Are the Hotlines Really Hot? Findings of the Government Hotline Research

For members of the public, the easiest and fastest way to communicate with the authorities is to submit appeals, in either oral or written form. Oral appeals can be most promptly channeled to authorities with the help of telephone hotlines. Calling the hotlines, citizens seek to convey their problem issues or proposals to authorities or civil servants. In recent years, electronic appeals have also emerged, gradually becoming the fastest way for citizens to communicate with authorities in writing.

That is why the Association for Community Self-Organization Assistance conducted a study of a government service of telephone hotlines and electronic appeals.

Today, on October 16, the authors of the study presented its findings and a discussion with experts on how to improve the quality of appeal service for citizens.

Video of the presentation and discussion can be found following the link.

“No surprise that the International Renaissance Foundation supports this research for the third time, as it is a very important issue. And despite everything, we are able to witness some progress.

At present, as shown by the research, the call service has got many issues: administrative, financial and human aspects. Speaking from the viewpoint of a service recipient, I want to reach them on the phone, leave a request, hoping for a quick turnaround. However, are the hotlines really hot? Do the authorities respond to the inquiries promptly? In my viewpoint, such “hotness” shall be regulated legislatively, whereas the examined issues need a comprehensive solution”,  – said Oleksiy Orlovsky, Democratic Practice Program Director.

Experts of the Association for Community Self-Organization Assistance examined the performance of tools for interaction between citizens and authorities. In particular, they reviewed the organizational and legal framework underpinning the operation of telephone “hotlines” and the availability of information about this service on the official websites of the government bodies.

Experts placed 600 mock telephone calls and electronic appeals to the government hotline and selected several central executive power bodies to test the service quality, and performed case studies of court litigations related to citizens’ addresses to government bodies via telephone hotline and websites. Based on the data obtained in the course of the research, experts generated ratings of telephone hotlines and electronic appeal services provided by executive power bodies.

Five key findings of telephone hotline research

  1. Out of 125 numbers used for telephone hotlines of the central executive power bodies (CEBs), only 14 (or 11%) are free of charge. Other central executive power bodies use landline telephone numbers with the area code of Kyiv city.
  2. Hotlines supported by eight central executive power bodies operate once a week or even less often.
  3. When calling 238 out of 300 surveyed hotlines, experts managed to get hold of call service operators, which constitute 79% of all hotlines under review.
  4. In total, experts received 160 responses (41 written and 119 oral), which constitute 67% of the total number of successful calls.
  5. According to experts, only 34% of telephone calls resulted in problem solving.

Five key findings of website appeal research

  1. Only 9 CEBs have links on their official websites to website appeal services (30% of the surveyed bodies).
  2. Only in 5% of cases, applicants were duly informed on the status of appeal consideration.
  3. In 67% of cases, website appeals were responded in writing, whereas one third of applications remained unanswered, which constitutes a direct violation of the law.
  4. Only 53% of responses were provided to applicants within the time period prescribed by law.
  5. According to experts, only 27% of website appeals helped solve problems, while in 18% of cases the issues were addressed only partially.

Oleksandr Yarema, State Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine said:

“In the near future, it shall be possible to restructure the architecture of work with appeals to improve the user experience. Of course, such restructuring would require a lot of efforts. However, based on your research findings, it shall be possible to develop a new model and implement best practices identified domestically and internationally”.

According to the results of the study, experts developed recommendations for various stakeholders to take measures to improve the situation in the area of processing citizen appeals received through the channels of modern means of telecommunications.

Inter alia, it has been recommended to the Cabinet of Ministers to continue implementing the policy aiming to unify and integrate organizational and legal tools of processing citizen appeals in executive power bodies; to create a unified system of appeals to all state authorities based on the principle of a “single window” on the basis of the Government-held call center. At the same time, it is recommended to review and update this system’s concepts and the architecture.

Experts have suggested a possible model. More details and other conclusions and recommendations can be found in the full report.

Materials: Association for community selforganization assistance

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