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    OVERHAULING THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT

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    MOSCOW, April 1, 2004 - RIA Novosti. The revamped Russian Government now has fewer ministries than before; meanwhile the number of other federal departments has increased two-fold. The Cabinet's April 1 session is to define all the main functions of federal ministries, as well as their affiliated services and agencies; their structure will also be clarified.

    The government of Mikhail Kasyanov had six deputy prime ministers, 23 ministries and 26 ministers (including the government-administration chief and two ministers without portfolios). Meanwhile there were only 30 other departments, i.e. committees, services, commissions and agencies.

    For its own part, Mikhail Fradkov's Government boasts one deputy prime minister, 14 ministries and 15 ministers, the government-administration chief included. At the same time, the new Cabinet has 60 services and agencies, including law-enforcement services and agencies, which report directly to the President of Russia.

    Instead of pruning the number of ministries and departments, the current Government reorganization mostly aims to define their functions clearly enough, the administrative reform's authors noted repeatedly.

    Previously, federal ministries used to chart the relevant state policies, also issuing normative-legal acts and managing state property. Moreover, they rendered the so-called public services, issuing licenses, certificates and conducting expert checks, etc. The ministries virtually established specific rules of the game, playing in line with such rules and supervising their own performance. That situation led to intra-ministerial conflicts of interests, thus facilitating their "opaque" and ineffective performance.

    Meanwhile the new concept stipulates a three-tier federal administrative system, leaving the Cabinet with political and law-making functions alone. From now on, all licenses will be issued by federal services and their territorial divisions; they will also monitor compliance with existing norms and regulations. For their own part, federal agencies will manage state property, also providing public services. They will also act as state clients within the framework of federal target programs; federal ministries had this status until now. At the same time, commercial companies would be expected to conduct all kinds of expert checks and assessments.

    All ministers will draft budgets of their affiliated structures, with the concerned agencies spending all appropriations. This arrangement is also called on to eliminate the conflict of interests, the reform's authors believe. In the meantime federal ministers will receive additional leverage for influencing services and agencies, as they amend the budget in line with their performance. The Government intends to discard the cost-estimate principle for financing federal organizations already in 2007, compiling specific budgets in line with the results of their work.

    15-20 percent of all ministerial jobs will be axed during the Government reform because such ministries will no longer have various excessive and parallel functions in accordance with the administrative-reform commission's findings. Today's Government session will establish the maximum possible organic strength of ministries, as well as that of incipient services and agencies. The Cabinet will also fix the wage fund of all structures. Top-level executives will apparently be entitled to more substantial wages than before.

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