Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation
Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation
Maxim Oreshkin - about the new system of assessing the work of heads of regions
29 April 2019 15:40

Where is the place of the new system of assessing governors' work in the general system of strategic planning? How does the Decree correlate with other projects within the government?

Let me remind you how Presidential Decree № 204 (the May Decree of 2018. — “Kommersant”), current Decree №193 and priority national projects correlate. All the 15 indicators defined in the last Decree are a direct reflection of the national development goals defined in May 2018. De facto 15 indicators are a continuation of Decree No. 204 in terms of what governors should be focused on, participating in the implementation of the agenda set by the President.

Technically, indicators and their achievement affect the distribution of funds allocated specifically for these purposes — 20 billion rubles per year. To a wide extent, national projects for regions are a tool by which they can achieve these 15 goals. It is possible to combine indicators into two blocks: economy and quality of life. National projects themselves are just tools to achieve the goals. Yes, they have their indicators, but these are not top-level indexes. Top-level indexes are a list of 15 indicators of Decree No. 193.

Systems for assessing governors' work are used in different versions for many years. What is the difference between the new system and the previous ones?

In previous systems there were many goals, as a result, many dozens of indicators simply watered down the opportunities of assessment and execution. The current list of 15 indicators was approved by the decision of the State Council last year, and these are “natural” indicators, if you like. They are measurable, they are not artificial, they are certainly important to the society, not to some part of it, and they are clear to it.

There is one “political” indicator in the list, and it verifies the remaining 14. If the quality of education, environment, healthcare, labor market is improving, then this indicator should improve, and if their dynamics contradicts — then something wrong is happening, it is necessary to look at why the perception of such a policy is just like that. Indeed, there can be no one hundred percent correlation.

In any case, the indicator will reflect, among other things, how simply a particular governor communicates with people, and in this sense, it is a little wider — overall picture is created in conjunction with subjective and objective indicators. But regarding the rest, the development challenges must be measurable and objective. When a problem is measurable and quantifiable, you can understand how to deal with it.

Why just this list of 15 indicators has been selected? Was it quite possible to select another set of indicators from the national development goals?

If you look at the indicators themselves, they are arranged in quite a difficult way, despite their limited list and external simplicity. Together with the Presidential Executive Office we spent quite a lot of time creating them. On the one hand, they should be unambiguously measurable, on the other hand, they shouldn't be perceived by regions as something set externally, but they should be really linked directly with the values of the society. First of all, they should reflect the quality of life in the regions and the quality of economic development. Economy means investments and workplaces, quality of life is healthcare, education, roads, environment in the widest sense. Finally, the task of 15 indicators is to unite the Federal center and regions in achieving common goals.

The work on the indicators is carried out for several months through working groups of the State Council, this is a bilateral channel through which governors exchange with the Federal center their ideas on how certain parts of national projects are suitable for achieving these goals.

Why does the Ministry of Economic Development on the part of the Government deal with the subject of assessing governors?

The Ministry of Economic Development is responsible for regional policy in the Government. In this aspect we work closely with the Presidential Executive Office, including the Directorate of Corporate Policy Management of the Presidential Executive Office.

Rather unexpectedly, in the process of discussing the national projects implementation, the role of the State Council has grown, which is now almost the central platform for national projects discussion, whereas initially national projects were supposed to be a matter of project offices in the Government. Has anything changed?

All what’s happening is natural. Russia is a federal country, a lot of authorities are realized on the regional level, and people live in a particular region and city. Moreover, on the federal level — for example, on the macroeconomic policy level — a lot has already been done.

The State Council for this work is an absolutely suitable platform. First of all, an analytical one. For example, under the framework of the economy working group of the State Council there were created nine working subgroups systematically analyzing problems that were almost impossible to be undertaken before. For example, there is a subgroup on shadow economy, on labor productivity issues — beyond the State Council and without bilateral contact with the regions this work is simply impossible.

The point is not the project approach, it works. But national projects are a tool to achieve the development goals, with its resources and tools. The level of objective values of target indicators is slightly higher. Not only national projects but all the other work of regions should be aimed at achieving target indicators.

On the part of the Ministry of Economic Development — to what extent methodologies of calculating 15 indicators will differ from the “bare” data of Rossat for these indicators?

There are totally clear indicators in the list — the volume of investments, workplaces, poverty, life expectancy — their methods of calculation are traditional and do not need to be discussed and adjusted.

But there are also new aggregated indicators – the level of education, ecology – here we continue to work on calculation methods or to be more correct, the work is at the final stage. In the aspect of air, water quality, solid waste processing quality, we will check the performance of indicators firstly in several large cities: now there is no end-to-end system of the environment assessment in the country, there are separate measurements of the Meteorological Office and other organizations, an end-to-end system that would allow to assess the environment quality in large cities and to compare them with each other, does not exist yet. In the case of the education level, it is necessary to measure both the coverage and the quality of education, and mainly on the regional level, that is, at the intersection of secondary and higher education. It is important to measure the coverage of children 15-19 years old, the choice of vocational or higher education as an educational track. We, for example, will not use the Unified State Examination (USE) as a basic indicator. Instead, among other things, we will look at the share of school graduates who entered leading universities of Russia.

To what extent and how will indicators consider unequal starting conditions for the regions?

It is important how we will set specific key performance indicators (KPIs) for regional leaders. The spread between different regions in terms of quality of life is now very serious, so it is obligatory to consider the starting position of the region. The weaker the starting indicator and the lower the base is, the higher the ability of the region is to grow statistically quickly and to become a leader. In the second phase, the regions will be ranked compared with each other according to the degree of the KPIs implementation. The system will assess the region's progress towards each of the 15 goals. So, our task is to consider both the base from which the region starts and the use of the opportunities that it possesses.

What is supposed to do if the governor disagrees with the presented efficiency assessment, thinks that there are special reasons for the result just like this?

Regions have an opportunity to appeal and this is noted in the Decree. It is a necessary element, for example, in situations related to investments. Individual region's indicators are highly volatile due to large projects implementation, including federal ones. For example, the highway M-11 “Moscow-St. Petersburg” construction project has been implemented in Novgorod region for several years. Of course, data on investments of this project were considered in the regional statistics. In relation to the ordinary background of investments, at first, they grow sharply, then they decline sharply in the same way, and the region is not always able to predict in what year exactly will be the peak of investments, and when there will be a decline — it depends on companies implementing the project, they may have their own ideas, how, when and what to do. There is an appeal to remove such one-time distortions.

Whom is it offered to appeal to, which authority?

In the nearest future, the Government will determine the exact mechanism of appeal. It is clear that this will take place on the State Council site, we will discuss opportunities of adjustments together with the interested regions. Indeed, it is important for us to have these adjustments at the minimum level and reflecting specific cases, and to keep the objectivity of the assessment of goals implementation.

One of the key issues in this system will be the quality and objectivity of data collected by Rosstat system and regional statistic committees. Do you expect pressure on statisticians on the regional level?

Among other things, the new Head of Rosstat Pavel Malkov faces the task of not only qualitative and objective but also independent statistics. Risks of attempts to influence Regional State Statistics Services by certain regions exists, although they are territorial divisions of Federal bodies, Regional State Statistics Services work in territories, and although the possibility of intervention in their work is minimized, but still exists. The task to ensure independence of statistics from an individual official, who intends to “wind up” something in the data, is set and will be solved, among other things, by transition to more objective data, to a total data collection system. For example, there are data of retail cash registers network, which was created by the Federal Tax Service, it cannot be influenced by regional authorities. The Civil Registry Office system is transformed by the Federal Tax Service in the same way: everything happens “in the cloud”, real-time – for example, it is already completely impossible to “wind up” childbirth figures retroactively.

In general, the issue of pressuring Rosstat is wider, it is not only the matter of governors, in fact, the statistic information collection system is also well protected from misstatements even without it. That's not the point. Over the past year, people began to look at statistics more attentively, they began to analyze it in detail and to put more questions to us. Increased demand for statistics should automatically lead to an increased higher quality statistics offer.

Why is it not enough to focus only on performance indicators of national projects implementation or on purely fiscal indicators?

Some institutions offered to bureaucratize the process: for example, to use not something related to the quality of life as indicators, but the level of allocated budgetary funds application in this or that national project. These ideas have been completely rejected.

The issue that is the most interesting for the political system is sanctions for failure to achieve KPIs. At what level of indicators non-achievement can they be applied and what will they be? How many of the 15 KPIs need to be failed to discharge a regional head?

