The development of electronic public services is the most significant shift in the Ukrainian public sector in recent years. By the end of 2018, 117 services were already available in Ukraine via the online government portal. Why do I place particular emphasis on these processes? First of all, because we are not making up for lost time here, but rather moving in the same rhythm as Europe. Over the border, the concept of developing electronic services between 2016 to 2020 implies projects that are very similar to ours. But why is this so important? Well, let’s see.
The most obvious reason is the elimination of bureaucracy and corruption. Issues are resolved quickly, and the exclusion of the human factor removes the possibility of bribery. Next comes the release of civil servant resources – specialists will be able to engage in more useful and efficient work, and those looking for dishonest earnings will simply be pushed out. Accordingly, the smaller the army of officials, the more opportunity to spend the budget on those programs really necessary. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
At a deeper level, such processes change the public perception of the state. What was talked about so long ago, about the state as a service, is now being implemented. And it will not be easy to rewind this process, because people will get used to receiving exactly what they need, without having to bow to officials or stand in derogatory queues.
This is understood in Europe and such processes with financing and expertise are therefore actively supported. Moreover, in the European Union, only the first steps in the development of e-government services are described in detail in the Strategy; further actions are discussed together with the public and business alike. This makes it possible to further develop democratic processes and create exactly what people need.
We also have similar examples, for example, the OpenDataBot bot project used in the search for train tickets via RailwayBot. In fact, this is a good example of how a business creates a necessary service for society, and at the same time helps to fight dealers and optimise the system. I hope that this process of project initiation by business and public associations will only intensify. But it is already clear that electronic services are becoming increasingly popular among the population.
Speaking about the relationship between business and the development of electronic public services, one cannot but recall the experience of Estonia, where the issue of digitalisation of the government was turned into a national brand, making it possible to communicate investment attractiveness as a state open to innovations. This once again underlines the complexity of such changes, where the overflow effect works following the push and pull of a single action. In fact, the country was able to develop a new identity apart from the post-Soviet territory, attracting funds and business. Of course, Ukraine should not copy this approach blindly – we have our own specifics, but it should be understood that the development of digital tools is followed by other possibilities.
Of course, such a reform must also be carried out critically, and I do not advise you to forget and/or rush everything into electronic public services. On the contrary, I believe that public attention to this issue is an opportunity for realistic assessment of the process, and includes a search for vulnerabilities and their improvement. In addition, the structures that create electronic tools require attention, because democracy works only with a well-functioning system of checks and balances. What we are getting involved in today however is the abandonment of ossified systems, which have tried long and hard to save themselves by changing their appearance and name. Now there is a chance to create new, more flexible, necessary, and convenient structures. That is the task of society. And these changes are much more extensive than overcoming corruption.