The following OECD assessment and recommendations summarise Chapter 3 of the Economic Survey of the Russian Federation 2006, published on 27 November 06.
The government has renewed its commitment to reform of the public administration
Effective implementation of the government’s new administrative reform Concept, adopted in October 2005, would also help curtail corruption. Russia badly needs an honest, effective public administration with an appropriate incentive structure. The state bureaucracy is inefficient, largely unresponsive to either the public or its political masters, and often corrupt. It is cited by foreign and domestic investors alike as one of the principal obstacles to investment in Russia today. It poses a particularly heavy burden on small and medium-sized enterprises, which are often less able to defend themselves against the bureaucracy than are large companies. Moreover, the poor quality of the state administration impinges on structural reforms in almost every other field, since it limits the government’s ability to implement any policies that require administrative or regulatory capacities of a high order. It also imposes significant costs on citizens engaged in such routine tasks as registering property transactions.
The quality of public administration compares poorly with both old and new OECD members
Source: World Bank Governance Research Indicator Country Snapshots (2005).
More can be done to improve the institutional environment, empower citizens and enhance transparency
The Concept emphasises, among other things, the implementation of public service standards, further de-regulation, rationalisation of the functions of state bodies, and measures to increase transparency. The government’s main priority should be to ensure its consistent, systematic implementation. In addition, the authorities may want to consider a number of measures that are either outside the scope of the Concept or receive relatively little attention in it:
Reform will achieve little in the absence of improvements in the broader institutional environment within which the state bureaucracy operates. Steps to strengthen the rule of law, civil society institutions – including an independent press – and political accountability will all be critical. There is a need for stronger mechanisms for ensuring legislative oversight of the executive, whether via parliamentary committees or institutions like the Accounts Chamber.
Greater openness is essential to monitoring, accountability and anti-corruption efforts. Freedom of information legislation should be adopted, along with other measures to establish a norm of transparency in public bodies. The government should also ensure that arrangements for adopting public service standards and the related standing rules are open and consultative, and result in documents that are clear and accessible to ordinary citizens.
Service standards and similar innovations will mean little in the absence of effective non-judicial means of redress for citizens wishing to challenge bureaucratic decisions. The Concept refers repeatedly to non-judicial redress but contains no specifics. This is a major omission. Providing effective non-judicial mechanisms for individuals and organisations to defend their interests in conflict with public bureaucracies should be a first-order priority. An ombudsman or similar institution should also be created.
The government's administrative reform targets for the period to 2010 are very ambitious
Source: Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.
Anti-corruption efforts can be strengthened by legislative change and increased use of ICT
Greater transparency combined with more effective non-judicial redress for citizens should do much to reduce corruption, particularly in connection with public procurements and fire, sanitation and other inspections. However, more can be done to combat corruption. Anti-corruption efforts would be facilitated by increasing the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in interactions between officials and businesses or private citizens, especially in fields such as licensing or public procurement. There is also much to be done to bring Russia’s anti-corruption legislation into line with international standards. Adoption and implementation of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials would provide a further signal of the authorities’ determination to crack down on corruption in all its forms. “Whistleblower protection” legislation and a law on lobbying are also needed. Nevertheless, neither technology nor new legislation will achieve significant results in the absence of more effective and consistent law enforcement.
How to obtain this publication
The Policy Brief (pdf format) can be downloaded. It contains the OECD assessment and recommendations but not all of the charts included on the above pages.
The complete edition of the Economic survey of the Russian Federation 2006 is available from:
For further information please contact the Russia Desk at the OECD Economics Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. The OECD Secretariat's report was prepared by William Tompson and Christian Gianella under the supervision of Andreas Wörgötter.