On December 2, 2014, Ukrainian parliament appointed a new cabinet and on December 11 the parliament approved the program of the new cabinet. Each ministry created and published a plan (see example here) of implementation of this program.
In itself, this openness about plans is quite revolutionary by the Ukrainian standards. Furthermore, the plan had dates for completion of various stages. While some dates were relatively flexible (e.g., 2016), some dates were specific (e.g., February 28, 2015). In the past, the government often failed to reveal meaningful information about its intentions as well as dates of completion. With such secrecy, the public could not hold the government accountable.
At cabinet’s 100 days anniversary, VoxUkraine was curious about how well those plans are implemented. Our team collected plans of all ministries, plus Naftogaz and the NBU (Statute of the Central Bank), selected all items for which deadlines have passed, and checked in open media if we could find evidence of a task being completed.
Result #1: Most of tasks are not completed. We were able to find evidence of completion for only 12 out of 49 tasks with January or February deadlines (we exclude tasks with no deadlines or deadlines after March 2015). This low completion rate is disappointing as many items on the agendas were relatively simple and straightforward (e.g., create a team/roundtable to discuss proposals).
Result #2: There is a lot of heterogeneity in completion rates across ministries. Only Naftogaz and Internal Affairs–promised to complete three and two tasksrepectively, which is close to the average number of tasks (2.5)–did everything they promised. These two agencies account for 5 out of 12 completed steps. Ministry of Ecology did not finish any of the promised tasks. Some ministries (e.g., Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry) get partial credit only because of some trace of work being done but most of their objectives are not completed by the deadline.
Result #3: Often objectives are not well defined or not ambitious. For example, Ministry of Internal Affairs promised by January to work more on plan for Ukraine’s renewal for 2015-2017. In similar spirit, Ministry of Culture promised to analyze how its EU counterparts are working and based on this analysis to develop recommendation for how to reform Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture. In our opinion, ‘working more’ or `analyzing’ is neither directly measurable or particularly helpful. Not surprisingly, we could not find traces of `working’ or `analyzing’ in the media. Maybe, some of these were done but the public is almost surely unaware of this work or results of this work.
Result #4: Many ministries have deadlines extending well into the future. In some cases, while the plans have a long `to do’ list, there are no dates attached to each step. For example, the program of Ministry of Infrastructure does not have any deadline. Obviously, this makes it nearly impossible for the public to evaluate progress and to hold the ministry accountable in such cases.
Result #5: Being in the previous government does not seem to help. One may argue that 100 days is a short period and new ministries may need time to learn the workings of the bureaucracy. Some ministers were present in the previous “kamikadze” government (e.g., ministers of education and justice), which can give us a sense of whether being in the office for a longer time is instrumental for pushing reforms. There is no evidence that the “old” ministers agreed to have more tasks completed in the first 100 days or that they actually have a higher completion rate.
Result #6: Younger ministers tend to make stronger commitments. In a project joint with Liga.net, VoxUkraine noted that the public and experts give higher approval ratings to younger ministries. This finding is likely to signal that ministers chaired by younger people are perceived to have made a stronger progress. Consistent with this observation, there is a negative correlation between a minister’s age and the number of tasks he/she signs up to complete in the first 100 days. Likewise, there is a negative correlation between the age and the completion rates.
In summary, the new government is perhaps the most competent government Ukraine had in decades. The potential and commitment of the ministers is indisputable. Obviously, the challenges–the war in eastern Ukraine, banking crisis, currency panic, limited fiscal resources–are huge. Yet, the new government is criticized for lack of progress in reforming the country and for inability to deliver tangible results. Our analysis suggests that, indeed, many of the promised steps were not completed on time. This is a dangerous symptom as it not only undermines the credibility of the government but also alienates the society and the government. Indeed, the society is not satisfied with the timid pace of change and demands and appears to be prepared for radical steps. Perhaps, introducing a younger generation of Ukrainians into the government and holding ministers accountable for failing to deliver measurable results is a way to break the impasse and accelerate reforms.
Authors: A working group consisting of members of the Editorial Board, and Contributors of VoxUkraine:
Tymofiy Mylovanov (U.of Pittsburgh),
Yuriy Gorodnichenko (UC Berkeley),
Ilona Sologub (KSE),
Olexander Talavera (U. Of Sheffield),
Oleksandr Zholud (International Center of Policy Studies)
Oleg Korenok (Virginia Commonwealth University)
Viktor Tsyrennikov (Visiting Scholar at the IMF)
Natalia Shapoval (KSE)
Svetlana Rusakova (Dragon Capital)
Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy (Lehigh University)
Tetiana Kedzierska (UBS)
Yaryna Basystyuk (University of Pennsylvania, MPA)
Invaluable contribution was made by other members of the Editorial Board VoxUkraine:
Olena Bilan (Dragon Capital)
Volodymyr Bilotkach (Newcastle U.)
Tom Coupé (KSE)
Veronika Movchan (IER)
Organizations participating in the initiative:
Kyiv School of Economics
Index of Monitoring Reforms
Reanimation Package of Reforms
Reform Support Center
We express gratitude to the Government representatives, who responded to the request of VoxUkraine and helped with the assessment of their own achievements:
The Ministry of Infrastructure
The Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food
The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine
The National Bank of Ukraine
The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine
to Liga.Business and personally to the head of the business edition, Boris Davidenko, for the conducting of the public survey, and for the advice. We are also grateful to the Open Society Foundation for the materials
Special thanks to everyone who have contributed to promotion of the public opinion survey in Facebook, and invited their colleagues, friends and acquaintances to participate.
The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations