Every day, the damage to Ukraine’s vital infrastructure is increasing, especially given Russia’s criminal targeting of hospitals, public housing and the electricity grid. A joint damage assessment by the government of Ukraine, the European Commission and the World Bank found that physical damage caused by Russia until the end of June reached over $97 billion and cost of reconstruction and recovery across Ukraine’s social, productive, and infrastructure sectors would be $349 billion, more than 1.5 times the country’s 2021 GDP.
The international community’s track record on reconstruction support is not especially promising: The Institute for Effective States (in this 2019 paper) points to “projectized, silo-riven approaches which can drive mismanagement and corruption” and “fragmentation and incoherence of both government systems and institutions as well as international support” as two key risks. And, Ukraine’s prior experience with oversight and governance of major projects has been challenging.
So unless Ukraine can propose a compelling vision on how to run the reconstruction itself, it risks having fragmented and onerous donor demands and safeguards placed on it from many competing parties.
More positively, though, there is also an opportunity, given the depth and extent of Ukraine’s existing open government ecosystem, to rethink the whole process flow of the reconstruction to be fast, efficient and open. This will need to include coordinating the damage assessment, project planning and future needs, to integrating spending and accountability mechanisms. It’s not just about transparency and tracking spending after the fact, it’s about better coordination and delivery of projects in real time.
To that end, a unique coalition of over 30 leading Ukrainian and international organizations has come together to lay out a vision of a Ukrainian-led Reconstruction with Integrity, Sustainability and Efficiency at its heart (hence their name, the RISE Ukraine coalition).
Thanks to funding from the UK FCDO, we will be supporting RISE to work directly with the Ministry of Infrastructure (MIU) of Ukraine to bring that vision of end-to-end digital coordination and delivery to life by supporting them to build and test a Digital Reconstruction Management System. You can see the preliminary concept in more detail (in Ukrainian) here, shaped around four key user needs:
- For the MIU (initially, and later across the wider Government) to be able to assess, approve, procure and track the delivery of key reconstruction projects.
- For Ukraine’s citizens and accountability actors to understand the government’s assessment and prioritization process for reconstruction projects, and to track the key milestones in their delivery.
- For international donors contributing to the reconstruction to follow the flow of key decisions and spending across the reconstruction cycle so they can “trust but verify” Ukraine’s systems and approach.
- For local and international companies to understand the opportunities, participate in pre-market engagement, bidding and transactions related to delivering projects with the Ukrainian government.
The system should bridge across the whole cycle of planning and delivering key projects: identification, preparation, appraisal, funding allocation, implementation, and completion. Within each of these stages, the system will cover such processes as project description, justification, planning, budgeting, evaluation, financing, procurement, contracting, project implementation, payment for work, and completion.
Supporting this project as OCP will mean doing some things we haven’t done before with software development and delivering a digital service. This is a new mode of operation for OCP but our Ukraine team, our RISE partners (including from Prozorro and Prozorro.sale) and various Ukrainian government ministries have these specific skills, so we are confident in the capacity of our collaborative effort. The system will build on Ukraine’s world-class civic tech and open data infrastructure. DIIA, Prozorro, Prozorro.sale, spending.gov.ua and projects such as damaged.ua all will be contributing actively to the project, which will also be shaped by the UN’s Digital Principles for Development.
Our partners will also seek to directly embed appropriate open data standards such as the Open Contracting Data Standard in its operation and publication of key data for use cases, making that information available on user-friendly analytics platforms, an API, and an internal and external business intelligence module.
Security and privacy of certain processes and transactions will be critical, especially with malicious Russian hacking as a key threat, so the project will need to meet the strict information security requirements of the Data Protection Service of Ukraine for government data systems.
We will also be building on the excellent project identification and planning tools developed by the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation.
Last week, the Ukrainian government approved a decree to conduct a pilot project in the transport sector for the next two years, providing a legal basis for starting to develop the system.
We’ve shifted key members of our team to focus solely on this topic. Viktor Nestulia, who played a key role in the Prozorro reforms as a civil society leader, is honored to serve as RISE’s first chairperson. And we are delighted to have strengthened our Ukraine team with the hire of renowned data and dataviz expert Andrii Hazin.
Funding for civil society-led collaborations such as RISE is critical. We want to recognize how our partners at the BHP Foundation have stepped up with a core grant to power the coalition’s advocacy. We will also support RISE through our joint project on anti-corruption in procurement with UNODC.
We will be documenting and sharing regularly as the project progresses. You can sign up to the RISE Coalition newsletter here and if you can support them in any way, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s an ambitious project but it aligns with everything we believe in: goal-driven reforms, user-centered design, embedding open data and data-driven business processes, engagement by all actors, and embedding and institutionalizing change. We hope that this new collaboration will become a compelling example of smarter, more open government to inspire people as much in the reconstruction as Ukraine’s brave soldiers and citizens have done on the battlefield.