18 january 2013

Meeting on the development of a network of integrated government service centres for the provision of state and municipal services

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,

Today we will discuss the progress of a project aimed at providing Government and municipal services to the population based on the “one stop shop” principle, and what we need to do to implement the decisions contained in the respective Presidential executive orders and Government resolutions.

This issue is so important that we have been joined today by all Russian regions. We do not do this every day, but this issue really requires discussion in this format, primarily because it concerns everyone. The state administration system does not just affect the people – it is actually designed for people, something we keep repeating at high-profile meetings but fail always to apply in practice. The Integrated Government Service Centres we will discuss today are actually the link between the state and the people. Many Russians have had personal experience in dealing with state authorities; that experience is not always encouraging. People often encounter a lack of concern and even rudeness on the part of state officials. In some cases, unfortunately, they face extortion and a lack of professionalism. Therefore, state agencies need to work to be friendlier, more open, efficient and helpful. This in fact is why we are setting up these centres. The quality of Government services and people’s attitude to their Government will largely depend on how well they work. I have just visited the Lefortovo Centre and observed its operation. I am actually calling from a room equipped for this conference inside this centre now. Lefortovo is the first such centre which opened in August 2011 and is visited daily by around 1,000 people. People come to obtain various certificates and other documents or to receive consultations. They get what they need very quickly and efficiently, without queues or stress. They are served directly, through open contact, which is especially important for Moscow, as well as for other big cities. People no longer have to travel around town to collect the required documents from various state agencies. They receive a wide range of services at the same centre, including tax and pension issues, passports and property registration. In Moscow, the registration of private property has already been delegated to integrated centres, and this is a very complicated issue which takes a lot of time and requires a lot of work. Here this service can be received from a one stop shop as well.

We started pushing for this idea a decade ago, but tangible results appeared only recently. A person comes to an Integrated Government Service Centre and requests the required service or services. The centre’s operators identify the required documents and collect them from the relevant agencies and obtain the required approvals without the applicant, who only needs to show up a second time to get what he or she requested. This is the idea behind the one-stop shop service.

We all know that things are very different in many other regions in Russia. A person needs to visit dozens of agencies to collect the required documents and waste time waiting in lines. I admit that sometimes they go so far as to offer bribes to officials to get their request processed more quickly. Things are complicated enough in big cities, but they are even worse in rural areas where people have to travel a long way to the nearest Government agency that can issue the document they need. This is very inconvenient and downright unacceptable. If I am not mistaken, in early 2011, there were less than 200 integrated centres in Russia. Now their numbers exceed 600. They are being established fairly quickly, although not evenly across different regions.

There is a target indicator – by late 2015, 90% of people must have access to single window services across Russia. According to the Ministry of Economic Development, we must create about 3,000 Integrated government service centres (IGSC) to this end.

Every IGSC should have a call centre so that an individual can call and obtain preliminary advice on any given service (is it possible to obtain a preliminary consultation in a specific centre, or the service has not yet been included in the single window service), or make an appointment for a convenient time. An IGSC should not have a luxurious office, but it should have comfortable conditions so that visitors can wait, accommodate their children. It should have some conveniences for elderly people and people with disabilities. We discussed this with Mr Sobyanin. I think this would be right… It will be necessary to build some new centres – this is absolutely normal, because we have not got adequate offices everywhere. Perhaps it would be better to adjust the available offices in most regions to this end: this would be speedier and less expensive in most cases.

And one more important point, concerning the people employed at such centres. They should be skilled specialists. They work with people, they receive a great number of applications, requests, they consult many people. This is not just a matter of clicking computer buttons, we need people who understand what our citizens want. They should be able to make a prompt search in the relevant database, combine this data and obtain an answer or send a relevant request – we need comprehensive and thorough training of such specialists. 

Regions bear the main responsibility for developing a network of IGSCs. Every region should form a management system for this complex project, the expenses should be planned in the process of regional and municipal budget development. I would like to address all my colleagues,  governors – you bear a personal responsibility for this project. This is really an extremely important project for an absolute majority of our citizens, for all our citizens, because all citizens come in contact with state organisations. The Ministry of Economic Development coordinates this work on the federal level – Mr Belousov will make a report shortly. I ask all regional heads to submit their proposals to the Ministry of Economic Development.

The rates of creating a modern infrastructure differ, and we realise that. Some large regions have more extensive possibilities, such as Moscow, the Rostov Region and the Samara Region. Some regions are only beginning this work. It is necessary to balance out the rates of creating integrated government service centres.  

And one more point. Since we want this system to operate like clockwork,  to exclude the necessity to go and visit other organisations, it is necessary to ensure electronic interaction between all federal and regional departments. This can only be accomplished with the use of modern technology, uniform communication protocols and prompt information sharing between relevant organisations. Only in this case will these services will be accurate, prompt and high-quality.    

I'll now hand it over to the Minister of Economic Development. Please, go ahead. 

Andrei Belousov (the Minister of Economic Development): Thank you. Mr Medvedev, colleagues. To begin with, what does it mean in practice to have 90% single window accessibility of state and municipal services? This means that starting in 2015, we will have no citizens calling up various organisations, collecting certificates and standing in line, sometimes, for months. They will be able to receive prompt and quality services near their homes in comfortable conditions, as we saw in Moscow today, and it will take only some minutes to get a public service. The established standard is only 15 minutes in a queue.

What needs to be done to achieve this in 2013? It is necessary to create an IGSC within walking distance in each administrative area and municipal district centre. The standard is one IGSC window per 5,000 residents; or one window per 2,000 residents in small municipal entities.  

