During the four days, the seminar participants from 8 countries who work for government agencies, non-governmental organizations and think tanks had the opportunity to learn more about public sector reforms in Ukraine from experts who were directly involved in the development and implementation of innovative solutions after the Revolution of Dignity. The seminar focused on areas such as health, defense, public procurement system, local administration, participatory budgeting and electronic petitions.
Despite the fact that the introduction of new technologies in the field of public administration is not a purely Ukrainian phenomenon and is equally gaining importance in all countries of the Eastern Partnership, it has several particular features in Ukraine: 1) strong positive dynamic of development and growing community support caused by the Euromaidan; 2) the key role of grass-roots initiatives and bottom up oriented civil society, which helped to push for the most successful reforms (health, military or government procurement); 3) the strong impact of foreign policy due to the constant military threat from Russia, as well as the financial pressure of international creditors, which make their financial support conditional on the success of institutional reforms in Ukraine.
Over the past 5 years, Ukraine has managed to achieve substantial breakthroughs by reforming its state institutions and some of these cases can serve as examples for the rest of the region. Nevertheless, one should not overstate the achievements of Ukrainian reforms. The country’s corruption remains on a high level, and the old guard in the government is not always willing to adopt new policies.
Some of the experts such as Alexander Starodubtsev (the initiator of the creation of the public procurement system ProZorro) emphasize the urgent need for deep changes in governance culture, which has barely changed since Soviet times.
By conducting an event of this scale, the organizers did not aim to convince other countries’ representatives of adopting the same policies. Quite the contrary - the seminar was designed to stimulate an intensive open exchange on an equal footing among different professionals. Therefore, the program was not limited to the reports of Ukrainian experts. A very important part of the event was the presentation of innovative projects such as the empowerment of grassroots youth democracy in Georgia, Russia and Moldova. Moreover, during another discussion, representatives of all 8 countries who participated in the seminar presented a short overview of the main trends and public administration innovations in their countries.