Civil service reform: new faces — drivers of change

New departments have been established in 10 ministries, in the Office of the Cabinet of Ministers and in 2 state agencies – policy making directorates and strategic planning, and European integration directorates. The EU Project “Support to strategic communication and awareness raising on Ukraine’s public administration reform” introduces heads of new directorates and their ambitious plans.

The government is implementing public administration reform and engages the best specialists for the ambitious purpose of building a modern and efficient civil service.

As of today, structural changes went underway at 10 ministries, the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers and two state agencies. New subdivisions have been established: Directorates for Policy Formation and Directorates for Strategic Planning and European Integration. Candidates for positions at these subdivisions are selected on a competitive basis, featuring strict requirements, ambitious goals, new work procedures and competitive salaries.

People with the experience in working and studying abroad and those who already worked in the civic and business sectors join the civil service. They are already working at the new directorates according to new procedures of developing government decisions. During 6 months of selection contest, over 15,000 persons expressed desire to work in new positions. As of today, almost 500 open contests have been held according to new rules. First winners have already been selected, including more than 30 general directors.

The Ministry of Regional Development must work like a Swiss watch

Ihor Korkhovyi
General Director of the Directorate for Strategic Planning and European Integration at the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Utilities

Ihor Korkhovyi was born in a small village in the Poltava Oblast. However, it didn’t prevent him from graduating from a Kyiv university, gaining experience in the civic and private sectors and working as a senior expert at the Office for Support and Implementation of Reforms under the Ministry of Regional Development. But now, he faces a real challenge: he became the General Director of the Directorate for Strategic Planning and European Integration at the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Utilities of Ukraine.

The policy being developed by the ministry must be the most efficient and effective, making sure that this government agency works like a Swiss watch.

Directorates are needed to accumulate new power and resources, new people with fresh approaches who came from public and business circles. Changes in public administration are a must, because if a system does not evolve, it begins to degrade. The today’s task is to infuse fresh blood, employ new approaches to the fulfillment of tasks and monitoring, and implement at the Ministry of Regional Development the best practices from the civic and business sectors. It may be, in particular, scrum system actively used in the IT sector and at many companies.

For me, the most unusual thing in the contest for the general director’s office was the test of analytical and mental abilities. It was a very huge challenge. You’re arriving, very nervous, sit down by the computer, and your adrenaline is already surging… you realize the importance of this phase, because it actually eliminates a number of candidates. Another thing I liked were situational tasks. This is a practice when you’re modeling solution of a particular problem and then discuss it with the commission. I was given a task in the field of tourism.

I believe that my example provides the best illustration of how a person can achieve anything if he has desire. I hail from a little village, and am proud of it, for such an origin has its advantages. In my opinion, a person hailing from the countryside is open to communication. In a village, everyone knows everyone: a compadre knows an in-law, an in-law knows a brother; we all greet each other and communicate with each other.

I studied in the United States, and think that Ukraine can realistically reach the same level of the civil service as in Western countries. I cannot say that in the United States, there are no waiting lines. No, queues do exist, but the procedure of delivering services has been substantially simplified. Another good example is post-Soviet Estonia, which has abolished paperwork almost completely. There, the government communicates with a citizen via online resources, via the Internet, and uses all software that simplifies access to public systems.

I am an adherer of Lee Kuan Yew, who believed that the team is very important in public administration. Common values must be the key approach in accepting new members of the team. Therefore, I believe that the most important thing when selecting a team is to have people who would know why they are here and what they have to achieve. And also, they must be “workaholics”. I am like that myself, and believe that it must help in my job and when making changes in the country.

