The executive orders in question set the main priorities for Russia’s development over the coming period, in particular in long-term economic and social policy, modernising and developing the armed forces, and domestic policy and demographic policy measures.
Deputy prime ministers of the Russian Federation and Presidential Executive Office executives took part in the meeting.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Exactly a month ago now, we reviewed the results of this first year of work to implement the presidential executive orders of May 7, 2012. Our discussion was concrete and got straight to the substance. We also identified the problems that have come up in our work together.
Let me repeat that implementing these orders is a top priority for all of our work, for the Government and all the ministries, and for the authorities at every level. The imperative is to produce real results and work not for the sake of reports and documents, but in the interests of our people.
We agreed at that meeting that the ministries and agencies would present updated action plans for the coming five years, with a year-by-year breakdown of work. We agreed on a deadline of one month for getting these action plans ready. I think that was more than sufficient time.
The action plans are ready. Yesterday evening and this morning, I had a preliminary look through them. I can see that the ministries, agencies, and the Government Staff have put in a lot of thorough work. I realise that we are trying to give state planning new principles and put it in a new language, a non-bureaucratic language that our citizens will understand. This is not the easiest task of course, but we have to do this if we want to improve the quality of public administration in our country.
I will share with you my impressions regarding the quality and content of the action plans, but it is already clear to me that we are doing the right thing in drawing up these plans. They clearly mobilise us and oblige us to formulate and set out our real tasks for the near- and medium-term future. This is one of the essential conditions for the executive orders’ successful implementation.
Unfortunately, the content and quality of these documents still does not meet the required standards. I therefore propose giving the ministries another 2–3 weeks to revise them, and I ask you to get more actively involved in this work.
Coming now to my specific remarks.
First, these documents contain too much vague and general wording. Of course, this is nothing unusual, after all, we are all used to drafting plans this way. But it is not enough today just to express our desire for a radiant future. This will no longer do! What we need is a totally concrete and clear picture of the changes we can expect in each sector in a year, two years, five years’ time, and of the impact they will have on our people’s prosperity and quality of life. It has to be clear enough for everyone to understand.
Each plan also has to provide for public feedback and broad public discussion of the measures proposed and taken. They also need to give the public access to information on the actual results of the different ministries’ and agencies’ work. Unfortunately, the action plans do not contain these provisions yet.
To give one example: at the moment, only 35 percent of foreign economic actors are happy with the Federal Customs Service’s work. What objectives has the service set? It wants to reach a user satisfaction target of 50 percent by 2015, and 80 percent by 2018.
In other words, over a three-year period, more than half of all participants in foreign economic activity might be unhappy with the quality of service provided, and then we suddenly get this big jump up and everything gets better. But we all know this is impossible. What’s needed is a stage-by-stage approach, taking one step after another every day, every month, every year. This is the only way to achieve results.
Second, I sometimes get the impression that some agencies live entirely in their own little world, look solely to their own narrow problems, and lack any understanding of the common tasks facing our country and people, in whose interests we are all working in the first place.
For example, the sector-based agencies have all but ignored one of the orders’ key objectives, which was to create modern jobs. As you know, this is an ambitious and very important task, and it is only the surface dimension of what has to happen. So, what is it that has to happen?
We have to restructure Russia’s economy and set it on an innovation growth track, and this will produce the 25 million jobs that we are talking about. But this does not come through as one of the basic objectives in the action plans.
Third, we agreed that the action plans would set out the specific measures the ministries will take. Let me stress that by ‘measures’ I mean real action: laws that take effect and actually work, new plants, hospitals, schools, perinatal centres, cultural facilities, housing for large families. This is what I mean by ‘measures’, not reports, meetings and working groups. Those things are the routine and are of no interest to our people.
To give an example: the Culture Ministry’s action plan in many cases (not always, but often) is vague and contains no specific targets or result measurements in all of the different organisational and methodological areas. Other ministries have similar problems. I will not list them all now.
Fourth, a number of documents do not support the set objectives with specific indicators. This means that no one can ultimately objectively measure and check the results achieved.
The Healthcare Ministry, for example, has not clearly formulated what it means exactly by ‘provision of affordable medicines’. They have yet to come up with a clear formulation. How will this objective be reached with regard to each individual citizen? How will we measure it? What can patients expect if they need medicines? What changes can we expect to see in the social guarantees provided? I, at any rate, did not see this in the action plan. Maybe they did try to present it in the document, but I did not see it.
Fifth, it has to be absolutely clear who bears personal responsibility for specific results achieved, or for disruptions to work, so that we know who to hold accountable later and so that we do not end up with people looking for excuses to explain why things went wrong. Specific officials either have to be ready to take responsibility for the results, or should start thinking right now about changing their careers.
We need the actual names, specific personal responsibility, and as we agreed, political responsibility for carrying out the action plans will rest with the particular colleagues who sign the approved documents, in other words, with the minister or the agency head. Let me repeat that when the year is up, I will meet with each minister and hold a public hearing of the reports on the results achieved.
Also, we agreed that the action plans on implementing the executive orders would be open and public. I’m forced to bring it to your attention that this is still not yet the case. I therefore ask you to revise the plans and immediately make them public. I spoke today with the Prime Minister [Dmitry Medvedev], and we agreed that he would take this work under his personal control.
Mr Shuvalov, I ask you as First Deputy Prime Minister to ensure that these issues are examined at a Government meeting.
First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov: We will do this.
Vladimir Putin: I also ask you to identify a few clear priorities for each agency. Colleagues, I draw your attention to this point. We discussed this yesterday in the Presidential Executive Office.
There is a lot of routine work to take care of. I know full well what a heavy load the Government has to deal with on a daily basis. I know there is a lot of routine business.
Of course it is possible to draw up these plans any old how and fill them with things that look varied and interesting at first glance, but that are unclear and of little need to our people.
I therefore ask you to identify 3–4, maybe 5, clear priorities for each agency. These must be objectives that people will find absolutely clear, and specific individuals must be responsible for reaching them.
Of course, these priorities must be stated publicly. People must know the steps and resources that will be used to reach them and should be able to follow their implementation in real time.
Colleagues, as deputy prime ministers you share in full the responsibility for the quality of the ministries and agencies’ performance, for implementing the strategic goals set out in the executive orders, and for effective transformation of these vital areas of our country’s life.
Many of the goals set out in the executive orders cannot be achieved through the ministries and agencies’ efforts alone, but require real team work and constant cooperation between the authorities at every level. This is true of demographic policy, economic modernisation, and modern job creation.
As deputy prime ministers you have broad powers and you must ensure coordinated action between the federal and regional authorities, concentrate the needed human resources, administrative and financial resources, clearly distribute responsibility for specific areas, and organise oversight. These are all essential conditions for productive and effective work.