Public Councils to review draft measures
Draft regulations which are deemed to be of local importance cannot receive Ministerial approval without prior discussion by public councils. However, the system hasn’t been working properly up till now, says Mikhail Abyzov, the Federation’s Minister for Open Government.
The Ministry of Economic Development is proposing to give public councils the right to determine for themselves what documents being prepared by Government agencies are most important from a public interest perspective, according to the Open Government department. The Ministry has drawn up the necessary amendments to a Government regulation which will oblige State agencies to approve important documents only after preliminary discussions in public councils.
“We are trying to ensure that public councils from decorative agencies are transformed into fully-fledged and functional expert fora which help Ministries to fulfil the tasks allocated to them. The legal basis for this process is currently being developed. It’s perhaps unsurprising then that Government Regulation No.877 needs to be amended and brought in line with present day realities. However, it must be borne in mind that this regulation is meant for Ministries not councils. It includes a list of legal acts that cannot receive Ministerial approval without initial discussions in public councils”, said Lydia Mikheeva, a Public Chamber member.
Government Regulation No. 877 was adopted back in 2012 but hasn’t really worked effectively so far, said Mikhail Abyzov. “This regulation doesn’t explain what a public council should do but merely highlights a range of issues which executive authorities cannot approve without due consideration by public councils. I cannot remember a single occasion during that time of laws or regulations being sent back by Government or the Justice Ministry due to a lack of any discussion in the relevant public council”, he said.
The system for determining the operational agenda of public councils should be more flexible, said Abyzov. A nominal list of priority legislation should be drawn up which councils must be prepared to go beyond if necessary. Ministries and departments need to suggest a system whereby public councils can be a conduit for public opinion which can then be used to enhance the development of documents, as well as receiving feedback from reference groups, the Minister stressed.
A process for “rebooting” public councils has been underway since last year. Under new rules on the composition of public councils, 75% is determined by the Federation’s Public Chamber and 25% by the Government’s Expert Council. Under these rules, public councils have been established by the Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources, Transport Ministry, the Ministry of North Caucasus Affairs, Ministry of Sport, Federal Agencies for Tourism and Youth Affairs and Federal Customs Service.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin