Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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A new electronic document sharing system


Before the end of 2009 23 agencies of state administration, including 10 marzpetarans and 13 ministries will move to “Mulberry” electronic document management system. This suggestion was made by the government staff at the end of 2008.    

Before now “Mulberry” electronic document management system is fully operational at 5 state agencies of Armenia, viz.: the RA Government Staff,   Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Territorial Administration and Ministry of Diaspora.

“Mulberry” is a computer program which is targeted at efficient management of document flow, centralized storage of electronic versions of documents and attached materials, registration of document workflow history and control exercised at all stages of document movement, provision of execution control, quick search of documents, uniformity of work with documents, simultaneous work of several subdivisions and exclusion of document loss at public administration bodies. 

In 2005 this electronic document management system was originally created by the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, at this stage the Ministry does not operate it to its full capacity.  The reasons for that, in the opinion of Vahagn Mkhitaryan, representative of the Armenian Branch of Al Partnership" – a company who created the program, are of an administrative nature, “I do not think that the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs somehow yields to any other ministries, who have this system introduced. The problem here is in management. A clear instruction of the minister or any other appropriate body is required to put “Mulberry” into operation, so that no further paper application, inquiry or response can be acceptable any more. Only upon such distinct requirement this system can become operational.” 

One more attempt of utilization of “Mulberry” was made during the first six months of 2008 by a newly created RA Government staff.  The process, according to one of the system introducers Vahagn Mkhitaryan, was rather difficult since this public administration body was the first who clearly decided to fully move to this electronic document management system. “Thanks to strong will everything eventually was a success,” added Vahagn Mkhitaryan. 

After this successful attempt “Mulberry” has put successfully into operation at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, Ministry of Territorial Administration and Ministry of Diaspora. It was no mere chance that the mentioned ministries, as explained by Vahagn Mkhitaryan, had been selected. “Bare wish and good will only were not enough here. The technical capabilities should also be taken into account. Thus, a research was conducted at all ministries and marzpetarans.”     

The first among the marzpetarans was Kotayk where an attempt is being made to introduce the system. The selection of this province (marz) is stipulated by uninterrupted Internet connection, which is vital for the whole operation of the system. According to Serzh Harutunyan, Head of IT Department at the Ministry of Territorial Administration “Mulberry” electronic document management system will become operational in Kotayk Marz   beginning from the 15th of March 2009. Presently Kotayk marzpetaran staff is being trained to operate the system. “This attempt shows that introduction of this system in one marzpetaran will require approximately 15 days.  If financial and technical capabilities are provided and appropriate number of trainees is ensured, then concurrent process of introduction and operation of the system at all state bodies will be become possible”, assured Serzh Harutunyan.  An attempt to move to this system was made in Eghegnadzor, however it failed due to lack of communication of appropriate quality.    

According to the system introducers, the biggest advantage of the system is that it makes the work of the staff   controllable. The application-inquiries received from citizens along with all supporting documents are input electronically into computer by appropriate representatives of the public agency/state body. As soon as the application is input into the computer the citizen gets notification in writing on the dates when the reply to the application-inquiry can be obtained. On the other hand, as soon as the citizen fills in his/her application, the state official, whom the application is addressed, gets a notification on his/her computer of the deadline established for the given application and reply thereto. Overseeing bodies were aimed at controlling this process at state structures where “Mulberry” is operated. The overseeing body, based on daily results, can see the officials who fully and timely respond to the inquiries of citizens, and who fail to do so. This program also reduces the time required for the reply. All documents which are necessary for the official to reply the inquiry are in the electronic database of the system and its location and provision is a matter of seconds. 

One of the advantages of the system is its flexibility. Serzh Harutunyan, who is also one of the users of the system, indicates that “Mulberry” is simply a tool, a framework, which can be easily adjusted to the requirements of the agency  using the system. “For instance, each user-agency can create any types of documents it needs and outline the path of their movement”, explains Mr. Harutunyan.

Let us note that before the 15th of April this electronic management system is supposed to be introduced also at the State Revenue Committee affiliated to the RA Government. It, besides making the internal document circulation electronic, will also enable citizens to fill in property and income declarations electronically. Introduction of the system at the State Revenue Committee became possible under financing of the European Union. 

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