Specific features of public involvement and digitalization of services when reforming public administration during the war

: pp. 12 - 23
Lviv Regional Institute for Public Administration of the National Academy for Public Administration

Formulation of the problem. Reforming of the public administration begun with Ukraine’s independence, starting with the collapse of the Soviet system, and up until now, when decentralization gradually forms an effective system of interaction between authorities at all levels. However, political and economic crises, pandemics and war force scientists and practitioners to look for survival mechanisms. These conditions paralyze the activities of state bodies, enterprises, businesses and the population, making cooperation both within the state and with the outside world impossible. Since the multi-year hybrid war turned into a full-scale invasion, the majority of the population lost the opportunity to have a peaceful and safe life, food, housing, jobs and even the right to participate in decision-making to ensure the transparency of the governance process, which unfortunately increases corruption and destroys democratic processes in the state.

However, military invasion became a significant impetus for even greater digitalization of services; in particular, the prospects for reducing bureaucratic procedures were opened, from daily routine services for people to simplification of business processes, such as the necessary assistance in relocation of enterprises from occupied territories or territories where active hostilities are taking place. Interaction between the state and the population through informing, surveying via Diya application, supporting startups for the post-war reconstruc- tion of the country, and helping the military in purchasing the necessary equipment are also of great value.

Analysis of recent research and publications. Social, economic, and environmental crisis provoked by Russia’s military aggression requires scientists to carry out modern research on reformation of public administration during the war, based on previous studies by both foreign and domestic scientists, in particular such as: V. Averianov, V. Bordeniuk, Boryslavska, H. Breban, K. Vashchenko, R. Voitovych, Zh. Vedel, I. Hrytsiak, A. Kovalenko, Yu. Kovbasiuk, R. Kolyshko, I. Lopushynskyi, A. Matviienko, S. Makhyna, A. Melnyk, N. Nyzhnyk, L. Smetanina, Yu. Surmin, V. Khalypov, L. Fedulova and others. Fundamental studies by these researchers need an update, since the war in Ukraine and the pandemic definitely have a huge impact on all processes not only within the borders of our state, but also in the world.

Determination of previously unresolved parts of the general problem. Paying due attention to the scientific studies of decentralization and reforming of public administration already conducted, many important problems regarding the very directions of reforming remain unsolved. A large number of scientific studies indicate the relevance of the selected study, but the role of public involvement in decision-making and digitalization of services during the war requires special attention, as it aims to maximize the involvement of society and simultaneous reduction of bureaucratic pressure in solving daily problems and meeting needs.

Presenting the main material. Reforming public administration is an important and necessary step for increasing the efficiency of public services in the process of decentralization, ensuring openness and transparency in the activities of state bodies, increasing trust in state institutions,  and reducing corruption. This can be achieved by harmonizing the process of electronic management and decentralization, reforming local self-government, personnel policy and the budgeting system, improving decision-making processes, their monitoring, evaluation and control, etc. However, involvement of the public in the process decision-making and development and implementation of digital technologies are no less important areas of reforming public administration during the wartime.

The tools for involving residents in decision-making processes have suffered significant restrictions: part one of Article 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On Martial Law” prohibits strikes,  mass gatherings and actions.  Accordingly, most local self-government bodies interpret this regulation as a direct ban on holding any meetings of residents, including the mechanisms of involvement in solving local issues. Although, during martial law, it is still possible to hold public hearings or general meetings of residents at the place of residence, by agreement with the local military administration.

Therefore, development and implementation of digital technologies is an important task, especially in times of war in Ukraine, as they can help ensure security and protection against cyber-attacks that target government structures and critical infrastructure. Ukraine stepped to the path of digitalization three years ago. Ukrainians got used to the fact that they can obtain all the most popular services via Diia application. In particular, these are: signing European documents with Diia. Signature-EU, which complies with the eIDAS regulation of the European Union; yeRobota; pensions, benefits and aids; family; licenses and permits; security, law and order; transport; land, construction, real estate; informational references and excerpts; environment; health; documents and citizenship; entrepreneurship

Conclusions. Involvement of the public in the decision-making process during wartime is an important component of effective crisis management. War is a complex situation that requires quick and effective solutions. Involvement of the public should ensure support and openness of administrative decisions made in the conditions of war. One of key aspects of involving the public in the decision-making process in the conditions of war is informing the public on the situation at the front, and on the decisions made in social, economic and political spheres. This can be done via mass media, public meetings, press conferences, petitions to the President, etc.

As for the digitalization of services, namely effective interaction of state institutions in provision of services to the population (to all the citizens of the country, including internally and temporarily displaced persons due to military aggression, individual entrepreneurs and legal entities), we can admit a significant success. Via Diia application people can quickly and effectively obtain legal, social, economic and security services, as well as participate in surveys, thereby participating in the development of democratic Ukraine on the way to Euro- Atlantic integration.

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