“My dream job is a job without Korchak”, “My dream is Ukraine without the likes of Korchak!” Do you think these are the new election slogans? No, they are not. This is the way former NACP employees were roasting the Head of the Agency on Facebook. Korchak herself answered that she was doing due diligence and deleted negative comments.
Was it a unique occasion when a heated argument occurred among the NACP members? No, it was not. The society witnessed their public squabbles, polar views, and calls to “abstain from premature actions ”, as well as failed attempts to introduce quarterly rotation of the Agency Chair, no quorum during the meetings, inhouse scapegoating for failed votings, derailing and obstructing the process.
The obvious answer to the question “whether such squabbles increased the performance’’ is a no. The issues with collegiality had surfaced well before the NACP was launched. Back then everybody hoped the organization would “grow out of it” and the issues would be promptly overcome. It became evident with time that the leadership model was inherently faulty.
For more than two years the Agency even was short of five members. In fact, the representative of TI Ukraine left the selection panel. The government seemed to be eager to gain control over the National Agency. As a result, the government ignored the issue with the appointment of the NACP members. It is regrettable that neither the Head of the Agency nor the Government scrutinized the situation and initiated the replacement of the civil society representative.
2018 finally saw the Agency in its full composition. However, it built no additional trust in this institution. Unfortunately, new members had no expertise in administration and fighting corruption at the national level. It became evident when the Accounting Chamber audit called for greater internal control and administrative discipline inside the NACP. In particular, it’s highlighted in their official biographies published in 2018 NACP report.
What makes the NACP “tick”?
Two years ago, civil society for the first time started continuously and systematically demanding from the Agency to adopt a single leadership style. Ruslan Riaboshapka, the Deputy Head of The Office of the President of Ukraine, recently supported such view during his announcement of the legislative proposal to reboot the NACP.
The former Agency member has stated that the current NACP leadership is ineffective and politically affiliated. Evidently, one of the reasons behind that is the Agency’s collegiate model. If anything it undermined the Agency where the decision-making process is based on consensus.
For instance, after the dismissal of two members, their departments were practically left without leadership. Therefore the other remaining senior officials assumed responsibility for more than one vector of activities at the same time. It resulted in prompting the scattered and sporadic response. The model enshrined in the law corresponds to the one member, one vector system, when one person is continuously managing one activity. Instead, we observe the cabinet shuffle when one group is getting hired, the other is fired and the rest remain where they are.
Efficient division of responsibilities based on the 5 members 5 vectors approach was only adopted in the winter of 2018. The Government dragging its feet with making up of the Agency’s leadership staff gave grounds to speculations that it is not interested in the NACP independence.
In practice, the number of board members predetermined by the law turned out to be of little importance. Its makeup, approach to its composition and political quotas played more of a crucial role. In Ukraine, honest professionals with required hands-on experience are already few and far between. And those who are keen to work for the NACP are even fewer.
Instead, the collegiality was a breeding ground for several conflicts, significantly slowed down the decision-making, even there, where the rapidity is an integral part of the process. It allowed voting not in favor of the decision, but against the other members.
For instance, to commence the review of a specific declaration, it is necessary to hold a full board meeting and a vote. The same procedure is required to finalize the review. Nataliia Korchak would sometimes complain that the board meetings were not held due to its members being on sick leave or vacation.
Besides, collegiality resulted in the erosion of responsibility and poor performance. Delamination of responsibilities between and among the members, the Head, the ordinary experts, the administrative officer and the heads of departments have been ambiguous. As a result, everybody is to blame and nobody is to blame.
How should the situation be handled?
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should adopt the legislative proposal to reboot the NACP. New members should be elected to the current selection panel.
Among those in position to elect the new Head of the NACP are experts put forward by the international organizations; clear- cut criteria and transparency are an integral part of the election procedure.
One-person Head of the NACP should have full authority to organize the Agency’s activities with strict subordination, defined responsibilities for employees and heads of departments. He or she should have the authority to prioritize and relocate the Agency’s resources accordingly. First and foremost, he or she should be responsible for the full spectrum of activities. Only then the NACP Head will achieve maximum involvement to further effective cross-department cooperation, therefore, achieving high-performance results for the Agency as a whole.
The collegiality was a breeding ground for several conflicts, significantly slowed down the decision-making, even there, where the rapidity is an integral part of the process. It allowed voting not in favor of the decision, but against the other members.