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From the transcript:

Mikhail Mishustin: Dear Yaroslav Ivanovich!

Meeting of Mikhail Mishustin with Scientific Director of the Higher School of Economics, Yaroslav Kuzminov

The government is now actively working to achieve the national development goals that were set by the President. Works on the implementation of national projects, government programs. Of course, it is important for us that every decision we make is effective in practice, takes into account the specifics, including the situation in the economy, and industry-specific nuances.

Most recently, the President approved 42 strategic initiatives for the country’s socio-economic development, which we actively discussed with the expert community. Each of them is aimed at improving the well-being of people, developing infrastructure, creating new points of growth in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, in general, at territorial planning, at the development of constituent entities of the Federation. Deputy prime ministers, heads of federal executive bodies – very actively worked out these initiatives with a fairly large number of experts, scientists, representatives of public associations. And this interaction with the expert community was very productive.

We plan to develop this practice further. Moreover, it is necessary that experts interact with the Government on projects throughout the entire path – from the initial stages of development to practical implementation. I mean the feedback, which the President often talks about, so that the way we conceive the implementation of certain projects, state programs, would be adequate to how the people for whom these programs and projects are being implemented see it.

You, dear Yaroslav Ivanovich, headed the Higher School of Economics for a long time, created it and now you are the scientific advisor. Today it is one of the leading universities in the country. For many years, the school has been engaged in, among other things, the examination of various kinds of regulatory documents and projects. And, taking into account your experience in this area, I would like to invite you to head the Expert Council under the Government of the Russian Federation. And on a systematic basis, organize the interaction of the Government with the expert community. This is not an easy task. It seems to me that you, given your experience and professionalism, will be able to cope with it. I would like to hear your opinion on this matter, including on the possible work of the council.

Y. Kuzminov: Mikhail Vladimirovich, thank you for your proposal. Thank you for your kind words about HSE. You rightly said that we have a wealth of experience in expert work. This is always a big responsibility. This is very important for any scientist to be involved in solving problems that are really important for the people and for the economy.

We see the peculiarity of the current Government – we see that the new composition of the Government is now working as one team. This approach is effective, this is how you want to work.

In the first half of the year – you spoke about 42 initiatives, we took an active part in this – a new format of interaction between the Government and the expert community took shape.

We are already accustomed to the fact that the main platform for such work is the Government Coordination Center. A new model of work has developed there – this is the formation of expert groups for the problem, this is a full-fledged inclusion in these expert groups of deputy prime ministers, heads of departments and, next to them, young heads of departments, young civil servants of ministries. People get a wonderful experience of working not just with experts, but among themselves, between different departments. And there is (we see this) horizontal interaction not only at the ministerial level (because it is inevitable only paper or often paper), but between those who prepare these papers. This is what a single team consists of, and it seems to me that the Government has taken a very serious step in this joint work with experts.

The pandemic brought not only hardships and inconveniences – it brought organizational discoveries: it turns out that you can work more efficiently without gathering a lot of people in one room. Digital technologies allow organizing the joint work of dozens of people and collecting exactly those who have something to say in real time.

We talked for a long time before that we need to involve the regions, listen to the regions. As soon as we got down to this, a lot of ideas immediately appeared, a lot of people from the regions. And you know them, and we know them as experts – this is a very pleasant discovery for us.

In general, the circle of experts involved has expanded several times. And the composition of the experts has changed a lot – it has become younger. And we see very qualified young people from business, from regional governments, from regional universities. Basically, these are people of 30-40 years old who received education and professional experience already in the new Russia in the 21st century. And this is how it works now. Instead of a closed circle of experts and expert organizations defined for each ministry for years to come, a new circle of experts has appeared. This is much more useful and much more interesting.

I think that the work of the new composition of the Expert Council under the Government should reflect these changes that have already taken place. Not once approved list, but constantly changing composition of problem groups. To approve a fairly compact composition of the council, and it will already form such groups.

And when forming the new composition of the Expert Council, of course, it is necessary to increase the efficiency and, ultimately, the usefulness of its work.

Normal forensics should be based on data. These are statistics, departmental statistics, sociology. And this is a new information resource of our time – big data.

Expert groups, I believe, should have not only access to information resources of the Government and individual departments, but the ability to initiate a new study, collect new data.

In other words, the Expert Council could get the right to an information initiative if you approve it.

And of course, the council should do its main job – this is a preliminary discussion of regulatory and legislative decisions. An analysis of how the actions of the Government can affect the economy, society.

I hope that the current state of the national expertise can help in the work of the Government. And I am ready to take part in this.

Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you, Yaroslav Ivanovich.

On the whole, I support what you said. Of course, you need to find the right form of interaction.

You just said a very important thing – “data-driven economics.” I am a deep supporter of the fact that economics based on primary data, correctly, properly processed and correctly presented, is much more reliable in this sense. And predictive analytics is built on such a basis, and many models, digital platforms that prevail in the world today, in large corporations. All these, of course, are issues related to serious reflection, which, among other things, the expert community could discuss with the Government and, as you said, in this sense, provide all kinds of support for the reforms and ideas that the Government has today. And the achievement of the national goals that the President has set for us.

I would ask you to coordinate this work with the head of the Government Staff Dmitry Yuryevich Grigorenko.

And I will also give the appropriate instructions to the members of the Government, so that you receive all kinds of assistance in this work of yours.

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

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