The system is designed for encouraging, not for punishing. Those who are at the top of the list will receive a large share of 20 billion rubles. In case of investments, for example, these are the amounts that are required there and can change something. Half a billion for the region can be a good allowance to the regional budget.

We expect a positive but not a negative motivation. Although, of course, my personal opinion is that the amount of grants to regions for success in achieving development goals should be greater, and this is the matter that needs to be further discussed.

Principally, the question “who is to blame” is not so important, the answer to the question “what is to be done” is much more important. There is no such task to discharge the governor for KPIs' non-performance. KPI is a benchmark but not a government task for mandatory achievement of the figure.

The traditional argument against any rigid KPI system, even in its incentive version, is local specificity. What is to be done with it?

The task is not to set some indicators and then just to observe from aside what is going on with them. The system established by the Decree is designed to assist regions in achieving the target indicators. Indicators, like national goals, are ambitious, and each region is unique, in fact, our task is to understand what in each region concretely is behind the changes of indicators and what needs to be done to move forward.

And in any case, we need to try to reduce regional differentiation. Where life expectancy in Russia is low, it must grow faster than where it is now growing faster; where it is already high, it must continue to grow, though at a slower pace than before. In its turn, life expectancy indicator is divided into several components: everywhere is a different age structure, everywhere are different causes of death. Therefore, considering, for example, the dynamics and causes of death in active working age, it is possible to determine what to do first to reduce this type of death faster than other ones.

At least, one region in Russia is very different in terms of economic structure and development level — this is Moscow. Will exceptions, reservations, extensions of methodology be done for it?

Moscow is in the general KPI system. Moscow is one of the world's leading cities in terms of quality of life and other indicators. That's why it needs to take next step forward – the system is built so that no matter how advanced you are, you still need to move further.

One more argument against the general KPIs is that the projects of Federal structures in the region highly affect all the indicators, so in many cases, it is impossible to say seriously that the regional authority is the one that is faulty for non-achieving development goals.

Yes, not everything depends on the region, so there is another track with which we work on the Federal level. There are KPIs by investments, established for industries by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Now all the regulation documents need to be brought into compliance for a particular industry with a focus on those indicators that industries and ministries need to achieve. Currently, there are meetings, including with First Deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov and at the Ministries that develop regulatory decisions on specific industries.

There are always unique stories, although, indeed, all the processes consist of unique stories. If we are talking about the information technology sector — for example, there is a question whether data centers can use electricity from specific power plants. Investments in the integrated power grid complex is a point of creation of excess generating capacities. Oil and gas processing are a matter of tax regimes adjustment. Each industry has point solutions that can open up space for a higher volume of investments.

Basically, any regional government itself, within its authority, has a right to determine how it intends to achieve KPIs, but the majority will require recommendations, standard road maps for their achievement. Do you and the Presidential Executive Office have them?

We deal with that now under the framework of the economy working group of the State Council, we primarily work with Perm Territory and its governor Maxim Reshetnikov. For example, we analyzed the structure of the regional labor market, the structure of investments there. Now Perm is ready to demonstrate how its employment structure and general employment will change, what investment projects will be implemented in the region and how it will influence the economy.

The results of this work, which will be presented soon to the State Council, will be methodological guidelines that can be used in any region — where to take statistics, how to carry out the analysis, how to describe the goal state based on indicators, how to move from point A to point B in general and how to structure this work.

We try to make even much more complicated and complex case with Tyva, for example. After I was appointed federal supervisor of the region (by the way, in the coming week, supervisors from the government will be appointed for ten such regions having difficult economic situation), by May 20 we prepare there a large interdepartmental meeting where we will look — in the context of 15 indicators — where Tyva is now (it is clear that this place will not be brilliant), we will analyze together with regional authorities and Federal ministries the reasons and ways for the situation changing by means of national projects. Recommendations and standard solutions which will be developed for Tyva – up to the possibility of applying best practices in regional finance management – will then be used throughout the country.

It is important for us to have the weakest regions ahead of all, to pull them up because there are gaps not only in income but also in other indicators, such as life expectancy and they are unacceptably high sometimes. By the way, such work was carried out not only in Tyva but in several other regions, for example, in Astrakhan. These regional cases will now be brought up to high-level meetings. Everything that is bound with national development goals is primarily implemented in the regions. It is impossible to show any result on the Federal level without working with regions.

Дата публикации: April 29, 2019
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