Call for steps to improve competitiveness of Russian NGOs in social services
The Russian Federation Council on Guardianship in the Social Sphere has been discussing problems affecting NGO involvement in the provision of State social services to the public.
At a recent meeting of the Council, Olga Golodets, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, stated that a proper system of benefits and preferences for NGOs needed to be introduced in order to increase their competitiveness in the social services market. Creating preferences for business while at the same time not providing any help to NGOs is wrong, she said. Golodets has asked the Ministry of Economic Development to come up with a scheme of benefits and preferences that can increase third sector competitiveness and help bring about a growth in the NGO share of the social services market.
In addition, Golodets suggested the creation of an “e-forum” as a way of exchanging information and best practice. Such a platform could facilitate the creation of professional associations and also enable specialists to talk to one another on various issues. Golodets also suggested that a series of training courses, including distance learning, be organised on this platform which, in her view, should be supported by the State.
NGOs wishing to take part in the social services market often face excessive administrative burdens, according to Alexander Spivak, Chair of the Board of the National Foundation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. We need to learn from previous experience in overcoming existing barriers that make it hard for NGOs to access the regional social services market, he said.
Spivak also proposed that Federation entities should set business level compensation for NGO social service providers, based, if possible, on per capita rates rather than tariffs. He has urged compliance with existing legislation and to ensure open and transparent publication of per capita rates that can serve as the benchmark for social services standards.
Tariffs set by Russian entities don’t meet the needs of potential non-State social services providers, according to Alexey Vovchenko, First Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection. He explained that work was underway within his Ministry to prepare recommendations for the regions on setting standardised tariffs. Vovchenko also made the point that the experience of the Perm district clearly proves that NGOs can play a productive role in the provision of social services on a stable and long-term basis.
In May 2016, the Russian Government approved a package of measures aimed at facilitating SONGO access to State funds set aside for the provision of social services to the public and subsequently agreed a roadmap for “Supporting NGO access to social service provision”. The approved series of measures required each Ministry to adopt plans that includes a list of services that Federation entities could transfer to NGOs and ways in which this whole process could be managed, said Elena Topoleva, Director of the Agency of Social Information and member of the Federation’s Public Chamber. These model plans were all submitted on time apart from the Ministry of Culture who need to be reminded to get theirs in. Those plans that have been produced needed to be more specific and detailed, Topoleva added.
The Ministry of Economic Development has developed a model plan for all Ministries to follow which includes a definition of services that can be provided, recommendations on methodology, how to implement necessary procedures and ways of working with resource centres, said Herman Vetrov, Deputy Director of the Department of Strategic Development and Innovation at the Ministry of Economic Development.
As well as collaborating with federal authorities, it is essential that work at regional level is stepped up. To date, only two-thirds of regions have adopted detailed plans to facilitate NGO access to the social services market. As a result, the Ministry of Economic Development is now focused on intensifying and encouraging participation from the regions, said Vetrov.