21.11.2016. Ekonomichna Pravda. Vsevolod Nekrasov (original in Ukrainian)

U.S and U.K. governments provided $19 million to support an e-governance reform in Ukraine in order to increase the effectiveness of fighting corruption. The government already makes use of it, next in turn are the citizens.

To open governmental data means to stop corruption, says Ambassador of USA and Ambassador of U.K. in Ukraine. “Money spent by your government is your money and you have to keep an eye out for what it is spent on”, – explained Ambassador of U.K. Judith Gough as the most evident advantage of open data.

“Money spent by your government is your money and you have to keep an eye out for what it is spent on”

Nevertheless, it is not enough to just open big government data. Society and government itself must learn to analyze big data and make strategic policy decisions based on it. EP (“Ekonomichna Pravda”) attended the international conference “Data for Sustainable Growth” where Ambassador of USA and Ambassador of U.K explained why Ukraine was given a $19 million funding for shedding light on government’s spending data.

Dmitry Shymkiv, Deputy Head of Presidential Administration, explained how big data analysis of political opponents is used in the Administration of the President.

eServices reform must be enhanced

U.S and U.K. governments gave a $19 million support for an electronic governance reform in Ukraine in order to increase the effectiveness of fighting corruption. This was announced by donor states’ ambassadors at an international conference “Data for Sustainable Growth”, which was held in Kyiv on November 17-18th.

The funding is dedicated to the implementation of a TAPAS project – Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services. It is a 5-year project and it has already begun working. Practically, through TAPAS, U.S. and U.K. governments will work with Ukrainian government to:

  1. ensure that all 18 central ministries and at least 35 municipalities with populations greater than 100,000 will publish data on a regular basis.
  2. ensure that 17 key state registries are integrated into Ukraine’s National Interoperability System to make administrative services more effective and transparent.
  3. establish electronic procurement as the standard approach for public procurement across Ukraine.

Also, TAPAS project envisions financing for the technical development of ProZorro platform. Primarily, the funding will be directed at increasing its security. “We invest in creating a system recovery platform in case of force majeure circumstances and in the software that will allow exchanging data between state registries and ProZorro”, – explained TAPAS representatives.

It will streamline businesses access to procurement and will allow integration of state registries to the ProZorro system, namely, ‘pull up’ data on trading participants from Unified State Register. The project is implemented by the Eurasia Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the State Agency on e-Governance.

“We invest in creating a system recovery platform in case of force majeure circumstances and in the software that will allow exchanging data between state registries and ProZorro”

Corruption thrives in shadow

«To stop corruption is one of the primary tasks for Ukraine on its path of building own future. Citizens must know that they don’t have to give bribes so that their children get high-quality service, that their children can get high-quality medical treatment not only by paying high prices», said Ambassador of the USA Marie Yovanovitch in her opening remarks. According to Yovanovitch, corruption thrives in shadow and the moment it is shed light upon, it vanishes. Electronic governance and open data are the key instruments that ensure a higher level of transparency and accountability.

“To stop corruption is one of the primary tasks for Ukraine on its path of building own future. Citizens must know that they don’t have to give bribes so that their children get high-quality service, that their children can get high-quality medical treatment not only by paying high prices”

Ambassador of the U.K. Judith Gough stated that transparency forms trust. “Money spent by your government is your money and you have to keep an eye out for what it is spent on”, she said.

“If in five years every person in Ukraine knows how the government uses resources or how civil servants hold to their promises, then the program can be considered successful”, said Horton Beebe-Center, President of Eurasia Foundation, the implementing organization for TAPAS.

“If in five years every person in Ukraine knows how the government uses resources or how civil servants hold to their promises, then the program can be considered successful”

Open data is not enough

Still, to open big government data is not enough. It is crucial to be able to analyze it since the amount is colossal. And to learn how to analyze big data must be the task not only for civil activists but also for civil servants and government representatives. This idea was the main topic of first panel session of the international conference.  “Big data processing is the future of Ukraine and the world. We must learn to make strategic decisions, that are based on big data. Not on anecdotes, not on personal opinion, but on analytical research”, said Tymofii Mylovanov, Honorary president of Kyiv School of Economics.

“Big data processing is the future of Ukraine and the world. We must learn to make strategic decisions, that are based on big data. Not on anecdotes, not on personal opinion, but on analytical research”

Deputy Head of Presidential Administration Dmytro Shymkiv explained how big data analysis is used at the Administration. “One of the most interesting big data research topics are politics and society. I will show you the data we analyze”, he stated.

“One of the most interesting big data research topics are politics and society. I will show you the data we analyze”

Opponents under the microscope

Presidential Administration representative started his presentation with a statement that the skill of big data analysis gives a great advantage: to notice the unnoticeable. In the era of big data, those win, who find an important insight, who understand the nature of the problem and find its solution.

As a first example, he showed how votes were driven up for the petition on President’s website. “On dismissed political investigation on Kivalov, founder of law academy in Odessa”.

Administration’s experts found that 30% of votes were cast from five IP-addresses. Overall, the voting data was fudged.

“This insight gives an understanding of how electronic votes are used for money. People who organized this are identified and are of SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) concern for the investigation process”, – Shymkiv said.

“This insight gives an understanding of how electronic votes are used for money. People who organized this are identified and are of SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) concern for the investigation process”

In the following parts, he explained how Presidential Administration monitors the amount of coverage on political personas during prime-time:

Administration also monitors politicians’ ratings:

…and analyses online media on what concerns dynamics of negative mentions, for instance, about Head of National Bank of Ukraine Valeria Hontareva

According to Shymkiv, all this data is handed over to the President. We can only hope that the Head of State regularly reads such descriptive materials on condition and dynamics of the national economy.