Ministerial capacity building is a cornerstone of public administration reform. The project aims to improve the government’s performance by putting in place capable ministries as powerful think tanks that lead reforms.
Setting up a professional civil service by engaging true professionals to work for government institutions, placing the ministerial focus on policy formulation, and improving the quality of government decision-making is critical to the project’s success.
Improving Ukraine’s positions in competitiveness rankings is among the government’s important tasks. It can be achieved, inter alia, by reducing the regulatory and administrative burden, improving the quality of administrative services, and making sure that administrative agencies act in a legal and predictable manner.
The country needed to upgrade its public administration system and infuse new blood in administrative staff that is capable of shifting the ministerial focus from regulatory paperwork and property management to the formulation of relevant policies.
The first important step in strengthening the ministerial capacity in policy formulation was to redesign the ministries’ organization structure and their work approaches, and make civil service attractive to highly sought professionals and their selection procedure transparent and understandable.
The RDO’s main task was to strengthen the capacity of the Government to approve informed decisions and the capacity of the ministries to draft them properly.
To tackle the problem, the RDO came up with a number of proposals and novel approaches. These include:
- formulating national based on impact assessment and data analysis;
- focusing on outcome/impact for a policy’s beneficiaries – the people;
- introducing strategic (long-term) policy planning (sectoral development) and aligning it with public finance planning;
- improving trust in the government by making it more transparent and predictable, and involving stakeholders in the drafting of government decisions.
The avenues of the ministerial reform included redesigning the structure of the ministries, putting in place new procedures and building an effective staffing.
To redesign the structure of the ministries, it was resolved to launch a series of pilot ministerial reorganisation projects. The pilot projects resulted in the creation of 58 ministerial directorates, development of the necessary regulatory framework (underlying regulations on directorates and their interaction model) and identification of almost 2,000 non-ministerial functions.
The procedural aspect also underwent a number of changes. The experts took the first step towards policy analysis implementation – a policy impact assessment, developed a regulatory e-approval system, e-governance and public administration reform monitoring portal, and implemented a results-based management approach.
The staffing aspect also changed significantly. To upgrade the process of recruiting professionals to the civil service, the RDO developed career.gov.ua – a website that contains all civil service job openings. Another important novelty was the development of the concept for the establishment of reform staff positions and a substantiated review of the payroll policy. The RDO also stood at the origins of the Ukrainian Governance School, a new public institution that includes the Civil Service Candidate Assessment Center. Incepted in the spring of 2019, the latter is, in essence, an outsourcing center for all government agencies that hold civil service job competitions.
The reform has helped Ukrainian ministries make an impressive stride in improving performance efficiency. Ten ministries served as the basis for implementing the project’s main novelty, i.e. the establishment of directorates operating in a novel way.
In addition, divesting ministries of non-ministerial functions and elimination of overlapping gained traction, and new approaches to work planning and performance efficiency assessment were introduced.
The establishment of career.gov.ua website has made the civil service more open and accessible for young professionals. In 2017 the website included 300 listings of current vacancies, while in 2018 their number increased almost 4.5-fold to 1,305 vacancies. In addition, the civil service job application procedure and payroll were streamlined and balanced.
All these changes have already helped ministries recruit more than 600 reform experts.
The project is still ongoing.