The third Dialogue on Integrity: Leaders Discuss Competitions for Category A Civil Service Positions

Aspen Institute Kyiv continues to involve leaders in discussions about integrity. On January 31, Institute held “Competitions for vacant civil service positions of category “A”: ensuring transparency and integrity” dialogue.

The event took place within the Integrity and Governance project. The project supports by the National Endowment for Democracy grant, EU project EU 4 PAR, and the Reform Delivery Office of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

Politicians, high-level civil servants, representatives of non-governmental and international organizations, and the business community joined the discussion. The dialogue participants exchanged their views on the priority issues in the implementation of competitions senior civil service positions.

Among the issues discussed at the discussion:

  • Staff shortage of qualified candidates for the highest positions in the civil service. On average, the competition for a category “A” position is seven candidates for one job offer. That means the choice of talented officials is minimal.
  • Distrust of Ukrainians in the selection for senior positions in the civil service. In particular, 39% of respondents believe that it is necessary to have personal connections to enter the civil service.
  • Low salaries announced during the vacancy announcement (salary, not actual salary) do not motivate competent candidates to apply for competitions. And within the civil service, conditions have been created when an initially virtuous person must resist corruption provocations.
  • The competition procedure requires the candidate to show publicity before entering the civil service (broadcasting an interview on YouTube, submitting a family declaration, etc.). That makes candidates vulnerable to their current employer.
  • Uncertainty of the “integrity” concept and the ways to assess it.
  • There is no clear definition of which civil service model fits Ukraine’s realities the best.

During the discussion, participants suggested several possible solutions:

  • A reserve of professional candidates for the position should be formed, which would pass further competitions according to a simplified procedure. At the same time, these competitions would be open to new candidates.
  • The organization of government needs to be improved: the legislation should clearly define the job responsibilities of civil servants at various levels.
  • Specialists from outside the system have to update the civil service. A possible solution may be to delegate competitive selections to independent relevant organizations.
  • It would be worthwhile to create a higher corps of training for the civil service, the selection of candidates for which would be held on a competitive basis. At the same time, it would be simpler to hold the position in the future.
  • It is necessary to determine what model of civil service Ukraine is building and what it seeks to achieve in the long run.

Denis Poltavets, Director of Program Development at the Aspen Institute Kyiv, and Roman Kobets, Ph.D. of Hryhorii Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy, moderated the event.

The event was held within the framework of the Integrity and Governance project, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as with the support of the EU4PAR project and the Reform Delivery Office of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.