Ukraine is a Beethoven’s sonata

Yulia Zaichenko
General Director of the Directorate for Strategic Planning and European Integration at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine

Yulia Zaichenko was born to the family of a military officer, and therefore, she often had to move from one place to another and attend different schools when she was a child. Her travels continued even after she became an adult: Yulia studied law in three countries: France, Austria and Greece, and took a course on public administration in Latvia. She made a decision to work for the nation and people in Ukraine. Today, she is one of reformers, winning the contest for the position of Director for Strategic Planning and European Integration at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

I believe that I can greatly benefit Ukrainian jurisprudence, especially in the field of European integration, because I went to a college in France, studied international and European law there, and know what processes our country needs. After returning home, I worked at private companies, specializing in business law. But the more I worked for one or several persons, the more I realized that I want to work where the ultimate beneficiary is the Ukrainian people.

I had my turning point, too: during the Euromaidan, I just came back from France, still having a valid visa. I felt at loss, but told myself: I’ll stay here, for this is my country, and its history is my history, too. I believe that young people must use the knowledge and experience they gain for the benefit of Ukraine. Before the Revolution of Dignity, I never thought that I could end up in the civil service. But now, thanks to the new job, I have a much broader influence over things and opportunities.

One day, I caught wind of directorates being established as part of the public administration reform, and realized that I definitely must take part in the contest. It is very important that these directorates are politically neutral and essentially represent true analytical centers inside ministries. When I studied abroad, I was told how reforms were implemented in other European countries using practical findings as examples. That’s how everything must be organized in Ukraine as well: decision making centers must make full assessments of the effect of proposed changes and monitor their dynamics. These analytical centers must operate as a console coordinating all areas of the ministry’s activity.

I have already worked at the Justice Ministry in the past, for about two years. But later on, I was invited to become an advisor in developing an investment project to be implemented by one of the offices for reforms with the support from the Canadian government. I see a lot of advantages from my past experience in working at the ministry: I know processes from the inside, and saw flaws that need to be fixed. Finally, I am set for a productive, result-oriented work. I’m not afraid of bureaucratic procedures: countries of Western Europe also have organizations similar to the new directorates, and they only improve performance of public bodies.

[Before participation in the contest in Ukraine] I have already participated in similar contests and prepared myself well for every stage, of which there were more than five. For instance, my father didn’t know at all that I’m participating in a contest. But, being a military officer, he realizes very well what kind of responsibility it is. I told him about the contest only on the eve of the final interview. When the results were published, I felt happy, but at the same time, I knew that my new job would require a lot of time, energy and dedication.

To those who hesitate whether or not to go for the civil service, my advice is to answer the question: would you trust others to handle your country’s affairs? Me and my friends dream of Ukraine becoming an example of efficient public administration for other countries, and are ready to do everything to make it come true.

I enjoy playing piano, having graduated from a school of arts. For me, Ukraine is like Beethoven’s Sonata No. 1 in F minor. It’s so different: tender at first, with some vivid accords, sharply turning to “forte”, with the change of mood, repeating fragments but every time with a different character. Tension remains until the final accords, combining different voices… and that’s exactly what’s going on in Ukraine today, events of a very different nature… within the same system of coordinates.

The society must see children with developmental disorders

Larysa Samsonova
left the civic sector to implement changes in the civil service. Took the helm of the Directorate for Inclusive and Out-of-School Education at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine

For Larysa Samsonova, taking up a job in the civil service was a responsible and risky step. Seventeen years of experience in the civic sector helped her establish contacts with NGOs in all regions of Ukraine. She dreams of new, modern approaches in work: building a system of upbringing and out-of-school education in the form of open space, the so-called hubs like in Poland, and implementing inclusive education. The latter would gradually create opportunities for children with special educational needs to study in regular schools. Larysa has an engineer’s degree, and has been working in engineering for over ten years. But then, she suddenly changed her specialization, and now, she takes the office of Director of the Directorate for Inclusive and Out-of-School Education at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.

In my new position, I want to use my knowledge gained when I worked in the civic sector. I will try to lower those little barriers which prevent inclusive education from developing the same way it develops all over the world. We are striving for European values, for a country governed by law. Therefore, we have to strive for making sure that every child has the right to education.

First of all, the government and the public must join efforts to make children with special educational needs visible for the society. Today, only 12,250 out of 150 thousand children with disability attend inclusive and special classes at general-education schools. This is a very small percentage. But I know that the Ministry of Education and Science plans to increase this proportion by 65% every year.

