Translated by
2019/02/20 11:30:03

TAdviser Interview: The deputy minister of science and the higher education Denis Solodovnikov – about plans of the forthcoming digital transformation

The Ministry of science and the higher education of the Russian Federation created in 2018 should transform the industry using digital platforms. The deputy minister of science and the higher education Denis Solodovnikov told about circuits of these platforms and approaches to their creation in an interview to the Chief Editor of TAdviser Alexander Levashov.

We should create several digital platforms

Denis Solodovnikov: CDO. Between these concepts there is rather big functional difference. I will try to explain.

In our ministry there is a department of information technologies which is headed by Marianna Hartsy - the professional person, she long worked in the Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FASO). In the previous Ministry of Education and Science which in 2018 was separated into two, such specialized departments was not. At us it is educated as the providing department as back office of the ministry now. All plan of informatization of this department consists of actions which should solve simple problems – telephony, the Internet, purchases of the server hardware for the ministry, licenses, workstations. I.e. all this, anything, but not department of digital development.

Staff of department, by the way, is quite ready to be engaged in more major problems. They for this purpose have the corresponding qualification and well understand tasks which I to them set. And I to them set the tasks as CDO – they concern digital transformation of department and, I will not be afraid of this word, business processes of department. This department should be on an edge and be engaged, first of all, in methodological tasks.

Methodologists who do not understand technologies, think about yesterday. And even if you think about today, by then, when you prepared the corresponding normativka, you already hopelessly were late. And now technologies develop in such a way that it is always necessary to think about tomorrow. Taking into account features of adoption of the regulating documentation, by then, when we issue some acts or passports, something already should be changed. Our bureaucratic system not always allows to react quickly and adequately. Nevertheless, in hands CDO should have such tool and such division which knows about tomorrow and is not afraid of transformation, understands what needs to be changed what to aim at.

We are engaged as interdepartmental transformation, i.e., we act as the professional customer and the consultant of other divisions of our ministry, and interdepartmental work. Well, owing to at least the fact that we have a Russian Academy of Sciences as independent GRBS. They independently define the policy and the tasks, and we are obliged to keep in line, on the powers, with them. We are obliged to understand equally a task and to aim at that equally to solve it. And this understanding is present today.

In what do problems of digital development of the Ministry of Education and Science consist?

Denis Solodovnikov: We have several key documents by which we are guided. There are tasks which are stated in the Science national project and in the Education national project. The state program of scientific technology development where actions which we should implement will be registered forms.

In particular, we should create several digital platforms. It is the Digital platform of life-long education, the Digital platform of management of scientific and technical interaction, the Digital platform of management of services of scientific infrastructure of collective use. It the clear and accurately designated actions which we should implement. Though it is rather not an action, but the purpose. The digital platform in itself is not just the IT system. It is the whole complex of the systems of exchange of Big Data. We need to provide in digital sense interaction on all chain – from school to science.


Denis Solodovnikov: The problem of secondary education consists, anyway, in providing interrelation between school and university – to bring the pupil to leaving school and then through the USE to provide its entering a university. During study at the pupil the digital profile thanks to which we can understand what at it are developed tendencies what he will aim at forms.

Formation of a profile should affect possible reliability or potential abuses which can be theoretically assumed when the Unified State Examination is passed in general seriously. Because if during all educational process the pupil showed certain knowledge, then hardly this picture will strongly change for the last three months before a Unified State Examination. Completely it is impossible to exclude abuses, probably, but the analysis of a digital profile strongly will complicate them. It – first.

Secondly, understanding tendencies of the pupil in a digital profile, psychologists or other consultants will be able to help to approach the pupil choice of profession more consciously. During study data, and it not only the electronic diary, it and those materials which the pupil used in learning process, and results of its project activity collect. All this remains and lays down in a digital profile. Of course, the serious question is a personal data storage, but modern information security tools allow to solve it. In more detail I did not begin to speak about high school - it is a task which is supervised by my colleague Marina Rakova (the deputy minister of education, - a comment of TAdviser). And we should provide transition when the pupil becomes a student and gets to university. And, of course, here a big field for activity. It is important to us to save this digital profile, to continue it.

So the Minprosveshcheniya and Ministry of Education and Science platform should be the general?

Denis Solodovnikov: In an amicable way and. But here so far there are a lot of questions. We did not start design, architecture yet while only we think of it. In general, I ask to notice that I work in the ministry only the second month. Of course, we already have certain practices, but I am not ready to take out them in the public plane yet.

According to us, the digital profile should contain also scientific work which is conducted by the student. Now scientific work is conducted both in universities, and in the scientific organizations, in Academy of Sciences. A simple example – the Perm company Promobot which develops anthropomorphous robots and actively exports them. At us MFC, the museums, banks are interested in these developments, there are also foreign customers. And so this successful company was created by students who studied at the Perm university. Therefore it is very important to us not to lose those results which are received by students during scientific work in universities. And not only students – departments, scientists who work at the universities.

Respectively, the digital profile should be within the Single digital platform, and to results of these researches and scientific works all should have access: scientists, business, state corporations, military.

Besides, we should avoid duplication of researches. We should keep account of research works and understand effect of them. Recently there was a report of the president of RAS Alexander Sergeyev to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin about results of such work where he mentioned that on 40% of scientific research it was not succeeded to find obvious result. For this reason now the Academy of Sciences is engaged in professional examination of all research works on all directions where they are conducted – whether there was it scientific institute or academy, the universities, federal public authorities, state corporations. It is obviously correct because each such work for which big money is spent should have a contents. If there is no this contents, a question why this work was financed.

But scientific work can fail and …

Denis Solodovnikov: Yes, but it has to be visible too that, for example, it was in the future possible to conduct an additional research.

Thus, the first digital platform is a life-long education and a digital profile, and the second is accounting of scientific activity, so?

Denis Solodovnikov: Yes, but it is important to understand that it not only accounting. Even standard accounting – already quite for itself tangible result, but also it is necessary that the result of scientific work that it was clear about what this work whether this subject has the scientific contents was visible, whether these works were conducted somewhere earlier. And if were conducted, maybe, they need to be considered. It is important to have base which researchers can address to understand that there is some collective which also investigates this subject. Perhaps, it is necessary to use work of this collective. Perhaps, to find those people who researched in the field. It is also that Big Data.

It is necessary that any interested person could see results of scientific work: from beginning to end. First of all, the state is interested in it. There are, of course, certain dangers – not only we can monitor this system. Brain drain for our country is a big problem, and the centralized storage, complete availability of such information can probably cause the threats connected with enticement of research teams, their leaders, the most prepared talented students or teachers. Nevertheless, we should think over how to provide both availability of these data, and possibilities of information exchange within a single platform.

Perhaps, the single platform with RAS because we should not break science into good and bad is necessary.

Than the existing resources – libraries of scientific articles, for example, of are bad?

Denis Solodovnikov: Really, there are many carriers of such data.

They are separate? In them it is inconvenient to look for?

Denis Solodovnikov: First, they are separate. Somewhere it is convenient to look for, somewhere there are available services …

And non-state.

Denis Solodovnikov: Yes. But we do not say about changing the existing services, and only about that to connect them. There are universities which made great progress both in internal digitalization, and in creation of convenient resources for use of accumulated information from the outside. We should not substitute or prohibit anything. No way. Our task – to connect these data, resources, to make the data exchange bus, a show-window and interfaces so that it was convenient for all.

One more task which is set for us by the government is superservices, for example, for ensuring entering a higher education institution, on submission of documents in electronic form. It is partially implemented, but not up to the end. The complexity is that at each higher educational institution the educational program, the conditions of acceptance. But it is not the reason not to provide the uniform centralized opportunity as service for submission of such documents.

What documents are filed at receipt?

Denis Solodovnikov: Standard set – the statement, the certificate, Documents confirmatory privileges, well are also necessary results of the USE, first of all. We should provide a possibility of submission of documents in electronic form in all universities without fail regardless of where exactly the student submits originals. Our purpose – in general to leave from paper in this case. It is not necessary. We should aim at uniform, clear rules of receipt for all. Technically it is simple.

Submission of documents in electronic form will become the only opportunity to enter to the university?

Denis Solodovnikov: Not the only opportunity, but opportunity for all. Whether universities will accept documents directly in that type as they do it now whether similar rules will remain or they will change, I cannot tell you so far, it should be solved not only me. We so far at the very beginning of a way. To select the right direction of the movement, we as a command of digital transformation will work together with colleagues - methodologists who are engaged in the higher education.

