UN E-Government Survey in Media

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E-Government Survey in Media

06

Government agencies in Ukraine provide more than 1,000 services. Behind this number, there are a host of public servants with low salaries exacting a huge cost from the people they are supposed to be serving – through nerves and through time or money paid in bribes to get the bureaucrats to work faster, or at all.

Many countries have taken out the human equation through automation – saving money and improving public service in the process – through introducing electronic government platforms.

The United Nations ranked Ukraine ranked 87th out of 193 countries in its e-government survey in 2014. That is far behind Europe in terms of providing services online, but in 2015, the country made significant strides in making more government services available over the internet.

According to Oleksandr Ryzhenko, chairman of the State Agency for E-Government in Ukraine, the process was spearheaded by the ministries of justice, regional development and ecology.

Justice Ministry leads

To get registered as a private entrepreneur in Ukraine, a person used to have to spend several days in line or pay a bribe to officials to skip the ordeal. Now, a new online service launched last year allows a person to register themselves as an entrepreneur within 24 hours.

Out of the 3.5 million entrepreneurs who registered in Ukraine last year, 2.5 million registered via the ministry’s free online registration service, and a half a million registered online and paid an official fee to expedite the process, said Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko. The ministry has also created a service that allows citizens to obtain an entrepreneur’s certificate from the Unified State Registers within an hour, for a set, official fee.

The key advantage of going online is that it reduces the risks of corruption in the Justice Ministry’s system, Petrenko said.

By the end of 2016, the ministry plans to make all its services electronic. That will enable citizens to amend a company’s corporate charter and core business definition, change its director, register a change in surname, and register a marriage, divorce, death or birth online using a digital signature.  

Created by volunteers

Pressure to remove the bureaucratic obstacles to delivering government services in Ukraine came largely from the ground up, from civil society.

But with no coherent state strategy for implementing e-government, the country has at least two platforms that claim to offer similar functions.

Dmytro Dubilet, the project manager of iGov – a new state administrative services portal – said his initiative started with a Facebook post. Dubilet called on other information technology specialists to volunteer to make the delivery of state administrative services more convenient and efficient. More than 100 people responded to the call, and they are now actively developing the project after the portal launched in June 2015.

Developed on open source software, iGov cost the state nothing. “If we built the project on a commercial footing it would cost millions of hryvnias every month,” Dubilet said. As of now, 20 percent of the government’s services are available on iGov. The plan is to add all 1,000 of them to the platform by the end of 2016.

Some services are provided entirely remotely, such as applications for subsidies. For others, citizens still need to fill in an application, pay a fee, and schedule a visit to a government agency to receive the certificate they require.

As electronic signatures are not widely used in Ukraine and not all ministries recognize them, the problem of verification was solved with the help of bank IDs – nine Ukrainian banks have joined in the project.

Currently, the online provision of state services is spread unevenly through Ukraine, with Dnipropetrovsk Oblast taking the lead.

While earlier volunteers were asking government agencies to use their platform, now the central and municipal administrative bodies are coming to the iGov developers with requests to make their services available on the platform.

As no big portal can survive on the enthusiasm of volunteers forever, iGov’s founder is now looking for grants, and has hired the project’s first full-time staff. Dubilet said that after iGov is finished and removed from the volunteers’ shoulders, keeping it going should cost the state less than Hr 100,000 per month. He said that the Economy Ministry will audit the portal before taking over responsibility for it.

One stop shop

Apart from the volunteer initiative iGov, the Economy Ministry has its own online government services pilot project -- poslugy.gov.ua.

According to Ukraine’s law on providing administrative services, this unified state portal should play the role of a "one-stop shop," providing information about all administrative services in the country. At the moment, citizens can obtain online only those services that are provided by the Economy Ministry. However, other services that become electronic later should also become available on poslugy.gov.ua.

“Respectively all other portals that offer state services should be integrated into it, according to the rules. Those rules are almost finished and are being agreed for now,” the State Agency for E-Government’s chairman Ryzhenko said.

According to officials, unlike iGov, the Economy Ministry’s portal will allow citizens not only to schedule a visit to a government agency, but also to submit documents and receive services online.

At the same time, Ukrainian law does not forbid government agencies and local authorities from providing their services separately on their own websites, just as the Justice Ministry does.

The problem with making government services available online in Ukraine is that everything that has already been achieved will need to be re-done, says Oleh Levchenko, e-governance expert from the non-governmental Reanimation Package of Reforms.

He doubts that the biggest portal, iGov, will become a centralized e-government platform, because it is a non-government initiative. There is also the question of the security of the personal data stored on iGov.

"It’s not enough to have the will and an electronic program. It is important to make officials work with it," Levchenko told the Kyiv Post.

As for government initiatives, the problem with the online services of the Justice Ministry is that they are being introduced without a coherent strategy, Levchenko said. Thus, when other ministries go online, additional challenges will arise in efficiently connecting those systems.

On the other hand, before introducing e-government, Ukraine needs to simplify or cancel many of its bureaucratic procedures, all of which are stipulated in laws, Levchenko said. The civic activists who are working on the iGov cannot re-engineer the legislation, he said. It can be done only by the ministries and state agencies which provide those services.

Levchenko said this process is part of the state administrative services reform that is underway in the country.

“Thus, most management processes have been suspended or are only half complete,” he said. “This is why the effort to create e-government at this time looks like an attempt to make chaos electronic.”

Country: Ukraine
Source Date: 3/28/2016

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