Currently, inclusive resource centers are being established in regions, designed for a certain number of children: for 7 thousand in unified local communities and for 12 thousand in cities. These centers must replace the former, obsolete form of work. And the first step is to make these children visible and build a new system of education providing alternative to boarding schools. Support schools will become affordable, where pupils will see each other and grow together from the childhood, and then, the entire society would change. You know, that’s a sort of a cleansing droplet.

Social workers and social services must be engaged to establish relationships. Ideally, the school team of specialists should work on assessing the situation and overcoming difficulties arising when a child with special educational needs comes to a regular class. In that case, expensive equipment and some unreal financing are not always needed. We have to start with analyzing the child’s needs.

Out-of-school education system needs to be reformed, too. I like experience of other countries. In late 2016, while on a visit under an academic program of the Institute of Leadership and Administration of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Poland, I saw open hubs. Local authorities gave them the best facilities in residential neighborhoods, announced contests and engaged civic organizations in social educational programs. They employ volunteers, in particular, pensioners who conduct free English classes for children and teach yoga to kids and moms or to pregnant women. Locals gather in these hubs to discuss urgent matters, and that’s only one of possible forms of organizing out-of-school education.

In my future work, I will rely the most on the experience in communications and on established contacts. I have friends at civic organizations in almost every region of Ukraine, and I count on establishing communication which ministries presently lack. I came to the Ministry of Education, because I believe that everything begins with the childhood, with building this link, and then the social service joins in for the rest of the life. And a person with special educational needs must be taught to make sure that he or she becomes independent.

A real opportunity to change the system

Andrii Bega
General Director of the Directorate of Public Administration at the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine

For the past three years, until September 2017, Andrii Bega studied in the United States under a doctoral program in policy analysis. However, he never defended his doctorate thesis, deciding that he is more needed in Ukraine, and came back. Today, he is at the helm of the Directorate of Public Administration at the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. He believes that the civil service now needs both romanticists and pragmatists. In his opinion, the former will become the driving force behind changes, and the latter will implement these changes. He considers himself a pragmatist, and intends to realize this quality of his in the position of the head of directorate.

When the public administration reform went underway, I finally realized that it offers a real opportunity to change the system, because the reform received support at the highest political level. The very bureaucratic machine must change, from preparation of drafts to processes and structures inside the government. In the end, we will create the best policy for citizens.

Almost everyone will be able to feel changes: services will become more convenient, the amount of paperwork will decrease, and the number of inspections will be cut down. Communication with the government will be easier and more efficient, and it will cease to be a burden for businesses and citizens.

At first, we have to analyze and even draw a picture of processes. We have to understand how they work now and see how they can be improved. For that, we will use IT systems. While today, all this documentary work is done mostly on paper, the implementation of advanced information systems would reduce the amount of paperwork and workload on the staff and accelerate processes. It concerns personnel and budget spheres, tax payments and the use of registers.

We cannot reform the system fast. Even in certain countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), similar reforms took 20-30 years to accomplish. The work on building a service-oriented public administration has begun back in the late 1980s; then, public bodies began to transform themselves from orientation toward processes to orientation toward results. Later on, in the 1990s and 2000s, there was a movement aimed at automation of processes, simplification of services and transferring them online. Obviously, we don’t have that much time.

But the idea is that such a huge machine cannot be turned over in a month or a year. This is a gradual process that requires serious resources and efforts from a lot of people. We have to reform one function after another, one area after another. This is definitely not a revolutionary way.

In my opinion, conditions for investments include not only economic growth but also stability in the country. These are the very quality of administrative services, the country’s ranks in global ratings, quality of business climate and even such trifles as connectability to an electrical network. We will create some of these conditions in the course of the public administration reform.

