Gaidar Forum experts assess progress in regulatory and supervisory reform from citizens’ perspective

The expert discussion on How the Effectiveness of State Control Has Changed: Citizens' Perspective was held on January 15, during the 11th Gaidar Forum. The participants reviewed a report on the sociological surveys conducted in 2018-2019 prepared by RANEPA Center for Public Administration Technologies and the Center for Social and Political Monitoring at RANEPA ISS.

The moderator, Yekaterina Salugina-Sorokovaya, Director of the Russian Government’s Regulatory Policy Department, opened the discussion by noting that progress in this area is usually evaluated by how well the changes have reduced the administrative pressure on business. That makes the approach proposed by the RANEPA team even more interesting, as they tried to assess the regulatory activities from the citizens’ perspective.

Nadezhda Mashkova, head of the Economic Development Ministry’s department for regulatory and supervisory work, said that over the past five years, a system has been formed to evaluate the effectiveness of control and supervision activities. This system is going to be further implemented in accordance with the bill on state and municipal control now being reviewed by the State Duma. The new legislation requires evaluating the effectiveness of control and supervision activities primarily by the indicators reflecting how well they reduce the risk of harm (damage) to the values ​​protected by law. The Government has already approved a list of such indicators for 11 federal bodies of state control (supervision). However, so far, regulators rarely use these indicators to evaluate the results of their work. In 2018, only two federal supervisory bodies provided information on their performance using the indicators reflecting the risks to the values ​​protected by law. The 2019 amendments to their reporting requirements should promote this practice to become widespread, the official said.

The RANEPA report assessing the dynamics of the effectiveness of state regulators from the perspective of citizens as the ultimate beneficiaries was presented by its authors, Vladimir Yuzhakov, director of RANEPA Center for Public Administration Technologies and his colleagues Yelena Dobrolyubova and Yelena Maslennikova. Vladimir Yuzhakov explained that control and supervision activities were evaluated using an integral indicator based on people’s assessments of how well they are protected against risks in areas the control and supervision bodies are responsible for. RANEPA’s surveys have shown that, despite some positive dynamics, citizens' assessment of the level of protection of their values such as life, health, property, legal rights and interests, remains low. On average, for basic risks, only 34.3% of Russians consider the level of their protection against these risks to be sufficient (‘very high’ to ‘rather high’), while 48.9% of respondents rated the protection of their values ​​as ‘low’ or ‘very low.’ [1] The majority of respondents (61.3%) believe that there have been no changes in the level of their protection over the past two years. To significantly increase the level of protection, it would be necessary to consolidate the state regulators and establish ‘one regulator for one risk.’ This system would lower the risk level and increase responsibility for the results achieved in protecting citizens from risks in the areas under their control. Regulators, which have always focused on inspections and punishments, should become bodies that protect the legally protected values, and ensure the prevention of harm to those values as well as the minimization of its consequences, and compensation for the damage caused.

Citizens' assessments of their level of protection depended not only on their personal experience with such risks, but also on whether such risks were prevented or the damage compensated, Yelena Dobrolyubova added. At the same time, the results of the two surveys show that citizens increasingly rely on their own resources and on the good faith of producers and sellers of goods and services, while the role of state regulatory and supervisory activities as a factor in their protection against risks is decreasing. In 2019, only 45.2% of citizens who needed to protect themselves from certain risks applied to state regulators (50.7% in 2018). Of those respondents who applied, 63.4% would advise their friends to do so in a similar situation (70.2% in 2018). The main reason for the downward trend is the insufficient effectiveness of the regulatory response to their complaints. Only in 44.7% of cases, citizens who complained to the state control and supervision bodies achieved the desired result: they either had the threat prevented, or the perpetrators made to change behavior and compensate damages. Only 46.5% of respondents said they received a substantive response from the regulators, while more than a third of people’s complaints resulted in non-committal replies.

Yelena Maslennikova emphasized the need to use sociological data to evaluate regulatory and supervisory activities. She showed that various statistical data (such as the regulators’ data and judicial statistics) suggest a better picture, while opinion polls show that citizens face risks to their values far more often than official statistics say.

The participants in the discussion of the report included Valentin Letunovsky, Deputy Head, Presidential Control Directorate; Petr Shelishch, Chairman, Union of Consumers of Russia, Mikhail Orlov, State Secretary, Deputy Head of Rospotrebnadzor; Marina Bludyan, First Vice President of the OPORA Russia nationwide SME organization; and Svetlana Makovetskaya, director of the Civil Analysis and Independent Research Center Fund (GRANI Center). The results of the discussion confirmed that work should continue on measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of control and supervision activities from the citizens’ perspective and that the methodology developed by RANEPA needs to be implemented by the federal state control (supervision) bodies for more detailed studies on the most significant risks to values ​​protected by law.