Improving transparency and reducing corruption through e-governance in Ukraine
The citizens of Ukraine tend to be distrustful of their country's public agencies. This is largely because of a lack of accountability, difficulties in accessing information and the poor quality of public services. The SDC has been working in Ukraine for a number of years to remedy this situation and thereby support the democratic reform of public institutions.
The first phase of the EGAP programme was launched on 1 April 2015 with the aim of increasing Ukrainian citizens' trust in state agencies through the use of e-governance. Specifically, EGAP aims to reduce corruption and improve access to public administration services for all citizens, especially the more vulnerable groups such as internally displaced persons, rural populations and older people.
While there are different definitions of e-governance, they all basically refer to the use of digital and ICT tools for the delivery of public services. Thanks to e-governance, Ukrainian citizens can now fill in forms directly on the websites of public administrations and may even be able to vote online in the future.
The SDC has defined three objectives for the EGAP programme: launch of e-governance, use of e-governance, and an inclusive e-governance policy.
- Through e-governance tools, the SDC aims to improve government transparency, accountability and efficiency and to reduce corruption. Regional and local authorities will be able to offer citizens more efficient administrative services through the use of new e-governance tools.
- The use of e-democracy tools is intended to increase citizens' participation in decision-making processes and local development. This will increase citizens' engagement and in turn enhance their influence in these processes.
- The new national policies developed in the context of e-governance are more inclusive, decentralised and evidence-based.
By the end of the programme, citizens and businesses should have better access to public services, face less corruption and have more trust in public authorities.
Stimulating local democracy through innovative tools
Initial attempts to introduce e-democracy at the local level in Ukraine have proved positive. To increase citizen participation in local democratic processes in Ukraine, a range of e-democracy tools were developed (e.g. e-petitions, online participatory budgeting, e-consultations and online grievance mechanisms) for the delivery of citizen services from 2015. Despite strong interest, the uptake of these tools was often delayed as a result of budgetary and technical constraints among local governments. To make the tools more accessible, they were subsequently integrated into a single e-democracy platform ('e-dem.tools') in 2018. As a one-stop shop for public services throughout Ukraine, this platform is now actively used by 211 local governments and newly merged communities. As a result, 14,886 e-petitions were submitted (18.5% of which were officially accepted), 21,660 citizens' concerns were resolved, and 72 participatory budgeting projects were approved. The training of 718 local officials, civic stakeholders and citizens also contributed to the platform's successful adoption.
At the same time, EGAP also promotes a culture of social innovation in Ukraine by supporting creative youth participants (women and men) and IT professionals. Two national hackathons on e-democracy (EGAP CHALLENGE) were launched, attracting more than 200 start-up companies. Almost half of the 30 winning teams came from the regions of eastern Dnipropetrovsk and southern Odessa. Five of the best solutions from these start-ups tackled anti-corruption measures in education, taxation and the private sector. The selected projects will receive support from the EGAP Accelerator programme until they are fully operational.
The e-democracy initiatives in Ukraine have proven more popular than expected. The initial objective (in 2015) was to raise the number of users of e-democracy tools from zero to 40,000 by 2019. The fact that there are now 885,000 civic and governmental actors registered on the platform comes as an encouraging surprise. The Ukrainian government's adoption of the 2016–18 national concept and action plan for e-democracy was an important step towards securing the sustainability of the various initiatives