Diia, a government portal developed by Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation, has for some time been quietly leading the battle against corruption for the average Ukrainian.

Corruption and bureaucracy have, for many years, been synonymous with Eastern European states like Ukraine, until a digital revolution began sweeping the nation.

Thanks to an abundance of tech expertise, Ukraine has been able to digitize many of its services to cut costs and slowly eliminate bureaucratic processes – a legacy from its Soviet past, as many Ukrainians would say – that have for too long plagued Ukrainian society.

Through Diia, Ukrainians and foreign residents in Ukraine can access biometric documents and a range of government services on their smartphones. Through the service’s business modules, Ukrainians can also manage any business entities they run, within the application.

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Diia is also commonly used by Ukrainians in place of their physical ID when retrieving parcels or purchasing alcohol.

According to Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, in addition to the convenience benefits, Diia brings the major advantage of eliminating human factors that have traditionally enabled corruption, by making it difficult for officials to demand bribes.

“Many projects can be implemented thanks to digitalization, excluding the official from the process… The best service is a service where there is no human factor at all,” said Fedorov at a press conference on Dec. 5.

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An important area of focus for the ministry, according to Fedorov, is transparency during reconstruction, for which he cited the current e-recovery program as a leading example.

Under the program, Ukrainians can apply and receive compensation for properties damaged by Russian attacks during the full-scale invasion. They are issued with a bank card that can only be used to purchase materials from approved merchants to repair their properties, thus avoiding the risk of funds misappropriation.

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Fedorov said that, while many projects could potentially be implemented, some would require policy change, which rests on institutional transparency in establishing the requirements.

“The foundation is the transparent goals of the head and management in the institution, how they respond to challenges and how they implement anti-corruption principles,” said Fedorov.

Yuriy Pryadko, an IT specialist in Ukraine who works with enterprise data solutions, agreed that transparency is important, but is also of the view that it would be unwise to fully eliminate human involvement.

“Transparency is the biggest enemy of corruption. I do believe that digitalization can dramatically increase transparency,” said Pryadko, adding that modern data platforms similar to those employed by Diia have enabled complex workflows while maintaining audit trails and ensuring confidentiality.

However, he believed it would be a more logical and pragmatic approach to allow a certain degree of human input to avoid compromising the user experience and leading to lower user take-up.

“[A] pragmatic approach, focusing on highest impact use cases, governance and audit trails throughout is the way to go, and I’m excited to see Ukraine putting this approach to use,” he said.

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