How do we propose to resolve this task? This year we should take four steps. The first step – we should create an organisational mechanism in the regions. Each region should have an individual responsible at the level of deputy governor or at a higher level, and commissions including heads of local administrations, and most importantly, representatives of territorial bodies of main federal departments. There are at least six departments of this kind: the Federal Tax Service, the Migration Service, the Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Registration Service, the Federal Bailiff Service and the Pension Fund. I would like to reiterate that this is a necessary condition, because the key challenge facing us is to organise interaction between the territorial bodies of federal departments and the IGSC. This challenge could be adequately solved…

Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Belousov, is the Federal Migration Service included in this system?

Andrei Belousov: Yes, it is included. As I said, the Federal Tax Service, the Migration Service, the Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Registration Service, the Federal Bailiff Service and the Pension Fund. This is the list of the minimum six services that should join these commissions now. 

Following the Government’s instruction, the task was due to be resolved by December 1, 2012. To date, responsible individuals have been appointed and commissions have been created practically everywhere. But in 19 regions, the commissions do not include representatives of territorial bodies. First, I would like to underscore that the organisation of work with territorial bodies influences the quality of federal services in the IGSC. I ask the heads of the regions where the commissions do not include federal departments’ representatives to do this as soon as possible.  

The second step is to form maps of territorial placement of IGSCs. The relevant instructions were issued, and by March 1 we will have a precise map for the whole of Russia with IGSC placements with specific territorial links, taking into account walking access, with instructions for accommodation. We have four methods of resolving the problem of accommodation. The first method is to build offices. A standard IGSC with nine windows costs on average some 20 million roubles. To purchase a building – according to experience, this also costs some 20 million-30 million roubles on average across Russia. To lease an office – a three-year lease of a standard office costs half as much – between some 9 million and 10 million roubles. Or, following Moscow’s experience, to adjust an existing building for an IGSC – this is the most adequate method, it costs some 10 million roubles on average across Russia. This slide shows that 55% of IGSCs planned by 2015 are using the method of conducting major repairs; and 11% of IGSCs are opting to rent; that is, the construction and purchase of buildings currently accounts for only one third of those IGSCs that are due to be launched by 2015.  

To put together such a scheme, the regions should first develop, approve and store in the information system the so-called base layout variables in accordance with the Government directive. This work was scheduled for completion on January 10, so today we can discuss the results of this phase. We have developed the information system where the regions were supposed to input the base layout variables. This system connects IGSCs and involved organisations with particular territories and makes it possible to see how placing IGSCs at a specific point can help to improve performance in terms of customer coverage and to monitor the project. Simply put, there’s an Administrative Reform website that everyone is familiar with (http://ar.gov.ru/) that has a special template that can be used by each region to enter their respective IGSC projects. The system was launched on December 6. We have conducted training for all regions and issued login and password information for all of them. All regions have entered their base variables into the system. The data that I have today was last updated on January 16. I’m mentioning this because the situation is changing on a daily basis. The system shows the layout for the IGSC and the offices of involved organisations. Please note that it’s totally up to the regions with regard to how they want to go about creating their IGSCs: build new buildings or lease existing ones. The base parameters provided by the regions show that 90% of the Russian population will be covered by the IGSC system by 2015.

To put this in perspective, the current level of coverage is 25%. Importantly, the 90% target should be achieved in each Russian region; it shouldn’t be just a nationwide number. As many as 64 regions plan to achieve at least 90% coverage. Of them, nine intend to achieve 100% coverage. Meanwhile, 19 regions haven’t even planned to achieve the 90% target by 2015.

Dmitry Medvedev: What are these regions specifically?

Andrei Belousov: I have the list and I can give you the numbers. In fact, there are five regions…

Dmitry Medvedev: Yes please go ahead and name them. Let them hear their names made public and let them tell us if they’ll ever get around to complying with the presidential executive order.

Andrei Belousov: The Pskov Region, for example, plans to achieve 52% coverage, the Khabarovsk Territory 48.7%, and the Omsk Region 68%, to name a few.

The base parameters are not just entered into the system. They have been signed by deputy governors. I believe that the 19 regions in question should correct them as soon as possible. We believe it’s important for the layout schemes to be approved by the governors before March 1 in order for them to comply with the presidential order.

The third key step is about funding. I would like to point out again that Russian regions are primarily responsible for the creation of the IGSCs; therefore, this work should be funded from regional budgets. There are regions that have already allocated funds to build such networks and achieve the required coverage. For example, in Moscow, the target coverage figure stands at 96% by 2015, and almost 4 billion roubles from the Moscow budget have already been set aside for this purpose. The Perm Region authorities budgeted 636 million roubles to this end just before the New Year, which will help achieve the target coverage of 92%. The Tyumen Region has 260 million roubles allocated for these purposes and the Voronezh Region 470 million roubles to achieve the target coverage of 97%. Many regions are already on their way to resolve the problem having set aside appropriate funds and decided on the coverage figures. Unfortunately, many others haven’t yet made appropriate provisions in their budgets. For example, target coverage in the Republic of Tatarstan stands at 98%. They need 900 million roubles to do so, but no funds have so far been allocated from the budget. The Vologda Region needs 480 million roubles to achieve its target coverage of 90.8%, but no funds have been allocated to this end, either.

The Russian regions that haven’t allocated any funds and planned insufficient coverage numbers present the biggest problem. Such regions include the Trans-Baikal Territory (no funds set aside in the budget, with target coverage of only 82%); the Pskov Region (only 35 million roubles have been budgeted whereas the actual need is 399 million roubles; the target coverage is a modest 53%); the Omsk Region (this is the only region that hasn’t provided any financing data; their target coverage figure is 68%); the Orenburg Region (it has the largest funding shortfall with 88 million roubles allocated vs. 1.7 billion roubles that they need in order to achieve their target coverage of 71%, which is also way below the required 90%). 
We have drafted a detailed information sheet on these regions and we are keeping a close eye on things. We are prepared to report to you regularly as the data gets updated. 

