2.1. Civil Service Competitions2.1.1. Unified Portal of Civil Service Vacant Positions
The established requirements for the proper publication of all civil service vacancies are met at a high level. All announcements together with information about the competition are published on the Unified Portal of Civil Service Vacant Positions (career.gov.ua). It allows real-time tracking of the vacancies available in all public bodies. It provides an opportunity to submit electronic format documents for participation in the competition. The portal also allows you to go through individual stages of the competition (e.g., tests). All this together contributes to the transparency and openness of competitions.
Despite sufficient technical facilities for applying documents through the Unified portal, state bodies carry out consideration and approval of these documents in different terms. Some public bodies confirm the package of documents in a few days, but others can do it in a week. This situation negatively affects the equality of participants in the competition, because in a case when mistakes happen, candidates have different terms at their disposal to eliminate them.
The NACS also creates conditions for improving the use of portal capabilities. For its part, in 2018, to reduce the number of formal refusals to accept documents, the NACS issued a practical guide on mistakes typically made in submitting documents of candidates for vacant “A” category civil service positions. Training in the use of the portal was conducted twice in 2021.
Additionally, the announcements are published on the website of a state body where the competition was announced, and on other job search websites (e.g., work.ua, robota.ua, jobs.ua, olx.ua).
The published announcement of the competition shall specify all the necessary conditions, including the job responsibilities of a candidate; terms of remuneration; requirements for the professional competence of a candidate; a rigorous list of documents required for participation in the competition, and the deadline for their submission. The experts are assured that despite a clear list of conditions for entering the civil service, there are cases when a person may be faced with functional responsibilities for which she/he is not ready. For example, pay conditions may be different and more responsibilities may be imposed. This may cause soon the dismissal of the civil servants in prospect.2.1.2. Peculiarities of conduction of competitions for civil service positions
Conducting competitions for the civil service in Ukraine is characterized by certain features that allow both to simplify access to the civil service, to unify the procedures for conducting the competition, and in some cases to negatively affect the competition.
The open competition procedure has been changed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Conduction of competitions has been temporarily terminated by the corresponding law. For the period of quarantine instead of general competitions, for almost a year-long, a special selection procedure was used, specifically, the conclusion of fixed-term contracts. They were concluded based on the interviewing results, without defining, at the level of either law or by-laws, interviewing criteria. Almost 20,000 people (approximately 10% of the total number of civil servants) were admitted to the civil service without competitive selection).
Although the persons, with whom the contracts are concluded, go through an open competition, the equality of all participants is unlikely to be ensured. Because new candidates are obviously in unequal conditions compared to those who have previously worked in the body. Many of those with whom temporary contracts were concluded subsequently won official competitions. To give you an example, the extra-selection procedure applied to the state secretaries of ministries. In 4 ministries, the state secretaries were appointed by the extra-selection procedure in 2020. And in 2021, all of them were appointed based on the results of already open competitions. The experts feel that it was a negative period, as it was possible to recruit people who, in case of provided open procedures, could not complete all the necessary stages of the competition.
In 2021, competitions for civil service were resumed. After the resumption of competitions in Ukraine, two procedures operated in parallel, namely regular competitions and competitions for “extra-selecting” vacancies (so-called “dobirna vakansiia”, and “extra-selection” for so-called “dobir”) (where a contract is concluded).
The number of competitions held in 2021 (as of September) depicts a constant need for staff in the public sector.
Thus, during this period, 43735 competitions were announced, including:
213 – “А” category.
11111 – “B” category.
32411 – “C” category.
Of this amount, 13849 (i.e., 32%) were competitions for “extra-selecting” vacancies:
74 – “А” category.
3437 – “B” category.
10338 – “C” category.
In general, the experts express their concerns over competitions (including the temporary extra-selection procedure). In particular cases, existing competition procedures can be bypassed and it is possible to appoint a person, even if she or he is worse than other candidates. The extra-selection procedure only simplified these opportunities. Professionalism and candidates’ position suitability are also questionable. The reasons are both the reluctance of citizens to go into civil service and the lack of state-employer branding. Regarding the latter, it means not only an incentive to change but also a clear understanding of what is awaiting a person in her or his office and in what conditions she or he is going to work.
Determining the winner of the competition is another feature of competitions. Until 2019, the candidate, who scored the highest points, automatically became the winner of the competition, and the candidate following her/him was enrolled in the reserve staff and could be appointed once a particular circumstance happens (for example, dismissal of the winner, or failure to pass a special check). From 2019 to 2021, the head of the civil service, or the appointing entity, was allowed by her/himself to choose the winner of the competition among 5 candidates who scored the highest points. According to the experts, such changes reduced the role of the directly open competition, and at the same time strengthened the role of a director, who could choose the winner among the persons without the highest scoring, and ultimately the appointed person’s fitting for a position is open to doubt. In 2021, the number of candidates reduced to three.
