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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Deputy Prime Minister, Chief of Staff of the Government Dmitry Grigorenko – on the completion of the public administration reform.

As a result of the reform of the state apparatus, announced by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin at the end of 2020, the number of civil servants in Russia has decreased by almost 10%. This was stated in an interview with Izvestia by the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers – Chief of Staff of the Government Dmitry Grigorenko. He noted that the optimization that took place is the most ambitious in recent years. However, the essence of the reform is not in adjusting quantitative indicators, but in changing the model of the work of the state apparatus, the Cabinet of Ministers notes. They expect that this is what will make the public administration system more efficient.

Question: Dmitry Yuryevich, what caused the need for reforms in the state apparatus?

D. Grigorenko: The requirement of the time. The existing structure of government bodies has remained practically unchanged over the years. In modern conditions, it cannot effectively work on solving the tasks set by the state.

During this time, the corporate sector has already transformed business management models several times, based on changing consumer demands and the opportunities that technology provides.

All this time, the state apparatus continued to work according to a system that had not changed for decades – according to the principle of “departmental wells”, that is, in a closed cycle – through long bureaucratic agreements. This led to serious systemic problems: the public administration model turned out to be absolutely non-adaptive, not meeting modern realities and new challenges.

Question: What exactly was wrong?

D. Grigorenko: Before the start of the reform, we analyzed the state of affairs in ministries and departments. This work showed that, firstly, the staffing of government agencies often does not correspond to the functions that are entrusted to them.

Secondly, the number of managers in many government agencies turned out to be overstated. For example, the deputy head of the department could supervise only one department, where there were no more than 10 employees. A redundant chain of supervisors reduced agility and increased administrative costs.

Thirdly, in many departments, the number of support units was overestimated. In some cases, such employees accounted for more than half of the staff.

Fourth, up to 20% of posts in the central offices and up to 12% in territorial bodies were ineffectively used and remained vacant. The rates were kept for the payment of bonuses or material incentives. This imbalance in the structure of departments did not allow the flexible and fast implementation of modern management models, as is customary in the private sector.

Question: What model of the state apparatus was taken as a basis for carrying out the reform?

D. Grigorenko: Answering this question, we must proceed from the tasks that are facing the public administration system today. It must be able to adapt to the challenges of the new reality, which is based on digital transformation.

Technologies multiply the possibilities of increasing the efficiency of the state apparatus. They help to implement the model of a service state, focused on the needs of society, on the high quality of services provided to citizens. Therefore, government institutions should become digital platforms, naturally and imperceptibly provide services as quickly as possible. We have taken this model as a basis.

First of all, we tried to solve the key problem of the structural imbalance in the staffing of state departments. The government has developed uniform standards for the organizational and staffing model. The emphasis was on eliminating redundant leadership positions. So, the deputy head must now supervise at least two structural divisions, and the deputy head of the structural division must supervise at least two departments.

We have also established minimum headcount requirements. For departments of ministries – at least 40 people, departments in a service or agency – at least 25 people, for departments – at least five people.

The staff of supporting workers should not exceed 30% of the maximum number, with an increase in the number of specialized specialists.

It is important that in the course of the reform, mechanisms of point adjustment were envisaged. So, if the department needs to strengthen the central apparatus, the leadership can redistribute the number at the expense of territorial bodies within the wage fund.

There are significant reserves here due to digitalization and the use of platform solutions, which allow some of the functions, including territorial bodies, to be centralized at the federal or interregional level, leaving a limited range of issues at the regional level, for example, only on face-to-face service of citizens.

Question: The optimization of the state apparatus was planned to be completed by April 1. Were you in time?

D. Grigorenko: At the moment, 66 structural divisions and 33 staff units of deputy heads of federal departments have been reduced.

The staffing of departments has also been reduced: in central offices – by 213 units, and in territorial bodies – by 31,642 units. Thus, as the government announced at the very beginning of the reform in November last year, the number of the state apparatus by April 1 decreased by almost 10% on the whole – this is one of the largest reductions in recent years.

However, here it is very important to understand that the optimization of the number of employees is carried out at the expense of unused vacancies with the preservation of the payroll – this means that the risks of dismissal or reduction in the level of remuneration of employees who professionally perform their duties are minimized.

Question: Why do you think that the reform will pay off? After all, this is far from the first attempt to turn the bureaucratic machine around and put it on a new track.

D. Grigorenko: The essence of the current reform is not in adjusting quantitative indicators, but in changing the structure of the state apparatus. We will make it more compact. This, in turn, will eliminate duplication of functions, eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and allow the state apparatus to work more efficiently.

At the same time, we are encouraging increased use of digital solutions. This will increase the speed and quality of critical decision-making to meet national development goals. But most importantly, it will be easier, more comfortable and faster for people to receive government services.

Question: What are the further prospects for the reform?

D. Grigorenko: The reorganization of the state apparatus will become the basis for further reforming the system of remuneration of civil servants. This issue has been discussed for a long time, but artificially supported empty rates hindered the transformation.

A situation has developed when the gap between departments has become critical: in ministries – 1.5 times, in services – 1.7 times, in agencies – 1.9 times, and in territorial bodies – doubled.

As a result, the most qualified employees move to high-wage departments. This leads to different levels of competence of employees, directly interferes with the well-coordinated work of the entire state apparatus. This year, the government will balance the level of average wages between departments and lead to a fair level – this is the most important stage of the reform.

Secondly, the very structure of salaries will change – the share of monthly guaranteed payments will increase due to a decrease in the bonus fund, which will allow field employees to plan socially significant expenses, for example, mortgages. And thirdly, the motivational part will be tied to the specific results of the work performed. This will contribute to the growth of the motivation of existing employees, attract promising and effective specialists to the civil service.

Question: Will the reform be completed on this?

D. Grigorenko: If you look closely at the best practices, whether in business or in public administration, we will see that the most important element of success is striving for continuous development. Today, digitalization is the driver of change, but this is not an end in itself, but only a tool that needs to be learned to apply correctly. Therefore, we will continue to carefully analyze and then translate into online format the widest possible range of departmental processes, especially in the part that relates to control and oversight functions. Public services to businesses and citizens should be provided on a 24/7 basis and extraterritorially.

At the same time, it is important to understand that the key element of success is not “number”, but people who are united by one goal. Therefore, the main and most difficult thing is to reformat the state apparatus into a modern, result-oriented team of professional employees. In our work, we will strive for exactly this result.

A source –“News”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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