Interview: Husameddin Al Madani
What challenges are associated with measuring the progress of Vision 2030?
HUSAMEDDIN AL MADANI: As with any central government agency, measuring performance accurately and in a timely manner is a challenge. Encouraging public servants to consider progress measurements, such as targets and key performance indicators (KPIs), are all-important steps to improve the quality of public services. As there are a range of data sources available, it is important to identify the most useful measurements of performance. However, developing a culture of performance evaluation is challenging from a human capital perspective. As such, investments have been made to raise awareness through vocational courses, which have trained over 8000 government employees to date in areas such as strategy and KPI development.
How can data-driven technologies increase transparency and efficiency in the public sector?
AL MADANI: In the past, government organisations stored data internally, rather than sharing it publicly. When data is commonly available, advanced technologies can be used to identify opportunities for optimisation, streamlining and investment. If there is an abundance of detailed information about stakeholders available, it is easier for decision-makers to determine a course of action. With access to more data, citizens can follow the performance of government organisations, and investors can more easily identify investment opportunities. Open data is critical for increasing transparency.
Over time, the number of entrepreneurs developing data-driven technologies will increase, which will allow the government to operate more efficiently through the adoption of these technologies. There is widespread support for the adoption of big data, since the entire Kingdom stands to benefit, from the standpoint of both research and investment.
How can investors’ satisfaction regarding the Kingdom’s public services be measured?
AL MADANI: Without the engagement of investors, it would not be possible to realise the aspirations of Vision 2030. As such, the private sector and the wider investor community are at the heart of the Kingdom’s transformation and delivery plans. Multiple technologies are being used to listen to investors and give feedback to decision makers. For example, measurement tools and mobile applications that allow investors to rate the quality of public services have been developed. In addition, the time taken for Customs clearance has been reduced from nine days to five days, and in 2018 alone, 11 international banks secured licences to invest.
To what extent can performance tools enhance foreign investors’ decision-making processes?
AL MADANI: When it comes to a large-scale privatisation strategy, everything from the operation of facilities to innovation in the supply chain, to the development of new products and services is likely to take place within the targeted sectors. As such, the use of performance tools is important to facilitate this process. Two of the key performance tools currently being monitored are ease of doing business figures and public-private partnership (PPP) statistics. Many enabling features are being developed in order to attract investors and to make it easier for all involved parties to form PPPs.
The areas being targeted for this are the procurement and contracting processes, and the process of training employees so that they are ready to engage with, and be hired by, private sector companies who are starting to take over the daily operation of traditionally public sector facilities. Simplifying contractual and legal terminology by eliminating ambiguity and jargon also constitutes an important step towards increasing the effectiveness of PPPs.