The experts suggest possible safeguards against non-transparent competitions. One of these may be the non-admission of candidates at the stage of acceptance of documents to participate in the competition if they do not meet the requirements set. To do this it is necessary, firstly, to scrutinize candidates’ documents to evaluate the person’s suitability for a position, and, secondly, to introduce any selective external control over competitions and the individuals going them through. Quality control of competitions may be another safeguard applied when a person who wins the competition undergoes an external inspection for compliance with the requirements set for a position. Such control may be selective.2.1.3. Features of competitions for individual positions
In 2019, to improve the quality and impartiality of the selection of candidates for civil service positions, particularly for certain civil service positions (“A” category, specialists in reforms, and candidates for NACS), the Center for Evaluation of Candidates for Civil Service Positions was established (hereinafter referred to as “the Center”). In 2020, 10 818 people went through the evaluation procedure based on varied testing within the Center. The Center allowed to unify competitions, improve quality and transparency of each separately taken stage of the competition, to create equal conditions for participants. Further actions are necessary to be taken to expand the center’s capacity and also to broaden the coverage of candidates for civil service to include other public authorities.
Competitions for positions of directors of independent bodies (i.g., NACP, NACBU, SACPO, etc.) were carried out by following one of two models. In one model, international experts had the prevailing influence, conversely, another model empowered experts delegated by the state. The most trusted competitions are those that ensure international experts have prevailing influence. The competition for the position of the NAPC Head, is an example. At the same time, competitions in which the state-delegated members of the competition commission have a big or decisive influence on the competition result have been criticized; such competitions have proved to be poor efficient. For instance, the competition for the director of the SACPO. Recently-hold competitions for the director of the Bureau for Economic Security, and the commissioner of National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission , demonstrated in real life how to appoint the “right” person, rather than the most competent candidate.
Some positions with high corruption risks (in a broad sense) are elected or appointed, i.e., those held without open competitions (Prosecutor General, Head of the AMCU, SPFU, Chief of the National Police, etc.). This method of appointment negatively affects the transparency and independence of the related bodies, as we mentioned in the section on Public Prosecution.2.2. Features of dismissal from civil service and appealing the results of competitions.
In addition to the peculiarities of holding competitions, there are also certain peculiarities regarding dismissal from the civil service. In 2019, the CSL was supplemented by an article that allowed the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to dismiss “A” category civil servants without specifying the grounds for such dismissal. Owing to that, in 2020, the heads of state tax and customs services, as well as other officials, were dismissed. Instead of the dismissed other persons were appointed without holding a competition (as the extra-selection procedure was in place). According to the experts, it violated the principles of permanence of the civil service and the independence of the personnel of the civil service from changes in the political leadership of the state, nulling the progress already achieved in civil service over the past 3 years.. In 2021, the article was abolished.
Until 2019, there was an opportunity to appeal the competition results to the NACS - administratively, with the NACS being a higher authority in civil service. However, in 2019, the administrative procedure for appealing competitions was abolished. According to the experts, one of the reasons for that was the abuse of power by NAPS officials.
As of 2021, abuse of the right to civil service can only be challenged in court. According to the interviewed experts, this situation puts civil servants at a disadvantage and deprives them of the opportunity to more quickly appeal and protect their rights, as the judicial system in Ukraine is overburdened and cannot quickly defend the interests of civil servants. Appealing to court is money-, time-consuming; moreover, reluctance to challenge the competition results in a body where a person can be possibly working in the future (if the appeal is successful) does not in any way motivate future civil servants to appeal competitions in court.2.3. Civil Servants’ Remuneration
The problem of remuneration of civil servants in Ukraine is complex and has not yet been fully resolved. It is caused, on the one hand, by the low level of salaries at the middle and lower levels of civil service (“B” category, and “C” especially), and on the other hand, by non-transparency and imbalance in the remuneration system in public bodies.
To compare, at the regional level, civil servants of the “B” category are remunerated in the sum of about EUR 700, conversely, the “A” category civil servants are paid more than EUR 4,000, without taking into account all possible bonuses.
