Services for people: how ASCs work in communities

New administrative services centers in communities allow getting documents done close to home. For example, a large family of Lebedevs in the village of Yerky in Cherkasy region has registered their tenth baby, its place of residence, applied for monetary aid and the “Mother-Heroine” title – all in one go. You can read success stories of other communities here.

The decentralization reform enables the Amalgamated Territorial Communities (ATCs) to bring services to consumers as closer as possible.

Today, there are truly integrated administrative service centers (ASCs) operating in many ATCs with the widest possible range of services.

Interested communities can create an ASC using their own resources, attracting funds from the state budget and with the support of projects for the international technical support.

Striking examples are the Kipti Village ATC of Chernihiv Oblast and the Yerky Settlement ATC of Cherkasy Oblast. These two communities provide over 100 types of administrative services through ASCs.

Due to the integration of services, residents can register their place of residence, civil status acts and receive a number of local services, which, prior to the establishment of the ASC, were provided in a desk format by individual officials.

New administrative services, which previously could only be received in the raion center, are also available. Such services include social services (assignment of housing subsidies and state aids); registration of real estate, business, land; pension services; insertion of a photo into a passport when a person reaches the age of 25, 45, and so on.

It is illustrative that at when opening the ASC in the Yerky ATC, a large family that registered a newborn child was immediately provided with a full range of services: a birth date of the child (service of a civil registry office) was registered; a place of residence of the child (formerly the service of the State Migration Service); an application for the state assistance for the child (department for social protection of the population of the raion state administration); documents for the conferral of the title “Mother Heroine” to the mother.

Before the creation of the ASC, the family would have had to make several separate visits to different officials and travel to the raion center.

The social aspect is the main one in the establishment of a proper ASC in the ATC, since services are provided in comfortable conditions for visitors, becoming closer to residents who no longer need to travel to the raion center and stand in queues in stifling corridors with inappropriate conditions for waiting.

Through the creation of ASCs, communities are also given the opportunity to attract additional funds to their budgets for the provision of individual paid services.

So, in Tiachiv ATC of Zakarpattia Oblast and Kalynivka ATC of Vinnytsia Oblast, the services of issuing passports are provided at the ASCs, due to which more than UAH 100 thousand come to the city budgets on a monthly basis.

For the convenience and comfort of the visitors, there is an electronic queue management system in Tiachiv, through which citizens can register for the service on the desired day. Most importantly, the situation with the provision of passport services has substantially improved in these communities.

According to the list of services, ASCs in many ATCs are better than some ASCs of the regional centers. It emphasizes the benefits of decentralization, when the community itself is responsible for the organization and quality of service delivery to its residents.

In all of the above-mentioned ASCs, comfortable conditions for visitors have been created; waiting areas have been equipped along with children’s areas; barrier-free access for people with disabilities has been ensured; computerized workplaces for visitors have been arranged; free Wi-Fi, changing tables and other conveniences have been created.

In rural areas, it is important to remember the territorial accessibility to administrative services of residents of former local councils that have amalgamated into the ATC. It means that one cannot allow “centralization” in the provision of administrative services, especially in large communities and communities with complex transport accessibility to the community center.

In this case, it is necessary to use the opportunities provided for in the Law “On Administrative Services” regarding the creation of remote workplaces or territorial subdivisions of ASCs. Older people may be involved in the provision of administrative services through the remote workplaces.

Decentralization reform should not worsen, but only improve access to services. In villages where the services for the registration of residence, registration of civil status acts, notary’s acts and other services were available, they should be kept.

For example, in Zymne ATC of Volyn Oblast, there are currently four practically equivalent points of administrative service provision (ASC and 3 remote workplaces).

Limited-capacity communities can also significantly improve the provision of administrative services, creating only remote workplaces of the ASC by entering into cooperation agreements with more capable communities.

The policy of reforming administrative services is consistently implemented by the Ukrainian government. During 2015-2016, new powers in this area were transferred to local self-government authorities (LSGAs).

This allowed bringing popular services closer to citizens, minimizing corruption risks, giving more flexibility and responsibility to communities in the organization of providing administrative services.

However, there are still the issues that need to be addressed. In particular, the inclusion of services for state registration of civil status acts at ASCs of raion centers or cities of oblast significance is substantially complicated because it is still the competence of the Ministry of Justice.

It is also necessary to improve the organization of the provision of social services through the ASCs by connecting the officers of the ASCs to the electronic registers of the Ministry of Social Policy. Pension services need to be provided through the administrators of ASCs, and not only through the representatives of the bodies of the Pension Funds of Ukraine.

It is necessary to keep working on the issue of cheapening the cost of passport equipment, the cost of connection to secure communication channels, reducing a monthly fee for access to them.

An active position of community leadership, support of the corps of local council members, study of best practices in the provision of administrative services and the attraction of resources from both state programs and international technical assistance projects are the factors that significantly contribute to the new quality of the provision of administrative services in Ukraine.

The ASCs referred to in the article have been supported in terms of the creation and modernization by the U-LEAD with Europe Programme, an international programme funded by the European Union and its member states, such as Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden.

One of the key objectives of the programme is to improve the quality of provision of administrative services to the population. By 2020, within the framework of the Programme, up to 600 ASCs of the country will receive support in the establishment and modernization of ASCs.

The communities to receive assistance in the establishment of a proper ASC are selected through an open competition.

By Roman Matviichuk, Regional Coordinator of the Implementation Phase of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme

The article was originally published on Economic Pravda