Ukraine has suffered 72 years under a communist totalitarian regime. In the last years of the empire, during the “perestroika” there were attempts to change one-party command system, adding elements of civil society, a multi-party system, and market relations. But all the reforms of the then government were doomed to failure because they had neither the political time nor economic space left for their implementation.
In 1991, with the proclamation of Ukraine’s independence, a patriotic and somewhat spontaneous construction of a new state began, which had room for everything: both the remains of the Ukrainian SSR, the workers’ movement, dissidents, new democrats, and old Communists. It is indicative that the Communist Party was banned only in December 2015, until then it continued to be an influential part of the political process and the system of public administration.
One way or another, since independence and until now the new system of public administration is constantly changing under the pressure of harsh criticism of society. Labor strikes preceding the collapse of the USSR were temporarily halted, but eventually resulted in massive unprecedented protests: because of the massive falsifications during the 2004 presidential election, the Orange Revolution took place, and the refusal to sign the Association Agreement with the EU led to the Revolution of Dignity, initiating fundamental changes in all spheres of life of the state and its citizens. Whatever authority, trust in state institutions and politicians have always been extremely low.
So, according to the Razumkov Center research on the level of Ukrainians’ trust in the government in 2000-2015, the authorities were supported:
December 2000 – 10.3% of citizens;
December 2001 – 6.3%;
December 2002 – 5.6%;
December 2003 – 5.3%;
December 2004 – 13.6%;
December 2005 – 8%;
December 2006 – 9.2%;
December 2007 – 12.2%;
December 2008 – 4.3%;
October 2009 – 5.6%;
November 2010 – 13.2%;
December 2011 – 4.6%;
December 2012 – 5.9%;
March 2013 – 8%;
December 2014 – 5.1%;
March 2015 – 4.5%;
December 2016 – 1.7% (the study was carried out by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with the sociological service of the Razumkov Center).
At the same time, according to the corruption index from 1 (the lowest indicator) to 7 (the highest indicator), statistics on Ukraine for 1999-2017 according to Freedom House are as follows:
1999-2002 – 6.0
2003-2011 – 5.75
2012-2013 – 6.0
2014 – 6.25
2015-2016 – 6.0
2017 – 5.75
The low level of trust combined with high level of corruption shows the fundamental problems of the state apparatus and the lack of communication between authorities and citizens. At the same time, trust in institutions of state power is a cornerstone of the effectiveness of these institutions and their efficiency.
According to the “Ukraine-2020” strategy, the objective of the reform is to build a transparent, professional and effective public administration system using the latest e-government technologies. The provisions of the reform are agreed with the European standards and reflected in the Association Agreement with the EU.
The complexity of the reform is that the state apparatus must reform itself.
In December 2015, a new law “On Civil Service” was adopted. For its effective implementation, the staff of the National Agency of Ukraine on Civil Service has been increased by 30 employees.
In May 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine set up the Coordination Council of Public Administration Reform, approved the Reform Strategy and created working groups.
In August 2016, the Departments of Public Administration and Strategic Planning and State Policy Coordination were set up within the structure of the Secretariat of Cabinet of Ministers.
Aside from the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers and the National Agency for Civil Service, the implementation of the Strategy is entrusted to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the Ministry of Regional Development, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Justice and the State Agency for E-Governance.
An important stage of the reform process is the continuous monitoring of international and domestic legislations and international obligations of Ukraine within the framework of agreements with the IMF, the EU, the World Bank, EBRD and other international organizations, as well as the involvement of international and independent experts for appropriate consultations.
One of the main aspects of the new reform is the increased demands on the civil servants’ professionalism: under the new conditions envisaged by the Law “On Civil Service”, in 2016 the competitions for announced vacancies for state bodies were held.
In addition, in co-operation with the World Bank, the gradual filling of the modules of the information management e-system of human resources has begun.
There have also been changes in the field of civil servants’ wages. In the budget for 2017, the payroll fund for civil servants amounts to UAH 29.7 billion (against UAH 19.2 billion in 2016). EU financial support under the new budget program “Support to Implementation of Public Administration Reform” in 2017 foresees an additional UAH 300 million for the remuneration of civil servants in key positions, which have the most influence on the successful implementation of all reforms.
Although the reform does not include an ambitious transition plan to e-government, some steps towards improving administrative services are still observed. One of the most significant achievements of the reform is the creation of a network of Centers for the administrative services provision. At the beginning of 2017, 682 centers were created. Currently, such centers provide the most popular administrative services among the population. They include registration of residence, real estate, business, issuance of extracts and certificates from the land cadastre. Soon, it is also planned to transfer the authority for registration of civil status acts, land plots, vehicles, as well as the issuing driver’s licenses.
The Administrative Services Centers (CNAP), under the reform plan, should receive even more opportunities through the decentralization of power (for more details see the chapter on decentralization). It is planned that soon centers will provide many services electronically. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade with the participation of the Office of Administrative Services is developing 15 administrative services, which are intended to be optimized: birth registration, child support assignment, residence registration and drop registration, issuance of family composition certificates, a passport of a citizen of Ukraine (ID), foreign passport, a taxpayer card, driver’s license, state registration of land with extracts from the State Land Cadastre, state registration of rights in real property, state registration (re-registration) of vehicles, registration of a declaration of readiness of an object exploitation, assignment of a housing subsidy, state registration of a legal entity, a person intending to become an entrepreneur, a permit for non-standard vehicles to participate in road traffic.