Even though the Russian regions are the ones responsible for deploying the IGSC network, some of them, especially the ones that are being subsidised from the federal budget, will be eligible for federal support. We have teamed up with the Ministry of Finance to develop appropriate criteria, but the regions should do what they can and set aside funds in their budgets.

By March 1, we should have a clear idea of the regions’ financing needs so that we can form subsidies based on the availability of funds in regional budgets.

Dmitry Medvedev: Has everyone heard this, colleagues? The first of March.

Andrei Belousov: Financial support may be provided only upon a properly substantiated request. The substantiation should include the layout scheme and properly substantiated costs involved in building a particular facility. To be sure, we will monitor the construction process.

The fourth step that will need to be taken this year is to work out issues of cooperation with federal authorities in order for IGSCs to be able to provide federal services. There are a quite a few issues here, including technicalities, which I believe will be covered by the minister, and also issues related to the information network capacity and purely organisational issues that we must resolve. Please note that the federal legislation was amended last year to remove the limits on obtaining and issuing documents for 34 popular services provided by the Service for State Registration, including federal ones. Previously, only a relevant agency could issue such a certificate. Obviously, this precluded proper IGSC functioning, because in that case employees from the Service for State Registration had to be physically present at the IGSC. These restrictions have been removed, and this amendment allows IGSCs to run as universal operators, without having federal employees on premises. Second, governors have the right (please note that it’s a right) to designate authorised IGSCs. Some regions, such as Moscow, which have long been engaged in building IGSC networks, use different arrangements where such centres sign appropriate agreements with the federal authorities. However, we suggest that regions that are just starting out on this path should follow a different model and create authorised IGSCs with which all federal executive bodies from among the six that I mentioned will sign relevant agreements. That way, IGSCs will be able to provide services based on the cluster principle. In this case, the federal agencies will not have to sign cooperation agreements with IGSCs in each region. They will have one contact entity, which will effectively act as a regional centre providing quality services. This work should be completed in 2013 as well. We believe that this is the best way to organise things, and we encourage all regions to have it implemented by March. To reiterate, all regions should designate an IGSC with which each federal agency should sign an agreement. We will take care of this part, since it’s our area of responsibility.

To conclude, I will go over the key goals that the regions need to achieve in the near future. First, they should approve their work schedules for setting up one stop shop projects, including layout schemes for IGSCs and involved organisations. Also before March 1, they need to determine the amount and sources of the year-by-year funding and submit this information to the Ministry of Economic Development. Before May 1, they should allocate appropriate funds for 2013, and later allocate budget funds for 2014-2015.

Fourth, before March 1, they should identify authorised IGSCs and sign cooperation agreements with relevant authorities. The same kind of work should be done by federal executive authorities. All agreements should be signed by July. Please note that all commitments undertaken by regions with regard to approving IGSC layouts will be properly monitored and measured both in quantitative terms and in terms of the quality of provided services. Customer satisfaction will be the main criterion here. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Belousov. Now, let's listen to what our governors have to say. Let's begin with Moscow. That’d be logical, since we are in Moscow. Please Mr Sobyanin, go ahead.

Sergei Sobyanin (Mayor of Moscow): Thank you, Mr Medvedev. Millions of services are provided in Moscow every year, and millions of people contact us for various reasons; therefore, this area of work is critical for Moscow authorities, because overseeing the quality or speed of services provided by thousands of different offices is simply impossible. That’s why 18 months ago we set ourselves the task of speeding up the programme to create integrated service centres, and I reported to you in September that we had opened 18 such centres in Moscow. Today, their number stands at 48, and by the end of January there will be 56 such centres covering about half of Moscow’s population. 
We provide 100 services that cover 90% of the most popular services in Moscow which are regulated by 227 different documents. Each centre has representatives of 13 regional authorities and six federal entities. 

The IGSCs are all about the speed of service. Today, you spoke with a person who was at the IGSC to obtain information on his vital records. Previously, it took a week to obtain such information. Applicants had to do a lot of legwork before getting what they needed, whereas today it takes just minutes. The quality of services improved as well, because they are now provided by trained and properly certified specialists who are being constantly monitored. In addition, each IGSC has a legal advisor and service consultant who can help customers obtain quality services.

Speaking of the ease of obtaining services, we try to locate these centres in places with transport access or start additional bus routes, if needed. We also provide such services to people with mobility issues, including people with disabilities and mothers with children. We make IGSC buildings accessible for them and set up playrooms for children to wait while their parents are busy getting the papers they need. The total cost involved in building and equipping such IGSCs is quite impressive. On the other hand, we are freeing up a lot of premises that are used by these services and the areas of such premises are multiple times larger than the areas of the new service centres. So, ...

Dmitry Medvedev: It can even be lucrative.

Sergei Sobyanin: Yes, correct. We will free up more space than IGSCs will ever use. We will streamline the use of such premises, and I believe that we will come out on top.

The same applies to the number of specialists involved in the provision of services. Even though we are now paying quite competitive salaries to IGSC workers, we clearly see that we will cut many IGSC jobs and end up in the black here well. In the long run, creating IGSCs is not a losing proposition, but making financial calculations when it comes to the quality of public services is not even appropriate, because the issue is about a different level of service provision. Hiring and training IGSC workers, establishing interagency cooperation and electronic exchange of documents are even more daunting tasks for us than building the infrastructure. Otherwise, these specialists won’t be able to provide these services quickly, and we’ll be back to square one, snail mailing documents and doing things the old way. Therefore, changing work rules, establishing interagency cooperation and using electronic mail are mandatory.

