Azerbaijan Journal – October 2017
Day FiveAzerbaijan: A Kaleidoscope of Development and Growth Part - III
If you are reading this article, I am prepare to bet that you do not like bureaucracy, you do not like the people who render bureaucracy disservices to you, in government offices, the DMV, the post office, the courts, and the list goes on. You many also be clueless as to how to complete documents which they put in front of you.
Well, there is a solution and this solution I saw in Azerbaijan. . Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, came up with the ASAN – ‘State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan’ idea. It is the president’s unique initiative and approach to solve bureaucracy nightmare that intimidates most people.
When my hosts took me to ASAN’s offices in Baku, one of ASAN’s eleven offices in the entire country, I was first wondering what I am doing there among Azerbaijani citizen seeking daily service. But when my ASAN Chief Adviser host started explaining to me where I am and giving me the rundown of ASAN’ operational model, I was simply stunned. Really amazed. ASAN's model is open space office ASAN instant survey-staff must be helpful at all time Ms. Turane Qasimova – ASAN’s very knowledgeable Chief Adviser
They call ASAN the ‘one stop shop,’ make life easy shift, in Azerbaijan.
It is unfathomable culture shock for a post Communism society and probably for anyone who faces domestic daily bureaucracy.
What is ASAN all about?
The main purpose of ASAN is to bridge between civil servants and civilians with efficiency, a smile on its workers’ face, to make people comortable, and to elimitae bureaucracy to the minimum. To assist in achieving such atmosphere, ASAN has a call center for imrovement and innovation.
ASAN is part of the entire Azerbaijan’s development vision, one other indicator of the country’s trajectory toward total independence and progress, along the lines of preserving its national heritage and features while being able to compete in a global world.
ASAN’s model is not the world’s first, however, by comparison, it offers a much moreconprehensive and advanced services with a smile, that is required of its working force.
ASAN purpose is to streamline bureaucracy. All serviese are at low cost subsidized by the government as public service.
The pronciples of ASAN are based on maintaining transparency and to help maintaining such image, there are no walls in ASAN’s offices.
Basically, “ASAN service” is a “one-stop-shop” entity, where 10-state bodies and a number of private companies render more than 230 services. Without wasting time and money and encountering unnecessary bureaucracy the citizens benefit from the services offered in this “one-stop shop”. The uniqueness of “ASAN service” is defined by the complete exclusion of conflict of interests during the process of rendering its services.
ASAN’s mobile services come to the periphery
ASAN’s specially equipped buses and train’s coaches travel to the regions where “ASAN service” centers are needed but do not operate. These fully equipped buses and train’s coaches render ASAN’s services and so far over one million citizens’ applications for service were received through mobile “ASAN services”.
Azerbaijan’s “ASAN service” proudly wears the badge of honor being 1st place winner of the United Nations Public Service Award in the category of “Improving the delivery of Public Services” for 2015. This is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence and professionalism in the public service sphere, rewarding creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.
ASAN uses all social media outlets to enhance its serivces and for prompt rersponse. It also provides “ASAN Radio,” a unique service, specializing in the field of public services, to raise public awarenes about “ASAN service” centers’ activities and privide the citizend with the nesseccasry information about the laws, regulations and practices.
ASAN’s ABAD, for start-ups, entrepreneurship, marketing and merchandising ASAN’s ABAD Center in Baku old town in old Hammam-Turkish sauna
Display of handmade ceramic in ASAN’s ABAD Center in Baku old town
Display of handmade ceramic in ASAN’s ABAD Center in Baku old town
“ABAD” supports the expansion of community and family-based initiatives in the areas of agriculture, agro-processing, handicraft and tourism.
“ABAD” (www.abad.gov.az) manages activities related to the development and the production of goods by family businesses in the various regions, helping to promote production and consumption of quality products, in line with the supplier’s needs. It creates market demand by applying professional approach and innovative methods throughout the entire business processes.
Innovations and the principles of transparency, ethical behavior and the sense of responsibility that are applied in “ASAN service” centers are built upon the best characteristics of the people of Azerbaijan and are directly linked to the development of the country. “ASAN service” is an inherent component of the political and economic system established in Azerbaijan, a system that brings to the forefront important issues, such as accessibility for the citizens, social responsibility before the public, future perspectives, etc.
ASAN is a platform for young interns and volunteers Azerbaijanis to learn to deal with the public, to learn to render service and how to deal with the public. Since it was opened, four and a half years ago, approximately 10,000 worked in the ASAN offices and received valuable training. The staff, made of many volunteers and interns receive training in stress and time management and ethical behavior. Some of the interns remain to work in ASAN, others are sent to work as interns in the governments’ agencies while others break into the private sector’s jobs with worthy basic training on the job.
Working two days on and one day off, no service station remains unmanned. When a staffer goes on a break his or her station is manned by another staffer.
ASAN service” has been a sensation in public services, and in public relations in general. So what happens when you walk into an ASAN office?
Modernizing life and cutting on the run around from office to office. With the approximately 250 serivces offered under the ASAN’s service umbrella, alltogether, “ASAN service” centers provide services to about 20,000 applicants, daily. In the course of its first four and a half years, since opened and up date, approximately 16 million applicants received access to services through the ASAN’s centers.
Apart from acting as a bridge and coordinating with other services that ASAN is not providing, among many others, one can obtian the following services at ASAN ‘one stop shop’:
- · ID card
- · Passport
- · "ASAN Visa” Portal for easy and expeditious entry visa application and issuance procedure for foreigners travelling to Azerbaijan. Any foreigner can apply online, to obtain an electronic visa to Azerbaijan in just 3 simple steps and receive the visa within 3 working days; with ‘ASAN Visa’ it is possible to receive an entry visa to Azerbaijan within 3 hours.
- · Driving license - it takes 7-10 minutes to get a driver's license renewed
- · Various other licenses of all sort
- · Utilities
- · Ministries
- · Social services
- · Blood laboratory
- · Banking
- · Insurance
- · Fines
- · Legal services
- · Marriage license
- · Divorce license
- · Buy theatre tickets
- · Tourism services
- · Babysitting facility-to leave one’s infant while busy taking care of business at ASAN.
In ASAN, the babysitting service corner ASAN Radio stationASAN’s future plan is to go totally electronic. And till then, ASAN’s job is to make life easier for the Azerbaijanis. I get the impression that Azerbaijan is a castle of optimism and by visiting one of ASAN’s branches, I can see to where this optimism is leading the country and to that I applaud with much respect.An exit poll held among citizens who applied for services in “ASAN service” centers showed that the public satisfaction rate is 99%. That means that the vision was right, the platform created works, and Azerbaijanis, avoiding redundant bureaucracy, are enjoying easier, relaxed and more pleasant life.