Filed under: Governance Social inclusion

Citizens lined up to for administrative services in a municipal office, Ukraine

At the municipal office, Ukraine

I keep thinking about it, since we are now taking stock of existing practices of how to engage citizens in overseeing the delivery of administrative services in Ukraine (and worldwide).

Just for reference – administrative services in Ukraine refers to public services arising from a citizen request for various allowances, certificates, licenses and documents. (According to Ukrainian law, a municipality can provide from 60 to 300 administrative services to its citizens).

The stocktaking exercise is still the work in progress, but it does not come easy. Some challenges we faced on the way:

  • We found stories about local administrations trying to collect citizen feedback about the quality of services they provide to people – for the most part, it was the municipalities that created Centres for Administrative Service Provision (one-stop-shops) to comply with the requirements of the recently adopted Law “On Administrative Services” (2012). According to reforms now in progress, by end of 2014 about 650 such centres must be created. Today, official statistics say there are 110 new centres, but as per expert estimations, only 12 to 15 of them are really working.

The most typical way to collect citizen opinions is through a customer satisfaction survey, which is mandatory for those municipalities that introduced a quality management system for administrative service provision in accordance with ISO 9001:2008.

There are also some innovative approaches, such as the authorities of one Ukrainian city who are collecting immediate feedback on citizen satisfaction: When leaving the one stop shop after interaction with officials, a citizen can check one of two boxes: “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.” Simple math helps show the real picture. The percentage of collected feedback is much higher, since citizens are not forced to fill in lengthy questionnaires.

  • We found stories about NGOs trying to have a dialogue with administrative bodies about the issue of quality of service delivery. Our partner Samopomich (a civil society organization), tried to engage citizens in L’viv municipality with mystery shopping for public services. Reports collected by citizens were shared through the NGO to respective decision-making departments in the municipalities.
  • Or, for example, the Centre for Administrative Service Provision in Kharkiv introduced a questionnaire about customer satisfaction on its official web-site, and also arranged for representatives from civil society organizations to sit in the service Centres, observe and provide feedback on how to improve the quality of services.

For a big country like Ukraine with 454 cities, these are just fragmentary attempts to get the public to help monitor administrative services.

Where is the demand from citizens to monitor administrative services?

There are a few initiatives in Ukraine to monitor road conditions, railway transportation service, local housing and municipal environmental problems in cities and a few others.

Don’t citizens want to monitor administrative services? Maybe they don’t believe that their opinion will help to change the situation for the better?

A recent article (in Ukrainian) from Korrespondent magazine  says that the complexity of procedures and lengthy terms, lack of necessary information about the process, inconvenient office hours of administrative bodies and many other problems resulted in the low level of citizen satisfaction with the quality of public services (and one of the lowest rankings among European countries).

Within our project, we want citizens to get interested and motivated to monitor the quality of administrative services. We want to help citizens establish effective feedback loops with local authorities. We want them to believe that their voice matters.

We have several plans for capacity development activities, public awareness campaigns, consultations with the public, and focus groups. But are there any other tips on getting citizens to want to monitor administrative services?

  • Millie

    re-reading your post again (:-) this recent publication comes to mind by GovLoop (innovating at the point of citizen engagement), have a look specifically at ‘Should Do Moments- where citizens arent required but it behooves them to participate’

    • Olena

      And thanks again, Millie! This publication is already my home reading.
      Wll pay attention to the moments recommended by you, thanks!!!

  • Alberto Cottica

    Who are you trying to engage, exactly? Not sure how much my experience is relevant to this, but I am quite familiar with something structurally similar: open data and transparency policies in Europe. This space is indeed monitored bottom-up, and with a passion: but of course only a tiny minority of people engage in the monitoring. This is ok, because what makes the monitoring effective is not the share of people who do it, but their absolute number. The Spaghetti Open Data mailing list is by far the largest discussion space on open data in the Italian language: it has a little more than 600 subscribers now, and yet almost every open data policy maker in the country tries to engage us. Also, we have been providing “test drives” of open data portals, random inspection of datasets etc. I would say we began to be a recognized voice in the policy space when there were about 250 subscribers in the mailing list.

    This is tiny. Italy has 60 million inhabitants! And yet, it is enough. And it is not contrived – we do it because this is what we care about. But good luck trying to push uninterested people to do unpaid monitoring of public services with the argument – “hey, that’s your taxpayer money we are talking about.” In my experience that never works: it seems to me you want smart swarm–type monitoring, and for that you have to find the group of people that WANT to do this stuff, and enable them. No matter how small (initially) or marginal that group are; but the passion must be there.

    • Olena

      Many thanks, Alberto, for your excellent feedback! I do share this opinion with you that it is always better to find the group of people that want to monitor, and support them. Interested to find out more about your Spaghetti Open Data mailing list. Congratulations on your efforts! “Find those who care about it” – the best tip ever. Olena