Learning Development of Open Budget Portal to Ukraine
The construction of an open budget portal is growing rapidly in Ukraine, a country in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet Union. Today, all national budget data and tender processes for each government project can be monitored online. This condition does not occur suddenly. Civil society groups have a dominant role in encouraging these changes. Central Eidos, a Non-Government Organization (NGO) whose focus is on promoting public information disclosure is one of the NGOs that has become the locomotive of the change.
Central Eidos’s role in encouraging openness of budget data is feasible to be studied by other NGOs who also have a focus on the issue of budget data disclosure. Based on this, Perkumpulan Inisiatif at the invitation of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) based in the United States (US) attended a learning exchange workshop on the development of a data transparency portal held in Ukraine from 18-20 February 2019
In the three-day workshop, workshop participants learned from each other about the practice of developing a portal for budget data disclosure from each participant. Update information on global developments and trends in the development of data openness portals. Studying the process of developing a budget data portal to Central Eidos, the Ukrainian Government, and NGOs that focus on developing applications and portals for data transparency in Ukraine.
Loren Rivero, from Global Initiatives Fiscal Transparency (GIFT), stated that the era of budget data openness or can be interpreted as the era of fiscal openness is undergoing changes from the second generation to the third generation. In the second generation, fiscal openness is characterized by meeting data needs based on the government’s will. Meanwhile, in the third generation, the fulfillment of data needs is not based on the wishes of the government but also based on the needs of the community or referred to as community-based fiscal openness. Furthermore, Lorena also said that in the third generation this type of portal needed was a portal with a type of two-way communication. In this type of two-way communication, there is a dialogue between the government and the community. In addition, the use of this channel requires social media as an inseparable part of the channel.
Vlodymir Tarnay, the activist from Central Eidos gave a long and interesting explanation about their steps in fighting for information disclosure and budget data in Ukraine. Their struggle began with encouraging the birth of the information disclosure law. Efforts to encourage information disclosure in Ukrainian are not easy. This openness law was born from a long process involving many parties. The political dynamics in Ukraine have an important contribution to the process of issuing the law. In the dynamic political situation of Ukraine, Central Eidos has an active role in conducting lobbies and campaigns against the executive and legislative branches. Central Eidos in collaboration with the government to draft the information disclosure law, urged the executive to seriously discuss the draft law through sessions in parliament.
After the information disclosure law was issued, Central Eidos then began to develop a portal for budget data openness at the national level. Through the site they created, Central Eidos published various data on the implementation of projects funded by the national budget. In addition to publishing various budget data for each project, the portal developed by Central Eidos also publishes the results of monitoring program implementation. For the work of monitoring the implementation of the program, Central Eidos collaborates with the beneficiaries of the program. The collaboration between Central Eidos and the community has resulted in interesting stories of change to be discussed more deeply. But acknowledged by Vlodymir, the work of making portals made by Central Eidos cannot be said to be finished. The portal is still under development.
In addition to information from GIFT and Central Eidos, in the workshop participants also discussed with the government and consultants on the development of data openness portals. The government, represented by the Ministry of Finance, stated that the portal for data disclosure is being developed only regarding openness in the procurement of goods for government projects at the national level. In a discussion session with officials from the finance ministry, they stated that efforts to open data in Ukraine were born from a process that was not easy. In the process of drafting programs and budget allocations, debates and discussions with the legislature are important steps that always run dynamically. Debate with the legislature is always related to national political conditions that are also developing dynamically. Delays in publishing national project implementation documents always overshadow each year. After the program planning document is completed, then the various documents enter the procurement stage. In the procurement phase, all processes can be monitored starting from auction announcements, auction process, project implementation to project evaluation.
In another session, participants discussed with one of the most experienced information and technology development consultants in Ukraine, Social Boost. Social Boost is a consultant who has the main goal of becoming a bridge between NGO activists, the Government and companies in technology development to progress economic development in Ukraine. In 2014, through collaboration with various groups, Social Boost initiated a portal for data openness which was later adopted by the Ukrainian Government until now. Not stopping there, Social Boost then developed an incubator that facilitated information technology technicians to develop various portals related to the public interest. The incubator was named 1991 Incubator. From 2016 to the present, the 1991 Incubator has succeeded in developing approximately 50 applications, including applications regarding corruption eradication, education, health, and infrastructure.
However, Denis Gursky, CEO of Social Boost stated that the effort to create a portal for budget data disclosure in Ukraine does not mean without obstacles. In Ukraine, there are still parties who are not grateful for the efforts to open data. But this is normal. That is a challenge that must be answered immediately.
Learning from various stories in each of the workshop sessions, there are at least some interesting notes regarding the development of a budget data openness portal in Ukraine. First, civil society initiatives in driving change are mainly in encouraging openness of budget data. The interesting thing to be used as learning is about the consistency and sincerity of civil society organizations to continue to develop and refine portals that are being compiled. Second, there is a willingness and openness from the government to collaborate in building a portal for budget data disclosure. What is interesting to use is learning about the process and efforts to develop collaboration between the government and civil society groups and other groups. Third, there is an interesting division of labor between civil society groups themselves. From the discussion session in 1991 incubators, it was seen that Social Boost as a civil society group had an interesting focus compared to other NGOs. The decision to focus on technology and utilize the technology they developed for social change in general and the openness of budget data specifically for me is an example of an ideal model to be developed elsewhere.