Translated by
2020/05/05 08:52:57

TAdviser Interview: The head of the Audit Chamber Alexey Kudrin - about views of digitalization of the state

Throughout "zero" and a considerable part of the "tenth" years of informatization of state agencies in Russia much less attention was paid, than followed. Failure from paper in all chain of management processes and also creation of the center of acceptance of strategic decisions, uniform for all state organizations, in the field of digitalization will allow to accelerate transition to a digital state administration, the chairman of Accounts Chamber of Russia Alexey Kudrin considers.

Alexey Kudrin: not all state information systems fully suit for normal work and digital interaction with each other and with citizens

Allow to begin with a hot topic: whether IT infrastructure of Accounts Chamber these days helps you to perform directed by the president and the government of a measure of counteraction to epidemiological threat?

Alexey Kudrin: Transition to an udalyonka did not take us unawares: by this moment we implemented about a year the strategy of digitalization at the heart of which - implementation of remote methods of audit on the basis of digitalization of workflows. This work is not completed yet, for it some more years will be required. But what is already made was excellent help for the solution of operational tasks in the conditions of a pandemic. At the end of April at Accounts Chamber daily there were no more than 5% of employees, work of the others goes only from the house. The infrastructure for creation of mobile jobs for inspectors of Accounts Chamber implemented within transition to remote audit just also allowed us to transfer to "udalenka" the most part of employees quickly. We temporarily stopped work of our employees in the territory of objects of checks in general. We recognize that FOIVAM it is necessary to concentrate on development of crisis response measures now and also to care for the employees and their health, and we can check a lot of things far off. In short terms we could connect our employees to more than 50 internal systems of the ministries and departments that provided them a necessary array of information for work.

Other question that the plans calculated on a year had to be implemented for few weeks, but the Chamber and our Department of digital transformation cope.

Thanks and to software providers, necessary for safe remote work. For the period of a crisis situation they free of charge provided us the necessary number of additional licenses for means of cryptoprotection and remote access. As a result at the moment the inspection structure of Accounts Chamber in a due measure is provided with effective and secure remote access to our own resources and to information systems of several tens more federal and regional agencies.

So, I hope that there's no evil without good and a present epidemiological situation will give an additional impulse to the fastest digitalization.

Whether everything the state organizations are ready to transition to remote forms of work now?

Alexey Kudrin: In respect of digitalization our ministries and departments strongly differ from each other. Digital access facilities to relevant documents and contemporary records work effectively not everywhere, and it seriously constrains us in implementation of our strategy. The specifics of work of body of audit are that we cannot tsifrovizirovatsya much quicker, than those whom we check.

The essential factor is uneven, often insufficient quality of data in the state information systems (SIS).

The analytical report of Accounts Chamber published in March was devoted to this subject "Assessment of openness of the state information systems in Russia". There, in particular, we made the rating of 50 main information systems of the state reflecting availability and quality of the data provided by them. Alas, not all state information systems fully suit for normal work and digital interaction with each other and with citizens. Sometimes arrays of electronic data reset in GISY in general without check. They abound with inaccuracies, "zadvoyeniye", admissions.

Work on improvement of data in GIS us will be continued. Both checks of Accounts Chamber, and our analytical monitorings are already planned. I want to draw the attention of all federal executive authorities that we will look very in detail at quality of these their systems so now it is a high time to attend to this question.

Since the beginning of the 2000th years Russian authorities anyway speak about need of digitalization of a state machinery. There were big state programs "Electronic Russia" and "Information Society", the Digital Economy national program works now. There are also certain results – the portal of state services and the system of interdepartmental interaction are started, computing infrastructure is created. But in complete sense digital state agencies with rare exception did not become. Data are driven in into information systems with hands, information exchange is not automated, rendering state services not algoritmizirovano, the number of officials is not laid off. You worked hard years in the government, now control activity of officials from Accounts Chamber. In what, in your opinion, the main difficulties of the state digitalization? How do you estimate dynamics of its development in last 20 years?

Alexey Kudrin: In general throughout "zero" and a considerable part of "tenth" much less attention was paid to this work, than followed., It seems, there was a mechanism of approval of the uniform principles of digitalization (then it was called informatization), but it especially did not work. Unfortunately, the role of Ministry of Communications which did not cope with a role of the coordinator of this work was quite weak. All thought out the systems, without interacting with other departments, without thinking of integration of systems. At the same time there was also no responsibility for quality of data therefore there something was located, and something is not present. Therefore we now also see tens and hundreds of solutions, at the same time quality of data in them incomplete.

At the same time I know for certain that in the Ministry of Finance, FTS and Treasury digitalization went quickly enough, as on the basis of the international experience, and own practices. It is no wonder that according to our research information systems of these three departments were the most effective. So now our financial block of the state, as well as the banking sector, some of the most tsifrovizovanny in the world.

