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Integrating KM in the Ukrainian Public Administration – Some Lessons Learnt

February 14, 2012 | LND | Learning Elsewhere |

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Bertha CamachoMaryana KulyaIn this post, we would like to share how the Swiss – Ukrainian Decentralization Support Project (DESPRO), a SDC funded project imple-mented by Skat Consulting is starting to introduce Knowledge Management (KM) in the Ukrainian Public Administration and to reflect on some important lessons learnt so far.

By Maryana Kulya (DESPRO) and Bertha Camacho (Skat)

In the past decade, in the Ukrainian Public Sector numerous initiatives have been taking place at different levels of government to stimulate efficiency and effectiveness through knowledge and information sharing mechanisms. More recently, the government has been setting up targets and legislative requirements for the implementation of e-government and for fostering the access to public information and developing devices for data protection. These and other initiatives demonstrate that in the Ukraine considerable learning has already been taking place across different levels of the administration. However, the concept of KM that could and should serve as an umbrella for these processes is not yet widely known.

DESPRO, which aims at improving the provision of services in rural communities through the construction and rehabilitation of community infrastructure and the strengthening of participatory decision-making processes of the rural population in Ukraine, has incorporated a project component which seeks to integrate KM processes and mechanisms in the sector of decentralization and local self-government.

In the framework of DESPRO’s KM strategy, a needs and capacity assessment of public servants was undertaken to understand better the state of the situation of KM in the public administration. Important results of the assessment show on the one hand, that KM as a concept is still unknown by representatives of the local authorities of Ukraine: 65% of survey participants were not familiar with the concept of KM. On the other hand, results show that current ICT tools, innovative methods and approaches in collecting, analyzing and using existing information, experiences and practices are considered as key in the process of developing and launching public sector reforms in Ukraine.

One of the priorities of DESPRO was to develop and institutionalize KM training courses for different target groups, with the aim of marketing the added value, benefits and impact of KM in the public sector:

  • A workshop addressed to faculty members from the various Ukrainian Universities running MA programs on public administration was organized in cooperation with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. This workshop served as an introduction to KM in the Public Administration and has laid the ground for the establishment of a “learning and sharing community of KM specialists” who would become catalysts of change.
  • A course on KM for Public Administration and Local Self-governance was incorporated into the Master Program for civil servants in the East-Ukrainian National University.
  • A course on Regional Innovation Policy Development integrating KM approaches and tools was developed and is currently being taught at the Lviv Regional Institute of Public Administration.
  • A KM Training and Exposure Visit in Switzerland was organized to learn from current experiences in the Swiss Public Administration. Key project stakeholders from different levels of the Ukrainian government followed a training program at the Institute of Federalism and met with selected Swiss institutions that shared their experiences of integrating KM processes into their working practices.
  • The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) is addressing KM as a new sector, by promoting the development of partnerships and CoPs among public servants and other stakeholders.
  • Training modules on KM tools and approaches are being inserted in NAPA’s curriculum, in order to transform public servants into “knowledge brokers”.
  • A KM Portal that aims at creating, analyzing, storing and disseminating information and resources in the areas of public administration and local self-government is being developed.

Based on this experience, some important lessons can be learnt so far:

  • In order to motivate public servants to introduce a KM strategy in the public sector, they need to be trained and sensitized about the concept of KM and its benefits at early staged in their education. Thus, higher-education institutions, especially those dedicated to the training of public servants, should be encouraged to include KM as a core subject in their academic curriculum.
  • In the delivery of academic courses on KM, emphasis should be placed not only on new IT technologies but also in the importance of setting up knowledge communities where they can learn and share with others.
  • In order to ensure that KM becomes widely adopted by government institutions and policy-makers effective knowledge transfer between scientific- and socially-based institutions with the government should be encouraged.
  • Knowledge sharing requires that the line-structure that exists within the public administration is transformed into a horizontal structure; thus, decision makers and high rank officials should be the target population for training courses on KM. It is with their buy-in that processes could start to take place in the administration.
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