It Is Reasonable to Halve the Number of Ministries and Departments in Russia

NEW – September 3, 2022

It is necessary to reorient the entire state machine from plundering the people and the country to their creative transformation

The survival of Russia and the preservation of statehood is possible only in the case of a radical change in the development model. Created in 1992, the model is still focused on financial speculation, conducted at the expense of plundering the Soviet legacy (according to the “drank — stole — took abroad” model). It is necessary to reorient the entire state machine from plundering the people and the country to their creative transformation.

It is clear that this requires changes, including in the structure of executive power.

The current one is a victim of the administrative decisions of 2004, when the unified management process was artificially torn into independent and common-sense “policy-defining” ministries, supervising services and “providing public services” agencies.

The executive branch was chopped up like a cabbage, and was in paralysis for the whole of 2004 (which, among other things, allowed the liberals to carry out the cannibalistic “monetisation of benefits”: it was still impossible to do this through the working state apparatus at that time). Its current condition is the result of the slow, chaotic and generally little meaningful fusion of the torn parts of a single organism.

It is clear that the rationalisation of the structure should be subordinated both to a fundamentally new task — comprehensive modernisation, and to use the new opportunities provided by information technologies.

But first of all, the executive power should be qualitatively unloaded by returning from the “manual control” regime, in which every managerial decision is made anew, “from scratch”, without taking into account accumulated experience and established norms, to management according to uniform rules, within which a decision once made is mandatory for all homogeneous cases (after the Soviet government only the Primakov government ruled this way).

The transfer of public administration (and the entire part of society that regularly interacts with it) to a single electronic decision-making system will not only dramatically accelerate its work and limit corruption (end-to-end and complete verification, in addition invisible to the audited), but also fundamentally increase its capabilities with a reduction in the required number of officials (and an increase in requirements for them).

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First of all, this will manifest itself in the transformation of the Ministry of Economic Development, which should manage the inter-sectoral balance of the country. Before digitalisation, it was impossible even for Gosplan (about 10,000 goods and services were planned, and another 50,000 were managed by the Gossnab), but modern capabilities allow strategic forecasting (in addition, it requires immeasurably less managerial resources than directive planning) on the scale of the entire national economy.

Back in the early noughties, Gref’s concentration in the then Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of functions, which (because there was no question of real management) required 52 departments, made the ministry completely unmanageable talk of the own.

But today digitalisation, combined with the management of uniform rules and the rejection of direct dictation in relation to economic entities, will bring the Ministry of Economic Development in line with its name, combining all sectoral and regional departments dealing with economic development in it.

These are the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Regional Development, the Ministry of Natural Resources (except ecology), the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance (except mass communications), the Ministry of Energy, the Federal Service of State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography, the Federal Agency for State Reserves, Rostourism. It is logical to transfer the Federal Agency for State Property Management from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Economic Development, since the assets of the state should be managed not for the sake of income, but to ensure progress.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Natural Resources should be divided between the Ministry of Economic Development (where everything related to the development of resources should be transferred) and the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications. The latter should combine all types of compliance control, including consumer and environmental.

The exceptional importance of limiting the arbitrariness of monopolies should be expressed in the return of the antimonopoly service to the status of a ministry.

Limiting financial speculation only increases the importance of monitoring financial markets and their development, which requires the re-establishment of the Federal Financial Markets Service, transferring the relevant functions from the Bank of Russia, as well as control over the pension and insurance markets.

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The eternal tug-of-war of higher education between school management and science should be resolved by recognising the unity of these spheres by reuniting the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Education into one ministry.

The Ministry of Culture should become a key agency (along with the Ministry of Education and Science, of course), forming a worldview. Therefore, it should include the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs (designed to manage the future), the Federal Archival Agency (designed to manage the past), the Ministry of Sports (taking into account its importance for the self-perception of citizens) and the Ministry of Digital Services (in terms of mass communications).

The desire of our competitors to blow up Russia by exacerbating ethnic and cultural tensions, and the objective need to stop the systematic infringement of the rights of Russians require the re-establishment of the Ministry of Nationalities on the basis of the Russian Agency for Nationalities.

Due to the scale of the conflicts in which Russia is involved, it is necessary (following the example of the United States) to create a separate Ministry of Veterans Affairs.

In addition, the objective unity of the functions of intelligence and counterintelligence (for example, one of the tasks of intelligence is to identify enemy intelligence and sabotage operations at the stage of preparation for their suppression by counterintelligence forces) dictates the reunification of the SVR and the FSB in the Ministry of Security with the inclusion of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service.

For the same reasons, it is reasonable, according to the American model, to include the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee in the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Emergency Situations and the National Guard should be returned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the courier service should be included in the Federal Protective Service (by analogy with the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information), and the Federal Medical-Biological Agency – in the Ministry of Health.

It is worth noting that one of the most important flaws of the current state administration is the transfer of its functions outside, to third-party organisations, which as a result perform the work of officials who have removed real managerial functions from themselves.

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As part of the correction of this defect, in particular, it is necessary to abandon the insurance model of state pensions, medicine and social assistance, returning to an immeasurably cheaper, reliable and understandable model of direct payments from the budget (the insurance system is good only in conditions of long-term and guaranteed growth of stock markets, which is definitely not relevant for the next 15 years).

Accordingly, the Pension Fund and the Social Insurance Fund should be integrated back into the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, and the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund should be integrated into the Ministry of Health.

Thus, it is reasonable to reduce the number of ministries from 21 to 15 (including 4 new ones), the number of services and agencies from 19 to 4 (including 1 new service), and extra-budgetary funds from three to zero.

From the current 10 deputy prime ministers, five should remain: the first Deputy Prime Minister, who carries out the current management, as well as vice premiers for combating sanctions, for the development of human capital, for new technologies and for the reintegration of the liberated territories of Russia.

As for the regions, the titles of governments and ministries should be eliminated in their administration in the same way as the title of the president. Heads of departments of regional administrations should be in double subordination (to the head of the region and the deputy for regional affairs of the relevant federal minister), and regional structures of federal departments, which account for the bulk of federal officials, should be eliminated with a few exceptions.

Regions that ensure their expenses by less than 50% should be under the external financial management of the Ministry of Finance.

Of course, the proposed structure of executive power is sketchy, will cause many objections and is generally far from perfect. However, it is much closer to the objective needs of modern Russia than the chaotic situation that has developed to date — and everything else should be the subject of professional discussion.

Mikhail Delyagin

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