What resources do you have? What IT budget at you? What state of a digital command?

Denis Solodovnikov: We have a standard department, in it about 40 people work. Process of set is almost finished. The department is generally created and ready to work. It is very good resource, but people work actually 24 at 7 now and we have no time for a swing. We have no right to anybody to tell "wait, we are not ready yet".

As for the budget. We have a budget on ICT in pure form on the 242nd expense type, around 500 million rubles for 2019. In respect of informatization all these expenses are entered, and it exactly those providing actions which are started on questions of infrastructure, communication, acquisition of licenses, on the application software, programs of electronic document management, office software, legal programs and so on.

But we see the tasks a little differently, and on it means are too. They are in the state buildings, grants, in target subsidies for subordinated organizations. It should be noted that our subordinated organizations are higher educational institutions and scientific institutes. Nevertheless, thus financing of creation of those digital platforms about which we spoke above was planned.

You are going to change it?

Denis Solodovnikov: We think now how it is correct to work in order that it at the same time answered those purpose and tasks which are stated in our program documents and that it was absolutely legal, correctly and is logically built from the point of view of the Ministry of digital development and office of the Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Alekseyevich Akimov, the Architectural commission which is created in Mintsifry. Well and, certainly, in coordination with Tatyana Alekseevna Golikova's office.

So program documents should not suffer because is time. All indicators, all actions which are registered there have terms. But at the same time one of the main objectives – to make the procedure of expenditure of funds for these purposes the most transparent and effective. In my understanding, the state task or a grant in university on creation of IT systems, digital platforms – it is not quite obvious and transparent.

So earlier the idea was that based on universities there will be such competence centers which will create these digital platforms. And now, from your point of view, it can be reconfigured somehow?

Denis Solodovnikov: I think of it. Competence Centers should be selected not in a random way. The choice should be realized, thought over. We creates now council for informatization where we will involve experts from science, from universities in which we have a big competence in IT - it is also institutes of RAS, perhaps, MIPT or Baumanka, ITMO, and, of course, government expert centers and competence centers. It would be silly to rely only on own tools of the ministry when near at hand there is such resource. Though who for whom a resource – they for us or we for them are still a question. But in general, this mechanism should be clear. Both the discussion, and consolidation is necessary. And in the government when set tasks for us, should understand that we rely on quite clear tools. It is impossible to create such difficult digital platforms if we did not undergo the procedure of verification of our data and the ideas.

Approach is clear. To finish with this question, staff of 40 people are those who passed in the natural way when forming the Ministry of Education and Science from FASO?

Denis Solodovnikov: It and those who passed from FASO, and those who passed from the Ministry of Education and Science, and those who were taken for the last half-year. So it is different people, but in general it is amicable, and, above all – very qualified collective.

And concerning the budget. You speak, there are 500 million rubles for 2019, and there is money which is supposed to be selected for creation of platforms. What total amount as a first approximation?

Denis Solodovnikov: We consider so far, we carry out audit of earlier planned actions in program documents. All forthcoming expenses will need to be knotted with tasks which are set by office of the Deputy Prime Minister. After a while it will be possible to speak more specifically.

Probably, several times the digit after all will grow?

Denis Solodovnikov: I hope that several times will grow. Now we with the colleagues who are responsible for finance study huge amount of papers which became in a hurry and for rather short period.

At the Ministry of Education 1.0 as you call it, there was a subordinated organization "Informica". Whether it is alive?

Denis Solodovnikov: No, it is liquidated. A part of the people working in this organization joined other subordinated organizations Ministries of Public Education.

So it is their resource now?

Denis Solodovnikov: It is their resource. This inheritance did not pass to us, and it, probably, to the best. At us are given a free hand, we are free in the choice of actions. We took those results of works which got to us in the form of already ready or left unfinished systems as is, and we will use them, to complete or write off as unnecessary as outdated.

Those platforms about which we talked from the top level on the logic are similar to the single state information system of health care (SSISHC) which is built by the Ministry of Health – when there is a federal ministry and there is through the whole country a huge number of industry organizations …

Denis Solodovnikov: Yes, it is the truth.

How applicable, suitable for you that approach which for the last years is implemented by the Ministry of Health under the leadership of Elena Boyko is?