By late 2013, IGSC services will be available for most Muscovites. I believe we’ll be done with this programme by early 2014. Our next goal is to have most services provided by universal specialists. This approach will balance out the workload and improve access to federal services, in particular. We were the first ones in Russia to use universal specialists for providing services of the Federal Service for State Registration. That alone doubled the access to its services. The same applies to other services as well. The federal law that allows doing so entered into force on January 1. Now, the interdepartmental cooperation with federal agencies should do its part of the job.

The second area of work involves the extraterritorial principle of service provision. I think it’s as important for Moscow as for other Russian regions. People can obtain needed documents not only at a place of residence, but also at a place where they work.

Dmitry Medvedev: That’s really convenient. You just go there and get your tax information. Very convenient.

Sergei Sobyanin: Some of the services, such as the Service for State Registration and the Federal Taxation Service, are already providing extraterritorial services. We believe that all services should work that way, since it's convenient. Many people are registered in one place but...

Dmitry Medvedev: That should be done within the regional boundaries. There’s no need to do that on a nationwide basis.

Sergei Sobyanin: Yes, just in the regions.

Mr Medvedev, with your permission, I will quickly go over other areas of improving public services. In addition to IGSCs, we are working to increase the number of electronically provided services and create special websites for people to leave comments and proposals with regard to the most popular municipal services.

We are currently providing 68 online services. People can obtain 37 of them without having to go to public buildings.

Not so long ago, we introduced a service where one can get child support payments without having to show up at the service centre. All they need to do is file their documents and bank account details and have proper funds wired to that account.

There are other popular services. Today, we saw how school enrollment works. Enrollment for additional education, summer vacations, doctor’s appointments and several other services works the same way.

Housing privatisation and title issuance services became available on January 1.

We launched a pilot system for the electronic provision of documents to legal entities on January 1 as well. The services include the provision of land lease registration papers, land-related urban development documents, construction expert analyses and construction permits. The system will become fully operational in 2013.

We have three municipal websites in Moscow that are used to monitor road and courtyard maintenance in Moscow. A few months ago we launched the Moscow Houses website, where you can see all the details pertaining to your residential building, the name of your building management company, rates, list of services and regulations governing the provision of these services. Residents can file complaints and send pictures of things that need attention. The website also features turnaround times for having such violations fixed. We receive a fair amount of questions and comments. We had about a million visits to these website and 30,000 actual complaints most of which are acted upon within eight days.

I believe that improving services in Moscow and other regions is important and should be the focus of government authorities.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Sobyanin. Indeed, preparations for that work got underway a bit earlier in Moscow. Moscow has more potential. But the scale of challenges here is greater as well; it's incomparable to that of any other constituent entity. So 50% of the population benefiting from integrated Government service centres (IGSC) is not a bad result.

Let's now turn to underperforming regions. Mr Kozhemyako, your region has been mentioned among those lagging behind, with the 2015 target for public access to IGSCs at just 43%. Why is this? And how are you going to meet the target?

Oleg Kozhemyako (Amur Region Governor): We've adjusted that figure with the Economic Development Ministry actually, so we now have higher targets to work toward. We've hit the 41% mark already.

Dmitry Medvedev: What are the main difficulties you are facing?

Oleg Kozhemyako: We've got a system up and running, for providing Government and municipal services to the public in the Amur Region, Mr Prime Minister. We had a state-run agency with the same mission set up last year, along with IGSCs outfitted with all necessary facilities, equipment, communications devices and the Internet. These operate in seventeen population centres, covering 41% of the population.

The regional Government has adopted an IGSC roadmap providing for the establishment of five more such centres before the end of this year,  with the total number to be brought up to 22 (with 79 service desks), instead of the target set by the Economic Development Ministry of 29 (with 201 service desks). This is due to the fact that seven of our municipalities have their administrative headquarters in city districts. So our public access rate is expected to reach 48% as early as 2013.

The reason we've reduced the number of service desks is low demand. In some of our territories, such as the Zavitinsky District, there are just four enquiries per week, on average. In the city of Blagoveshchensk, which is a regional centre, as many as 600 enquiries are submitted weekly for 20 desks. So we believe the number of desks should be increased incrementally and that information about the type of services available should be distributed on a wider scale.

Also, there's a need to streamline the regulatory framework for the provision of Government services by federal executive bodies, as well as to develop federal/regional co-financing schemes, something that was already mentioned here earlier today. I believe that this is imperative. The tasks set by federal authorities include making Government and municipal services more widely accessible and creating an anti-corruption mechanism. 

With an awareness of the importance of these objectives, our region will carry on with efforts to introduce the public to the new system of servicing. We're already working with organisations that have the capacity to extend our reachout, such as the Russian Post and the Sberbank savings bank. By proceeding down this road, we'll be able to meet the public access target of 90% by 2015.

Dmitry Medvedev: All right. Carry on then and plan your expenditures. Let's stay in the Far East for a while, as the problems facing this part of Russia are quite unique. We should hear from the Trans-Baikal Territory now. 

Ravil Geniatulin (Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory): Hello.

Dmitry Medvedev: How's your region doing, Mr Geniatulin? What are the performance figures? And how much money is being spent?

Ravil Geniatulin: I accept Mr Belousov's criticisms, although the figures cited are for December, in fact. As of now, we've earmarked as much as 76 million roubles, including some 40.6 million for the creation of a network of branch offices in 2014 and 2015. Let me make it clear right away that the pledged 10 million roubles in federal allocations is a little bit short of what we wish for, with almost 0.5 billion to be spent in the period through 2015. Well, we've earmarked supplementary funding to be released as we go along, and hopefully we'll be able to meet the targets.   