The school must offer space for creative development of personality

Hanna Novosad
General Director of the Directorate for Strategic Planning and European Integration at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine

The reform of education system in Ukraine has already begun, and it concerns all levels of education, most importantly, school education which forms competences for the entire life. Hanna Novosad, the newly-appointed Director of the General Directorate for Strategic Planning and European Integration talks about what exactly will change. Hanna has graduated from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and then, received a scholarship from the Soros Foundation and went to the Netherlands to study European studios. Hanna joined the civil service in 2014, immediately after the Revolution of Dignity when the new government was formed. She considers her new job as a director a challenge, both for herself and for the Ministry, because there have never been such things as policy analysis and strategic planning at the ministry before.

European integration of education and science must be the core idea of the Ministry’s policy. The EU does not force us to implement some specific things in the sector of education and science. We themselves make a plan of what we’d like to borrow from the EU and into what programs we want to integrate. It concerns, first of all, higher and secondary education. We take a very active part in Erasmus+, a higher education development program. As for science, over the past two years we were able to integrate Ukraine into the two largest EU-funded programs concerning research and innovations: the Horizon 2020 program offering grants to finance research and innovations, and the Euratom program aimed at development of nuclear research.

The priority with which the Minister Lilia Hrynevych joined the Government was reform of school education, the New Ukrainian School. New approaches to the system of education would help with transition from the obsolete Soviet school of theoretical knowledge to a school that besides knowledge, gives children key competences necessary for a successful development of personality in the 21st century. New content, pedagogy of partnership, autonomy of school, motivation of teachers and modern educational environment are all elements of the New Ukrainian School.

There are no ideal education systems. Building an education system is an exclusive task of every particular state, which must be based, among other things, on the country’s cultural specifics. The education system in Finland serves as an example for us. We want to borrow from Finland’s experience in creating an autonomous school and preparing creative teachers. The Finnish history of success is about freedom in school, in particular, via modern education space. An educational institution must not be a jail with a blackboard and chalk; it must be a space for free, creative development of personality.

In the sector of higher education, we advocate responsible autonomy of universities subject to observance of high quality standards. It is also critically important to straighten out the existing imbalance toward higher education and the lack of students at vocational schools. One of the Ministry’s priority objectives is to form a vocational education development strategy, change the vocational education management and financing system, and improve communication with the labor market.

In general, I very much believe in education reform as one of the key reforms for our society. We won’t see results right away, because things like these take decades to accomplish, and we have to understand that. Still, we have to have a vision of development of our education system, which basically must remain the same when governments change. And I think that the directorates offer a good opportunity to try to implement these changes and make them sustainable.

We have to be rational, not pennywise

Dmytro Shevchuk
Head of the Directorate for Coordination of National Policies and Strategic Planning of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine

In his childhood, Dmytro Shevchuk dreamed of becoming a military officer. But after graduating from secondary school, he decided to study management and economics. In addition to higher education received in Ukraine, he took a leadership course at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Dmytro enjoys reading, and tries to borrow something useful for his work from every sphere. When explaining the work of the new civil service and key reforms, he quotes oriental wise men and British politicians. Dmytro is the Head of the Directorate for Coordination of National Policies and Strategic Planning of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

In 2013, I worked on a strategy of industrial development for the government of Kazakhstan. During an informal meeting, a representative of the Presidential Administration of Kazakhstan asked me: “We see that all Ukrainians with whom we work are very smart. Why, then, things are a mess in your country?” This question made me think about the problem of public administration. After working for several years in Kazakhstan and returning to Ukraine in 2015, I decided that my knowledge would be useful in the government sector. We have to enhance capability for strategic and program planning and coordination of various sectors, and implement modern project management at public bodies. We have to work not for the sake of process but to achieve results that every citizen would feel. For that, I have the necessary knowledge and experience.

