The digital state: the example of Russia

Fedor Dukhnovskiy,
Higher School of Economics,

The Russian government pays a lot of attention to IT technologies and the digitalization of state bodies. The budget of one national project “Digital Economy” is 3.5 trillion rubles, or more than $40 billion. Therefore, it is interesting to see what path Russia has taken to build a digital state, and how this path is consistent, for example, with the OECD Digital Government Policy Frameworks.

The first attempts to build a digital government were made quite a long time ago. Thus, in 2002, the state program “Electronnaya Rossia 2002-2010” was approved, the goals of which were to increase the effectiveness of interdepartmental cooperation and ensure more effective work of state bodies, ensuring full control over the activities of state bodies.

The financing of the program amounted to 26 million rubles.

This program faced difficulties in its implementation, including many measures that were severely underfunded (even the funds originally allocated for the program were not allocated). Even internal audits confirmed that most of the implemented interim tasks under the program were narrow and technical in nature, and did not contribute in any way to achieving the goals set. At the same time, thanks to the program, it was possible to launch the “Gosuslugi” platform, which has now become a significant and widely used resource. Also, thanks to the program, it was possible to launch and set up a system of interdepartmental interaction, which, although not very much, but still accelerated communication within state bodies.

One of the disadvantages of Russian digital government is not as high as the other countries, the level of digital infrastructure: only 76% of the population has access to a stable Internet, the population has mobile phones, and the country is provided with secure Internet servers.

Digital infrastructure is an important factor, especially for such a large country as Russia, as it becomes the basis for the introduction of all other digital innovations, and, most importantly, allows the population to use the results of these digital innovations.

Data-driven public sector is also only developing. So far, there are no laws in Russia that would oblige state agencies to conduct a preliminary assessment of the implementation of the policy when implementing any initiatives, or making policy evaluation after policy reforms. However, the situation in this area is gradually changing thanks to the efforts of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, the Center for Advanced Governance and the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation.

Government as a platform in Russia is developing quite strongly thanks to the early launch of the portal “Gosuslugi”, the transfer of many processes to the online mode. An additional advantage here is that the Moscow Government has actively introduced digital innovations in this area, launching the portal “” and encouraging the population to use it to receive household services, such as registering in medical centers, transmitting meter readings, enrolling children in school, and so on.

Russia also has problems with openness. The Open Data program, which was supposed to increase the openness of government agencies, did not lead to the result that was planned. Many government agencies provide minimal or no data at all. Also, the introduction of new systems is not transparent, so it can not be argued that Russia is committed to the openness of data and algorithms.

Considering both proactivity and user orientation, Russia is successful. In any case, in the system of the Federal Tax Service, government has automated and digitalized many services, making access to them fast and convenient. The situation is similar with “Gosuslugi”, which provide a fairly large selection of different services.

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