Mr Medvedev, we've got a problem related to the accessibility of Government services and I'd like to ask you for advice.

Dmitry Medvedev: Go ahead.

Ravil Geniatulin: Let's see what we've got in practice. Our public access target is 82%. And according to effective regulations, only a community of 1,000 and above can be classified as a population centre. But we have a district bordering Mongolia, the Akshinsky, where only 12 of the communities meet this threshold. In all the others, the population numbers vary from 290 to 341 to 723. We've got quite a few such communities, but I don't think this is something specific to our region. How should we go about this? We cannot possibly reach the target of 92-96%, so perhaps an alternative calculation scheme should be developed. I suggest experts consider possible solutions. Overstating figures is not the way we want to go.

Dmitry Medvedev: It would be wrong to go down that road, sure.

Ravil Geniatulin: I never do actually, so the target we believe would be realistic for us to meet by 2015 is 82%.  I'd also like to say a few words about the current situation. We've created all necessary conditions, and we now provide 128 services on enquiries related to land relations, welfare support, civil status, entrepreneurship, etc.

Last year, our IGSCs processed as many as 13,670 enquiries and delivered on 9,493. Quite recently, just a couple of months ago, we opened an office in the Aginsky Buryatsky Area, and are planning to open seven more offices before the end of this year – a target that seems to be quite realistic to me.

There are two other problems the specialist staff have asked me to bring to your attention. They would like you to see to it that standard software is developed for integrating regional and federal systems of interdepartmental electronic communications. People working in the field know what I'm referring to. 

The other thing has to do with amendments to regulatory acts on the direct access of IGSC personnel to databases of Government bodies. That's crucial to the ability of IGSC staffs to work independently, providing services on a full scale and more rapidly. Because if they operate through Government agencies, there are likely to be delays in enquiry processing. It would be great if experts could look into this. As for us, we've corrected the mistakes that have been revealed, and will now continue moving toward the targets set in the presidential decree. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: All right, Mr Geniatulin. As for small communities, we'll see how to go about this. If you have any relevant ideas, please speak up, Mr Belousov.

Andrei Belousov: Yes. From the very start, we provided for the possibility of using the premises of post offices in smaller communities. Post offices can be found almost everywhere, and the use of their premises or those of Sberbank is an option we've had in mind all along. We discussed this option earlier with the Minister, and will be applying it in practice.

As for very small municipalities, those with just 200-300 inhabitants, that kind of situation is typical of northern regions, as well as eastern ones – here we're going to deal with the situation on a case-by-case basis. The problem does exist, and we should address it by exploring each case individually.

Dmitry Medvedev: But if, Mr Belousov, you're set to take such a case-by-case approach, your department and the agencies involved should discuss with individual regions what Mr Geniatulin just spoke about, to then be able to find out what the situation is like in each of those regions. Let's do it. I have no objections.
Andrei Belousov: Let's do it.

Dmitry Medvedev: We should then try the same in the Trans-Baikal Territory as well. Okay? 

Now I'd like to ask the governors present here whether they have planned their [IGSC] budgets. Please be frank.

Nikolai Denin (Bryansk Region Governor): We've got over 60%.

Dmitry Medvedev: Just answer "yes" or "no".

Nikolai Denin: Yes. But if additional allocations are offered, we wouldn't refuse.

Dmitry Medvedev: I see.

Nikolai Denin: We've earmarked some funds for the purpose, but any additional aid would be welcome.

Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, I understand you... What's the situation like in the Ivanovo Region?

Mikhail Men (Ivanovo Region Governor): We, too, have drawn up an [IGSC] budget for the next three years, through 2015. And I hope we'll meet our target of over 90%. Should the Economic Development Ministry offer us some additional financing, though, we'd be only too glad to accept.

I'd like to share with you some of our knowhow, so to speak. It was at a shopping mall that we began to build our first major IGSC for a district capital. And that kind of location made all the difference in terms of turnout.

Dmitry Medvedev: That's very convenient, I agree. Okay, let's move on now. Mr Kuznetsov, what is the situation like in the Krasnoyarsk Region?

Lev Kuznetsov (Krasnoyarsk Region Governor): We have some 270 million roubles earmarked for the purpose, so as to be able – in line with our population layout – to bring the Government services access rate up to 95% by 2015. I'm glad the small community issue has been raised here because 15% of our communities consist of fewer than 500 members.

Dmitry Medvedev: We've identified the problem and will now be working to fix it.

Lev Kuznetsov: Another highly important matter, which we discussed with Mr Belousov ahead of the conference, is to define a lineup of companies outsourced to provide precisely that kind of services, so that we could have common standards and a common scheme for reporting and accounting.

I've got one more proposal to make. The challenge is not just to establish IGSCs, which, as we can see, cost hundreds of millions to set up, but also to maintain them. Mr Medvedev, if we analyse the situation, we'll see that at least 50% of the services to be provided to the public in the provinces will be federal services. Mr Sobyanin [the Moscow Mayor] was right that they will promote thrift. Considering this, it would be fair to opt for co-financing not just in creating the system, but also in running it, perhaps.

Andrei Belousov: We support the idea, Mr Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay, I'll give the relevant instructions then, and we'll see how to arrange that. 

Lev Kuznetsov: Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: It's settled. Oh, by the way, I've not yet responded to the point about providing timely and comprehensive access to databases. Of course, such access should be provided. Mr Nikiforov will tell us all about it, I think, when delivering his part of the report. Mr Belykh, how's your region doing?

