It is known that the Government is completing reorganization of pilot ministries. Directorates have been created employing more than 500 new civil servants. What are the practical implications?
The public administration reform is fully underway in Ukraine with structures and procedures changing, new people being hired to civil service. It is very difficult to become a successful European state without these critical changes.
Repair of the state apparatus started with ten pilot ministries. How can transformation of the ministries' internal structures, it seems, impact the lives of ordinary Ukrainians?
At first sight, just like the road impacts the passenger — we don't notice it if things go fast and even. But as soon as we come across potholes, we only see them. This is the case with public administration, too. When government agencies operate like clockwork and the public gets quality services, nobody cares what the mechanism looks like on the inside. But if problems pile up, we don't know who to ask for help, the internal structure is complicated, and you cannot find the person in charge, we get angry and disappointed — with the government agency at hand, the state, and reform in general.
Ministry transformation involves primarily creating a contemporary and logical internal structure
Ministry transformation involves primarily creating a contemporary and logical internal structure because Ukrainian agencies have followed obsolete models for years.
In the soviet era, Moscow drew up development strategies and delegated execution, control, supervision, and reporting to others. As a result, all that Ukrainian ministries have been involved with for the past 20 years is inspecting, issuing licenses, managing state property etc. Now we are changing the approach and focusing on strategic matters and policy making to address important problems and build a competitive state.
At the end of last year, the Government adopted a new unified model of the expected ministry structure that incorporates three sections.
The first and most important section covers directorates — units responsible for making, coordinating, and monitoring the implementation of public policy. This is a ministry's foundation.
The second section is the secretariat. It includes all units that support the ministry's operations (accountants, lawyers, IT, HR, household etc.).
The third one includes units currently performing functions alien to ministries — providing administrative services (authorizations, licenses), managing state property (state-owned enterprises), or carrying out state supervision (control).
Separating policy making and implementation is one of the key objectives of transformation.
Separating policy making and implementation is one of the key objectives of transformation. This will prevent a conflict of interest and eliminate corruption when rule-makers adapt rules to their needs rather than the public interest.
Today, a large number of functions related to public policy implementation are performed by ministries themselves. Soon, after legislative amendments, functions alien to ministries will be transferred to respective inspectorates, agencies, and services. Moreover, the state will be able to drop or transfer part of the functions to the local level.
For example, the Ministry of Culture presently authorizes the placement of outdoor advertising on and near national monuments, for example, on Derybasivska Street in Odesa.
Frankly speaking, this is of little importance to Kyiv officials, while breaking the heart of Odesa residents. They do care that their city's architectural gem is covered with horrid ads.
For this reason, it would be best to delegate this authority to local government. It should decide where a facade can be covered with advertising and be responsible for decisions it makes.
The new structure of ministries will prevent dilution of responsibility. Only one unit or civil servant will be in charge of a certain area of activity, which minimizes finger-pointing. This will improve the quality of civil servants' service and make people–state interaction simpler.
CMU Resolution On Completing the Reform of the Structure of Administrative Offices of Some Ministries requires harmonizing the structure with unified requirements and reporting of outcomes within three months of the effective date of the Resolution. The term expired on February 16, 2019. So, the grand transformation of eight pilot ministries is finally nearing the end and they will be focusing on achieving a new quality of administrative decisions and services to the public.
By way of reminder, ministries participating in the pilot project include the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Utilities, and the Ministry of Social Policy.
Requirements of the Administrative Office structure do not apply yet to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, which additionally perform the functions of the Government's center, because they are not characteristic of sector-specific ministries.
When completed, reorganization will resolve, among others, problems identified by the audit of Ukraine's public administration conducted by European OECD/SIGMA experts last year.
Please note that Support for Improvement in Governance and Management is a joint initiative of the EU and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to assist Central and Eastern European countries in improving their public governance and preparing for EU membership.
Faults they have identified include:
- over-centralized functions;
- incomplete reorganization of the ministries' internal structure;
- lack of uniform rules of organizational support of public policy implementation.
All this heaps an excessive burden on ministries, undermines their capacity to make quality public policy, and prevents the entire system of public administration from being adequately accountable to the public and user-friendly.
The new structure of ministries is the space where best professionals, change leaders, should be engaged.
Reform experts that have started work in new directorates are working on new, contemporary and effective processes of public administration. Only then can ordinary people experience change firsthand — with improved quality administrative decisions, transparent and predictable public policy, changed attitudes of officials to people — from administration to service.
The grand transformation of ministries is fundamental to a further overhaul of the entire public administration system that should meet public and corporate needs.
Civil service is becoming more effective step by step, and the obsolete administrative and command system more service- and individual-oriented. We continue reforming the country jointly and making change for the better irreversible.
Kyrylo Klymenko, Senior Project Manager at the CMU Reform Delivery Office, the Public Administration Reform, for UP