Skip to main content
На сайті проводяться технічні роботи. Вибачте за незручності.

“I’m thankful to the public for vigilance”

Dmytro SHYMKIV on reforms and life in the governmental quarter
10 September, 18:11
Photo by Borys KORPUSENKO

I will say right away that this was one of the most unusual interviews with a high-ranking state official over my five-year-long career of a journalist. He didn’t demand a press secretary to sit near us with an extra recorder, neither did he demand to send him the text for approval: everything went in a most democratic fashion, like the interior of his office. And this office is located in the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. The design of the office is restrained, almost ascetic: there are no expensive pictures on the walls, even the furniture and the carpet were inherited from the predecessors who worked in this office, such as numerous telephones, whose dial was rotated probably by someone from First President Leonid Kravchuk’s team. In a word, practically nothing in the interior of the office gives one reasons to think that this is a working place of a young man, who has recently been a top manager of a global ultra progressive IT company. Only a PC and four piles of mostly English-language books in the right upper corner of the desk give a hint.

The things unusual for a state official we saw in this office included Rubik’s Cube and Hetman’s wooden mace. I asked, “Is this a hint?” “It’s a present. People who presented it wished me to drive away people who resist the changes,” explains Dmytro SHYMKIV, whom Petro Poroshenko personally invited to take the office of Deputy Head of Presidential Administration of Ukraine and entrusted him with taking care of reforms.

Participant of two Maidans, former Director General of Microsoft Ukraine, currently Deputy Head of Presidential Administration responsible for reforms, Dmytro SHYMKIV in an interview to The Day speaks about who and why are now impeding the reforms in the country, what political games are played in Bankova and Hrushevsky streets, and what tasks the president set before them when he invited them to his team.

Let’s start with your post at your Facebook page. You write that you are going to cut 20 percent and replace 70 percent of the staff of the Presidential Administration. So, you will fire 90 percent of the employees. This is an impressive figure, especially applied to human lives. Under current circumstances it is terrifying, mildly speaking, to lose a job. Please, explain what will be the criteria for dismissal? What will you tell people when you will be doing this?

“The process is very simple. The same thing is taking place practically in all organizations. First, all the employees will be moved to non-permanent staff. We have warned them about this. Every deputy head of the Presidential Administration is responsible for hiring people to the departments. The first thing this deputy head is going to do is to find a person who will work as the head of a department. Then this person will interview people who are working in the Presidential Administration, analyze their qualification, the ability to understand what you are doing, why your position exists. What Kakha Bendukidze asked to do? He asked them to write on an A4   sheet what they do. This is stupefying for most people. They cannot do this. They write their position instructions. When you see this, you understand that people simply should work somewhere else.

“But I cannot but note that there are specialists of an extraordinary level, and this is very gratifying. I won’t name them, but say that they will stay for sure.

“Coming back to the procedure: the already selected heads of departments recommended by deputy heads of Presidential Administration will be interviewed by the Head of Presidential Administration Borys Lozhkin.

“Knowledge of a foreign language is a compulsory demand, because the department holds many international meetings.”

How many?

“For example, on Friday I had four meetings with foreigners out of eight scheduled ones for the day. Besides, there are calls and correspondence. Will we find translators for all this? We don’t have time for that. Today all donors are from abroad. The experience of positive transformations is foreign. Recently, someone accused us of polyglotism. No. This is not polyglotism. This is our time, the tasks faced by the state and state officials. If you need today to learn about the experience of the Czech Republic, you will talk English with a Czech. Today I   am having a phone conversation with Kakha [Kakha Bendukidze is former minister of economy of Georgia. – Ed.]. Fortunately, he speaks Russian. But if he didn’t know Russian, I would speak English with him. Today there are people who are ready to help Ukraine and they speak English.”

What percentage of the apparatus of the Presidential Administration has a command of at least one foreign language?

“I don’t know.”

Having heard about the algorithm of firing and hiring of new people to the Presidential Administration, I conclude that there is a great deal of subjectivity.

“It’s always like that. Of course we will announce a competition for certain positions. Seventy percent will be replaced. We cut only 20 percent of the apparatus, but I’m sure that we could cut more. But we need to hold a functional analysis. And we will do it later. There is a need to increase staff in some departments, and to cut by 50 percent in some other. But for this you should understand their functional load.”