Nikita Belykh: Work is going on in full swing, and a budget has been formed. Ahead of the conference, my fellow governors and I discussed many of the issues covered here. We can see absolutely no problem in creating and operating IGSCs in large urban communities. There is even some economic benefit involved, with additional office space being vacated. But the situation is more problematic in rural communities, especially smaller ones. And it's not just Siberia and the Far East that are facing problems.

Regarding the Kirov Region specifically, here we have woodland settlements in the north, many of which were started by Gulag labour camp prisoners, and those settlements now have just 150-200 residents. At yesterday's Government meeting we also happened to touch on the issue. It has to do with the general functioning of such communities, not just with IGSC services. It's also about schools, first-aid centres, driveways...

To be able to find workable solutions, we should consider the problem systemically, I think, and in cooperation with the Economic Development Ministry and the Regional Development Ministry.

In some cases, it would perhaps make sense to have smaller communities move elsewhere. But we mustn't force them to do so, of course. While offering that kind of option, we often hear people reply: "No way. We were born here; this is the final resting place of our parents; we won't leave the place." But maintenance in such sparsely populated areas is much costlier, both in terms of IGSCs as well as in general, as compared with large urban communities or districts.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. We should take care of this as well then. Mr Zhvachkin, the floor is yours.

Sergei Zhvachkin (Tomsk Region Governor): Mr Medvedev, we're doing okay, with 350 million put aside for this purpose. There's just one problem of a general nature: we're introducing IGSCs, online Government services and e-cards, which are all based on an ICT infrastructure. And the foundation for that infrastructure is access to communications services. Today, these include broadband Internet and mobile communications. But it's no secret that, unfortunately, operators are pretty reluctant to work in out-of-the-way settlements. If we take the Tomsk Region, for example, 50% of the local population have [Internet connection at a speed of] 25-30 Kilobytes (KB), meaning that the system is just not workable here. I have a concrete proposal to make. I think we should ask the Communications Ministry and the Ministry of Economic Development to develop an appropriate mechanism to fix this problem. Instead of a quilt-type scheme, we need a coherent model ensuring compatibility between the services and the enabling software and hardware. 

Dmitry Medvedev: All right, I agree.

Sergei Zhvachkin: Thank you.  

Dmitry Medvedev: Let's do it.

Aman Tuleyev (Kemerovo Region Governor): May I ask a question?

Dmitry Medvedev: Of course. Let me just hear what the fellow governors have to report. And then I'll give you a chance to speak. Mr Kopin, please go ahead.

Roman Kopin (Chukotka Governor): Mr Medvedev, the Autonomous Area of Chukotka has earmarked IGSC funding for 2013. Given our dependency on federal subsidies, though, we cannot do the same for 2014 and 2015 at this point, but we're working toward that end. And we're trying to meet the targets set for 2013. What problems are we facing? I'd support my fellow governors in raising communications problems, because Chukotka is the only region to have no access to optical fibre cables, and the connection we currently provide via satellite is both limited and hardly affordable.

Dmitry Medvedev: It's pricey, true.

Roman Kopin: The connection speed ranges from 32 to 512 KB. This is bound to come to a halt one day, and then we'll find ourselves unable to keep in touch with federal authorities. That's a problem I wanted to call your attention to.

Dmitry Medvedev: Indeed, [Internet connection via satellite] is both slow and expensive. We should think of a better solution. Mr Tuleyev, if you have something to say...

Aman Tuleyev: Yes, Mr Prime Minister. We've been quite successful in carrying out your assignments. In areas where we've set up IGSCs, access to Government services has increased to 94% already.

As you say, the main challenge for us is now to get 36 more centres up and running in the city of Kemerovo alone. But the fact of the matter is that, according to our estimates, we'll need as much as 953 million roubles to have all those IGSCs built over the next three years. Here's what we've come up with. We've taken 25 minivans and reconverted them into mobile IGSC offices, complete with all the necessary equipment.  These offices can tour small rural communities, working based on a set schedule, so that locals know what time to show up with their enquiries. Why should we spend money constructing new facilities to house IGSCs in the countryside if this mobile option is by far cheaper? We can get the job done without spending that much.  

Perhaps for regions like ours, the programme could be modified accordingly. After all, the aim is to provide access to information and decent living standards for the people. I'd appreciate if you would consider my proposal, Mr Prime Minister. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Tuleyev. We've already examined the possibility of setting up mobile IGSCs. Mr Belousov, how does this fit into the general picture?

Andrei Belousov: We've considered that option, yes... This could be done in some places, but as a comprehensive solution... It happens like this: today the bus comes, tomorrow it doesn't, because the bus could break down or a driver could take a day off work or for any other reason – we understand perfectly well how this would work. Although for remote regions this could be an option.

Dmitry Medvedev: Then let's not adopt this as a universal approach. I agree with Mr Belousov that movable offices are great, but only in special circumstances. But this should remain an option for us. So, let us agree on this.

And how are things in the Smolensk Region?

Vasily Yurchenko (Governor of the Novosibirsk Region): Mr Medvedev, may we have a moment? This is Novosibirsk.

Dmitry Medvedev: You may, but I gave the floor to your colleague from Smolensk. Then I will turn the floor over to you. Go ahead.

Alexei Ostrovsky (Governor of the Smolensk Region): Thank you. Mr Medvedev, in the Smolensk Region we are ahead of the plan for the provision of these services to the public as provided for by Executive Order No 601. The budget provides the necessary financing and we will make use of these funds. By 2015, we will cover 92.5% of the population with access to e-government services.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Ostrovsky.

Alexei Ostrovsky: Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Yurchenko, go ahead, and please be brief.

