Prospects for Development of E-Democracy and E-Governance Discussed in Lutsk

The EGAP Program, attitude of Ukrainians and Volyn Oblast residents to e-governance and e-democracy tools, reasons why Lutsk takes part in such projects, and the tasks planned for implementation in Volyn Oblast under the EGAP Program, were discussed by experts during the press conference titled “Use and development of electronic governance and electronic democracy tools at the regional level”. The event took place within the auspices  of the Electronic Governance for Government Accountability and Community Participation (EGAP) program.

Jordanka Tomkova, representing the country funding this project as an expert of the EGAP Swiss Cooperation Bureau, spoke about the EGAP Program and the anticipated results of its implementation in Ukraine.

“The project is intended to organize communication between the government and the community using information and communication technologies in this process. The project will be implemented in four oblasts of Ukraine: Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa, and Vinnytsia. The purpose of the EGAP Program is to provide citizens with better access to administrative services, help reduce corruption risks, and improve the public’s trust in government agencies using information and communication technologies,” said Jordanka Tomkova.

The international expert also explained that citizens interact with the government in Switzerland at local and regional levels. In Ukraine, it is important to take into account the personal and human factors. She believes that for this reason the electronic form allows the corruption component in the provision of administrative services to be reduced.

The reasons for Lutsk’s participation in such projects, as well as the role and vision of the city government in development of e-democracy and e-governance tools, were explained by Taras Yakovlev, first deputy of Lutsk Mayor.

“Projects such as Open City and the Unified Local Petitions System have been implemented in Lutsk for a long time ago. They enable the discussion of problems important for the community and reduction in social tension. I also believe that Lutsk has the best Administrative Services Center in Ukraine. Colleagues from other cities visit us to learn from our experience and share their own. Therefore, we expect the EGAP project to help organize better communication between the government and the community and increase the number of electronic services,” said Taras Yakovlev.

Mykhailo Nakhod, Executive Director of the Open Cities Association and head of the Center for Political Analysis and Business Consulting, spoke about the results of the opinion poll regarding the attitude of Ukrainians and Volyn Oblast residents to e-democracy and e-governance tools.

“Two surveys were conducted in the course of the EGAP project, the first one in February 2015 and the one in December 2015. Based on the results of the survey, 14% of adult Ukrainians understand the meaning of the term ‘electronic governance’, 79% have never heard the term ’electronic democracy’, and 41% partly understand the meaning of this term. Additionally, it was determined that 64% of adults across Ukraine and 56% in Volyn Oblast use the Internet personally at least from time to time. It was also found that 60% of respondents, regardless of experience with Internet use, trust the electronic form of cooperation with government agencies,” said Mykhailo Nakhod.

Pavlo Verzun, the Head of the Local Development Fund, Volyn Oblast Non-Governmental Organization, told those attended the press conference about the plans on measures for development of e-democracy tools in Volyn Oblast under the EGAP Program, their tasks, and anticipated results in the next 6 months.

“The purpose of the project is to increase community participation in, and influence on, policy-making by using new electronic governance and electronic democracy tools at regional level. The target groups of the project are local communities, representatives of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, employees of Administrative Services Centers, vulnerable social groups, IT companies, IT freelancers, and Mass Media,” said Petro Verzun.