Electronic government – an important element in improving the investment climate


Andrey Slepov, a member of the Expert Commission on Legislation under the Moscow City Duma and Head of the Data Protection Group at law firm Pepeliaev Group, spoke at a round table organised by the Moscow City Duma, the subject of his speech being The investment climate in Moscow: legislation and practice. He spoke on the problems of introducing electronic government.
Electronic government is the ability to carry out state functions using advanced information technologies as well as the ability for business to interact with the state via the electronic exchange of information.
The main areas that are topical for business and in which electronic government is applied are: obtaining state services through electronic portals; taking part in the system of public procurement via the relevant websites; and providing information security for the businesses.
Andrey Slepov believes that, “Efficient functioning of the electronic government alongside, obviously, the speeding up and simplification of business processes, has some other important indirect implications. These include fighting against corruption, cutting red tape and improving transport.”
Russia is in 27th in the place in the United Nations Organization’s ratings of the level to which electronic government has been developed, having occupied 60th place in recent years. However, in the World Economic Forum’s April 2012 ratings, Russia was in only 56th position out of 142 countries in terms of the level of information and communications technologies (ICT). In terms of weak spots, experts point, among other things, to ineffective legislative regulation (Russia is as low as 92nd for this indicator) and ineffective use of ICT in state services (97th). According to this particular set of ratings, among Moscow’s competitors for developing a global financial centre, the most effective legislation has been passed in Singapore (1st place). Among European countries, Sweden is the leader when it comes to this factor.

The Moscow Government adopted the state programme ‘Information City (2012-2016)’. Andrey Slepov noted that the main problems standing in the way of the programme being implemented and electronic government being created effectively in Moscow are:
1) State bodies are not ready in organisational and technical terms to move towards electronic interaction between different authorities, which could result in the deadlines for the transition being put back from 1 July 2012.
2) There is a need to develop competition on the market for IT equipment and solutions used during the implementation of a project to create electronic government.
3) The automatisation of processes should not be an end in its self and should bring about a radical change in the principles according to which the state interacts with business, the fundamentals being the quality of state services and unimpeded access to them.
4) There is a lack of readiness (primarily financial) on the part of of the majority of state authorities to observe requirements of a technical nature in current legislation regarding personal data which need to be complied with during the implementation of the programme.
Andrey Slepov believes that, as well as executive state authorities, the Moscow City Duma may also make a significant investment in improving the situation, both by initiating legislative amendments at the federal level and by adopting items of legislation at the Moscow city level, in particular:
1) Amending the outmoded law (or passing a new version of the law) On information resources and the introduction of information technology in the city of Moscow, which may become a platform for the electronic government programme to be effectively implemented and to take account of the practical points mentioned above.

2) Amending various items of legislation so that they refer expressly to the possibility of using electronic signatures when information is provided. From a practical standpoint, it is practically impossible to manage documents electronically and to perform state services without all those who are a party to the relevant relationships using electronic signatures.

3) Passing a law regarding public-private partnerships. In accordance with the ‘Information city’ programme, developing information and communications technologies infrastructure, including on the principles of a public-private partnership, will promote an improvement in the investment climate and help market relationships to develop.
Andrey Slepov is sure that it may help the situation to create, within the Moscow City Duma’s structure, a special information technology commission. “This will mean that more attention can be given to this area in the legislation-making process,” he says.
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