Vasily Yurchenko: Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev and video conference participants. I would like to report that a system has been developed under the programme for the establishment of integrated government service centres. The system is centred around an autonomous budget-funded institution, and, as you said before, it has branches everywhere. This makes it possible to cooperate with all federal and territorial institutions under a single agreement.

As for the issue of small towns and villages that you, and Mr Geniatulin brought up: last year we developed a new public information system for integrated government service centres (IGSCs) in the Novosibirsk Region. We are now implementing and testing it. This system has already been integrated with the unified government portal providing public and municipal services. Today fibre optic cables are spanning all 490 municipalities. As for the district centres: we have 30 district centres with bandwidth of up to 10 GB. As for the rural councils (municipalities are also very scattered), the connection there is operational. And this system, Mr Medvedev, will allow us to provide e-services at a single desk. And it will enable faster speeds, of course. And we believe in this approach to establishing integrated government service centres, as they would create totally different conditions for the provision of such services.

There is a benchmark standard for us, which is to provide a comfortable, spacious and well-lit environment, and seven IGSCs are now up and running. The budget provides for all the required financing. We have already allocated 900 million roubles and the three-year budget provides for spending 700 million roubles. Therefore, I think that the mechanism that we have developed and tested can be scaled up to the whole country. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: I see. Thank you, Mr Yurchenko. Of course we can use it, if there is such a need. Go ahead, Mr Borisov.

Yegor Borisov (President of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)): Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. Our situation is somewhat better, as our integrated government service centre has been functioning for three years now, and we have amassed some experience. And considering this we have two favours to ask of you. Firstly, I would like to support the Kemerovo Governor, my colleague Tuleyev. Today, under a provision stemming from the government decree which defined the rules of the game, the Russian Post has been chosen as a vendor and we cannot create full-time jobs in that company. And in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), there are only 400 post offices in 600 cities, towns and villages, which is why we have adapted a different approach. As Tuleyev said today, we have established those movable offices and created telecommuting jobs, and they are functioning successfully now. Therefore I would kindly like to ask the Economic Development Ministry to consider this option and our experience... Why? Because there are no federal institutions in these remote towns and villages, and this is true not only of the Russian Post, but there are no any other institutions either. Take a village that generates two requests per week. Should we create jobs in such a place, and build offices? That is why we have chosen this option, and so far no one has had any problems with it. This is the first thing.

Secondly, we are resolving the problem of financing. 197 million roubles have been budgeted for this year, and by 2015, we will have allocated approximately 560 million roubles more for this. We will accomplish all the tasks, and we are working aggressively on this. But today we are talking about the fact that (you also mention this and I would like to ask you to make this assignment more specific) 30% of services we are providing are federal services. Following up on the recommendation of the Government, we took it on ourselves to provide all the services, and we are now delivering on this task. It would be great if we were compensated for the spending on the provision of these services. And we would like to hear a clear answer today and to receive some support. These are the two things I wanted to draw your attention to.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Borisov. As for the second point, we will consider supporting your initiative. And I have already said what I think about movable offices: in some entities of the country, considering that their population is scattered across vast territories, as well as other problems, this could be an option, but generally this is an exceptional measure. But we will make sure that these solutions find their way into legislation and these movable offices are treated like full-fledged conventional offices.

Let us now hear from Nikolai Nikiforov, as there are lots of issues related to electronic cooperation between federal executive authorities, regional executive authorities and municipal agencies. How can we resolve them? Please go ahead.

Nikolai Nikoforov (Communications Minister): Mr Medvedev, colleagues, in my presentation I am going to update you on the current status of our efforts towards electronic cooperation between government institutions, and I will try to answer the questions raised at today's meeting.

In 2010, Federal Law No 210, which you all know, began to be implemented. Sergei Sobyanin and I were involved in those efforts back then (although we both had other positions, as we were working for the Government Commission for Information Technologies). The main idea was to stop collecting all kinds of certificates from our people when they apply for various services, to make information, and not people, run between various government institutions collecting these certificates.

From the perspective of information technology, this was a unique project, unprecedented in its scale, as it covers all entities of the Federation without exception (on average, as we have seen, there are nearly 15 various government institutions in each entity), and all of the municipal government bodies, down to the level of individual villages. And there is the problem that was already discussed today. In fact, the issue of digital inequality is relevant to our country, and not every village has an internet connection. In such a case, our cooperation ends at the level of administrative district centres, and from there the information is passed on in a traditional way.

Under the law (as you may recall, its enactment was postponed) on July 1, 2012, the system became fully operational, and since then people do not have to submit those certificates. Of course, some people still collect and bring paper certificates, and unfortunately this happens in the majority of cases. But I should also say that on July 1, 2012, we faced a tough situation, and I am saying this as the governors are listening. In fact, not a single region was ready for this, given their technical infrastructure, and sometimes even organisational tasks were not resolved. But in less than two years, all the offices providing public services were equipped with an internet connection in one way or another; jobs were created where they had never existed and state officials started using electronic signatures.

On the whole, given all these results and the number of requests generated today, we can see that there is still a long way to go. To make our efforts more systematic, the Communications Ministry has established a special project office. You may have noticed that in the past few months, we have been holding videoconferences almost every two weeks. These videoconferences bring together the governors who are responsible for this project and we have managed to resolve the bulk of the issues. Thus, we took a decision to conduct a mass testing of these federal public services and aligned all the efforts that were ever taken in this area. Today the federal authorities provide 110 certificates in electronic form. This means that there is no need to print out 110 types of certificates. It is interesting that the 24 most popular ones account for 90% of all requests. And another interesting thing is that 64% of all requests are...

Dmitry Medvedev: What kinds of certificates are these?

