A socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of nationwide and international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, youth, sporting, and cultural events.

The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of nationwide and international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, youth, sporting, and cultural events. It was established in pursuance of a decision by the President of the Russian Federation.

The Foundation was established in 2007 with the aim of facilitating the development of Russia’s economic potential, promoting its national interests, and strengthening the country’s image. One of the roles of the Foundation is to comprehensively evaluate, analyse, and cover issues on the Russian and global economic agendas. It also offers administrative services, provides promotional support for business projects and attracting investment, helps foster social entrepreneurship and charitable initiatives.

Each year, the Foundation’s events draw participants from 208 countries and territories, with more than 15,000 media representatives working on-site at Roscongress’ various venues. The Foundation benefits from analytical and professional expertise provided by 5,000 people working in Russia and abroad.

The Foundation works alongside various UN departments and other international organizations, and is building multi-format cooperation with 173 economic partners, including industrialists’ and entrepreneurs’ unions, financial, trade, and business associations from 78 countries worldwide, and 188 Russian public organizations, federal and legislative agencies, and federal subjects.

The Roscongress Foundation has Telegram channels in Russian t.me/Roscongress, English – t.me/RoscongressDirect, and Spanish t.me/RoscongressEsp. Official website and Information and Analytical System of the Roscongress Foundation: roscongress.org.

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Open Government 2.0: What is the Right Policy Prescription for Russia?
4 June 2021
Russian government is growing more open

As of today, we have 21 agencies listed as the most open, <…> while a year ago we had only three. Over 60 ministries and agencies have significantly improved their openness. I would like to say that last year only half of our agencies responded to people’s inquiries, while it is mandatory by law. Now, 63 agencies out of 70 have passed our test. <…> The quality of their responses is also improving. They are becoming less of a formality — Alexey Kudrin, Chairman, Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation.

The renowned website regulation.gov.ru was getting there with moans and groans. Nobody understood why the Ministry of Economic Development pestered them for publishing draft laws on this website. It all started with the regulatory impact assessment. I remember the ‘News’ section of the Ministry of Economic Development website announced that we were to discuss a draft order of the Ministry of Communications. The latter Ministry was quite surprised why it was featured in the news of the Ministry of Economic Development. <...> It all turned into the regulation.gov.ru, which is an essential part of our lives now. <…> It changed attitudes and helped improve openness significantly — Alexey Khersontsev, State Secretary –Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

More and more data is becoming available to us every year. For instance, some time ago they started publishing results of all votes, which had never been done before. I remember you needed to fight to get them. <…> They are now retroactively digitalizing the convocations [of the State Duma, – Ed.] that were not fully digitalized. This is good for researchers and students. At the same time, aggregated data is removed from public domain for some reason — Ekaterina Shulman, Political Scientist, Candidate of Political Science.

Government openness has a direct impact on economic performance

I view openness as an economic aspect. It is not just a nice feature that makes us look nicer and helps communicate with people. It should not be forced, and it should not be a formality. Once again, in this sense it is a purely economic aspect for me. It helps forecast our work and creates trust — Alexey Kudrin, Chairman, Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation.

Economy and government openness and their impact on the economy are actually supported by a whole range of academic research, which shows that openness is an important component of government control. This is an aspect of government control quality, which has a huge effect on economic growth in various countries — Ruben Enikolopov, Rector, New Economic School.

Low level of trust in Russia

After all, the trust people place in government is the key mechanism that affects macro levels and economic growth. <…> Trust is truly important. The trust people and businesses place in government, as well as the trust government has in business. Russia’s unique feature is a low level of trust. It is a huge problem. Academic research prove that it is the country’s major flaw. If you take the level of trust in Russia up to the one in Sweden, the GDP will gain additional 60%. <...> Then we would just have to maintain its sustainability. This is why trust cannot be underestimated. <…> It exists when there is transparency, when it is clear what rules are set and why. It boosts the trust — Ruben Enikolopov, Rector, New Economic School.

There is a popular opinion that derives from the way our public authorities operate. <…> When a government agency wants to adopt a decree or a law and tries to promote it, both end users and experts <…> cannot figure out what this or that statement means. <…> How does the ordinary public react? Starting from the 90s, ordinary people – especially older generations – view it the following way: if the government is trying to do something they do not understand, it means the government is trying to trick them. This is the point where the level of trust goes down. <…> Objectives should be of higher quality — Konstantin Abramov, General Director, Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM).