Pension, education and medical reforms are already underway in Ukraine. Many important changes have been planned for this year. However, successful project activity always takes place within a triangle of limitations: time, quality and resources. We can do something fast, but that requires resources. We have to do a quality job, but that requires resources, too. However, the resources we have at our disposal are limited. For instance, we plan ten activities but have resources only for four of them. That’s a classical oriental quiz: we have four pots filled with water and ten empty ones. How to fill the empty pots? Filling all ten, but with equal amount of water? Or should we fill up a few pots first, and then bring more water? We have to be rational, not pennywise. It is important to use a strategic approach to determine priorities and then thoroughly plan the achievement of these priorities. We need systemic solutions which will become the achievements that would make changes irreversible and work for years ahead.

We are building a democratic society. Our model of governance must be based on public demand: to fight corruption, to develop the education sector or the public procurements sector. We cannot simply take some Western or Eastern model and adapt it. We need to develop our own way by combining successful practices of various countries. Our development model must be based on the needs of our citizens.

When the British parliament was developing its policy concerning political situation in Europe in the 1930s, the leader of the Conservative Party and the future Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin said in his speech “A Fear for the Future”: “The bomber will always get through”. It means that no matter what, we have to build a sufficient number of bombers which will always get through and reach the target. Later, this phrase cost the politician’s career, as it called for militarism, merciless fight against potential enemies (even the civilian population) and rearmament. Still, this phrase is of contemporary significance for us in the time when our country is fighting for its very existence and successful future. The persistence and the critical mass of people who must enter the new civil service will make sure that we would change our own future, not consult others and work in other countries.

We can enhance protection of human rights

Vladyslav Vlasiuk
General Director of the Directorate for Human Rights, Access to Justice and Legal Awareness

Vladyslav Vlasiuk is the General Director of the Directorate for Human Rights, Access to Justice and Legal Awareness of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Even back in college, Vladyslav knew that he has to influence public life: he was the head of a student debate club, won prizes at international tournaments on parliamentary debates, and always felt the potential to change something in our country. He joined the civil service, because he wanted to become a part of a new, progressive team of the Justice Ministry and enlarge, together with the Ministry’s team, the territory of justice in our country.

He started to change the country back when he was in the police force, first as a developer trainer in criminal law and process and then as the Deputy Chief of the Patrol Police. Vladyslav is a graduate of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University and the University of London; he has over 5 years of experience in working as a lawyer, and speaks three foreign languages.

I believe that a law on the civil service alone is not enough to change the essence of the service. Today, we’re witnessing an interesting and profound process of changes, in which public administration must transform into a complex of coordinated processes of forming and implementing national policies. I joined a good team, came to a sector I know very well, with the experience in project implementation and the knowledge of how the government must work for the benefit of the society.

I wouldn’t say that experts in reforms will drastically change people’s lives fast, but we definitely can enhance mechanisms of protecting human rights at the national level. The key objectives of our Directorate is to form a long-term policy of the Justice Ministry on human rights, increase provision of legal aid and develop legal awareness in the broad public.

The first component, which is already being implemented, is the all-Ukrainian educational project “I have the right”. Its purpose is to raise legal awareness of our citizens to make sure that more people know and protect their rights. We inform the public about legislative changes, provide consultations to people applying to bodies of justice, legal aid centers or a wide network of our partner human rights NGOs. Networking with partners is one of our priorities, as it brings justice closer to people. It is very important today, when interaction in the society becomes more intensive and more and more aspects of this interaction encompass the field of law. That’s the way it should be, the European way.

Our directorate also forms the policy on secondary legal aid, i.e. representation before other bodies and criminal defense services provided to those who cannot hire an own attorney for whatever reasons. Hundreds of thousands of citizens would receive a lawyer providing quality legal assistance, paid for by the state.

I truly like to do what I do. It’s a creative job involving huge amount of information; it has real effect, and it’s a responsibility. In my opinion, a civil service reform must ensure formation of a sustainable government influence over certain sectors. We in the government must not only develop regulatory acts but also solve problems of our people and make their life better.

These changes look drastic, and therefore, they must take place gradually, and their effect will be felt at the end of the process. The things which my Directorate does and will do may not concern all citizens or all areas of social relations, but that’s normal. One particular directorate cannot save the whole world, but I will take pleasure in every good deed. And also, one can inspire others to change the country together.

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