The office of Dmytro Shymkiv, deputy head of the Presidential Administration, looks more like a working space for a corporate manager than for a government bureaucrat.
There is a big map of Ukraine on one wall, a white board with markers on another one, a small laptop on the desk and a Rubik’s cube next to it.
But a set of five old Soviet telephones bring you back to the reality of just how difficult it is to upgrade the actual state governance, not just the office accessories. And this is exactly what Shymkiv is tasked to do: his job at the administration is to coordinate various reform initiatives.
Shymkiv, who moved to this job after heading #Microsoft Ukraine, says he feels a lot of resistance to change.
“In business, people are result-oriented. But in public service, they are still process-oriented,” he told the Kyiv Post in a recent interview.
To smooth out at least some of the creases in the reform process, a special coordination body was created, the National Council of Reforms. Its main function is strategic planning, and it’s composed of the president, prime minister, speaker of parliament, National Bank governor and representatives of four non-government organizations which are heavily involved in the creation of a reform plan for the nation.
But critics say that the National Council of Reforms will be too bulky and too slow, partly because of its three-tier structure.
“The launch of the National Council of Reforms takes longer than actual reform,” said Hanna Hopko, head of Reanimation Package of Reforms, a civic, post-EuroMaidan initiative composed of many NGOs with the aim to drive the reform agenda in the nation.
Hopko added that she was hugely disappointed to discover that some lawmakers of the former ruling Party of Regions, including Serhiy Kivalov, who has been implicated of rigging an election in 2004 which led to the Orange Revolution, as well as Vitaly Khomutynnik and Yevhen Heller, will take part in this new body.
Shymkiv explains that these officials will be part of the council because heads of parliament committees. “But the president takes a final decision about persons that will join this body,” he said.
Shymkiv says that the most urgent reforms that are needed is the judiciary reform, deregulation of business environment, and a move to electronic state procurement – a sector that has been notoriously wasteful and corrupt in Ukraine, where many fortunes have been made.
Shymkiv says foreign countries and agencies are queueing to help Ukraine reform. “I have papers on my desk from the World Bank, which is proposing a project and a $400 million grant for medical reform. I’m taking to ambassadors, and many countries are ready to help us,” Shymkiv said.