When you interact with government, do you care which agency you’re working with? Does it matter if you speak with the tax agency or the registry of births, deaths and marriages?

Citizens just want to get things done, and Kazakhstan has taken this conclusion to its logical limit. It has founded a single government agency to manage transactions between citizens and the state.

The Kazakhstan State Corporation – called “Government for Citizens” – was founded in April 2016, with the mission to “improve the quality, transparency and accessibility of public services”, explains Ablaykhan Ospanov, Chairman of the State Corporation Government for Citizens.

Radical restructuring

Many countries have created “One Stop Shops” for public services, where they co-locate numerous agencies under one roof, a bit like a convenience store. In Kazakhstan, this means transferring front office functions to a single service provider.

To date, State Corporation is a unique front office that offers 76% of all public services in Kazakhstan through a “single window”. The corporation has 349 offices, works 6 days a week and serves thousands of citizens from 9 am until 8 pm.

In one year it makes 35 million individual transactions. This would be impossible without interoperability and back end integration across 38 information systems and public registries.

Unique aspects

This agency has three unique elements. First, is its “Situation Room”. This collects data and monitors, in real time, all front offices country-wide, and offers quick support to the front officers, should there need be. Based on video of the situation in the Public Service Centres, or in the case of emergency, officers from the Situation room can reach out when needed.

Second is the Public Service Centre, which is responsible for interoperability. This unit ensures that data is shared effectively, and it works to streamline business processes. For example, it takes just two hours to get a driving license or register a new vehicles. Each year 250.000 driving licenses, and more than 1m vehicles are registered, Ospanov explains.

Third is the emphasis on inclusion. The unit has standards for a minimum level of accessibility, including online sign language translation service for people with hearing and speech impairments, ramps, call buttons for a wheelchair, and Braille. This is true of hiring policies too, with 475 people with disabilities in the agency, he says.

Global thinking

The agency has one front office, and next Ospanov wants wants “one application”. Requests will be routed across agencies without you running after them, he says. SMS notifications have been made available when documents are ready at a citizen’s doorstep. But the State Corporation wants to take its vision online.

Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world, but despite striking difference in its size, Kazakhstan’s leader Nursultan Nazarbayev has cited Singapore as one of the best socio-political models worth emulating. It could learn from the island state, and similar digital pioneers, by taking its approach online.

But by radically overhauling its structure to create seamless back offices and data sharing, Kazakhstan has already done the heavy lifting.

Aziza is CEO of Smart Gov consulting bureau, specialising in transferring strategies and tools in public administration reform for the countries of the former USSR, Mongolia and Afghanistan.