Nikolai Nikiforov: Well, these are requests for the institutions that we have already mentioned today: the Pension Fund, the Migration Service, the Interior Ministry, the Tax Service, as I said, and the bailiffs. It is interesting that 64% of these requests are addressed to the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr), which shows the role of this institution in the information flows generated by the authorities today. Currently the electronic cross-agency cooperation system deals with nearly 6.5 million requests a month. In September, there were 3.4 million requests. According to our estimates, the number of these electronic requests could grow by ten times, which means that this job is currently done electronically only in one out of every ten cases.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the project is still threatened because of the regular failure of the only vendor, Rostelecom, to honour its obligations and deadlines. We are continuously working to address this issue. A lot of governors have voiced their concern and we are trying to address these problems in the course of our videoconferences, which are held every two weeks.

I would like to draw your attention to main tasks facing the regions today. They need to complete equipping workplaces in the regions. As the connection is being established (here we are also trying to reach a compromise on some issues) we also need to provide cryptographic protection and enable state officials to use an electronic signature. In some regions, there have been issues with the format of electronic signatures. We need to complete these efforts smoothly, and I want to stress that provision of information stored in our databases is a very sensitive issue, since it has to do with people's personal information, their titles to property, etc. We have asked all the governors to write targeted emails clearly outlining which organisations and entities and which state officials should have which rights in the regions. This is a very serious matter of liability, which is covered and regulated by such documents.

And there was a question today about the involvement of integrated government service centre employees in an electronic document exchange. Please be informed that quite recently, on December 22, 2012, Executive Order No 1382 was adopted (I would like to draw your attention to this), which outlines the rules for joining the e-cooperation system for other entities. This enables the IGSCs to become participants in this exchange. This is a very important step forward and we need to make use of this decision.

Large regions, rather advanced in IT, connect their own information systems to SMEF (the system for cross-agency electronic cooperation), as we call it. In this case, an electronic request can be launched automatically, which is very easy and convenient. For smaller regions or regions where IT is not so advanced, we recommend a template solution which functions in the request/reply format. You fill in a form, file it and after some time you receive some information in a reply. The most important thing, and I would like to stress this again, is the fact that there is no more need for people to collect paper certificates.

I would also like to say a few words about financing and assistance from the federal Government. Governors have many times mentioned the fact that the e-cooperation project entailed significant costs. Please be informed that starting in 2013, the federal Government will be financing all investment in the core infrastructure of the so-called regional segment of the e-government programme. For the whole country, a total investment of nearly 1 billion roubles is needed, and for each separate region this amount stands at nearly 15 million roubles. We need to take an important step that would encourage the regions and release resources which could be allocated toward the implementation of the project for the provision of specific services. Since 2013, this has become operational. And late in 2012, we distributed 630 million roubles in subsidies, which were granted to slightly more than 20 regions, and in 2013 we will distribute another set of subsidies. As I see it, a few very targeted steps have been taken and supported with federal financing, which would allow for the progress of the project.

I would also like to respond to the question about connection with sparsely populated areas and integrated government service centres which do not have this connection. Mr Medvedev, on December 24 there was a meeting of the presidium of the council for modernisation, which you chaired. The issue of digital inequality and, if I may put it this way, a national plan for establishing broadband internet access, was one of the key topics discussed at the meeting, where a few relevant assignments were given.

Given the priority that is now attached to the project for the establishment of IGSCs, I suggest using it as a roadmap for rolling out broadband internet access throughout the country. And although we still have no answer to the question of how we are going to motivate the operators and whether we are going to subsidise the project or pull together the resources of federal authorities to create this channel... We are now working on these proposals. Considering the decision that we made today that by March 1 we will have a plan for locating top-priority IGSCs, we will use this to guide us in our efforts and our first priority will be to establish IGSCs in these locations. Maybe we will cooperate with the Russian Post to establish the centres or maybe we will launch a target programme. But, as I see it, this is the highest priority for us, and it defines our tasks. Of course, this will not resolve the issue of such entities of the Federation as... You heard from Chukotka today, and there are problems with Magadan.

Some territories (five regions now) do not have fibre optic cable lines at all, they only have satellite communications. But we are developing special projects and we believe that in three years, or five years as the latest, there will be fibre optic lines laid under public-private partnership arrangements. We are analysing such offers as we are implementing the national plan for rolling out broadband internet access and will be following up on your decisions.

Finally, to conclude my presentation I would like once again to stress that in early 2013, the success of electronic cooperation depends on how smoothly we can unite our efforts. We are going to keep our project office operational. And on January 29, there will be another video conference, where vice-governors will participate and this issue will remain the top priority in our agenda.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Nikiforov.

All these issues that the Minister outlined are quite complicated and carry costs. Nonetheless, we have to accept them. By that I mean that the task we are facing is now the highest priority.

Dear colleagues, to successfully complete all this by 2015, we will have to work hard. And this is not a game, not an attempt to build a beautiful building with a few windows, where everything will remain the same as before: people, with their tongues hanging out, running between various offices collecting papers, bringing them to an official and sometimes even trying to pass an envelope as a "reward" for a faster resolution of their case. This is the highest priority for us now. This is the image of authority. Therefore, I am telling you once again: you must make sure that this is implemented in full and that funds are allocated properly.

As for financing of some areas, some territories, we are going to provide assistance given the current situation. You can turn to the ministries and the Government for assistance. Anyway, this project requires intellectual, organisational and financial investment. I would like to emphasise once again: the future of state authority somehow depends on the success of the IGSC project, since it will define how modern the state authority will be, whether it will be able to meet the requirements formulated by our citizens, and this is the most important thing about it. I wish you all success in your work on the project! Goodbye.


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