Philippine NBI E-Clearance System – Let’s get beyond obstacles and improve what can be improved. This post is a response to the efficiency of NBI’s new electronic system for clearance, with a diagnosis on the 4 M’s: Methods, Machines, Materials and Manpower.

Improvements from Manual Clearance to Electronic Clearance System

Undeniably, compared to the manual process before the electronic system has been developed and implemented, there are improvements that have truly been realized. Also, as the number of NBI centers grew nationwide, citizens can go to the nearest NBI satellite offices or shopping malls relative to their residential location with ease. This results to more convenience and less hassle. People don’t have to endure the scorching heat of the sun, as these facilities provide roof and enough protection with security guards and staff of the government agency.

With the newly automated e-clearance system recently launched, people can apply for NBI clearance online. That’s a commendable move right there! Initial steps as indicated in their official website are: (1) Pay the clearance fee via G-cash or physically go to a Globe Payment Center; (2) Log on to nbi-online.com/login to register for an account by entering the following information: e-mail address, payment reference number, birth date, and text of captcha image and then clicking on the “Validate” button.

Problems of the NBI E-Clearance System

I thought that the NBI E-Clearance System, as a solution, would stop complaints of people in queue for their NBI clearance. But no. I just experienced their service firsthand, and my frustration and disappointment came gushing out in a torrent. 😡

These are the problems I met:

1. Overcapacity of the NBI E-Clearance System’s Server

The first problem starts when the applicant logs on to nbi-online.com/login. The webpage neither confirms successful entry nor sends any notification error but reloads itself several times until the user is pissed off.

When we called NBI trunkline number (523-8231 to 38), the operator said that it won’t function because time was already past five o’clock in the afternoon, and the NBI registration page for E-Clearance only works during office hours: Mondays to Fridays, 8AM till 5PM. Oh wow, what an awful setup for an online system, I thought.

This happened on a Friday, so I waited until Monday to re-do the procedure but was faced with the same outcome…

An online transaction processing system is meant for increased accessibility, simplicity, time-efficiency and cost-efficacy. It’s expected to hasten the facilitation and management of transaction-oriented applications. Little did I know that NBI’s application system has been imposed with limitation on availability which refutes its core purpose.

2. Inability of NBI Customer Service Representative to Provide Right Answers

We called the NBI Help Desk once again and learned that the former info told by their staff was incorrect. In fact, NBI Deputy Director for Technical Services Lawyer Reynaldo Esmeralda mentioned in a press release that “the clearance system is a 24/7 (twenty-four hours, seven days a week) service.”

Simple analysis revealed that the problem may be caused by the overcapacity of their network’s server. Because there’s a huge number of users entering and submitting info concurrently, there may be dropped connections in the back-end, and the system database can’t store and take new submissions. This results to failure or delay to process queries, daemons falling behind and slow website access.

To improve performance, NBI should request their IT support team or vendor to provide them with server performance reports for them to determine how database workload is distributed across servers and they can review a recommended resource-balancing plan. Activity trends on the network must be mapped to a workflow to identify response time and then they should also be able to decide whether they have to upgrade the memory to match the number of users they have to support.

In sum, my mom and I tried about 10 times to validate and enter information on NBI’s website before getting it through successfully at last.

When my email address has been registered, I had to confirm my account by entering the confirmation code sent to my email (automated system response) to the same NBI website. I filled out basic personal information fields and printed the sheet with QR code to present to the NBI office as proof of application. I booked the date of my visit to the main branch through SMS, after following straightforward instructions.

This morning, as scheduled, Mom and I went to NBI-Taft for the live scanning of fingerprints and image capturing. I thought the process won’t take long since I already have supplied my personal information online.

I have no qualms on the system’s effectiveness this time but on the productivity of NBI’s staffs who are taking their time like they have all day to process one application.

3. Inefficiency of Encoders to Complete their Tasks Fast

I expected that it would take less than a minute for each applicant to complete the biometrics and photo capture process. Sad to say, it took about thrice that. I intended to know what’s taking them so long to end one cycle for an applicant.

