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Armenia

Integrated Social Services (AM0041)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Armenia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and separated subdivisions Interested non-governmental organisations in the social protection sector, Armavir Development Center NGO

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Open Data, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Safety Nets & Economic Inclusion

IRM Review

IRM Report: Armenia Transitional Results Report 2018-2020, Armenia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: No IRM Data

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

7. Open & Social: Access to integrated social services and raising awareness
Commitment Start and End Date: Commitment Start: November 2018
Commitment End: August 2020
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia
Person responsible from lead implementing agency Arman Sargsyan
Title, Department Director of the National Institute of Labour and Social Research
E-mail ceo.arman.sargsyan@nilsr.am; arman.sargsyan@mlsa.amPhone +374 10208344
Other actors involved Other state actors involved Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and separated subdivisions
Civil society, private sector Interested non-governmental organisations in the social protection sector, Armavir Development Center NGO
Issues subject to regulation Performance of the commitment is conditioned by the need to ensure continuity and logical end of the activities being implemented under Commitment 7 of the Third Action Plan of Open Government Partnership of the Republic of Armenia. Within the scope of provision of integrated social services, nearly 80 social protection state programmes are being carried out, which also imply various kinds of services with various preconditions and procedures. In this regard, there is a need for public awareness and a need to make social services more accessible, which will ensure transparency of state-citizen relations, raise the level of confidence and repress manifestations of corruption.
Around 80 social protection programmes operate within the system of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, which mainly presume services provided to the public, and each programme presumes, as a rule, a multiple-factor business process, information regarding which is not properly perceived by the public. In this respect, there is a need for ensuring sustainable, complete, accessible, targeted and manageable information on the sector of social protection among the public, which will, as a result, raise the public awareness and contribute to the suppression of corrupt practices within the social services due to the lack of awareness by the beneficiary, as the citizen will have a better knowledge of his or her rights. As a result, the beneficiary must be informed — in case of selection and entry of information about him or her — about the social services available specifically to him or her, the procedures for benefiting therefrom, the geography of provision of services, as well as relevant non-state organisations providing mapped social services. For example, the beneficiary shall — as a result of entry of information about him or her — be automatically informed about how probable is the possibility of receiving — by him or her — family insecurity benefit or benefiting from the programme for providing social apartments, how and where he or she must receive that service, what alternatives exist in organisations providing non-state social services, etc. That is to say, the beneficiary will be able to manage the indicators of his or her availability to social services by himself or herself.
Main objective Through the innovation tools developed within the scope of the Open&Social Commitment, accessibility of information about social services classified and presented automatically with online public participation, public participation in the process of evaluation of social services and rating of organisations providing services will be ensured, providing access to social services and raising public awareness.
Brief description of commitment Introduction of the Open&Social instrument, based on collection, co-ordination and analysis of data.
OGP challenge addressed by the commitment Improvement of public services, promotion of public integrity
Relevance to OGP values By this commitment, the processes ensuring public participation will help raise the quality of services provided by the state, will help essentially reduce the uncertainty of the public about social services in terms of information and will help raise the level of public accountability.
Ambition Raising the level of effectiveness of social services through feedback regarding the quality of those services, ensuring accessibility of information and public participation.
Promotes efforts for implementation of SDG Goals or Targets

Verifiable and measurable criteria for performance of commitment
Start Date:
End Date:
Ongoing Actions
Introducing the "Open&Social" instrument at http://www.esocial.am on-line information system of integrated social services for the purpose of ensuring access of the beneficiary to information on the social services that are available for him/her, as well as mapping of organisations providing social services within the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia.
November 2018 August 2020
Creating a platform and developing and revising existing solutions, where the public will be provided with an opportunity to give scores to the specific service and the organisation providing this service, and as a result of analysing these scores, such services and organisations functioning in the social protection sector will get a certain rating. Revising, based on opinions of beneficiaries, services being provided, simplification of working procedures, reduction of time. November 2018 August 2020

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Access to Integrated Social Services

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan: [71]

Brief description: Introduction of the Open&Social instrument, based on collection, co-ordination and analysis of data.

Milestones

7.1 Introducing the "Open&Social" instrument at http://www.esocial.am online information system of integrated social services for the purpose of ensuring access of the beneficiary to information on the social services that are available for him/her, as well as mapping of organisations providing social services within the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia.

