USAID RADA Program: Responsible Accountable Democratic Assembly was launched in November 2013, just before millions of Ukrainians took to the streets for what is presently known as the Revolution of Dignity.
The Program's implementer is the East Europe Foundation, a Ukrainian nonprofit organization, which joined forces with three other Ukrainian NGOs for the USAID RADA implementation: Internews Ukraine, Agency for Legislative Initiatives, and Civil Network OPORA.
The goal set for USAID RADA is quite ambitious even for quiet times, let alone the times of political turmoil: "promote a representative, accountable and independent parliament – the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine."
The Program's priority tasks include:
- More effectively involve citizens in the legislative process through implementation of efficient tools for citizen (elector) communication, information and service provision;
- Expand citizen participation in the monitoring of the parliament operation; and
- Improve the effectiveness of independent parliamentary oversight of the executive branch.
To fulfill its tasks and achieve its goal, USAID RADA closely collaborates with Members of Parliament (MPs) and their aides, the Verkhovna Rada Secretariat, civil society organizations, research institutions and individual Ukrainian and international experts, as well as the media. The Program in particular:
- Supports MPs in their efforts to set up effective collaboration with their constituencies and improve the quality of exercising their representative powers;
- Promotes the initiatives of civic education and civil society monitoring of both the Verkhovna Rada and the MPs in order to increase their accountability to the electorate; and
- Facilitates the strengthening of an independent legislative branch within the system of state authorities in Ukraine by increasing the efficiency of current parliamentary procedures.
In addition, USAID RADA works to address such important issues as citizen education, active involvement of the youth, public participation in policy making and implementation, and effective anti-corruption policy. A gender component is also among the Program’s priority foci.
Below are only a few examples of USAID RADA efforts:
- Model District project, piloted with a group of competitively selected lawmakers and intended to improve communication and interaction between MPs and voters as well as employ e-democracy toolkit in parliamentary work. Activities include press tours, MP reports to constituencies, public discussions of draft legislation and other public events. A virtual MP's Mobile Office is also being developed under the project;
- E-Petitions to the Parliament – a service implemented on the Verkhovna Rada web site with support and hands-on assistance from USAID RADA;
- European Information and Research Center, reopened at the Verkhovna Rada owing to efforts of USAID RADA in cooperation with the VR Secretariat. USAID RADA supports the EIRC operation. Moreover, the Program bought an EBSCOhost subscription for the parliament. The EBSCO online research databases are now accessible from VR premises, including the EIRC.
- Parliamentary Internship Program. It was initiated in 1995 on a joint initiative of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Since 2009, the Interns' League has been administering the program, with support from USAID RADA since 2014. A total of about 1,500 interns have graduated from the program since 1995.