Azerbaijan’s public services brand ASAN expands activities

By Fikret Dolukhanov

In accordance with the decree of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev “On additional measures to optimize the structure of a number of state bodies in Azerbaijan and improve their management”, the powers of the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of Azerbaijan, also known as ASAN, were expanded.

It is reported that in order to more effectively regulate the relevant processes in the ASAN Service, a Working Group has been formed.

ASAN has been given the authority to provide consular services. From March 1, 2019, this structure will issue and renew service and diplomatic passports, issue apostilles and legalize them, send notes to embassies and consulates of foreign countries for issuing visas. In accordance with the presidential decree, appropriate measures will also be taken to ensure the provision of services through the e-Government portal to Azerbaijani citizens living abroad.

In accordance with the same decree of the president of Azerbaijan, notary offices will be abolished in some regions of the country, and the corresponding services of these structures will be provided only at the ASAN Service centers. The changes will affect the public services provided by notaries in the city of Baku, as well as other administrative and territorial units of Azerbaijan, where the ASAN Service centers are located.

Moreover, in accordance with the decree, the issuance of personal IDs, civil passports and their renewal, as well as issuance of criminal records, registration at the place of residence and renewal of driver’s licenses will also be carried out at the ASAN Service centers. However, it is worth noting that this change does not mean that the Ministry of Internal Affairs will lose the aforementioned powers.

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According to the head of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, police colonel Ehsan Zakhidov, “these documents are issued and will be issued at the ASAN Service centers by the Interior Ministry officers”. In the administrative-territorial units where there are no ASAN Service centers, the documents will be issued by city, district and regional divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

There are currently 15 ASAN Service centers in the country, five of them are located in the capital, the rest in Sumgayit, Ganja, Sabirabad, Barda, Gabala, Masalli, Guba, Mingachevir, Imishli and Sheki. Expanding the list of services provided by the centers will facilitate public services to the population and increase the role of the ASAN Service as Azerbaijan’s innovative brand in the field of public services.

The coverage of the ASAN Service has already gone beyond the borders of Azerbaijan: in mid-January, the ASAN Service center opened in Afghanistan under the name Asan Khedmat. A memorandum of understanding between the governments of Afghanistan and Azerbaijan was signed several years ago. According to it, the ASAN Service will provide technical support in all aspects of this initiative, including access to software solutions, exchange of strategic and legal documents, support with regard to organizational structure, as well as exchange of training programs and methodology. Azerbaijan will also provide access to its training facilities during the period of development in Afghanistan.

The ASAN Service was established in line with the July 13, 2012 decree No. 685 of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev with the goal of reducing additional expenses and loss of time by citizens, adherence to ethical rules and polite communication with them, further improving their professional level, transparency, trust in government bodies, strengthening the fight against corruption, wider use of electronic services, as well as improving the effectiveness of institutional reforms in this area.

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The ASAN Service centers operate on the principle of “one-stop shop”. The ASAN model has six basic principles: efficiency, transparency, politeness, responsibility, following the rules of ethical behavior and comfort. Public services function in a coordinated manner in all centers. To provide better service to citizens, the ASAN Service centers use new methods and modern innovations. About 100 volunteers work in each center.

The first floor of the ASAN Service centers, which is a brand of Azerbaijan, begins with the information section. The registration process is automated and carried out by special devices. Volunteers help citizens in this process. Volunteers also help citizens in applications. Mobile buses are also used to serve citizens who cannot come to the center. To date, over 25 million applications have been sent to the ASAN Service centers. The degree of satisfaction with the services provided to citizens varies from 98 to 100%.