Opening Russia

Below we’ve copied a statement made by Prime Minister Medvedev at the Russian Government meeting on November 29th. He describes open government as a priority and he reasserts a commitment to join Open Government Partnership. The original Russian transcript is available here.

“Now, let’s talk about the quality of public administration and improving the efficiency of public service. We should focus on introducing transparency standards for government agencies to include public participation in drafting government documents, openness and availability of information for discussion, the ability of citizens to share their suggestions and actually take part in government decision-making. In late October, the State Duma passed in the first reading a draft law prepared by the Government which provides for the participation of representatives of public councils at ministries and departments in the work of contest and evaluation committees. Thus, civil society will get additional leverage on government human resources. We assume that this document will be adopted and come into force as early as next year. A performance assessment system for regional leaders has been introduced recently, which takes into account demographic, economic and social factors and the friendliness of the business environment. I have recently approved two lists of specific performance indicators. Importantly, the final assessment should reflect public opinion as well. The most successful regions will receive grants from the federal budget.

Finally, the seventh point that I’ll make today is about the Open Government. An ongoing dialogue with civil society is, perhaps, one of the most important innovations in our work. I would like to specifically emphasise the term “dialogue,” not monologues by heads of ministries and departments. It should be a two-way street based on feedback and dialogue supported by subsequent actions of the authorities.

In early August, I approved the first half of the members of the Government Expert Council: 200 representatives of different social groups. I hope that decision on the other half will be made soon.

Dozens of bills and public programmes have been discussed and many revisions have been made, with some documents sent back for revision. It was comforting for me to know (I think you also noticed it) that public and business organisations have expressed their satisfaction with the way the system works, saying that some of the issues that have remained on the back burner for years were quickly resolved by the Open Government, such as industrial safety regulations.

At least 20 bills will be reviewed by the Open Government. Of course, I will take active part in this work. I believe all Government members should be involved. Some of them, as a public initiative, can be put to a public vote by 100,000 citizens who are entitled to make such decisions. Let’s see how this tool works. Anyway, it’s interesting to launch such a project. Let me remind you, federal departments have been charged with the task of implementing the Open Government principles. I hope you’ll do your best to make this happen.

Next, there’s an Open Region project which is now being implemented in 18 regions and 4 municipalities. The main goal, of course, is to bring government and people closer together and maintain an active dialogue. The Open Government is not something that we came up with sitting in comfortable armchairs. Open Government programs are implemented all over the world and there is the Open Government Partnership . I hope that we will join this partnership in March.”

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