How (not) to reform the State Architectural and Construction Inspection

Dreams of convenient and transparent services and predictable state control in construction are supposed to come true already. What should we do?

Let’s imagine the State Architectural and Construction Inspection (hereinafter – DABI) of our dream.

Construction of a small garage near your private house can be registered with just a few mouse clicks.

A 3D project is displayed on the online maps for public discussion and control before the construction of the object, which doesn’t comply with construction standards, and consequently, it is impossible to build monster houses.

The reconstruction of the Hostynnyi Dvir ends with a DABI’s inspection, which is controlled by Ukrainians, watching a video and a checklist of the decision to issue a certificate filled out by inspectors online.

Previously, the system was transparent only to corrupt officials who waited for the applications of those who plan construction projects and demanded bribes.

Now the system will be transparent and public for all Ukrainians.

It is no longer possible to “plant” documents for approval of design documents for construction from specialists without their permission, as now construction contractors confirm their relationship to each object in their electronic cabinet.

Architects take care of every detail of the project, because they are responsible for their work not only on paper.

What do we need to do to achieve this goal and does a package of decisions to reform DABI developed by the Schmygal government help to achieve our dreams?

Experts from the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) have analyzed the proposals of government officials and stated their position here.

In short, DABI of our dream is impossible without a few key changes.

Separation of service and control functions. The inspection is now empowered to both grant construction permits and licenses and control the sector, and this opens up unlimited opportunities for corruption pressure on business.

Bringing administrative services online. For this purpose, the law provides for the launch of a Unified state electronic system in construction.

At the same time, it is necessary to provide both an opportunity to submit documents to the regulator in electronic form for construction projects of all consequence (importance) classes and to open full access to all decisions of the regulator (permits, refusals, licenses, etc.).

Approval of unified forms of decisions on granting or refusing permits to perform construction works, certificates on putting completed facilities into operation, licenses for construction of objects with medium (CC2) and significant (CC3) consequence classes.

Simply put, an exhaustive list of requirements to be fulfilled by construction project owners or licensees should be formed and enriched in law.

If construction project owners or licensees fulfill these requirements, the architectural and construction control body will have no reason to refuse to grant them such a permit, certificate or license.

In addition, the issuance of construction permits and certificates on putting completed facilities into operation should be decentralized when it comes to CC2 and CC3 objects.

It is necessary to grant such right to the executive committees of local governments and introduce a mechanism for pre-trial appeals against refusals to issue permits and certificates, which will speed up the dispute resolution.

To reduce the corruption component during inspections, it is necessary to:

Consider delegating construction control powers to the private sector.

Transfer DABI’s functions of market surveillance of construction products to the State Service on Food Safety and Consumers Protection.

For example, in the UK, construction control functions may be performed by government agencies, private companies or individuals who meet certain qualifications, have been inspected and registered with the Construction Industry Council.

In New Zealand (ranked 7th in the World Bank’s Doing Business rating in the category “Obtaining a construction permit”), both government agencies and individuals who have received appropriate accreditation can perform the construction control functions.

Upgrade qualifications of control and supervisory authorities

For example, voluntary accreditation of local construction departments and other regulatory and supervisory agencies and organizations has been introduced in the United States.

Such a procedure improves the quality of the work of construction control and supervisory authorities, as it establishes requirements to the level of qualification of employees as well as helps to identify and eliminate performance shortcomings.

Record inspections using the DVR by the example of recording the work of patrol officers.

What increases the risk that the DABI will be unreformed:

Formal replacement of the previous State Architectural and Construction Inspectorate (DABI) with a new one (or with several new bodies) without actual reform of administrative services provision.

Blocking the operation of electronic services (construction project owner’s electronic cabinet) and the introduction of the Unified state electronic system in construction.

Reforming the DABI at the level of the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine that contradicts the law and “adjust” its requirements.

Such “reform” can be easily “reversed” through judicial procedures or based on political expediency. The changes should be clearly registered by the Parliament in the form of a law.

Dreams of convenient and transparent services and predictable state control are supposed to come true already.

Legally, Ukrainians have the right to register the construction of any object online and without bribes. It would be good to finally secure this right.

Source: Ekonomichna Pravda


BRDO is an independent regulatory policy advising institution in Ukraine, funded by the European Union under the FORBIZ project and within the framework of EU4Business Initiative.