2nd October 2018, Kyiv – On Tuesday, October 2, the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee presented its new report, Poor governance and corruption in Ukraine’s defence housing system: Risks and Recommendations, and called for systemic changes in how servicemen and women are housed. There are 47 thousand families of servicemen currently waiting for homes. According to a preliminary calculation by NAKO, under the current model, it would take more than 600 years to house them all.
NAKO identified ineffective management and corruption risks, including that a few individuals have the power to make decisions with few controls and little oversight. Interviewees reported that servicemen are required to pay bribes to get a place in the queue for houses, even as some are provided with multiple homes.
And poor oversight means that companies that fail to deliver on the buildings they’ve committed to are not held to account; in one instance, the director of a company that failed to build the homes it was contracted to was even put in the position of overseeing the body ensuring that military properties are built.
The report also identified that poor planning by the MOD leads to unbuilt homes and drained budgets, even as thousands wait for homes. In one building alone, researchers found that the Ministry paid more than $300,000 US dollars over what the Ministry of Regional Development estimated the cost should be.
NAKO Co-Chair James Wasserstrom stated: “It is high time for the MOD to find a realistic way to make good on unrealistic Soviet promises. This is going to require a major change that won’t be easy. It will require political courage to make decisions in the long-terms interests of Ukraine’s military, rather than sticking to commitments that the Ministry is unable to deliver.”
NAKOs New Committee Member, Former NATO Vice Chief fo Staff, SHAPE, LTG Michel Yekovleff, stressed the need for Ukraine to keep its Euro/Atlantic promises: “Being with the EU and NATO means following their principles and procedures”.
In terms of defence housing, it means that Ukraine is expected to follow the best examples of the Euroatlantic contries providing the decent housing to the servicemen in a transparent and non-prone to corruption way”.
NAKO recommends that the Ministry of Defence:
1. Abolish the housing queue. Instead of promising homes that the Ministry cannot deliver, it should move to a model of transparent, fair monetary compensation for personnel, which is not only more realistic, but also puts decision-making in the hands of service families.
2. Conduct an audit of existing homes and the queue of those waiting for homes. This can be used to make the Maino-Zhytlo software, which tracks the queue and available homes, more effective.
3. Adopt capability-based planning, so that housing projects that the MOD embarks on are based on the real needs of its troops.
NAKO conducted the research on housing corruption at the request of Defence Minister Poltorak. The Committee has offered to advise and support the Ministry on the implementation of the recommendations for systemic reform.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO) aims to reduce corruption and increase accountability in the Ukrainian defence sector. It is a joint initiative of Transparency International Defence and Security (TI-DSP) and Transparency International Україна (ТІ Ukraine). NAKO’s vision is that Ukraine’s defence and security sector that is accountable, efficient, and has a low level of corruption. Its mission is to minimize opportunities for corruption through strong research, effective advocacy, and increased public awareness, in order to strengthen the Ukrainian defence and security sector.
The Committee consists of six members: Editor in Chief of ‘Ukrayinska Pravda’ Sevgil Musaieva, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Former First Deputy Secretary Defence and Security Council of Ukraine Volodymyr Ogryzko, Chairman of Centre UA, co-initiator of Chesno Campaign Oleh Rybachuk, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery and Former Anti-Corruption Commissioner in Slovenia Drago Kos, and anti-corruption expert and Former Head of Oversight of Public Utilities at the UN Mission in Kosovo James Wasserstrom. The committee is supported by a Secretariat in Kyiv, which is led by Olena Tregub.