There’s only one computer used for processing applications, so there could only be one encoder. But there were two encoders involved in my observation because NBI Staff 1 took the responsibility of NBI Staff 2 in the earlier scene. This was after my mom scolded NBI Staff 1, who was the only staff present in the room, for not following the START TIME of operations at 8:00AM when government offices should strictly comply with the Philippines’ standard time law as signed by our president, PNoy Aquino.

NBI Staff 1 apologized and said that their encoder (NBI Staff 2) hasn’t come in yet (late). We could not let this reason pass. Thus she was forced to take over. She took the piled sheets of paper with QR codes from the stack and started calling names at 8:08AM (time at their digital clock).

I was eighth in the line. While other applicants sit on the waiting area, I stood in front of the door, peeked through the small glass window and performed a time-and-motion study of the process using my reliable iPhone Stopwatch.

NBI Staff 1 completed five applications before NBI Staff 2 entered the room. So I was the third “customer” of the latecomer. Here’s the tally of their average processing time (in seconds) per applicant and per task.


Steps Dissected:

Scan QR Code should be as easy as scanning the bar code of a grocery item by the cashier for checkout. NBI’s scanner may be the culprit here as it may not have much sensitivity to capture the image so it requires careful positioning of the paper else the staff has to try again and again until the code gets read. (Problem related to Machine)

Verify Info should be as easy as showing the entered basic personal info entered previously by the applicant (i.e. full name, birth date, sex) on the screen and asking the applicant whether they are correct. I think this is an easier procedure than what’s actually being done because the eyes read faster and the applicant can confirm even the spelling of the name faster. Right now, NBI staff/encoder verbally asks the applicant to say yes or no after reading what’s on the screen. (Problem related to Method)

Human error is also to blame for delay. I didn’t hear the conversations of other applicants before me because the door was closed; I can only share what happened in my case. NBI Staff asked if my name is “Kirstin” and even doubted it’s supposed to be “Kristin.” They already have my two valid IDs (voter’s ID and company ID) and yet they’re not sure of the correct spelling. This thing should not be asked. He continued, “July 13, 1989.” Whoa! I don’t know if he’s just sleepy or just want to prolong the process. The screen clearly shows that my birth date is on “June 13, 1989.” I had to correct him verbally once more. (Problem related to Manpower)

Take Photo should be as easy as taking a “selfie” these days, using the web camera attached to the computer. I think the usage of their defective optical mouse contributed to additional seconds for he had some trouble in maneuvering the pointer to the “Save” button and clicking it to save the photo to my profile. (Problem related to Machine)

Scan Fingerprint should be as easy as placing my fingers on the biometric scanning machine one by one. Similar to the Scan QR Code task, the delay probably rooted from the insensitivity of the scanning device, so each finger had to be really pressed and positioned right on the center or the scanner couldn’t read properly and the task should restart again. (Problem related to Machine)

Print Claim for Clearance should be as easy as clicking on the Print button on the screen and getting the paper released by the printer. Similar to the Take Photo task, maybe the faulty mouse has got something to do with the lag. (Problem related to Machine)

Staple Claim for Clearance to Sheet w/ QR Code should be as easy as attaching the two printed sheets together with the use of a stapler. However, because of the many pieces of paper which I’m not sure were organized on the staff’s desk, time in searching for the sheet with QR code of the applicant makes up for the delay. (Problem related to Method)

4. Poor Synchronization of Records in the Database or Lack or Absence of a Centralized System

After getting the stapled sheets, the applicant will be either asked to go down to the third floor from the fourth floor to claim the NBI clearance certificate when there are no namesake or wait for a week for NBI to check and confirm findings.

I wonder why it would take them that long to check, when all names of criminals are recorded in a master database and a simple search query to match names should do the trick. I guess they don’t have an updated database that insures a smooth and sustainable operation.

The problem may be caused by these probabilities: decentralized databases of all NBI centers, poor synchronization or untimely update of their records. In any case, they should solve this soon by redesigning the setup of the system or making sure that they have an updated database with organized records in real-time. A centralized database entails fast results since the search engine does not need to check multiple locations to return hits.

I think it’s still acceptable if an applicant is named Joy, Christopher, Michael, Reynaldo, Joseph, Mark, Mary Ann and other common names in the Philippines and his/her application status is put on hold. The chances of having the same name with convicted people as recorded in NBI are pretty high. To draw a distinction, not everyone’s name is as unique as mine and I don’t think there’s anyone with exactly the same name or even sound like my first, middle and last names combined.