Denis Solodovnikov: Elena Lvovna is a person, certainly, experienced, she works with tasks of the Ministry of Health long ago. Was the director of IT department, now there was CDO, the deputy minister. Its approach is absolutely clear to me. She in exclusive degree the sane person, well knows all problems which it is necessary to face, drags on herself this load. Yes, we have similar tasks. In general, so far we go on one way. Whether our ways will differ when implementing specific objectives, at construction of digital platforms – probably, will be.

The Ministry of Health creates Uniform State Health Information System using the only contractors. As far as to you it is close and it seems correct this approach?

Denis Solodovnikov: Involvement of the big state corporation can be the only reasonable way to solve an assigned task. The question is in what occurs further – who attracts what resources whether there will be these resources operable. It seems to me that to do large-scale competitive procedures to define really the best contractor, we yet not up to the end learned. The rate on business company is not always reliable option. We know what happened to a number of large system integrators recently. At the same time, on processes, they are in many respects similar to large state corporations and make exactly the same mistakes. Of course, there are other examples, for example, "Yandex" – absolutely other, much more effective company, but it does not go to our sector yet. Therefore even if the large commercial integrator will come to such project in the open procedure, not the fact that the result will be better, and risks will disappear somewhere.

When you are going to select contractors on creation of digital platforms?

Denis Solodovnikov: I think that it will occur in the spring. We have, unfortunately, no opportunity to think infinitely long. There is a budget process, we are in its framework. And, kind of we reinterpreted for ourselves a task, time is a limited resource and very expensive.

Do you have some instruments of stimulation of digital development of universities? And whether there is you such task?

Denis Solodovnikov: Universities are faced by many tasks, beginning from import substitution, and finishing with a tipologization of processes, implementations of electronic document management. I am not a supporter of application of drastic measures of normative regulation. It is impossible. And, the main thing that it is not necessary. There are universities which strongly promoted in issues of digitalization – Higher School of Economics, MSU, the universities in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk. At them is, than to brag, and it is deserved. And therefore we will use more likely their practicians and to try to unify some interesting solutions. Let's try to give the platform for their distribution, for sharing, for application of best practices.

Tell in more detail about import substitution. In what do tasks of universities consist?

Denis Solodovnikov: We as the ministry finance budgetary institutions. Why should we pay the foreign software if there are analogs in the register of domestic software? Why the rules created for authorities should not be distributed to universities? The same concerns, for example, information security. We have the right to demand from them observance of the same directives which work for state agencies? Has the right. Means, we will be engaged in it.

Whether you are going to be engaged in technical retrofitting of universities? Digitalization is impossible without modern computers, at least …

Denis Solodovnikov: The task such costs, but here a question of fiscal capacity. I will use all resources which are available for me as CDO – to address Mintsifra, Konstantin Yuryevich Noskov, Maxim Alekseyevich Akimov for appropriate assistance and, perhaps, for additional financing of such actions. Now it was already made by Academy of Sciences. We fully supported them.

What was made by Academy of Sciences?

Denis Solodovnikov: They are faced exactly by the same tasks of informatization, of modern equipment. They should be provided to all necessary. And we, in turn, will not be able to administer science if in organizations there is no electronic document management or a modern computer hardware, the necessary systems. In addition, we need to be engaged in upgrade of supercomputers of scientific institutes, we are faced by problems of strategy implementation of development of artificial intelligence. We already not in the forefront. Therefore there will be a project on retrofitting. It is obvious, it on a surface.

With universities such project will arise too?

Denis Solodovnikov: Of course. We will be engaged in it. It is our task.

I would like to return to health care again. If you remember, at them was too there was a program of retrofitting when computers, medical information systems were bought. Then on these purposes distributed to regions about 20 billion rubles from the federal budget. There will be something similar? There will be a federal financing which will disperse then on universities?

Denis Solodovnikov: I do not know yet. We will definitely not begin to scatter money from the helicopter. It is obvious. We will act is exclusively coped with Mintsifra. But it is worth to remember that universities sit not only on budget money, they receive rather large number of means from revenue-producing activities, from training. I.e. additional equipment can provide to them not only the state. Somewhere quite perhaps public and private partnership. We will look for solutions and we will attract partners.