There is a gap between what we see, and we are able to impact. There is also a gap between the performance of government agencies and what they consider a guideline or a recommendation at least. This is precisely the gap that should be covered in the next ten years and preferably sooner — Ekaterina Shulman, Political Scientist, Candidate of Political Science.

Public councils in Russia are not fully involved in the decision-making process

Another achievement of ours is public councils. However, they frequently become agencies’ puppets. They rarely publish their agendas, plans, results, or performance reports. This is something we noticed. By the end of April, 60 government agencies boasted their own public councils. A few new public councils appeared after our last year’s reports. They have become more active and have started providing basic information at least — Alexey Kudrin, Chairman, Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation.

They [public councils, – Ed.] frequently hire retirees of the very same agency the council belongs to instead of – let’s say – journalists that focus in this industry and write about it. They would be more logical members of a public council. Secondly, their recommendations have nothing to do with the decision-making process – they are not connected at all. <…> This sort of detachment is a curse of the institutions that political science calls ‘new forms of representation’ — Ekaterina Shulman, Political Scientist, Candidate of Political Science.

Digitalization, language, humaneness, empathy – we must promote all of it through involving experts and public councils as platforms for that. The main problem now is that decisions made by public councils are not part of the procedure for adopting new laws. Indeed, it makes a public council a puppet or a formality, because it creates positive publicity for the agency. Yet, public councils’ expertise does not play a significant role in decision making, unfortunately. I would like this to change — Konstantin Abramov, General Director, Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM).

More opportunities for dialogue with the government

As for dialogue, 58 out of 70 agencies have presence in social media. Yet again, their responses to people’s inquiries have improved. Their practices have become more up to date. They are friendlier. <…> They stopped asking: ‘Why do we need social networks at all?’ Long story short, everybody understands this is the future. Everybody is working on that, including public authorities, both in Russia and beyond — Alexey Kudrin, Chairman, Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation.

Communication through social media is a new form of representation, too. People turn comments on Instagram or in other social networks into quasi parliamentary platforms. By the way, tagging an agency will make it respond much sooner than contacting it officially. It makes it a viable method — Ekaterina Shulman, Political Scientist, Candidate of Political Science.

People get information from all sorts of sources. Not so many people approach agencies directly. Thank goodness, government learned how to deal with them. Our key objective here is to create opportunities and infrastructure. It will tell them where to go if they face a problem. They need a physical desk to come to. Secondly and most importantly, they need to get an adequate response — Konstantin Abramov, General Director, Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM).

Making data comprehensible

When it comes to communicating data, you need to know who your target audience is. <…> There is general public – average people – who needs to get comprehensible information. <…> Yet, there are experts. <…> In the latter case, aligning information is important. Now, if you compare the data from various ministries, you can come to all sorts of conclusions. <…> Frankly speaking, there is another category – these are subject-matter experts that do not work for the government. These are academic experts, university researchers and maybe certain journalists that may find it useful if more information were disclosed. Now some data cannot be made public due to laws and other things. It should be limitedly disclosed. <...> It would be a good thing, because independent experts can come to in-depth conclusions that will eventually be useful for ministries and agencies — Ruben Enikolopov, Rector, New Economic School.

Comprehensibility is very important after all. When you start making things comprehensible and consistent, you may find there is not so much to it and the information has a totally different sense. This is why comprehensibility and consistency are key aspects of openness — Alexey Kudrin, Chairman, Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation.

There is a fair amount of available data. User friendliness of this data is a different story. Sometimes, if you are not a subject-matter expert, this data is hard to find and interpret. However, data itself is bread and butter for a researcher, for a social scientist. Data is important for journalists <…> as it helps them understand what the government is up to instead of just retelling conversations of those who they consider newsmakers. When it comes to people or end users of public services so to speak, it is not just the openness that is important, but public dimension. It means being able to get a feedback or a response to your inquiry and affect a decision instead of just knowing what is happening in a government agency and what it is up to — Ekaterina Shulman, Political Scientist, Candidate of Political Science.

We are changing the attitude to our information in general. We focus on the products we make for the target audiences that consume those products. Each audience has its own channel, product and lingo. Each division in the Statistics Service has determined its products, audience and mechanism of disclosing information — Pavel Malkov, Head of the Federal State Statistics Service.