Still, I have to wait for a week before clearance is served. 😯

Wrap Up

While I acknowledge the improvement of NBI’s service from their former manual system and process, I still can’t get over the fact that there’s a large difference between what I expected and what is.

Some readers here may think that NBI staffs’ current performance in regard to time is adequate. But as a savvy customer who’s into immediate response and consistent improvement, I’m looking for a rather leaner processing to optimize operational efficiency and reduce overall costs.

To address these seen problems, the Philippine NBI Management must play a significant role in improving their systems and honing their people’s skills. If the staff lacks tools or experience in handling such tasks, training may be required or an update in hardware or software may be necessary to perform the job more effectively. Before that though, leaders should be able to regularly check on their staff’s productivity in granular aspect, to see if their actions are still at par with what must be accomplished.

About 

Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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50 Responses

  1. jenny

    as for me I don’t really use government application website except DFA cause based on experience i somehow come to the conclusion that most of them don’t work the way we want it.
    Lucky for us here in Baguio the step is really as easy as 1-2-3. I just got my clearance last week and I went there early thinking that it might take long. I went there 8am and there are people in line already (i though 8 is early hehe) but well I went there and its document screening and signing of the form. after that you will fall in line with the same line for them to check if you all sign them right, if there are no problems next step then next… the only time you have to wait is for the people in front of you to finish first.. I went there 8am and I finish 8:07… 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Wow GREAT! 😀 Well, we don’t have much of other choices here but to comply with what’s available. This version of e-clearance is already the improved. So I’m hoping that somehow they can still continue in tracking performance and asses how they can improve further.

      Reply
  2. Mai

    I’m quite impressed with the way you made your observations and typed in your findings and conclusions. And I also commend the fact that NBI has advanced in such a manner. Although, the very system that they’re using still lacks a lot of viable and fast results. Like what you’ve observed, improvements still need to be seen/felt, and that staff members should be trained accordingly. It really is a big disappointment to see delays, especially if so much money is being spent on advances like this.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      So true. If they are doing about the e-government projects with so much money invested, there must be assurance that everything goes perfectly. That means delighting customers at the right place, the right manner and at the right time.

      Reply
  3. KIM NIEVES (@iamkimnieves)

    I am very happy to know that NBI has made some advancements with their system. However, I seriously think they need to polish it since there are some flaws with e-clearance application.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes, thanks for agreeing with me. 🙂 The citizens (all of us) will gain the benefit anyway, and we would leave a more positive impression locally and internationally if government agencies are providing excellent service.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha that gave me a chuckle. :mrgreen: You may have the right patience that I don’t. NBI still does manual processing for those who don’t want to opt for e-clearance. Sure there are advantages to it like lower training costs required and lower set up costs, but you have to wait for pretty l o n g e r time until your clearance gets released. Manual processes have to be streamlined as well.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah maybe they have to get a Six Sigma Quality expert to coach their people on how to improve their process. 😀 Employees will then be empowered to follow.

      Reply
      • Franc Ramon

        Maybe a quota system that they get incentives if they service x number of people or maybe reduce customer complain by a certain percentage.

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Good idea, Franc. We hope that they can find a good solution on their own and set it already to their timeline (change request). 😀

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup you really should — for the biometrics and photograph. These records are required to store and verify your profile — even before naman hehe.

      Reply
  4. joy | chemist2writer

    I totally agree with you! They really should improve and upgrade their services because everyone needs NBI clearance and it expires within a few months! Maybe you should send this post over to the NBI’s director? 😉

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, if I’m not mistaken expiration happens after six months — then it’s not credited anymore.
      Regards to the sending, yes, I am just planning to. 😛

      Reply
  5. Rogelio Olivar

    I commend NBI but they should need to get more out in their comfort zone and find a way to make their processing quickly and more accessible to every juan…

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, services ran by government in other countries are highly respected and looked at. Ours should strive for the same working standard and find ways on how to improve their ways.