That digitalization of a state administration was successful, it is necessary to conduct this subject as the highest priority at the level of all Government. Therefore after Mikhail Mishustin's appointment to a post of the Russian Prime Minister and arrival of its command I have more hope that digitalization will go the rates, necessary for the country. The first steps in this direction are visible – for example, appearance of the deputy ministers responsible for digital transformation (CDTO) is the correct measure. There is a wish to wish to colleagues of good luck.

At the same time state bodies generally lag behind business in the field of digitalization for 3-5 years. It seems it is a little, but in this sphere five years are the whole era. It is time for state to reduce this gap which, by the way exists practically in all countries. It was recognized, for example, by participants of the XXIII congress of the international organization of the supreme bodies of audit (INTOSAI) which passed in Moscow which the Accounts Chamber of Russia in 2019-2021 heads. "The role of information technologies in development of public administration" was one of two principal themes of the Congress. There was an interesting discussion.

What first-priority measures, in your opinion, could accelerate and increase efficiency of the state digitalization?

Alexey Kudrin: The first – the accelerated failure from paper. Even where the legislation allows application of the digital signature and allocates electronic documents with full-fledged legal force, all the same in a chain of management processes continually there "is" a paper document. It is an anachronism.

Creation of the center of acceptance of strategic decisions, uniform for all state organizations, in the field of digitalization could become other measure. It would allow to use developments in a set of the industries at once, to reduce costs for creation of the state digital infrastructure, to achieve unification of formats of data view by different departments and, eventually, considerably to raise efficiency of expenditure of budgetary funds. In due time in TsSR our experts formulated it in the concept of "the state as the platform", understanding of such approaches begins to come today and to the state. It is important that transition to platform solutions was present, but did not become just renaming of systems into platforms or ecosystems as now often occurs.

In Accounts Chamber we began with ordering of the available data, creation of simple deshbord, and regarding audit – with digitalization of operating control of budget implementation where it was possible to adjust data exchange between the existing systems. Gradually, accumulating and working with different data, we will also pass to platform solutions for audit.

Whether digitalization of government will lead to reduction of number of officials? If yes, how considerable reduction you expect that?

Alexey Kudrin: Digitalization will exempt the person not so much from physical and mechanical work how many from work algoritmiziruyemy where in the repeating situations the worker makes known actions, makes standard solutions. Work of a part of government officials falls under such determination. I will be careful to do quantitative estimates. But it seems to me that now for many officials the risk of job change in the next years is not lower, than, for example, for drivers of cars to whom coming of UAVs threatens.

But on the other hand – I can tell surely what on civil service is and there will be a staff deficit with new competences: data analysis, creation of new solutions on the basis of data, reengineering of processes, change management. On the Moscow congress INTOSAI the question was asked representatives of the supreme bodies of audit of member countries: "What main problems efforts on information technology implementation in practice of audit in your country face?". More than a third of participants of the congress called "absence of good specialists". We hardly find and we employ such people, we begin to train also the employees. We directly in workplaces, on the job, organized training in modern methods of data analysis and to application programming.

Those who will be able to master new knowledge – will be demanded. Actually it is new specialties for government employees: analysts and experts in the analysis of data arrays, specialists in Big Data in a state administration. Such jobs will appear in a public sector instead of the abolished "algorithmic vacancies".

As for Accounts Chamber, digitalization will allow us to reduce considerably the need for the human resources necessary for carrying out each single audit. But it should not lead not to reduction of inspection structure — there is no such purpose — and to proportional increase in the analyzed information, quantity of the checked objects and quality of checks. The same structure we will check many times more and better.

As before, and in the new structure of the government concerning digitalization there is no uniform center of decision making. Whether it is correct, from your point of view? Or appearance of the chief government head of digital transformation who would undertake functions of coordination of all digital projects of the government and their budgets, building of uniform architecture, uniform methodology, etc. regardless of the industry would be more effective?

Alexey Kudrin: Undoubtedly, the qualified coordination is necessary. It allows to reduce, first, considerably costs for purchases, avoiding duplication of solutions, the order by different state departments of identical or faithful works in the field of digitalization. Secondly, coordination allows to reduce risk of emergence of an opposite problem — when an important part of the general complex of works was undertaken by nobody, having counted upon others. At last, only effective coordination will allow state bodies to achieve uniform standards and formats of data view and results of their processing.

Of course, someone should be responsible for such coordination. We in Accounts Chamber have a head of digital transformation. Now such appointments go also in other authorities, and further heads of digital transformation should make the teams and to create the interest of all employees in digital technologies. I think that will come also to creation of cross-industry councils for digitalization of state structures and approval of architectural approaches, leaving from "opening day" of systems.

We are ready to act as one of the centers of digital competence here and to impart experience.