7.2 Creating a platform and developing and revising existing solutions, where the public will be provided with an opportunity to give scores to the specific service and the organisation providing this service, and as a result of analysing these scores, such services and organisations functioning in the social protection sector will get a certain rating. Revising, based on opinions of beneficiaries, services being provided, simplification of working procedures, reduction of time.

Start Date: November 2018

End Date: August 2020

Context and Objectives

This commitment is a continuation of Commitment 7 from the third action plan, which was not fully completed, mainly due to a shortage of funding. This current commitment entails improving access to information on social protection programs and services by creating an online system (Open&Social) for visitors to obtain information on their eligibility for such services. In Armenia, about 80 state social protection programs are carried out, each providing several services with various preconditions and accompanying procedures. [72]

Through this platform, users will have the opportunity to enter their demographic information—such as age, family status, employment status, health status, or location—and receive information about the social services available. Visitors will also learn the procedures for getting these services or assistance, and which nonstate organizations provide alternative services in their geographic areas. These services include employment assistance, medical-social examinations for defining disability assistance, social allowances and pensions, and social worker assistance.

Thus, any person will be able to identify their eligibility for social services, and subjective interpretations and decisions by social service system employees will be minimized. Improved awareness of social programs and eligibility criteria will not only help to identify the relevant services to meet individual needs, but also raise the general level of public awareness and prevent corruptive practices in providing access to social services. Another feature of the platform will be a rating system for specific services and service providers. The feedback provided through this platform will help relevant state structures improve their practices.

Stakeholders find this commitment valuable, as it would allow easier access to information on relevant social services and benefits. If the system provides accurate information on eligibility, users will be able to request a review of their applications for certain services (if previously rejected). They can also call hotline services or turn to other responsible bodies if the social service rejected them. [73]

Some stakeholders question the usability of the platform, as the primary target audience of the commitment includes socially vulnerable groups that might not have internet access. Civil society organizations interviewed suggested that the commitment’s impact could be higher if relevant public servants (e.g., community administration, social workers) provided assistance to citizens in inputting and identifying their eligibility for services. [74] Knowing what services are available in the area may be useful for populations of major cities. However, in smaller communities, people learn of available services through word of mouth. The commitment also provides the possibility for users to rate services. However, it is not clear how users will be asked to give ratings or if it would be left up to citizens to access the system to provide ratings.

Overall, it is expected that the commitment will be a step forward in changing the practice of social service delivery. However, given the limitations of the website’s use and the uncertainty of the rating system, the potential impact is assessed as minor.

Next steps

The IRM researcher recommends specifying the features of the rating system in the commitment. Doing so would provide a clearer understanding of the rating criteria and its applicability (whether it is a quantitative score or whether more detailed assessment options are provided). The government should also clearly state how the ratings will inform policy development and implementation regarding social protection programs.

The IRM researcher also recommends the following:

  • Organize a large awareness-raising campaign to ensure the usability of the platform by a wide range of social groups. These include vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities, economically disadvantaged families, and people living in remote communities. Television campaigns and the involvement of local social services can be effective in awareness raising. Community social workers should be involved to provide practical help to citizens in using the platform.
  • Ensure a high technical capacity and proper functioning of the platform. A civil society stakeholder commented on the need to ensure an adequate and professional design and structure of the website, making it easy to use and flexible for new page entries. [75]
  • Provide accessibility and ease of reading text for the average user. Short videos and images in graphic format can be considered for user-friendly presentation of the information.
[71] Government of the Republic of Armenia, OGP Armenia Action Plan 2018-2020, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Armenia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.doc
[72] Government of the Republic of Armenia, OGP Armenia Action Plan 2018-2020, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Armenia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.doc
[73] Naira Arakelyan (Armavir Development Center), interview by IRM researcher, 24 January 2019.
[74] Gayane Martirosyan (World Vision Armenia), phone interview by IRM researcher, 19 February 2019.
[75] Suren Deheryan (Journalists for Future), interview by IRM researcher, 14 March 2019.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

7. Access to Integrated Social Services

Completion: Limited

By the end of the action plan period, the National Institute of Labour and Social Research, under the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, had mapped the organizations that currently provide social services. However, the esocial.am platform is not currently operational because of financial issues. At its meeting on 24 July 2019, the Working Group decided to merge the platform intended for scoring social services with the citizen feedback dashboard under Commitment 11 in this action plan. [47]

[47] Brief Update on the Implementation of the Commitments Set out in the Action Plan OGP Armenia 2018-–2020, Commitment 7 (document provided by Lilia Afrikyan [Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia] via electronic communication, October 20, 2020).

Commitments

Open Government Partnership