15 January 2021
For the sixth cycle of the KP Government Innovation Fellowship Program, a team of Fellows partnered up with the Benevolent Fund Cell Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to digitize the entire fund disbursements workflow for the department. The department manages the welfare grants of serving and retired government employees and their families and needed a robust system where application processing could be streamlined, and fund disbursements could be expedited. The Fellows developed an online system for the department where applicants can easily apply for welfare schemes and grants, and the department can swiftly verify and assess the applications and ensure timely release of funds. This blog post sheds light on the need for digitization in the department as well as the salient features of the newly developed online system.
The Benevolent Fund Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is working for the welfare of serving / retired provincial government employees and their families across the province under the provision of KP Benevolent Fund Ordinance 1972. According to the Ordinance, funds shall be utilized for the relief of government servants and their families by:
- Giving financial assistance to the families of deceased government servants
- Providing financial aid to government servants on their retirement from service with effect from 1st July 2010
- Providing financial assistance to serving government servants in deserving cases
- Making special grants to government servants in exceptional cases
The department offers numerous welfare schemes to both gazetted (BS-16 and above) and non-gazetted (BS-01 to BS-15) government officers. The schemes provided by the department include:
- Monthly grant
- Lump-sum grant
- Retirement grant
- Funeral chargers
- Merit scholarships
- Interest-free loan
Welfare schemes offered by the department
Due to manual systems and increasing requests for grants, the department was facing issues. BFC sections at district offices and civil secretariat entered the data manually, and no mechanism was available for fast communication between the district and civil secretariat offices and the main office of BFC.
Moreover, the disbursement process was slow and wasted time for applicants (govt employees/family members) and BFC employees in the selection/verification of genuine cases. In light of these ongoing issues, the department needed an online solution for better communication and enhanced data integrity, as well as to avoid duplicate entries while generating quick reports for decision making so that those in need could be allotted funds without unnecessary delays.
In 2020, our Fellows, Muhammad Asaf Khan and Anmol Murad (get to know more about our Fellows here) partnerned with the Benevolent Fund Cell to digitize the fund disbursement processes in the department and make an internal system for better management of applications.
The Fellows incorporated features to facilitate application tracking and quick reporting for real-time decision making as well as to ensure swift processing of applications. The end goal was to improve the process for both applicants and BFC staff, increasing transparency and efficiency and ensuring responsible and timely use of funds.
Prior to developing the system, the team conducted user research with potential-end users (serving and retired government employees) and found that there were major delays in the processing of applications. The research revealed that it can take anywhere between 6 months to a year to process an application in some instances. These delays were mainly due to the non-availability of funds, lack of digital tracking and recording keeping, and delays in processing these applications. Serving and retired government officials surveyed also mentioned the delay in processing and lack of communication on the department’s part.
Developing the Solution
Based on the user research findings, an online solution was developed by the Fellows to enable better communication, data integrity, and identification of duplicate entries to enhance the department’s performance and efficiency in processing applications and disbursement of funds.
Features have been added to facilitate application tracking and quick reporting for real-time decision making. The newly developed system improves processing for both applicants and BFC staff to ensure swift processing of applications, providing timely disbursement of funds to applicants in need of financial support.
Aside from the processing and lead time improvement due to digitization, the online system will also improve internal communication between district offices and Benevolent Fund Cell’s main office. The system will prevent duplication of records and keep them secure. Each grant will be calculated dynamically as per the applicant’s credentials, thereby minimizing the chances of human error and reducing delays. Applicants will be able to track their application status online, adding transparency to the entire process. The online system is designed to benefit serving and retired provincial government employees and their families, particularly those in need. The project was deployed in January 2021 and we cannot wait to see its impact over the next few months!
Written by Ibraheem Saleem
Ibraheem is the Program Manager at the KP Government Innovation Fellowship Program. He comes with an entrepreneurial background, with a keen interest in Social Impact Ventures, Civic Innovation, and Community Mobilization through technology.