On March 18, 2015, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine established a central body of executive power with a special status—the National Agency on Corruption Prevention. The main expectation was that the NACP would develop and implement the national anti-corruption policy. Only a year later, on March 30, 2016, the Agency was registered as a legal entity. And the official launch of his work took place on August 15, 2016, basically when the e-declarations in Ukraine started.
In January 2020, the Agency received its first sole leader, Oleksandr Novikov. And in October, the Constitutional Court made one decision that managed to paralyze the entire agency.
It doesn’t matter which of these days can be considered the agency’s true birthday. What does matter is the things we need to think about on each of these dates—where the NACP can go from here to fulfill its mission as best it can.
Years of various work with the NACP, successful and not really, have shown that the institutional capacity of this agency, its independence and effectiveness, are extremely important for the entire anti-corruption system.
The agency’s mandate includes many issues: from checking e-declarations and reports of political parties to protecting whistleblowers and coordinating the implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy, from identifying corruption risks and approving anti-corruption programs to checking compliance with conflict of interest legislation and registry administration.
Last year, Transparency International Ukraine conducted a large study of capacity, management and interaction of agencies that make up Ukraine’s anti-corruption infrastructure. Its goal was to assess the strengths and weaknesses of anti-corruption institutions, identify room for improvement, and provide a roadmap for change.
In the findings, the NACP scored 3.3 points out of 5 possible. TI Ukraine offered recommendations to improve the agency’s performance and institutional capacity.
The previous management of the Agency, and the whole agency in general, unfortunately, were characterized by dependence, bias and inefficiency. That is why NACP 2.0 must work with double enthusiasm on proper verification of e-declarations, introduction of automated distribution of all inspections, assessment of corruption risks within the agency, etc.
A separate section of the study concerns integrity. The Agency must adopt a new comprehensive Code of Ethical Conduct for its staff, engage external facilitators in its development, and impose sanctions for violations of this Code.
TI Ukraine also insists that the Agency should avoid appointing people whose integrity comes into question.
The recommendations of the research also include introducing a system of case management and performance review of the agency and its staff, publication of agency documents at the draft and final stages, holding public consultations before their passage.
All these recommendations should strengthen the NACP, give it a solid foundation, make it more independent and more resilient in the situation of total pressure and excessive workload.
Over the past year, TI Ukraine has been a big supporter of some of the Agency’s work, such as the development of the Anti-Corruption Strategy or assistance to public officials with their e-declarations. The NACP leadership expressed sincere willingness to change their anti-corruption strategies and principles structurally.
An external audit of the National Agency is scheduled for early 2022 under the Law “On Corruption Prevention.” But a lot remains to be done for the agency to pass with flying colors.