      Reply
  6. Teresa Martinez

    Improvements in the system for getting an NBI clearance is welcome news but you are right when you are in effect saying that there is much room for improvement in their “improvements”. So much for redundancy.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hehe that’s okay. Thanks for concurring. I haven’t seen any other blogger post their grievances toward the “newly improved e-clearance” so let’s wait for them to multiply soon.

      Reply
  7. Gracia Amor

    Yeah, I totally agree with you. I hope they improve further and find a way to make their processing quickly. All of us will gain the benefit anyway. 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Glad to hear that the majority is agreeing with me. I hope we can all have this mentality to not be satisfied with improved services but look at the loopholes and strive to get better always. 😉

      Reply
  8. Joanne

    Sorry to read about your experience with the E-Clearance system. In my case, I did not experience any inconvenience with the system and as well as with the staffs during the time I went there. I also observed that it is such a hassle on a person’s part kung may kapangalan siyang may criminal records well in fact they can clear you right away dahil given naman ang Father and Mother’s name.

    Reply
  9. RonLeyba

    I just hope that NBI can really improve their service to the public. I hope they can read or will read this blog post of yours.

    Reply
  10. Reah Padla

    I believe in e-governance. I hope the NBI sees this comprehensive post. We need more pro-active bloggers like you. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Veronica Aquino

    Masyadong mabilis ang expected processing time na 46 seconds para sa anim sa steps. Mabilis na yung 2.4 minutes na nakita mo dahil maaga pa (base sa sinulat mo). Hindi pa tinatamad at pagod ang mga tao. Nalimutan mo din iaccount na government employee sila. Hindi yan BPO na kayang mag adopt sa Lean Six Sigma. Hindi din nakadepende sa dame ng mapoprocess nila yung sweldo nila… Baka nga minimum wage pa yan.

    Maswerte ka kung naexperience mo yung 2.4 minutes processing time ng anim na steps ng NBI Clearance. The last time I applied for NBI (i think last april), it took me 15-20minutes para matapos ung 6 na steps..

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks for reminding that they are government employees. But that’s no excuse to be inept.

      The more they should be competent, professional and always give their best efforts whether it be administrative, procedural, etc. What I’m expecting of them may be more than a bit unrealistic from their existing performance but because they serve the government, they serve the nation. And with that, these people should be passionate about what they do. The problem could be that there is no performance system or body that evaluates them.

      This body could be any senior person in the government agency who takes suggestions from the team and get help either from inside or outside to provide training programs or part-time educational programs to run more efficient work flows.

      I know clearly that there is a disparity of wages between government and private employees not only in the Philippines but in most countries all over the world. Given this e-Clearance, employees at least should be ‘re-skilled’ to anticipate and adapt the changes that accompany the ICT structure and new roles.

      Reply
  12. nev

    Problem is payment method only Gcash (I’m a Smart user) or Pinoy Pera Padala (I think this company is already dead)? What were they thinking?

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha sorry I had to laugh. I thought about that, too. I paid through their Globe Payment center. Look for any branch of Globe nearest you and tell them you are paying for NBI Clearance. They’ll know what to do. 😀

      Reply
  13. Chris

    same goes to me always receiving this error “Please make sure you have not mistyped your reference number and payment date/birthdate” and i dont know why, i already used chrom firefox IE9 safari and opera browser yet still receiving such error… and im totally pissed off ive been validating my ref no.. more than an hour….. after paying the fee thru gcash and receive my ref no. I immediately log on to nbionline…. after an hour of frustration to validate my ref no. i call the NBI hotline and transfer me to helpdesk.. the staff told me that my ref. no is not yet available to their system and kindly wait for few more hours.
    after 3 hours, i try to validate my ref. no.. but still receiving such error.. IM SO PISSED!!!. why most of the govt agencies are so unproductive and an online system with a crap service… such a waste of time and effort.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, and the fees for clearance now have all increased! I wonder why. ❓
      I have a suggestion: call 5261294 or 5238231 loc 5499 (NBI Support Help Desk) and look for Abby. Once she receives a call and your request for faster processing, she will make some resolutions on her end and right after that, you will be able to input your reference number and submit it to the site successfully. I’m not sure how exactly that is done but it works – like magic. 😛

      Thanks for sharing your experience here, Chris, for other people’s reference as well.

