Building a One-Stop Pension Shop in Armenia.

October 10, 2014

27%

increase in understanding of the new e-pension system among participants

150

free public awareness seminars held across the country

400

government workers trained in maintenance of e-pension system

Karine Gabrielyan, specialist in integrated reception at a CSSC in the Ararat district, explains how the integration has made a difference to end-users of the system: the pensioners.

“In the past, pensioners had to visit the State Social Security Service regional offices. Now, they can visit the district-based CSSCs to apply for pensions or other services, meaning they won’t need to visit multiple offices and request various certificates,” she said. “Everything will be organized in one place, [and] we can provide all of the necessary services.”

But the government and project staff knew that having a system with impressive technical capability was only part of the solution. For the new system to be truly effective, the public needed to use it, and trust it. So, the government faced a second challenge: What was the best way to educate the public about all that the new pension system offers and also make sure the institutional systems were in place to provide the advertised services?

In other words, the Armenian government needed a way to entrench the new pension system in the minds and routines of its citizens. The first step in this was educating the civil servants who worked at the CSSCs and other pension services offices. Project staff partnered with government ministries and regional offices to offer training on the new system’s functions and layout from November to December 2013.

 

“In the past, pensioners had to visit the State Social Security Service regional offices. Now, they can visit the district-based CSSCs to apply for pensions or other services, meaning they won’t need to visit multiple offices and request various certificates. Everything will be organized in one place, [and] we can provide all of the necessary services.”

Karine Gabrielyan, specialist in the Ararat District comprehensive social services center (CSSC)

Using a human and institutional capacity development approach that emphasizes training at the individual and agency level, Chemonics facilitated 13 sessions to train 400 government workers who would be involved in day-to-day maintenance of the e-pension system. Building the capacity of these civil servants to address questions and provide good service to citizens was the first step toward establishing the e-pension system. Across all regional training events, participants experienced an average of 27 percent increase in understanding the intricacies of the new e-pension system.

The final step was a series of train-the-trainer sessions with a group who would then conduct public seminars about the new system. From January to February 2014, project staff worked with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the State Social Security Service to teach qualified trainers how to conduct public seminars about the system. In total, eight specialists received Pension System Awareness Center Foundation certificates, which authorized them to hold free public-awareness seminars across Armenia. Since their training, more than 150 seminars have been organized across Yerevan and in six of Armenia’s marzes (provinces). These seminars convey important information, but more importantly, they are changing behaviors and increasing public trust in the system.

When looking at a new technological tool like the integrated e-pension system, it is sometimes easy to invest time and resources on only its technical features. But in reality, doing what the Armenian government has done — focusing on how to incorporate the pension system into existing behaviors, skills, and institutions — can play a much bigger role in ensuring the tool’s success.