Participants of the Good Governance Program established the Project Office at the Lviv Regional State Administration

Daily economic challenges in the country require expertise and prompt decisions not only from central authorities, but also from the direct creators of decentralization on the ground: local governments, representatives of the expert and scientific community, business associations, the public sector.

Effective work on social and economic development of united territorial communities, implementation of anti-corruption initiatives and principles of good democratic governance in everyday governance practices – these are the priorities that the Good Governance Program, implemented by The Aspen Institute Kyiv with the support of Luminate and National Endowment for Democracy.

Within the framework of the program activities, a platform for dialogue between local and national leaders has been created to develop proposals for changing the state policy in the field of decentralization.

An example of how the achievements of the Good Governance Program participants are successfully implemented in practice is the creation of the Project Office (Project Management Coordination Center) at the Department of Economic Policy of the Lviv Regional State Administration.

The founders of the initiative – Taras Havunka, head of the analytical and advocacy center “Lviv Regulatory Hub”, and Taras Baranetsky, director of the Regional Development Agency of Lviv region, say that the main objectives of the Project Office are to improve regulatory and competitive policy of the united territorial community of Lviv region, launch of new online services based on open data for use by local governments, implementation of business support programs and regional development projects of Lviv region.

“The Program of The Aspen Institute Kyiv brought together in its seminars and consultations with stakeholders real professionals: representatives of powerful NGOs, line ministries, expert circles, with whom there was an opportunity not only to share best practices of good governance, but also to develop options for changing management approaches on the ground. While participating in the Program, the idea arose to form a team of experts in the field of project management and community initiatives and, with the support of local authorities, to create a Project Office that will help implement initiatives in completely different areas of activity,” said Taras Baranetsky.

The founders of the initiative note that projects within the platform will be selected without a clear definition of priority areas, but through a bilateral exchange of ideas between the public and local authorities: civic activists and experts in various fields generate projects and formulate clear proposals to the government.

According to the founders, such a platform will respond to government requests for interaction with the public, create new opportunities for experts, allow communication with stakeholders and involve all stakeholders (entrepreneurs, NGOs, officials) in creating change.

“At the final stage of decentralization reform, the newly created communities will acquire a new range of powers, so it is important that local governance is carried out at a professional level. Nowadays, there is an opinion in the society that local authorities “spray” funds or support only those spheres of activity that are more profitable for media effect. Our Department works on the principle of maximum involvement of representatives of the expert community in the development and adoption of management decisions. That is why the creation of the Project Office is a new opportunity to concentrate the resources we have and to develop those ideas that will have the highest efficiency,” said Stepan Kuybida, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Policy of the Lviv Regional State Administration.

The administration notes that  the Lviv region still needs a strategy to optimize the provision of social and administrative services, but decentralization is already significantly improving the quality of services. However, additional support and initiatives are needed in the following areas: medicine (secondary and tertiary level), education (support for basic educational institutions), economics (creation of industrial parks, scientific and technical laboratories, support for startups), housing and communal services (waste management system).

The Head of the Department adds that the Project Office will focus on external financing, however, some ideas and projects can be implemented with budget funds, including the regional budget.

“The establishing of the Project Office is very timely in the context of consolidating the new administrative-territorial structure, as the implementation of the powers that will be finally acquired by all territorial communities requires responsibility, professionalism and initiative of government officials. So far, we have received a request for training seminars on effective community property management. In the future, the Project Office will work as a platform for constant communication of Lviv region communities with stakeholders, representatives of donor organizations and entrepreneurs to financially and expertly strengthen initiatives, as well as forming a unified and independent environment of professionals from different fields,” said Taras Havunka.

“The method of consultation with the public and stakeholders developed by the participants and experts of the Good Governance Program is already being actively implemented in the daily practice of counseling at the local level. Analysis of stakeholders and their positions allows to make informed decisions and predict the impact of local policies on all stakeholders. Spreading a culture of dialogue, as part of the mission of The Aspen Institute in Kyiv, is of particular importance in the organization of local government,” said Olena Fomina, Good Governance Program Manager.

The Good Governance program is being developed with the support of a grant from Luminate and the National Endowment for Democracy.