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Despite numerous structural obstacles, the government’s goal of implementing electronic government services will help Ukraine integrate with the European Union.

That’s what panelists concluded during the discussion “Digital Future and Electronic Democracy” at the KyivPost’s Tiger Conference on Dec. 10. Currently, the Ukrainian government aims to provide state services through a centralized mobile application that any citizen can use.

E-democracy plays a fundamental role in the fight against corruption, but Ukrainians must trust their government for it to work, said moderator Kateryna Onyiliowoglu, who works as Open Data Team Lead for the USAID / Ukaid project Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services/ TAPAS.

So far, e-democracy is still a dream. But the government has big plans.

Under this system, “the government has to become a simple service,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, during the discussion.

On Dec. 11, his ministry will launch a beta version of Diia, an online service aimed at simplifying the process of getting a driver’s license or renewing one’s ID card. It will be tested with 20,000 applicants.

This e-portal will unify citizens’ data, allowing them to see all their information in one place and also to understand what information the government holds. The service will be officially launched in February 2020.

The ministry has already reached out to U.S. tech giants Amazon and Apple for help, said Fedorov. As more people use the service, this will increase pressure on the government for further reforms, he added.

Fedorov also announced the creation of a modern state IT company to develop this portal, with competitive salaries to attract Ukrainian already working in the IT field to work for the government. This new government body is due to be fully operational in January 2020.

Courses will also be launched to help elderly people and the rural population get acquainted with the new digitalized state registers. Fedorov has gone to great lengths to reach these populations, even shooting a TV series with Ukrainian stars to attract an older audience.

Fedorov also believes IT companies must work hand-in-hand with every ministry. The key obstacle to this is “no political will, but a lack of competence,” he said.

Limited competence with technology is a “shared feature among mid-level government bodies,” said Farid Safarov, director-general of the Directorate for Digital Infrastructure on Transport. This problem is located in the mindset of mid-level government officials, he added.

Digitalization is not the top priority of the state’s mid-level bodies, according to him. “This is the last thing they want,” Safarov said.

According to Safarov, the electronic state tender portal ProZorro, launched back in 2015, is a key factor for creating a new mindset. Through online transparency, the portal gives Ukraine a “fair procurement procedure,” where contractors and involved parties can check each other’s backgrounds to ensure they are working with honest partners.

ProZorro also helps spot red flags for corruption, such as overpayment. Still, for it to work, Safarov said, all paperwork — including contracts — must be added to the database on a daily basis.

Digitalization also means creating a centralized system for data storage that can simplify citizens’ daily lives. Speaking for the infrastructure ministry, where his department is located, Safarov said Ukraine must simplify ticketing for every means of public transportation. This must start with trains, where customers should be able to validate their tickets with one person when boarding the train.

This would “improve the interaction between citizens and their government,” Safarov said.

Florian Marcus, an analyst at the E-Stonia Briefing Center, agreed. He stressed that, in Estonia, 96% of government services are digitalized.

Government bodies must be able to easily exchange information, and this requires both political will and trust between the government and citizens, he said. This trust must be built into the system.

In Estonia, he went on, citizens can see when the government checks their data. When citizens and the government can check one another in a transparent process, it creates what he calls a “balance of privacy.”

This is both a key steps toward trust between citizens and government and also toward integration with the EU, Marcus said.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Alexander Query

Quelle/Source: Kyiv Post, 10.12.2019

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