It appears that Ukrainians are already a little tired of promises to fight corruption. But were these only promises?
After the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine took a big step towards reducing corruption by launching an anti-corruption reform. For this purpose, the relevant anti-corruption bodies were created at various times over the course of six years. Now, each of them is at a different level and stage of development, but each demonstrates results that should be considered.
Last year, TI Ukraine analyzed the capacity and effectiveness of all anti-corruption bodies, and this year we have updated this study on the activity of the NACP. What changes have we found this year?
NACP. Version 2.0
Years of various work with the NACP, successful and not really, have shown that the institutional capacity of this body, its independence and effectiveness, are crucial for the entire anti-corruption system.
The Rubicon that divided the NACP’s activity into before and after was its reboot. Starting from 2020, not only the approaches to work and the management structure of the institution have changed, but also the desire for further changes for the better has been declared.
A big blow for both the NACP and the entire anti-corruption community was the infamous decision of the Constitutional Court in October 2020, which deprived the National Agency of a significant part of its powers. Moreover, then, the Constitutional Court abolished criminal liability for deliberately false declaration and deliberate failure to submit a declaration.
The main and fairly general expectation from the Agency is that the NACP should form and implement the state anti-corruption policy.
The Agency’s mandate includes many matters: 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, etc.
What does the NACP do better, and what is considered “growth points”?
To objectively assess the activity of the National Agency, we have conducted a study of the capacity, independence, and interaction of the body in 2020 and formed a comprehensive institutional and operational assessment of the NACP.
Last year, the NACP received an overall score — 3.3, 1 being the lowest score and 5 — the highest. In 2020, TI Ukraine provided the National Agency with 34 recommendations to improve this indicator: 5 of them were priority and 29 were medium- and long-term recommendations.
In the year following the presentation of the first study, none of the priority recommendations were fully implemented. The NACP managed to partially implement 4 priority recommendations out of 5, and the latter is still waiting to be implemented.
Among the other 29 non-priority recommendations, 7 were fully implemented (24%), 14 (48%) were partially implemented, and 8 (28%) remained unfulfilled.
Thus, the updated overall score of NACP’s capacity, management, and interaction as of September 20, 2021, amounts to 3.6 points, which is better than last year’s figure by 0.3. It can be noted that a year later, the NACP reached the level of the NABU in 2020, which also had 3.6 points as of October 2020. However, it is obvious that this year, the NABU has also improved its indicator, the specific updated value of which has not yet been set.
According to the results of the analysis, among the priority recommendations the same ones remain that we provided based on the results of the last year’s Report:
- to complete transparent and open competitions for vacant positions.
- to complete a case management system and a system for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the agency and its employees;
- to harmonize tasks for the internal control department with the legislation;
- to conduct a proper assessment of corruption risks in the NACP and review the body’s anti-corruption program engaging the public;
- to publish drafts and approved documents on the website; hold open public consultations before their approval.
The NACP leadership expressed sincere willingness to structurally change their approaches to corruption prevention, as well as to the principles of their work in this direction.
It is sad because the Agency, unfortunately, does not listen to some recommendations, and the problems do not disappear.
TI Ukraine ardently supported some activity of the Agency, such as development of the Anti-Corruption Strategy or assistance to officials in filling out declarations.
However, at the same time, in our opinion, there were also negative initiatives on the part of the Agency. For example, the change of declaration verification processes or the implementation format of lifestyle monitoring of declarants that we reasonably criticized are worth mentioning.
Meanwhile, the Agency’s first performance audit since its reboot is looming on the horizon. The Cabinet of Ministers has recently appointed three international experts-auditors of the NACP, who will conduct an external independent assessment of the effectiveness of the body’s activity. By the way, one of them, Diana Kurpniece, is former executive director of Transparency International Latvia.
The NACP management has a little time left to review and implement the recommendations addressed to the Agency, as well as consider the recommendations made by experts in a recently published Alternative Report to assess the effectiveness of implementing the national anti-corruption policy.
We hope that the NACP will be able to better meet the expectations of its activity and find opportunities to solve the problems and challenges indicated in public research. As a result, this will have a positive impact on the capacity and effectiveness of the body that we all root for.