Be not spectators but the players of the public administration reform is the key message to western educated Ukrainians

von Iuliia Skok

PGA Annual Conference 2018 took place in Kyiv

Be not spectators but the players of the reform, the need of time for changing culture of public service in Ukraine while law and financial support on place, working out of clear plans and strategies for the successful reform implementation, creation of the “champions of the reform” as a proper communication strategy, importance of corporate governance for state-owned enterprises to fight the corruption – these are the key messages voiced on the PGA annual conference that took place on the 5th of July in Kyiv and was supported by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Ukraine.

Professional Government Association (PGA) is an association of Ukrainian alumni of world-class universities that was launched in March 2014 after Euromaidan and brings today over 3000 people. The main aim of the organization is to promote good governance in Ukraine through advocating for transparent hiring process and meritocratic selection approach for all positions in Ukraine’s government.

In their greeting words head of the KAS office in Ukraine Gabriele Baumann und head of PGA Artem Shaipov stressed that the proper democratic functioning of state institutions is the key for the reform success in Ukraine. Artem Shaipov did not lose the opportunity to remind that PGA has an ambitious mission to make the Ukrainian government the best government in the world. In his key note speech the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministries of Ukraine (CMU) Olexandr Saienko addressed the audience with the words that they should be not spectators but the players of the reform and encouraged them to apply for the new created positions in ministries.

The conference program focused on three topics, namely, how to assess the civil service culture and effectiveness, challenges of communicating the civil service reform, and corporate governance of state-owned enterprises in Ukrainian realities.

The first results of “Civil Service Loop Initiative” (CSLI) were presented within the first panel discussion. CSLI, a common project of Professional Government Association (PGA), the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), Kyiv School of Economics and the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers, has the aim to obtain quality information about the progress on civil service reform, receive a valuable assessment and feedback tool that facilitates continuous improvement of civil service in Ukraine and establish the community of Ukrainian civil service assessment experts. According to these results the main problems that the reform is facing now is not proper voicing of reform strategy which has negative connotation within the Ukrainian society, lack of initiative and autonomy of the “old” civil servants in comparison to these “new”, lack of coordination on the reform between Ukrainian state institutions as well as lack of strategic comprehension of Ukrainian reality by some international experts. As a result the key recommendations of experts group are restructurization of HR departments in pilot ministries that undergoing the reform; establishment of KPI for each ministry in order to see the progress on reform and create an incentive for competition between ministries; employment of people with strong international experiences.

Commenting the first results of the study Marcus Brand, team leader of UNDP democratic governance team in Ukraine, stressed that this reform is absolutely central to any other reform and implementation of UN goals depends crucially on the quality of public servants. Anton Yashchenko, executive director of the Reforms delivery office of the CMU said that there are now 300 new employed people who are already working on the central level and 200 will be pointed in the nearest future. The main challenge for the reform right now is the changing of culture of public service in Ukraine and it needs time. Yashchenko is however quite optimistic about the first reform results as the law is on place and thanks to the international support they have the capacity to employ well qualified people. He also agreed with Saienko on the issue that people should not be just audience of the reform but becoming real agents of change. Meanwhile Sergii Soroka, group manager of public administration reform in Reanimation Package of Reforms, described the main current problems of the reform implementation which are the absence of strategic planning; lack of a system responsibility for non-fulfillment of plans; absence of a “plan is a law” paradigm that all contributes to the situation that less than 50% of public administration reform (PAR) strategy is implemented now. Soroka stressed that working out of the clear plans and strategies of the reform implementation is highly important for reform success.

The second panel discussion was devoted to the challenges of communicating the civil service reform. Alyona Shkrum, member of Ukrainian parliament, told the audience that on her opinion the public service reform was not properly communicated in comparison for example to police reform that was made “sexy” and inspired Ukrainians to apply for the jobs. Andrew Chakhoyan, founder and managing partner of Strategic narrative consulting, said that modern communications is all about the emotions which was agreed on by Yaryna Klyuchkovska, a strategic communications consultant, who told that the best way to communicate emotions is to tell people’s stories. Moreover, according to Klyuchkovska Ukraine is the country where people trust people not institutions that is why “we should create heroes of the reform”. The success stories should become small viruses and inspire ministries to compete for these “champions of the reform”. Frank Paul, team leader of the Support Group for Ukraine, in his speech stressed that communication of the reforms is about trust and it is important to understand to whom we communicate, how and why. Meanwhile Ivan Khilobok from Reforms delivery office of the CMU was sure that the general communication of the reform was good since they received around 30 applications on the average for each released position. Besides, the issues of the importance of leadership and possibility of the separate vice-minister of public administration reform; absence of proper project management skills at the ministries as well as weak HR-departments; the possibility to apply for released positions not individually but as a team were accosted by the panelists and audience.

State-owned enterprises: introducing corporate governance in new Ukrainian realities was the topic of the third part of the conference where Mariya Sukhan, corporate secretary of Naftogaz of Ukraine, Olyana Gordyenko from EBRD Governance and Political Affairs in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, Evgen Dykhne deputy head of the Boryspil International Airport, Yevgen Kravtsov, CEO of Ukrzaliznytsya, shared their views on corporate governance. Andriy Boytsun, who moderated the last panel discussion, did not miss the opportunity to ask the audience opinion about corporate governance in Ukraine. According to the results of the online poll that was conducted within the last panel discussion the corporate governance is important in order to fight the corruption at the state-owned enterprises; the private interests are viewed as the main challenge for establishment of the proper corporate governance and to succeed in these changes the change of the law and more pressure from the side of the international organizations is needed.

The conference ended up with the keynote speech of the Richard Ponzio, director of the Just Security 2020 Program at Stimson (via skype) and informal networking.


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