On December 27, 2019, Yanchuk A.V. was dismissed by the order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine from the post of ARMA head. That is, for more than 2 years, the Asset Recovery and Management Agency has been without a permanent head.

Why is the question of having a full-fledged manager so important? Because the acting head does not have sufficient independence to act regardless of the interests of the subject of appointment — the Cabinet of Ministers. After all, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine can dismiss such a head at any time. And it will be legal.

Only on September 29, the very Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine finally approved the composition of the selection commission and thus triggered the selection process.

On October 5, the first of about 20 meetings of the selection commission (as of today) was held. However, the expected progress both in terms of competition of applicants and in terms of independence of the process is not yet observed.

So, what’s wrong with the competition?

The key problem of this competition is the extremely small number of participants — according to the results of submission of documents, only 12 candidates applied for the selection of the head of the National Agency. For comparison, 32 people submitted documents for the position of the NACP head, and there were 169 applications in the SAPO competition! 

In our opinion, this was directly influenced by the fact that the commission published the procedure for holding the competition and the rules of its work much later than the start of the submission of documents, which affected the total number of applicants. A decent and virtuous professional with managerial and international experience in the legal field usually wants to understand at least the selection and evaluation criteria before spending time collecting a large pile of documents for participation in the competition.

Moreover, the trust of potential candidates was undermined not only by the lack of a competition procedure and rules for the work of the selection commission at the stage of submission of documents, but also by the blurring of criteria for evaluating integrity, unwillingness to consider the best experience of similar commissions, and the fact that the commission’s mistakes when selecting the BES head were ignored.

Today we can confidently say that there are at least 4 systemic and related issues in the competition for the selection of the ARMA head: 

1. Lack of a sufficient number of virtuous potential candidates for the head of the National Agency. 

It was encouraging worthy and virtuous candidates to participate in the competition that should have been one of the most important tasks of the selection commission. However, really worthy candidates always appreciate transparency and integrity of the competition rules. Therefore, under the current circumstances of the competition and certain actions of the commission, among the candidates as of today, we can see persons who, according to media reports, were involved in corruption scandals and the practical absence of independent applicants to whom, there are no questions about integrity.

2. Members of the commission openly ignore the issue of studying the personal integrity of candidates, which is extremely dangerous. 

The commission’s study of the integrity of candidates in similar competitions for senior positions in the state authorities of Ukraine has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to “discard” applicants with a tarnished reputation, professionally unethical, or politically engaged.

The recent competition for the selection of the BES head has shown a vivid and negative example of what ignoring the issues of integrity and ethics of candidates leads to. During this competition, the media and civil society organizations noted the presence of “dark spots” in the biography and acute questions to the finalists of the BES competition, but the commission did not consider them.

The commission for the selection of the ARMA head falls into the same trap. After refusing to evaluate integrity and deliberately blurring the subject of interviews, an outsider may have an idea of the formality of the competition itself.

3. Test questions for general knowledge and knowledge of special legislation are too easy.

Due to its being easy, the test task did not allow to discard candidates who could not demonstrate a significant level of knowledge of domestic and foreign legislation on recovery, search, and asset management. Answers to questions about the judicial practice on the transfer of seized property to the management of the ARMA, gaps in legislation, the principles of the activities of foreign analogues, on the model of which the ARMA was built, should demonstrate a profound understanding by the potential head of the basics of the National Agency’s work. Unfortunately, none of this can be seen in the tests.

4. The 30 minutes provided for evaluating candidates (even with the theoretical possibility of extending the time) is not enough.

This time will only allow to formally assess the moral and business qualities, professional knowledge, and health status of candidates. An objective assessment of all these qualities is physically impossible in half an hour, especially given the numerous questions about integrity, political neutrality, and professional ethics to almost all potential candidates for the head of the ARMA.

How to fix these errors?

To achieve the desired result, it is necessary to return the competition to the stage of submission of documents by candidates, but first, it is necessary to publish the procedure for conducting the competition and transparent criteria for evaluating candidates before accepting documents. Then everyone, including the candidates who have already applied, can pass a full-fledged competitive selection process.

The ARMA really needs a new Head, but it is equally important that the competition is held as transparently as possible, and in the end the institution is headed by an independent and professional leader.

The National Agency not only has the most essential service role in the system of anti-corruption bodies. Its effective work is the government’s commitment to Ukrainian society and international partners. 

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The ARMA really needs a new Head, but it is equally important that the competition is held as transparently as possible, and in the end the institution is headed by an independent and professional leader.

Source: blog.liga.net