eliminate those devices that could be trying to connect without proper authorization especially from hacker and other cyber related users.
A citizen-focused identity management solution is a noble idea for the citizens of Saudi Arabia since it ensures unified data security, efficient in service delivery, enhanced capacity and overall improved service provision to all citizens. The government of Saudi Arabia should move swiftly to develop and implement this for the good of the citizens of Saudi Arabia.
Alawneh, Ali, Hasan Al-Refai and Khaldoun Batiha. “Measuring user satisfaction from e- Government services: Lessons from Jordan.” Government Information Quarterly 30.3 (2013): 277-288.
Alshehri, Mohammed and Steve Drew. “Challenges of e-government services adoption in Saudi Arabia from an e-ready citizen perspective.” Education 29.5.1 (2010). 39-53.
Al-Sobhi, Faris and Vishanth Weerakkody. “The role of intermediaries in facilitating e- government diffusion in Saudi Arabia.” (2010).125-300.
Akbulut, Asli Yagmur. An investigation of the factors that influence electronic information sharing between state and local agencies. Diss. Louisiana State University, 2003.