Mission Report: Ukraine 18 – 21 July

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Purpose/Objective of Mission:

  • Support to Ukraine’s ongoing Open Government Partnership (OGP) participation, meet local partners and explore ways to finance OGP commitments
  • Liaise with ongoing Local Governance project staff which has a key e-governance component
  • Provide advise on ongoing project to crowd source the theme of the next NHDR
  • Explore ways in which CO can connect the various initiatives and programmes that have ICT and/or e-governance components

Summary of Mission Findings

  •  Ukraine’s OGP action plan has 30 priorities that cover four core themes (one being e-government), which in turn seemed to reflect the agenda items that the various stakeholders involved in the process were pushing during the discussions. In addition, many of the deadlines and timeline seem to be very short and thus probably not realistic
  •  UNDP’s municipal governance and sustainable development project is quite large and successful. It has an important e-governance component which so far has been focused on Internet access, web sites and use of social media for communication and participation. Starting in 2011, the project started to focus on online services specially in large cities where Internet access is both more widespread and more reliable (project description is here: http://tinyurl.com/8gu5jz9 )
  • UNDP Kyiv was provided a small grant by Bratislava to crowd source the theme of the next NHDR. The CO had prepared draft ToRs which received detailed inputs from the mission
  • Irex Ukraine (http://www.irex.org/region/ukraine) has received support from the Gates Foundation to supporting the computerization of the 18 thousand libraries that exist all around the country. The ideas is to use the libraries, which apparently almost no one uses, as information and service provision centers. Only 10% of the libraries are on line and the national counterpart (Ministry of Culture) has little capacity to support them. Enter IREX. This project can be easily linked to both UNDP’s municipal governance and Ukraine’s OGP action plan

 

Recommendations/Actions to be taken:

Ukraine’s OGP Action Plan

  • It is essential that UNDP documents and publishes a brief knowledge product on the way it successfully supported the initial OGP process in the country and played a key role in promoting dialogue and forging partnerships between government and civil society. DGG/e-gov will take the lead and work closely with the Co and national counterparts to generate the report. Interviews and compilation of documents is envisaged as well as online publication of the experience and its dissemination to other UNDP COs that are engaged and/or are planning to engage with OGP
  • Ukraine’s OGP action plan, like that of several other countries involved in the partnership, has a large list of goals and targets, many of which have seemingly unrealistic deadlines. There is thus need to prioritize OGP goals and identify the areas which are more relevant from a development perspective and which UNDP could support more effectively. Both government and CSOs key counterparts are in agreement with the need to prioritize current OGP action plan objectives
  • The National Centre for e-governance (NCEG), which is hosted by the State Agency for Science, Innovations and Informatization of Ukraine and has been selected by the government to be the key player for OGP implementation, identified four priority areas: international support for e-governance policy development and implementation (which is not really one of Ukraine’s OGP’s priorities); web portal with one-stop shop features (which entails interoperability across government institutions); knowledge management portal for capturing e-government best practices; and social innovation (again, not part of the current action plan targets). NCEG also has capacity issues which will probably limit the level of engagement it can have towards implementing any of any of the activities. A capacity assessment of NCEG is thus recommended to identify internal gaps and provide recommendations for moving forward
  • TORO (http://www.toro.org.ua/en/), Transparency International national counterpart in Ukraine and one of the main players in the OGP process, sees three core priorities, as follows: creation of a dedicate national OGP site; capacity building for organizations and institutions involved in OGP; and the development of tools for the regions to foster networking and knowledge sharing. Note that these priorities are not really part of the OGP action plan. At the broader level, TORO sees both anti-corruption and e-governance OGP action plan objectives as central for the implementation process
  • Although the priorities highlighted by the key national OGP players do not quite match, it is feasible for UNDP Kyiv to explore ways to find common ground by either linking some of priorities that are related (for example, knowledge sharing and the broader e-governance objective) by fostering further dialogue among the parties or by supporting one or two priorities that each of the two sides have laid on the table. In this regard, UNDP Kyiv should prepare a proposal that can be shared with and endorse by the key stakeholders and submit to DGG/e-governance for potential funding. UNDP Ukraine has already receive seed funding from Bratislava to support the anti-corruption efforts which are tightly linked to OGP. In this light, the proposal should be entirely focus on e-governance to neatly complement the anti-corruption funding

Municipal Governance and SD Programme

  • The programme should continue to support innovations at the local level by continuing to use and deploy ICTs in a strategic fashion. One area that has yet to be explored is the use of mobile technologies to support current efforts related to access to information and service delivery. Internet access in Ukraine is still limited as only 35% of the population have access (mostly in large urban areas) whereas mobile penetration is now well over 120% – and most of these devices are not smart phones
  • The success of the programme at the local level in relation to e-governance can provide fertile ground to NCEG which has little to no presence in the regions. In addition, several of the activities and objectives that the programme has are directly related to OGP goals and targets an d should be seen as such by core OGP stakeholders. In this light, it is important that the programme reaches out to these players and bring its success stories and best practices to bear in order to scale up e-governance activities and outputs to other regions where development conditions are even more challenging
  • In the same light, and from the ICTD and e-governance perspective, the programme should also link with IREX to explore ways in which they can collaborate specially in those regions or municipalities where human development is below the national average. IREX has already expressed keen interest in exploring potential partnership with UNDP
  • DGG/e-governance has recently launched a knowledge product series focusing on e-governance case studies. The experience of Ukraine on local e-governance and its success provides fertile ground to develop a case study to be included in volume III of the series. DGG/e-governance has committed to finance a case study based on the municipal governance programme and the use of ICTs to achieve the various outputs and outcomes. DGG/e-governance has already development a methodology which can be easily adapted to Ukraine’s local condition with support from UNDP Kyiv

Crowd sourcing the NHDR Theme

  • Detailed comments on the project where submitted to the CO while the mission was underway. The comments are here: http://blog.raulza.me/?p=1558.
  • On issue that “innovation” funds such as the one Bratislava is promoting need to take into account is the capacity that COs need to have internally to implement proposals. The risk here is that COs with little to no ICT capacity will probably face high transactions costs which can be an obstacle for the successful implementation of the innovation projects, given the small size of fund allocations. A better strategy here could be to ask COs to make the innovation projects part and parcel of ongoing programmes -thus avoiding the creation of new micro initiatives that can be very demanding on some of them

UNDP’s Approach

  •  As mentioned above, UNDP Ukraine already has ongoing programmes that can be easily linked to both the OGP process and the e-governance sub-practice. While OGP is certainly gaining steam on a global scale, it can still be seen as a short-run initiative that provides no financial support to participating countries. Implementation of national action plans is thus left to the good will of government who presumably, under scrutiny and pressure from civil society actors, as expected to move ahead following the overall principles of OGP
  • In this light, UNDP should continue to support the OGP process in the short run by strengthening current programmes and showcasing those areas that match Ukraine’s national action plan goals and targets. In this light, the democratic governance cluster should continue to lead the process by strategically positioning ongoing programmes as part of OGP and linking them to other players who are not fully aware of the extent and/or success of such programmes. Creating a separate programme on OGP is probably much more risky given the added transaction costs and the lack of a moderate to large funding source that could support OGP. This also fits with the fact that most of the priority areas pinpointed by key OGP stakeholders do not match OGP action plan targets.

 

Raul Zambrano
Senior Policy Advisor
ICTD and e-governance
Democratic Governance Group
Bureau for Development Policy
UNDP HQ

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