To increase fire safety and reduce opportunities for corruption, the Ukrainian government is embarking on a landmark initiative to digitize its overly burdensome system for filing fire safety certificates.  

On October 4, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES), the government agency responsible for national fire safety policy, signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium comprised of the State Agency for E-Governance (SAEG) , Eurasia Foundation’s Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services (TAPAS) program, and EF’s partner, East Europe Foundation. The consortium provided technical assistance and legal expertise to simplify the process of filing fire inspection declarations. By transforming this paper-based service into an eService, TAPAS will increase the number of Ukrainian businesses in compliance with the law and reduce the risk of corruption.  

Many entrepreneurs don’t submit fire inspection declarations because of the onerous submission procedure and the complicated format of the declaration itself. This factor alone can increase corruption because it’s often easier for businesses to pay a bribe to an SES inspector rather than meet the requirements, complete a declaration and submit it. The inefficiency of the entire declaration process is clear: in 2016, 6,500 businesses submitted a fire inspection declaration. However, the number of the enterprises that should have submitted a declaration annually is more than 30,000. The “missing” declarations offer a strong hint about the scope of the corruption tied to the declarations.  

"Signing of the memorandum of cooperation between the State Emergency Service and the State Agency for E-Governance is another step toward overcoming bureaucracy and building new, good quality and honest relationships between business and the state," said Oleksandr Ryzhenko, head of the SAEG. "I am very grateful to our international partners for their full support and assistance in implementing this project." 

TAPAS helped the SES both simplify the declaration procedure and the submission process, which established a convenient and transparent channel between the SES and businesses. All declarations for businesses with low or medium fire risk will be registered automatically without any involvement of SES officials, reducing the risk of corruption by removing the human factor from the procedure. The registry of fire inspection declarations will be public and available via the SES website, which will help consumer advocates to check if businesses are in compliance.  

Digitizing the fire safety declaration filing system streamlines the overall administrative process, decreasing the processing time from up to ten days to a matter of hours.  

In October and November 2017, the consortium developed the technological solution needed to digitize these processes and drafted a legal act to simplify the requirements businesses need to meet. The legislation required to switch on the system is expected to pass in December and the new eService will be unveiled to the business community shortly thereafter.  

"Today we are making the first important step toward properly organizing fire safety management and simplifying the process of obtaining these services for businesses," said Lesia Chmil, acting chief of party for the TAPAS program. "Transferring these services into e-format will significantly change how businesses interact with the SES."   

The Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services program is funded by USAID and UK aid.