What is the primary mandate of Adaa, and how have your operations advanced?
Adaa has given a new momentum to Saudi Arabia's march towards a new era of transparency and accountability to achieve Vision 2030 goals to take the Kingdom to a leading position in all fields. As an independent organization, Adaa reports directly to the Prime Minister. The last few years have been a period of continuous development and improvement, during which our operational process has been further streamlined, and Adaa has been equipped with expanded capabilities to achieve its mandate. We are working closely with public entities to measure their progress in implementing the programs and initiatives that help them attain their objectives to create a culture of transparency and accountability in public entities. Adaa is tasked to perform timely and accurate reporting on government performance, and our mandate calls for two primary roles: measuring the performance of public entities in terms of delivering their KPIs and targets, and measuring satisfaction on government services. The second part we have been recently quite active in. After launching our first set of citizen feedback tools this April 2018, under what we call the Beneficiary Experience Program (BEX) where beneficiary stands for citizen, resident, visitor, and investor. We have just launched a beta version for one of our Beneficiary Experience products called Watani application. Watani is an application that empowers beneficiaries to evaluate the services provided to them from most of the public sector. Through the app beneficiaries can evaluate any given service against readiness, speed and quality. Watani's features include offering beneficiaries the access to view the highest rated centers and other beneficiaries' reviews filtered by service center and service. It also offers an open space to share ideas and suggestions for further development. The application's data will feed into the measuring process we have implemented for BEX where beneficiaries' satisfaction reports will be presented to decision makers. Access to this type of data will help us amplify the voice of communities to improve government services and promote the culture of performance measurement that will transform all beneficiaries into contributors towards achieving the Saudi Vision 2030.
What methodologies are you equipped with to measure the performance of public entities?
Performance measurement is a challenge around the world, even in OECD countries, as public entities tend to work in silos and do not share data publicly. When we started in 2016, we encountered resistance from our entities to share their data. Today, Adaa measures the performance of approximately 70 organizations, reporting on their progress on Vision 2030 initiatives, as well as measuring over twenty-five ministries for beneficiary satisfaction. In total, we monitor around 480 KPIs and over 1,200 key initiatives. Our methodology has been developed in collaboration with the World Bank, OECD, and Harvard Business School, with the goal of measuring outcome rather than output—one can build more hospitals, but did they shorten and improve patient recovery? Every quarter, we publish performance reports and hold meetings with the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), and we strive to make our findings public shortly. After six of these three-month cycles, our measurement framework is not only practical and reflective of how our government works but also helps our government to transparently hold officials accountable.
How do you envision installing a performance measurement culture among public entities?
The true value of performance measurement is derived only when it triggers learning and insight and translates into visible changes in decision-making and citizen wellbeing. Monitoring the performance of public entities and publishing transparent reports on accurately measured data is just one aspect of Adaa's role. What makes our work more meaningful is the support it offers to public entities to empower them to enhance their capabilities, improve their performance, and develop their services. To achieve this, we enable excellence of entity performance through development and standardization of relevant tools, methods, and approaches. We help raise performance measurement capabilities and excellence of public entities by identifying issues through consultation and communication. We further drive excellence of entity performance measurement by supporting public entities to build their capabilities through continuous training based on international best practices. To jumpstart the performance culture, we have already trained over 4,000 government employees in this field. Our mandate is not to train, though we recognized that government organizations have to adapt to performance culture. Every six months, we choose six government employees and send them to Harvard Business School to follow the government performance course. To streamline and widen the scope of our training, we are launching an e-learning platform that reaches 200,000 government employees to learn about strategy development, cascading, performance reviews, data-driven analysis, and data analytics. We invest heavily in enablement and will continue to deliver this training for another year until the Ministry of Civil Services and its Institute of Public Administration take over and direct our focus on e-learning.
What is envisioned with the launch of the International Performance Hub (IPH)?
We developed this tool with one specific purpose: to learn how the world sees Saudi Arabia, utilizing all available data that we can gather. The IPH is a tangible outcome of the Saudi government's commitment to monitor the progress of Vision 2030 and learn from comparative experiences elsewhere in the world. It serves as a useful platform to track, benchmark, and communicate the performance of the government across a variety of national priorities. An integrated online platform that is built on more than 1 million data points collected from over 25 recognized international sources, IPH features over 700 key performance indicators organized around 12 core pillars, from finance to justice and energy to infrastructure. Data is sourced from 200 countries, making it possible to visualize Saudi Arabia's performance on a considerably broad scale. IPH was released as a beta during the World Economic Forum in order to gain advantage of the wealth and diversity of information Davos offers as a feedback platform, harnessing insights from contributors in politics, NGOs, and subject matter experts. IPH represents Saudi Arabia's keen interest to not only participate fully in the global community, but also to utilize all the resources at the country's disposal to drive progress for everyone. It also highlights the Kingdom's mission to raise development standards and international best practices within Saudi Arabia and globally, and build on the country's reputation as an innovator in data-driven, transparent government. Essentially, we decided to avail this to the world focusing on two key messages: there is nothing to hide—we will acknowledge where we underperform—and we invite anyone to use this pool for good.
What should further economic internationalization look like, and what does that mean for your services and consultations to public entities?
The future is full of optimism as Vision 2030 aims to expand the size of economy from 19th in the world to the top 15 and increase foreign direct investment from 3.8% to 5.7%. Considering that transparency and accountability in government performance have a direct impact on investment flow into any country, Adaa's role has assumed large significance in making the Kingdom an attractive destination for foreign investments. Through establishing a state of transparency and a culture of accountability in government work, Adaa is an enabler to place the Kingdom on track to create a dynamic economy. With Adaa guiding the transition to transparency and accountability, public entity performance will not just be measurable; it will become the main driver for the successful implementation of the country's development plans to attract investors from all over the world.
What ambitions have you set for the coming year?
Our priority for the coming year is to expand our capabilities to provide useful actionable insights to our leadership to support the decision-making process using the various data assets we manage. Adaa seeks to work closely with more public entities to cultivate collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships, and to establish its credentials as the Kingdom's performance measurement center for all public entities. Our citizen-focused approach will actively encourage them to positively contribute to the Kingdom's development and become key stakeholders in driving improvements in the performance of their government.