      Reply
  14. Mark

    bulok ang website nitong BWISET na NBI na to! gumawa pa ng site di naman ma click yung validate! HOY! mga ungas ayusin nyo website nyo overloaded na yata kaya naninigas na yung AUTHENTICATION. aksaya kayo sa ORAS!

    Reply
  15. gigi

    I just want to ask what time you were able to register. Keep getting kasi the “Please make sure you have not mistyped your reference number and payment date/birthdate.” error eh

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hi Gigi. We had the same experience like probably over 80% of the users had. The problem is not with the time pala. Like what I replied above, the suggestion is to call 5261294 or 5238231 loc 5499 (NBI Support Help Desk) and look for Abby. Their website is like a portal that automatically takes inputs of users ONLY WHEN it is triggered by a call — which is done manually. So the key here is that you have to tell Abby (their CSR), that you are trying to enter your details. She will call Globe who apparently is connected with their network or system to fix whatever is wrong with the site and then you will be able to get through it without problem. 🙂 Good luck!

      Reply
      • gigi

        Hi! Thanks for the input! I only read this now, and thankfully I was able to access na the registration page. I did not call NBI but instead texted their help line. I’m not sure but it seems as though it takes some time for their system also to receive the reference code from Globe. The text just told me to wait for 24 hours (which I did) and voila! I was able to finish my online registration today. It makes sense din na calling the NBI would also help because that’s exactly what they do, I guess! They tell Globe to activate/forward the reference code.

        Just thought I’d share my experience para makatulong din sa iba 🙂

      • LOVE

        i did what is written in your comment, I asked for someone who could helped me re; the same issue with the error “Mistyped….” thing cause the local number wasn’t available, someone answered me and said, “Wala kang makakausap ngayon kasi sabado linggo and hang up” What a stupid disrespectful moron! Wala na ngang matinong serbisyo wala pang matinong empleyado. POTEKK!!!

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Yes, government employees only work from Mondays to Fridays. Dapat nga laging on ang customer service eh. Anyway, that’s just how it works here.

  16. anne solis

    NBI’s online application system really sucks. I tried to get my NBI certificate at their Robinsons Imus Branch ltwice. I failed. So, when I knew that they have an online application, I went to VillaRica Pawnshop to pay the PhP140.00 through Gcash. I got mad when I tried to log in in NBI using the reference number and it kept on prompting me back on the login page. So I had to go back to the Pawnshop thinking that it was their fault. But they were able to receive the confirmation email from NBI. So, I tried to login again tonight and still received the same error. Hay… NBI really sucks!

    Reply
  17. anne solis

    Hi. I already went back to their UN branch. And you were right.
    For some reason, the staff was late and didnt start working until after 45 minutes.
    tsk tsk.
    And the woman from the e-clearance was so rude!

    Reply
  18. Beth Gonzales

    hi there! does it mean that e-clearance is of no use?
    i made payment at pera padala yesterday. log-in the nbi online website and payment was validated. i received an email saying that i should log in again so that i could proceed with the registration but sad to say, runtime error shows and/or the site has redirectering loop. tried to log for so many times until today and still failed to log-in. has anyone has an idea what should be done? need ur assitance. thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hi Beth – it’s not that the NBI Clearance System they have now is no use. It’s also quite helpful as there’s still more people in queue in offline transactions. However you just have to muster patience until the transaction gets completed online. You’re even lucky to have received the validation at once. Runtime error? Oh yes that also happened to me. The best thing is to still call their hotline number for assistance M-F during work hours so your issue gets addressed immediately.

      Reply
  19. Gn

    Ran by your post while searching for the e-clearance. I had the chance to use it back in 2012 when you still had to go to the main branch to claim it. Weirdly enough I had to return after two days to claim the clearance sheet…and this is weird because I’ve never had a hit before. (I’ve had my clearances done in ’08 and ’09).

    And as of this writing, their online application is undergoing maintenance and repairs. I mean, WTH?! So now I have to do it the old fashioned way and get in line at 6AM just so you get served a number at the satellite office by 10AM.

    Bakit ba kasi patayan para lang kumuha ng NBI Clearance sa Maynila?

    Reply

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