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?
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?