The development of digital government in Ukraine

Cooperation between Ukraine and DIGIT in the sphere of digital government: a closer look

Introduction

On 13 December 2018 the State Agency for e-Governance of Ukraine (SAEGU) and the Directorate General of Informatics (DIGIT) signed an Administrative Arrangement, which laid the ground for the enhanced cooperation between Ukraine and the EU, through the exchange of best practices in the field of digital public administrations. As a result of the signature of agreement, as of 2019, the National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) will begin publishing Ukraine’s Digital Government factsheet and will also monitor the implementation of the European Interoperability Framework in the country.

The Ukrainian government has been strongly implicated in the modernisation its public administration since 2014, following the Revolution of Dignity. With this in mind, the NIFO team spoke with Danylo Molchanov, Advisor to the Head of SAEGU, to learn more about the development of Digital Government in Ukraine.

Context: Signature of the cooperation agreement between Ukraine and DIGIT

According to Mr. Molchanov, there are three main reasons that motivated SAEGU to sign a comprehensive cooperation agreement with DIGIT. Firstly, Ukraine is eager to pursue a path of integration with the EU and the agreement helps to foster a closer collaboration between the EU and the government of Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has adopted a high-level plan of EU integration, which sets out the main actions to be taken in different policy areas, including digitalisation and digital government. Secondly, the Ukrainian government believes that the best way to implement digitalisation in its public sector is by adopting the EU’s best practices in the area. Given that many electronic systems are currently being developed in Ukraine, they want to rely on the standards and recommendations elaborated by DG DIGIT, in particular, the ISA2 programme. This will also help ensure that all the digital systems are easily integrated and interoperable in the future. Finally, the interviewee stressed that SAEGU wants to be aware of future EU developments and trends in the domain of digital government.

More specifically, the arrangement signed between SAEGU and DIGIT lays down the ground for the following:

  • Planning for a knowledge-sharing programme for public administration interoperability solutions, including federating reusable solutions across open collaboration platforms such as Joinup;
  • Providing a knowledge-sharing mechanism for professionals to enable them to collaborate and share knowledge in their field of expertise.

Mr. Molchanov also added that the following aspects of the ISA2 programme are the most important for Ukraine as of today:

  1. The digital public services; 
  2. Interoperability;
  3. Access to base registries; 
  4. Piloting of data exchange and standardisation with other European countries.

Digital Government in Ukraine: an overview

The development of digital government is important for Ukraine, as the government acknowledges that it can facilitate citizens’ interaction with the public administration and reduce bureaucratic burden. Given that Ukraine suffers from low trust in government institutions, the development of digital government is one of the tools that can help to improve transparency and build trust in its public administration. The interviewee sees digitalisation as a comprehensive tool to fight corruption, to speed-up the provision of services for citizens and to better engage people in public policy making through various tools associated with eDemocracy.

The digital government history in Ukraine started in the early in 2000s. In 2003 the country adopted the law ‘On Electronic Documents and Electronic Document Management’. A year later the law on ‘Electronic Signature’ was also adopted. Shortly after, the government also passed laws in the sphere of telecommunications and data protection[1].

However, it was not until the Revolution of Dignity 2014, that Ukraine began to accelerate its digitalisation efforts. It is important to recognise that several policy developments occurred in Ukraine following this event. One important milestone in 2014 was the establishment of a dedicated agency for eGovernance, SAEGU, which helped to streamline efforts in this domain. The agency’s primary role is to implement state policy in the spheres of digital government, digitalisation and information society development.

Most recently, the Ukrainian government adopted several guiding documents and passed legislation to foster the creation of digital government in the country. Amongst those are:

The image below[1] summarises the main legislative milestone in the development of digital government in Ukraine. 

Evolution of digital government in Ukraine

The interviewee stated that the development of eIDAS infrastructures across the country is of particular importance for the government, as there is a need to establish a trusted area with the EU in the digital domain. The Ukrainian government continues to direct efforts in introducing digital government across the country.

The Ukrainian government is paying significant attention to the development of digital public services. Currently a total of 125 priority digital public services have been developed and made available for citizens and business. Among others, these services cover the following administrative procedures: business registration, childbirth assistance, acceptance of construction objects into operation, housing subsidy, criminal records certificates, eLicensing for transportation services, pension related procedures, and fire safety permits.

Finally, most recently the Ukrainian government has updated its open data portal, which now hosts 2166 open datasets, and implemented TREMBITA (Based on the Estonian X-Road solution for integration of systems and data exchange) electronic interaction system.

The way forward

The latest focus and challenge of the Ukrainian government in its efforts to digitalise lies in the domain of base registries. SAEGU has prepared a draft law on the electronic registries, which would establish a common terminology for all state registries, create a base registry list, introduce obligatory state registration of the new registries in the Registry of Registers, introduce rights for free access to the information from the registries, among other things. SAEGU believes that this is one of the most strategic of the upcoming laws in the country. Currently the organisation of base registries is very unstructured. It is important to set up a state registry in an interoperable way to allow for the smooth delivery of public services and the implementation of the once-only principle. There is a need to gather all requirements related to base registries, which are currently distributed among different laws and decrees, into one single legal act.

SAEGU tries to closely follow all the new initiatives that the ISA2 programme puts forward. At the current moment, it is especially interested in the new ISA2 action 2018.01 on the Innovative Public Services. The new action, among other things, aims to explore how one can ensure interoperability whilst encouraging an uptake of emerging technologies in the public sector. The interviewee stressed that SAEGU expects to find some useful guidance and expertise sharing from the ISA2 programme when it comes to this topic. Mr. Molchanov also mentioned that Ukraine is currently running some pilot projects on the integration of the blockchain elements into the property registry.

The interviewee mentioned that the Ukrainian public administration is interested in the legal expertise that can be received from EU institutions. Mr. Molchanov stated that he believes that Ukraine may become a partner of new EU programmes in the digital government field (e.g. Digital Europe Programme) and he hopes that Ukraine can collaborate with other EU countries and other EU institutions.

The interviewee is confident that Ukraine will be soon be able to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation (document that provides more possibilities for collaboration) with the ISA2 and other EU programmes. For the Ukrainian government, the important aspect of collaboration is not the financial support but the expertise and the exchange of best practice that they can obtain. The expectation is to become a full partner for the ISA2 programme or in the scope of other digital government programmes such as the Digital Europe programme.

 

[1] Oleksii Vyskub, eGovernance is the key to reforms in Ukarine, a presentation by SAEGU.

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