Electronic democracy is the fundamental element of a modern developed society, as it enables each citizen to take part in the formation and implementation of government policy and influence the decision-making of government agencies by using information technologies for effective “Citizen to State” communication. E-democracy is also important to ensure the transparency and accountability of government agencies to citizens. The latest survey by Kyiv Sociology Institute conducted in late 2015 in the pilot oblasts of the Program shows that the level of awareness, not to say the use of e-democracy tools, remains very low. In particular, only 21% of respondents in 4 pilot regions believe they understand the term “e-democracy”. Sometimes, the citizens sending an application to the government via Internet or initiating an e-petition do not realize that these are e-democracy tools.
In particular, one of the most successful examples of e-democracy established in the course of EGAP Program is the local petitions system www.e-dem.in.ua, joined by over 50 Ukrainian communities within the first year of its operation. E-petitions are the most accessible, popular, and effective tool to draw the government’s attention to issues important for the community. Besides, this tool ensures active engagement of citizens in the decision-making and local policy making process.
In the course of the E-Democracy component, the EGAP Program has several important tasks. First, it is to increase community involvement and influence on the formation of policy due to the use of new e-governance mechanisms at national and regional levels. This will be achieved by creating and using e-democracy tools and platforms, engaging regional non-governmental organizations in monitoring the operation of government agencies, and mandatory discussion of regulations via e-platforms prior to their adoption.
The second task is to use the awareness campaign and the national platform to be established to implement the knowledge exchange system and increase public awareness of electronic governance and electronic democracy tools. Another important task is implementing pilot initiatives in e-democracy to increase the citizens’ involvement at local and regional levels. One of the ways to achieve this goal is to establish the first contest of e-democracy IT projects in Ukraine, the EGAP CHALLENGE, intended to produce new tools to help citizens receive new high-quality services, to interact with the government efficiently and influence it directly, and help the government achieve a new level of transparency and efficiency. In particular, this includes mobile applications and other technologies that will provide citizens with technical capabilities to use e-democracy tools.
The purpose of EGAP Challenge is implementing new electronic democracy tools to help citizens receive new high quality services, interact with the government effectively and have a direct impact on it, as well as help the government reach a new level of transparency and efficiency.
EGAP Challenge is a joint initiative of the State Agency on Electronic Governance and the Eastern Europe Foundation (hereinafter – the organizers) under the EGAP Program (e-Government for Accountability and Participation) funded by the Swiss Confederation.
EGAP Challenge is intended for implementation over 3 years (2016-2018) and will take place in four pilot oblasts: Vinnytsia, Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, and Odesa Oblasts.