The Ministry of Infrastructure presented a plan for reforming the State Transportation Safety Service (Ukrtransbezpeka) in October last year. It was announced that recruitment of new inspectors and combating corruption in the area of vehicle size and weight regulation would be among the main goals of the reform. A three-stage employee selection process, including computer testing and interviews by a commission of experts, has been introduced for this purpose. "It is important for such a selection process to become permanent," Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Mustafa Nayem said. In addition, according to him, the Ministry of Infrastructure wants to introduce vertical management as much as possible to ensure that there are no links between Ukrtransbezpeka inspectors and local elites and carriers. The vehicle size and weight regulatory service must understand the situations in localities. The ministry is also hoping to regain the trust of carriers. “We are currently doing everything possible to ensure that carriers understand that an inspector will not take illegal action, and we are considering the possibility of creating a call center for carriers,” Nayem said.
In an interview with the CFTS portal, the “Ukrtransbezpeka National Inspector Selection” project’s head Yulia Bilous discusses the type of selection process that was introduced at Ukrtransbezpeka, the salaries of new inspectors, and the recruitment of female inspectors.
Tell us about the competition and the new procedure for selecting inspectors.
The nationwide process for selecting Ukrtransbezpeka inspectors was initiated by the Ministry of Infrastructure, specifically Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Mustafa Nayem. He invited me to the project because we jointly selected employees for the patrol police in 2015-2016. It was decided to implement a similar competitive process in Ukrtransbezpeka.
How exactly was the selection conducted?
The selection process consists of four stages. The first stage involves filling out online questionnaires. We received 1,000 applications within the first three days and about 2,000,000 in total. The basic criteria for candidates were citizenship of Ukraine, knowledge of the Ukrainian language, and higher education. In total, 1,824 people qualified for the second stage, which involves computer-based testing. One of the tests includes questions regarding knowledge of the law. The second is a general skills test that is used to select police officers, and it tests logical and analytical thinking. To pass the test, candidates needed to answer more than 40% of the questions correctly. The third stage consists of an interview by a commission of experts. In total, 575 people qualified for this stage. Before the interviews, our partners at IDLO Ukraine checked all the candidates in open registries. Our IDLO Ukraine partners have the experience of conducting a similar competitive selection process during the reform of prosecutor’s offices. As a result of these checks, we found out that many active police officers applied and that, unfortunately, not all of them proved to be worthy. We uncovered that some of these applicants had links to carriers, which suggested a possible conflict of interest.
The criteria based on which the commission of experts assessed candidates during the interviews were integrity, motivation, communication skills, the ability to withstand stress, and the ability to solve problems. The questions that members of the commission used to determine whether candidates met each criterion during the interviews were designed jointly with human resources experts at IDLO Ukraine. After the completion of all these stages, 147 people were registered for the service.
Many active police officers applied and, unfortunately, not all of them proved to be worthy. We uncovered that some of these applicants had links to carriers, which suggested a possible conflict of interest.
Who was in the commission?
Each commission had a representative from Ukrtransbezpeka, a representative from an anti-corruption department (the anti-corruption department of the Ministry of Infrastructure or Ukrtransbezpeka), a representative from the Ministry of Infrastructure’s Reform Support Team (RST), two representatives from public organizations (the Association of International Road Carriers (ASMAP), the Transport Industry Employers Federation, regional public associations, and other civil society organizations in the transport industry). Therefore, the composition of the commission was balanced.
I personally invited almost all members of the public to join the commission. I remember telephoning the head of one civil society organization that often criticizes Ukrtransbezpeka, but in response to the invitation he said, "Are you not afraid?" We communicated regularly before interviewing candidates in his region, I answered his questions, shared the information that was available to members of the commission, and granted him access to another commission at his request to enable him to see how interviews were being conducted. However, he refused to participate at the last moment, saying that I was hiding information from him without saying what information I was hiding. Therefore, it is also not without some interesting stories.
From which regions did the most applicants come and did women apply for these positions?
The greatest interest was from candidates in the western regions. The level of competition there reached 30 applicants per position. Women filled about 20% of the total number of questionnaires. Out of the 147 new inspectors that we hired, 25 are women.
Were there any memorable situations?
It was not without people engaging in wishful thinking, with candidates without higher education diplomas claiming that they received higher education. Some candidates who scored below the pass mark attempted to “negotiate,” and there were telephone calls to Mustafa Nayem to complain about “falsification” of test results even though the test is fully automated. There was a case in Lviv in which a candidate’s mouse kept moving across the computer screen on its own. The administrators there responded at lightning speed, transferring the candidate to another computer, changing the password, and systemically restricting the ability to use a single login to log in from different PCs. The candidate did not pass.
Will the recruitment of inspectors continue?
We have announced an additional round of recruitment in the southern regions (the Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions) because we were unable to fill all the vacancies during the first round of recruitment. The southern regions require more attention in terms of vehicle size and weight regulation and more people are needed there, especially during the relevant season. Therefore, there are more vacancies in these regions than in others. However, 80% of the candidates were eliminated because the commission concluded during the interviews that not all of them were ready to work honestly. Sixteen job vacancies have now been announced, including five in the Kherson region, five in the Mykolaiv region, and six in the Odesa region (three in Odesa city and three in Izmail). Applications are now closed. Out of almost 300 applicants, 233 will qualify for the second stage. We plan to complete all the stages in March.
What will be the procedure if one or more job vacancies open?
We clearly understand that a testing and interview procedure must be conducted for this position, even if it is a single vacancy and not a nationwide selection process. The only difference is that instead of announcing a large-scale competition, information about the job vacancy will be published on Ukrtransbezpeka’s information platforms and job search websites.
I am not ruling out the possibility of another round of large-scale recruitment being announced after the performance review process.
Can we say that Ukrtransbezpeka is fully staffed with inspectors?
I would not say so. The 147 people that we selected were intended to fill the additional vacancies that the ministry approved for Ukrtransbezpeka in 2021. In addition, about 150 inspectors are already working at Ukrtransbezpeka, and we plan to put them through a performance review process. Some people will probably leave Ukrtransbezpeka after the performance review process and will need to be replaced. In addition to that, there is the natural staff turnover. Therefore, I am not ruling out the possibility of another round of large-scale recruitment being announced after the performance review process.
When is the performance review scheduled to take place?
We plan to conduct it in the second quarter of this year. We are currently preparing the appropriate regulatory framework. As soon as this is done, we will begin notifying employees two months before the beginning of the performance review process. The procedure will be the same as the procedure for selecting new inspectors: mandatory testing and an interview by a commission of experts.
What is the salary level for new employees?
The team at the ministry has managed to achieve a significantly larger budget for the payment of salaries at Ukrtransbezpeka in 2022. The minimum wages for inspectors will be UAH 16,000 in the regions, UAH 17,000-18,000 in cities with populations of over 1 million, and UAH 20,000 in Kyiv and Odesa, where the standards and costs of living are the highest.
Will the wages of new and existing employees differ?
There is currently a difference. The salaries of the existing inspectors are slightly lower. However, we plan to introduce a performance appraisal system with the aim of paying each employee based on his or her individual performances without reference to the "new/old" category.