The Unified State Portal of Administrative Services poslugy.gov.ua has started its work on the test mode; and there is already a possibility to apply for the registration of about 20 documents related to construction, foreign economic activity, and land title. However, online you can receive only a confirmation of the right to receive a document, the very procedure of submission and receipt remains unchanged: on the first-come-first-served basis. The situation with an online service of child care assistance is very indicative: you can undergo the entire procedure online, but you need to have an Electronic Digital Signature, and to get it you should visit one of the offices of the Accredited Keys Certification Center.
Another innovation is also working only in the test mode. This refers to Bank ID (id.bank.gov.ua) – an electronic identification of citizens through Ukrainian banks for the provision of administrative services via the Internet. Bank ID is set up within the National Bank of Ukraine. But it is supported only by a few state institutions: The Ministry of Justice, the Unified State Administration Services Portal, the Public Services Portal, the Lviv City Council, the Public Project “Budget of City Initiatives” and the independent platform of civil initiatives MiyGolos.org.ua.
All services and facilities provided by Bank ID or any of the above mentioned online services are insignificant and are more of a consultative and informational nature: which documents are necessary for obtaining a certificate, where exactly a document can be obtained? Unfortunately, none of the services does obviate the need for direct contact with public services.
Therefore, the reform of public administration in Ukraine continues. And while the world is rapidly approaching the introduction of e-government, our country is also making minor steps in this direction.
E-Governance in Ukraine
In September 2016, the Ukrainian government approved the Provision on Electronic Interaction of the State Electronic Information Resources. It is about creating a virtual data exchange system between different registries of various public institutions. In the long run, this will allow automating the processes of verification and comparison of data so that the user of the services had no need to receive the certificate in one institution to submit it to another, which would reduce the opportunities for corruption.
In November 2016, the Concept of the electronic services provision was approved, defining the list of services and their priority, the stages of introduction and the basic principles of functioning. The exchange of electronic databases is carried out between the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, central executive authorities and regional state administrations. Work on synchronization of the basic state registries has also begun.
The 2017 budget includes UAH 235 million for the implementation of the program “E-Governance and the National Informatization Program”. Last year for this purpose was allocated only UAH 2 million.
In 2017, the allocated funds are planned to provide the full-fledged work of electronic interaction between the authorities, the state portal of open data, and the national register of electronic information resources; to improve the e-governance portal, to create the basis for the implementation of a single format of the electronic document and the integrated electronic identification system (ID).
An integrated electronic identification system is a person identification procedure that, in the future, when the full-fledged electronic system to be created, will allow the state institutions services to be used online for maximum comfort. Issuance of ID-cards has already begun, gradually they replace internal civil passports. But for the time being it is impossible to use all the capabilities of ID-card, the system is not ready yet.
Creating an efficient, transparent and reliable electronic government system is one of the essential requirements of the EU-Association Agreement, as well as agreements with the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, the International Monetary Fund. Following the international agreements, the Ukrainian authorities should ensure reliable access to electronic services and electronic identification. The state pledged to implement this reform by 2020, in accordance with the Concept for the development of the electronic identification system in Ukraine.
The partners and consultants of Ukraine in this reform are the member states of the EU, where the electronic systems have been successfully and widely implemented.
E-government in the world
According to the E-Government Development Index for 2016, the five e-Government world leaders are as follows: Great Britain, Australia, South Korea, and Finland. Ukraine ranked 62nd (out of 193 countries).
In the ranking of e-participation, the leaders are Great Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands. Ukraine ranked 32nd (out of 191 countries).
December 2016 – The Financial Agreement with the EU was signed to support Ukraine’s public administration reform.
June 2016 – the Strategy for Ukraine’s Public Administration Reform for 2016-2020 was approved.
May 2016 – the new law “On Civil Service” came into force.
September 2016 – The government has decided to join the International Open Data Charter.
November 2016 – a memorandum on the implementation of the EGOV4UKRAINE project between the State Agency for E-Governance of Ukraine and the Estonian E-Governance Academy was signed.
February 2017 – The service “Online Justice House” was presented.
March 2017 – An electronic service for the assignment on child care assistance was presented.
The obligation to carry out the reform of public administration is enshrined in the State Building Contract with the European Commission, the Strategy for Sustainable Development “Ukraine-2020”, the Coalition Agreement, and the Program of Activities of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
The biggest problem of civil service is that the ministries manage the enterprises: issue permits, regulate activities. This is not typical of a democratic system and gives rise to corruption. Because of the reform, the civil service should remain as a policy-making body, and all regulatory functions should be transferred to state agencies.
The introduction of the post of State Secretary of the Ministry is aimed at differentiating political and administrative positions in the central executive authorities.
According to the new law “On Civil Service”, the civil servants of the highest “A” category have no right to be members of political parties, to hold positions in the governing bodies of political parties or to be deputies of the local councils.
In October 2016, the EU decided to allocate EUR 104 million in support of public administration reform. Ukraine received the first tranche of EUR 10 million in May 2017. Also, for implementation of the reform, the expert support is provided to the ministries and the Reforms Office under the Cabinet of Ministers. Additionally, an EU Advisory Group on Public Administration Reform was established in 2016, comprising high-level European experts on public administration.