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EXCLUSIVE - MAMPU’s journey towards structuring government online services around Life Events

Many governments around the world today are attempting to radically change digital service delivery, shifting from a traditional focus on government agencies to meeting the needs of the public at important junctures in their lives, the ‘life events’. The principle is simple, but the implementation is often complex and challenging.

The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) has also embarked on a journey towards citizen-centric services. OpenGov had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Kathirrasan K Kupusamy, Principal ICT Consultant, ICT Consultancy Division to learn where Malaysia is on this journey now. Mr. Kathirrasan is the project director for the Government Online Services Gateway project (GOSG), a whole-of-government service portal, intended to serve as a one-stop point for the public to access any government service.

The journey started in November last year. Back in August 2011, MAMPU had implemented its own portal, called MyGovernment Online Services Portal (MOSP) to facilitate public to access government information and online services.

“From that we migrated to the MyGov portal in Mei 2017. When we migrated to MyGov portal, we made a lot of changes to the content and the way the content is presented. Right now, whatever was in the original MOSP, has been transferred to MyGov portal, where the information or content is richer and displayed in a manner that is in tune with what the citizens understand or the way they speak” Mr. Kathirrasan said.

At the same time, the team is working on introducing life event content and services into MyGov portal. That is work in progress. The first area is formal education. For that MAMPU is working with the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and the Ministry of Education (MOE).  MAMPU working together with these agencies is coming up with a prototype now.

But what do life event services look like in practice?

At the moment, the Malaysian national government offers around 11,000 online services. They have been migrated from MOSP to MyGov portal.

Mr. Kathirrasan said, “Those online services that I am talking about were developed and made available for use by our clients, the public­­­­, is not based on the life-event concept. It was more like this particular online service is for this, and if you want to do this, go here. So, the language that we are using is different”.

Telling a story

To understand the difference, we can look at the example of finishing higher education, which MAMPU is working on at the moment.  Secondary education ends with what is called Form 5. After finishing Form 5, students have to make a decision, choosing among multiple options. They could go on to do Form 6, or their A-levels or enrol for a diploma programme or undergo some vocational training or even enter into business. That is a major life-changing event for that particular student.

MyGov portal through the GOSG project is going to talk to the public in that language. It will tell that story, guiding the student through the different avenues open to him/ her. While they are browsing this content, they can decide what they want to do.

For example, if the student decides to pursue a diploma programme, then he or she will be taken into the details of diploma programmes. It will also allow that student to directly ‘transact’. The student will be able to apply for a diploma programme of his or her choice in any of the public institutions of higher learning.

“If I compare that with what we have now, it doesn’t tell this story. After I finish Form 5, I have to look for an application that will enable me to apply for a diploma programme, which the student may or may not know where to find. We are revamping this whole thing, so that we would be able to better reach out to the public,” Mr. Kathirrasan said.

End-users involved through the whole development and delivery process

We asked how MAMPU is obtaining user feedback in the process.

Mr. Kathirrasan replied, “In this new way of doing things, we will be engaging the actual end-users. Currently we are working on students finishing formal education and intending to continue with Form 6. We are going to get the actual form 6 students to come on board and participate in the whole development of this service. Not only that, we will also be engaging the teachers, lecturers, and parents”.

A team has been set up, comprised of Subject Matter Experts on Citizen Centric Design, IT vendor, MAMPU (both the IT people and the business people). People from the Ministry of Higher Education have also been brought on-board. And if there is a need, people from the Ministry of Education will also join. This team will work on identifying the ‘pain points’ in the current delivery of the service.

Once the pain points have been identified, they will be presented to the end-users who are members of the public, selected on a random basis for validation. So, the end-users will actually be engaged in the identification and validation of the pain points. They would be able to tell how they would like the services to be rendered.

After that, an alpha version will be developed. Again, the end-users will be called to have a look at it and provide their inputs. The next step is the beta version, followed by production. Throughout this whole cycle of development and delivery, the actual end-users or citizens are involved. In other words, it’s citizen centric i.e. real time engagement of the citizen. It’s about innovative solutions with shorter time to market at reduced risks. As opposed to the previous way of doing things where the government agencies decided what is relevant for the public and made it available to them.

One big expected advantage of this approach is increased take-up of the digital services. By taking the previous approach, the take up of these services is not very high.

“But with this approach where the citizens are involved you find that they are part and parcel of this whole delivery of services, we are confident that the take-up rate will be high. Since this is students themselves, the parents and the teachers, the lecturers, these people themselves will be able to speak to their own circle of friends, their own networks and automatically the whole thing will start to sell on its own,” said Mr. Kathirrasan.  

Overlaps among clusters

MAMPU is tackling the MyGov portal implementation in a cluster by cluster fashion. Four clusters have been identified: education, business, welfare and health.

But Mr. Kathirrasan explained that something interesting happened when they started with formal education. 

Once all the options post Form 5 are explored in-depth, it starts overlapping with other clusters. For instance, if a person wants to go into business, it becomes connected to the business clusters and opens up a whole new world. If the person wants to go for higher education, but is from an economically disadvantaged family, it gets connected to welfare.

Mr. Kathirrasan said, “Right now our focus is on finishing formal education, but our expectation is to at least touch these 4 clusters. I would think that as we go deeper and deeper into finishing formal education, it will start to touch the others.”

Working with multiple agencies

All of the 11,000 online services mentioned earlier are based on certain technologies and platforms. With integration through the MyGov portal, changes would have to be made. The amount of tweaking or changes required would depend on input from all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Mr. Kathirrasan said that this is one area of concern, “If there are a lot of changes, then it will take some time for us to fix that. If there is going to be an overhaul on the actual service that is being rendered now, then we might need extra budget. That is one aspect. Timeline is another. We have also got to look into the commitment from the agencies to embark on this transformation journey.”

That’s why MAMPU has started reaching out to all of the other government agencies and organisations, to make them aware of this pending change, helping them to prepare for the transformation. This engagement has started with the highest levels of the organisations, the Secretary Generals of ministries, the Director-Generals of departments, and Head of agencies.

The MyGov portal can be truly transformative for the way the Malaysian government interacts with its citizens. But to get there, all stakeholders will have to come on-board.

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