New projects aim at improving Ukraine’s administrative services

16 Jun 2013

The United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine is implementing a new project “Smart Practices of Oversight by Non-State Actors on Administrative Service Provision”. The project is one of a number of initiatives financed by the European Union in the framework of the Civil Society Facility with the goal of improving the provision of administrative services by strengthening the role and engagement of civil society. The overall aim is to improve the delivery of administrative services by local authorities through better public monitoring and by the creation of effective feedback loops with the civil society organisations.

According to a poll conducted by the “Democratic Initiatives” Foundation and Kyiv International Sociology Institute, 65% of Ukrainians are fully or partially unsatisfied with the quality of services provided by the local authorities. Major problems include the excessive complexity of procedures, long queues, lack of necessary information and the inconvenient work schedules of the administrative bodies. At the same time there are no proper mechanisms to obtain citizens’ feedback and transparent follow-up procedures.

This situation is not limited to one municipality or region. It can be found throughout the country. Strong civil society organizations, which in many countries serve as watchdogs and help to establish effective feedback loop between the authorities and citizens, could be one answer to the problem. However, even though Ukraine can boast more than 3,900 civil society organizations, participation in the activities of the CSOs is still among the least important values for Ukrainians (less than 3 points out of 5). Consequently, the index of citizens’ trust towards CSOs is extremely low (2.6 out of 5), meaning that citizens do not perceive the CSOs as viable tool for protecting their rights and do not believe in their efficiency.

“The program aims to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations to monitor and oversee the administrative service provision in municipalities in order to improve them,” says Elena Panova, Deputy Director of UNDP Ukraine. “We have chosen L’viv as our partner as there is already a good relationship between the authorities and civil society here.” The plan is to create a Reference Centre for CSOs on the issue of non-state monitoring of the administrative service provision which will give consultative and advisory support to them. The centre will be based on the model of the Lviv CSO Samopomich that has years of experience in the field.

The project was developed based on the "secret shopper" model, whereby specially trained volunteers visit local authorities to get some service and develop recommendations to improve the quality of services then submit these findings to the management of the city councils. In the framework of the project, 15 CSOs from different municipalities of Ukraine will be selected and trained on how to establish dialogue with local government bodies. The training programme will include learning the best practices of L’viv municipality and of other cities of Ukraine and European countries. Local CSOs will receive small grants from UNDP to implement projects in their cities. The key expected result of the project will be clear and simple system of monitoring of the local authorities’ administrative services system. “In Ukraine, monitoring activities are not rare,” says Natalia Mikhnova, head of Samopomich. “Some are aimed against corruption, to enhance transparency in the use of public funds. Unfortunately, the results of such monitoring are not turned into reality. They do not lead to real changes in people’s lives. We plan that the new EU-UNDP project will serve as a good example of how the public can influence the quality of life in their cities. We are convinced that during the three years of our joint work we will demonstrate real changes for the citizens not only here in L’viv, but in many other Ukrainian cities. We are confident that we can achieve good results and establish a constructive dialogue with the authorities and make sure that our ideas turn into reality.” Oleksandra Pershyna, the EU Manager for the Civil Society and Human Rights Sector, agrees. “The Civil Society Facility was established by the European Union in order to strengthen civil society‘s role in monitoring and oversight of administrative services provision in Ukraine,” she says. “In 2012, administrative service provisions, which include issuance of various allowances, certificates, passports, attestations and assignment of benefits, were declared as the thematic focus of the projects financed from this facility. According to the survey ordered by the Centre for Political and Legal Reforms and conducted by the Fund ‘Democratic Initiatives’ founded by Ilko Kucheriv and the Kyiv International Sociology Institute, today Ukrainians rate the quality of administrative services as 3.9 out of 5 points.”