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Advances in institutional transparency in Ukraine

January 27, 2016

Although political conflict affects private investors’ confidence in working in Ukraine, the country can still address a number of public policies and institutional practices to make itself more attractive to investors. 

panel discussionOne very visible way of increasing investment appeal in Ukraine is for the government to continue to enhance its transparency through the proactive collection, organizing and sharing of official data. Open data measures increase public confidence in the country’s institutions, level the playing field for investors who are considering capital investments and promote fair competition for partnerships with the public sector. 

The reformist agenda pursued by Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure in recent years, in which open data initiatives have played a central role, offers a sound precedent for Ukrainian institutions seeking to build the trust of investors and the population at large. 

“The Ministry has improved its reputation by working hard to be at the forefront of innovative reforms,” said Troy Etulain, director of FHI 360’s mSTAR project. In spring 2015, while serving as a volunteer advisor to the Minister, Etulain drafted the Ministry’s open data strategy. 

Lessons learned about open data

FHI 360 has worked with the Ministry to facilitate partnerships in Ukraine through the Public–Private Partnerships Development Program in Ukraine (P3DP), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. This experience yields some important lessons about developing and implementing public-sector open data plans in Ukraine, with potential applications elsewhere, including:

  • Open data is more than an application of technology: It is an expression of values about how a government should work. It is about ownership of public information and a responsibility to act proactively and responsibly to insights provided by analysis of data.
  • Open data activity is never purely a domestic enterprise. Because we live in a world of global media, openness affects the confidence of potential international investors. 
  • International initiatives such as Open Corporates are useful because of the effects that peer pressure — real or perceived — can have on local decision making.
  • Open data helps people appreciate the realistic capacities of their governments within the scope of available resources. It has the potential to instill a sense of joint ownership of problems and solutions grounded in an understanding of what resources are available.
  • Open data requires the active involvement of outside experts, including journalists, to analyze the data. 
  • Open data activities require the joint efforts of governments, civil society and media — all of which offer resources to improve governance and promote a shared responsibility to serve the public interest. Collaboration among these entities represents a critical type of public–private partnership. 

To continue the conversation, FHI 360 convened an event in July 2015 featuring the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and the open data advisor to the Ukrainian Council of Ministers to discuss implications for investment, technology, transparency and a business-friendly environment in Ukraine. Also discussed were additional opportunities for improving e-governance, infrastructure, citizen information and participation in decision making. 

“FHI 360 and the rest of the international community must continue their support for deepening the implementation and broadening the scope of open data policies in Ukraine,” said Etulain. “The interests and well-being of the Ukrainian people often become an afterthought in discussions on policy, infrastructure and data. For development work to truly have a positive, meaningful impact on their lives, it is vital that we focus on their interests as we strive toward innovative open data solutions.”

Photo caption: A panel discussion on the implications for investment, technology and transparency in Ukraine was part of an event convened by FHI 360 in July 2015. Shown left to right: Troy Etulain, Director, Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR); Denis Gursky, Open Data Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ukraine; Volodymyr Omelyan, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Ukraine.

Photo credit: Allison Bozniak/FHI 360