You will understand this when you see the strategic goal of the Presidential Administration. Do you understand it?

“This is connected with the strategy of the country’s moving ahead. I have come here and the first thing I’m doing is the stress of the system. Further I will need people of different quality. Someone wrote on my Facebook page the quotation of Vaclav Havel: ‘Five years of mistakes are better than five years of sabotage.’ This is correct.

“At a meeting with an expert with whom we discuss the reform of the state service, he told me: let’s change everything in a slow pace. I answered: what slow pace? People in the streets and in the trenches are waiting for the decisions now, not in a slow pace. And these people are telling me about preserving of institutional memory. The quality of the documents written by some ‘institutional memory’ makes me feel hot and cold all over. Yes, they write in a beautiful language, but we are not writing essays here, we are trying to analyze the problem and solve it.

“Here is an example from the life of the Presidential Administration which is an illustration to the problem. Recently they had a task to study the international experience of solving certain question. This international experience is exclusively in English. Who will translate it for you if you don’t know the language? There is no time for translator. You need to quickly analyze and make decisions. Look at what these people did in such a situation, what those people did, call a colleague from Washington and ask something, call to Strasburg and ask what you need. This is the format of a modern efficient state service.”

Cannot your colleague, another deputy head of the Presidential Administration, stand this pressure? There are rumors that he resigned.

“Who told you that he resigned?”

Did the mass media provide unverified information?

“Of course.”

Are these some “games” around or within the Presidential Administration? You wrote about some competition struggle here. What is this? Who is fighting whom?

“I cannot say directly who is fighting whom. Some people have probably come for political decorations here. I have come because, first, I was asked to, second, to change the country.”

Were you personally invited by the president?

“Yes. We have an extraordinary chance to change the country. We cannot sit and wait till it becomes convenient to someone. People in the Maidan were not sitting and waiting for the spring, when it is ‘comfortable’ to protest. Of course there are people who are dissatisfied with what we are doing in the Presidential Administration. They have worked here, they were doing something. I am thankful to them for this. But a different time has come. Yes. Maybe we will be making mistakes. I don’t deny this. We have been contaminated with the bureaucracy bacillus. And I think that we should thank God for this. I look at the process and try to understand how to draw it. Here [he points at a board, where different schemes, arrows and squares, are drawn. – Ed.] we were sitting and trying to understand the system of electronic documentation circulation, and understood that this is not the question of circulation, rather it is the question how to speed up the process of making the decision, how to make it efficient.”

What task did the president set before you when he personally invited you to his team?

“First, overcoming of corruption. Secondly, deregulation of economy. He outlined directions for me. Third, implementation of a modern system of management and decision-making. Fourth, reorganization, and we as the Presidential Administration must set the pace of this reorganization.

“When I announced for the first time at a press briefing that we will fire 400 people in the Presidential Administration, do you know what the reaction was? I’ve mended our kitchen only a bit. So what? People have approved this, they are waiting for the power to be modernized. Therefore when I’m asked what will the people, whom we are throwing practically into the street, do, what will they live for, I     ask: do we want to modernize the power or are we going to worry about those who will go to the street? I understand that we are a social country. People here like to talk about socialism. I’m sorry, but the circumstances demand something different. If a person is a professional, s/he will find a job. If not, why are we paying him or her? Are you ready to pay to a non-professional from your taxes?”

You’ve mentioned combating corruption. Please, explain why the draft law on creation of the national anti-corruption bureau submitted by the Presidential Administration last week has not been registered in the Verkhovna Rada?

“I don’t know. The political race has begun. The draft law was submitted to the VR. I think it is of much higher quality than the one submitted in April. Both public and Cabinet of Ministers worked on the law, and we were supported by the international community. Our draft law is not populist. It corresponds to the legislation of Ukraine.”

Something wrong is going on in our “kingdom,” when the crucial draft laws of the president can be sabotaged by the VR apparatus.

“I won’t comment on this (laughing).

“See, the story of the 3G reform repeats itself. At least there is a decision. I’m thankful to the public for vigilance.”

Delimiter 468x90 ad place

Subscribe to the latest news:

Газета "День"