Difficulties and obstacles at the initial stage of the modern Ukrainian RDA operation. Preventive actions: August-September 2017

Аnalysis of events and documents in each oblast has made it possible to clearly identify several typical problems according to which we can classify a state of the RDA creation process as well as infrastructure for regional development and implementation of the state regional policy.
So, in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Odesa, Kyiv, Kirovograd, Mykolaiv, Sumy, Zhytomyr, Ternopil, Kherson, Rivne oblasts and Crimea, RDAs have not been created at all; in Dnipropetrovsk, Volyn, Chernivtsi oblasts RDAs have been created incorrectly – with violation of the Cabinet of Ministers Decree (CMD) No. 258 of 11.02.16, since the founder was the only Oblast State Administration or only the Regional Councils. In these RDA there are no representatives of the main beneficiaries of regional development, and accordingly, these RDAs have neither funding nor support in the region and are completely inactive. In Poltava, Khmelnytsky, Chernihiv, and Zakarpattia oblasts, the RDA were created in compliance with the provisions of the mentioned CMD and involved almost all the participants necessary for the effective development of the region – representatives of authorities and local self-government, business, public and educational institutions. However, lack of some key partners in the RDA or stakeholders involved in regional development does not allow to start the process of institutional capacity building, normal functioning and co-financing of the RDA, implementation of project activities and gaining real results that affect the territory and economy of the region.
Only in Cherkasy, Vinnytsya, Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts RDAs started their operation due to attracting some budget funding, voluntary contributions from businesses and international organizations. Also, a minimum permanent staff of 2 to 5 people was involved. But even these most successful examples today are in a process of slow growth, without a prospect of becoming a real effective factor at influencing the regional development, due to the limited financial resources and, first of all, lack of staff and its competencies. Without a minimum level of required financial resources, full staffing, which has received the appropriate specialized training, participation of key beneficiaries of regional development in the management and activities of the RDA – a critical instrument for the implementation of the state regional policy and regional development will not work properly, will not become a driving force for preparation and realization of the territorial development projects.
Identification of significant development projects, their proper registration, search and attraction of resources for their implementation (first of all human ones), performance, obtaining the significant changes for the region, monitoring and reporting on systemic development changes in the territories of oblasts are difficult tasks which RDA and its staff have to do. Just for implementing the system-building and unique projects, it is worth to create and develop such a complex tool as RDA, as it requires a lot of efforts and complex competencies to attract representatives of different sectors (environments) of territorial development and multi-source resource support. Accordingly, it is necessary to create and apply RDA immediately at the complex competency, multi-resource and multi-task level – then the amount of efforts of the RDA partners along with its personnel will immediately bring tangible visible results in the development of the regions.
In fact, the main task of the RDA should be actual preparation and implementation of projects for equalization of sectoral, territorial and infrastructure disparities between the regions, creation of system conditions for realization of potential of each region in the new quality and quantity.

This is possible only when:

Financial revenues to RDAs are not concentrated solely on one of the possible sources, and founders or entities are responsible for maintaining the financial, intellectual and institutional capacity and expert independence of the RDA;

The RDA develops projects and proposals taking into account the interests and needs of representatives of different environments – regional beneficiaries, which are accordingly considered by the authorities and local self-government at preparation and adoption of their own decisions on the issues related to their own competence at local development area;

Preparation of development projects is comprehensive and high-quality, with the search and application of innovative solutions, but at the same time it is executed in accordance with the legal requirements in Ukraine and the best international practices and standards.

The RDA staff and its institutional and organizational structure are formed as a highly effective integrated mechanism for implementation of complex tasks; highly skilled and motivated employees and external experts are involved to prepare the projects.

Taking into account the aforementioned, currently any RDA in Ukraine has not reached the necessary initial level of institutional development. Even those RDAs that were created with our methodological help, today need to move to the next stage of their development – the development of institutional capacity.

Thus, today the main problems in the process of RDA creating in Ukraine are:

incorrect or incomplete structure of co-founders and accordingly, the Supervisory Boards, that are necessary to ensure the representation of key stakeholders interests – beneficiaries of the territorial development of the regions;

system of guaranteed and sustainable and balanced co-financing of the RDA activity budget (estimate) is incorrect or absent;

the RDA personnel is neither fully-complete nor integrated according to the functional, competencies and skills;

the RDA Activity Plan is not prioritized and synchronized with the main tasks of the regional development strategy and country’s one; there are no prepared and integrated development projects that have systemic significance and influence in the oblasts’ territories.

At this stage, there is a critical need to complete the formation of a proper and effective system of legal balanced engagement and representation of the interests of the main regional development beneficiaries – representatives of government, business, and the community in the Supervisory Board and, respectively, in the RDA activities. The next is to create a proper system of internal management of the RDA’s processes and personnel. Then, a search and arranging the minimum staff (at least 20 people) who have been provided with proper market payment for work and comfortable working conditions and training – the next difficult task for the regions, taking into account the significant pace of migration processes.

Formation of RDA Action Plan substantial content, defining performance indicators, and qualitative fundraising campaign for contracting stable financial support to cover RDA’s budget expenditures is a complex and difficult task that can not be performed at the initial stages of the RDA activity without the external experts’ knowledge. In fact, in the further stages of training, the complex skills and competences for R & D personnel and the training of development projects during this training also requires the involvement of highly skilled and experienced external consultants, in particular from our expert environment of NGO “Center for Reforms and Local Development”, which specializes precisely at these tasks solution.
To solve the mentioned system and complex tasks of institutional development and to overcome the main problems of the development of new Ukrainian institutions – RDA – precisely for this purpose it was prepared a set of preventive actions in the form of Project proposals specially developed by experienced experts of NGO “Center for Reforms and Local Development” and sent both to each oblast and each existing RDA. The main clusters of actions are: streamlining the RDA’s organizational and legal structure, budgeting and the RDA’s institutional development plan, recruitment and development of special competencies and skills of the RDA’s personnel, co-financing of the RDA’s activities,  preparation of development projects for the regions.

The implementation of such Project Proposals will ensure for the RDA the problems solution that have already arisen in the process of their creation, and will ensure the transition to a new qualitative and quantitative level of activity in a short term of 6-10 months.

For more information, please contact our experts, in particular Ginkul Andriy, an expert of the Polish Ministry of Development Project “Increasing the investment attractiveness of Ukraine and competitiveness of the regions”, expert on territorial development of NGO “Center for Reforms and Local Development”.