The NACS is going to reform the civil servants’ remuneration system in immediate future. Within the reform:
- in 2020-2021, the survey was conducted questioning the civil servants’ remuneration system. It could allow to turn the problem inside out the sphere;
- the road map for reforming the civil servants’ remuneration system for 2021-2023 has been developed;
- a generalized report on the results of the classification of civil service positions in public bodies participating in the pilot project has been provided . One of the aims of the project is to introduce the civil servants’ remuneration system based on position classification.
The achieving outcome is, in 2023, to commence the civil servants’ remuneration systems in all public bodies with unified remuneration.
It should be added that based on the results of the civil society examination, the interviewed civil society experts provided their comments and proposals on the decisions and proposals of the NAPS on the reform of remuneration in the civil service.
Among other things, there were expressed such comments:
- the system of remuneration of employees of public administration bodies, especially civil servants, remains non-transparent and contradictory, it does not promote proper motivation and compliance with the approaches defined by current legislation to establish equal remuneration for civil servants;
- the world-famous methodology of the International Standard Classification of Occupations of 2008 has not been applied for the classification of civil service positions for remuneration;
- when formulating the remuneration policy of civil servants, the productivity of employees in the civil service is not taken into account.
There were expressed such proposals:
- systematic, comprehensive, and impartial approach to the development of proposals and decision-making to ensure the formation and implementation of state policy on remuneration of civil servants.
- to introduce for remuneration of civil servants a unified professional classification of positions for all public authorities based on the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008.
- specific amendments to the CSL were offered.
According to the interviewed experts, the provisions of civil society expertise have not been implemented and have not been fully taken into account by the NAPS. Such kind of approach does not allow to use of the results of performance.
The salaries of civil servants are publicly available . Anyone can get acquainted with them before entering the civil service. In addition, some public bodies publish the salaries of their employees on their web resources . However, such kind of practice is not widespread.
Certain legal restrictions in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbate the issue of civil service remuneration. From April 2020 to September 2020, the maximum salary of civil servants was approximately 1,500 euros per month. Most civil servants were not affected while reducing the guarantees of independence of top officials who receive higher salaries. Subsequently, the restriction was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, as such one that reduced the guarantees of remuneration of civil servants.
Until recently, bonuses accounted for most of all civil servants’ salaries. In some cases, the bonus could significantly exceed the basic salary. Since the bonuses are awarded by the decision made by the management of the body, civil servants could face financial pressure. This situation has recently been remedied by setting a maximum bonus of 30% of a basic salary. According to the results of monitoring the salaries of civil servants in 2020, at least 64% of remuneration is a basic salary.2.4. Education and advanced training of civil servants
The NACS is responsible for the advanced training of civil servants. Within these powers, the NACS:
- Created the Knowledge Management Portal to ensure the professional development of civil servants, heads of local state administrations, their deputies, officials of local self-government. The site contains 864 advanced training programs and 71 master’s degree educational programs. In total, in 2020, 44,304 civil servants and local self-government officials underwent advanced training.
- Three webinars on the topic of “Finding civil servants’ performance results in 2020: algorithm of steps” were carried out on the “Community of practice: stable development DESPRO” web-platform. The NACS developed video tutorials on the topic of the annual performance evaluation of civil servants.
- Organizes and coordinates the professional training of civil servants, heads of local state administrations, their deputies, local self-government officials, in particular, at the request of the state, on issues related to corruption prevention.
- Supports the activities of the Ukrainian School of Governance (the USG), i.e. an institution of postgraduate education that is managed by the NACS. In 2020, about 1.5 million euros have been allocated for the operation of the USG, and in 2021 – about 1.8 million euros. The experts argue that despite the high expenses for its performance, the USG needs reforming and improving the quality of services it provides to civil servants.
In addition to the NACS, the state provides a master’s degree program in “Public Administration” at the National Academy of Public Administration under the President of Ukraine (the NAPA). The experts believe that despite the reform of the NAPA, its negative approaches to training and retraining have been not changed .
In general, the interviewed experts discern that the quality of training of civil servants is poor, arguing that approaches to training are outdated. The courses taught do not generally provide new information and teach what civil servants already know. A large number of pieces of training and certificates do not reflect the quality of such pieces of training. At the same time, there is no research on the effectiveness of the conducted pieces of training. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the obligatory training of civil servants on issues of corruption prevention.
Thus, a document certifying going through the advanced training in the prevention of corruption was received:
in 2020, by 8313 trainees, including 522 authorized persons on the prevention and detection of corruption;
in 2021, 7347 people are going to run advanced training on the prevention of corruption and ensuring integrity, including 1843 authorized persons on the prevention and detection of corruption;. Despite the large number of people who have improved their skills, the interviewed experts tell that, given the formal approaches to their conduct, the level of such pieces of training is poor.