New digital authority aims to enhance automation, reduce duplication

    • Digital Government Authority will lead to the automation of government services and better coordination between ministries and other state bodies
    • Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha: It will enrich citizens’ experience through proactive and integrated services

    JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet on Wednesday approved a decision to set up the Digital Government Authority, which will lead to the automation of government services and better coordination between ministries and other state bodies.

    It will enrich citizens’ experience through proactive and integrated services, tweeted Abdullah Al-Swaha, who is minister of communications and information technology and chairman of the National Digital Transformation Unit.

    Al-Swaha said the authority would also maximize the return on government technical investments and be instrumental in the development of technical skill sets for state employees, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

    The new authority aims to coordinate processes across different government entities to reduce duplication of work, cybersecurity and digital transformation, consultant Fathi Al-Wosaibi told Arab News.

    “There have been a lot of investments in automation., we can see all the ministries have already deployed electronic services. However, fundamentally, these were isolated efforts,”  he said, adding that “automating public services requires a holistic approach.”

    The Commerce Ministry could not work independently from the Foreign Ministry, which managed exports and imports, he said, and the same applied to the tourism and oil ministries.

    Al-Wosaibi called the establishment of a digital authority an “unprecedented step,” as no government anywhere else in the world had reached this level of technical maturity yet, especially considering the size of the country and the digital literacy rate in the community.

    He said that Saudi Arabia was now at a stage where it had the internet infrastructure to provide such a service to people. 

    At the same time, Saudi Arabia is among the top 10 countries globally for digital literacy, according to a report from the World Economic Forum last December.

    “Reaching this maturity level of automation means the government realizes the importance to unify all government agencies’ efforts, providing a comprehensive one-stop-shop for all the services,” according to Al-Wosaibi.

    At an individual level, processing a simple service from any governmental agency usually requires visiting multiple sites and dealing with programming languages and interfaces. This will no longer be the case.

    Al-Wosaibi said that users of the e-service interface would “find it more appealing, less complicated, for any individual whether Saudi or non-Saudi.”

    The authority will also play an important role in issuing measurements, indicators, tools, and reports to measure government agencies’ performance.