Originally published at the Open Government Partnership web site on April 23, 2019
Since joining OGP in 2011, Ukraine has successfully implemented three national action plans, which has led to breakthrough transformations in governance. And now, the Ukrainian Government and its civil society partners have started implementing the fourth action plan, adopted in December 2018.
Ukraine has become one of the leaders in Eurasia in terms of scale of events held during the Open Government Week (OGW) in March 2019. The Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (SCMU) called on to regional state authorities, civil society partners, and donors to share event ideas. More than 25 events were held in total, covering 15 oblasts (or districts) across Ukraine.
So, what are some of the new approaches we applied to align with OGP’s thematic priorities? And what challenges does Ukraine face in implementing its OGP action plan?
Smart Ways of Organizing Events to Boost Results
There are five new features of Open Gov Week (OGW) in Ukraine worth highlighting.
● The thematic areas discussed in this year’s OGW week were unprecedentedly diverse, covering a wide range of issues: from improving transparency and efficiency of state control in public procurement to ensuring free user access to the National Repository of Academic Texts.
● Open Gov Week also significantly widened the circle of governmental counterparts. The consultations expanded to other ministries, regional state bodies, civil society partners, and donors. Involvement of youth and student associations into discussions of the OGP commitments has become yet another new approach for OGW.
● The events stipulated discussions that went beyond the 17 commitments in the OGP action plan. The reforms’ priorities and policy issues, such as draft law on higher education, have been reviewed as well.
● All the interested parties have gained understanding of the current state of the certain priorities’ implementation and brainstormed how to accelerate the progress.
● An increased public and media outreach has spurred the implementers of the recently adopted 2018-2020 OGP action plan to reconfirm their engagement, accelerating implementation of the commitments.
Spillover Effect of Holding Open Discussions
It is necessary to stress that the events have often delivered unexpected results, taking the parties involved to a new level of implementation of open government commitments.
For example, more than thirty civic activists and government officials joined a public discussion on introducing the e-calls mechanism for the civil society organizations, organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine and SCMU with support of UNDP and other donors. Interestingly, there was no clear vision of how the e-call mechanism must look prior to the discussion. The event has enabled practitioners from the state bodies and civil society to brainstorm this issue together. It has led to the creation of the experts’ working group to elaborate further steps and develop concrete concepts for the e-calls mechanism for CSOs.
The Ombudsperson’s Office and SCMU, in cooperation with UNDP, led an important discussion on improving access to public information. Experts in the community discussed how to boost access to public information and outlined next steps.
Moving on the OGP Agenda Forward
After a successful Open Gov Week, we must take the next steps to tackle the challenges identified.
It is necessary to engage more state bodies at the local level, to promote the open gov values of openness and engagement with citizens to improve services, manage public resources, introduce innovations, create safer communities and support civic participation.
Information and advocacy campaigns to reinforce the OGP commitments must be launched at the regional level, involving public and local civil society organizations.
The government and its counterparts need to creatively communicate their OGP commitments in a way that attracts media and allows them to clearly understand the potential impact these reforms can have in Ukraine.
UNDP will continue to be a key partner for open government in Ukraine since the OGP commitments closely align with the Sustainable Development Goals. The government and civil society are hopeful that the new action plan will finally lead to an increased efficiency and transparency of the democratic governance in Ukraine.
Authors: Olena Ursu, Oksana Khomei