|Elena Rytova||Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia, 195251, St. Petersburg, Polytechnicheskaya, 29|
|Tatiana Verevka||Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia, 195251, St. Petersburg, Polytechnicheskaya, 29|
|Svetlana Gutman||Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia, 195251, St. Petersburg, Polytechnicheskaya, 29|
|Sergey Kuznetsov||Institute for Regional Economic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia, 190013, St. Petersburg, Serpuhovskaya, 38|
This paper assesses the readiness of Russia’s government authorities and local governments for a digital transformation. The digital economy’s condition in the public sector is analyzed, and the problems and possibilities of developing a digital economy in this area are identified. Based on an analysis of the current methods for assessing countries’ readiness for a digital economy and international models to evaluate the development of an e-government, a methodological approach is developed to enable the assessment of a “digital government’s” maturity level at various governmental levels. St. Petersburg was selected as the object of this paper’s research. Expert procedures, methods for gathering and processing statistical information, and fuzzy logic served as the methodological basis for this paper’s calculations. The maturity level of the city’s digital economy was identified using a fuzzy-set approach. The results of these calculations show that, despite numerous solutions aimed at developing digitalization in the public sectors of Russia and, in particular, St. Petersburg, the maturity level of the city’s digital government remains insufficient to satisfy society and businesses’ modern demands. Based on the conducted research, this paper highlights the reasons for the low maturity level of St. Petersburg’s digital government and develops recommendations on how to increase this maturity level.
Digital economics; Digital government; Fuzzy logic; Smart government; St. Petersburg
Over the past 20 years, Russia has actively become involved in digitally transforming its economy and public administration. During the first stage of these reforms, from 2003 to 2013, the “Electronic Russia 2002–2010” program was created and carried out. Throughout its run, the program emphasized the issue’s technical and infrastructural sides since, at that time, technological factors held back the development of an e-government. As a result of completing this program, the transformation’s technological effect was largely achieved—unlike its social-economic effect, which proved insufficient despite significant financing from the government. The program’s results were impressive since it was able to create a base infrastructure for an e-government. A key step forward was the creation of the Single Public and Municipal Services Portal, gosuslugi.ru.
The Single Public Services Portal (SPSP) has been a front office for Russia’s digital government since its creation in 2009, providing users with information, forms and applications, and payment services. It has undergone several changes and modernizations, adding new technologies and functionality as well as adapting to the new principle of providing user-focused services. The number of users on the portal is growing steadily, although many potential users still use the simple registration process instead (without verifying their identity in-person), which limits the types of services available to these users. Almost 100 million users are currently registered on the portal. The percentage of Russians registered on the single portal is comparable to corresponding indicators in the United Kingdom and Australia.
In 2010, during the development of previous initiatives, the government decree “On the Government Program of Russia ‘Information Society (2011–2020)’” (later extended to 2019–2024) was adopted. This program aimed to further develop one-click access to government services through the SPSP, as well as multi-functional service centers, at creating an interagency system for electronic communication and a system for managing documents, and at providing public access to information about government bodies’ activities. The government’s constant focus on digital transformation at the highest levels of power allowed Russia to quickly rise in international ratings of e-governments and to achieve remarkable success. The number of users of online public and municipal services doubled in just one year, reaching 40 million in 2016 and 70 million by 2018. Expert evaluations have pointed to the Russian public’s growing confidence in a digital government, digital participation, a sharing economy, and the use of payment cards.
In 2014–2019, the program underwent constant changes after a series of presidential decrees were passed (for example, ? 601 from 2012, “On the Main Areas for Improving Public Administration”) as well as “Strategies for Developing an Information Society (2017–2030).” Other noticeable changes occurred in the related goals and expected results: for example, the goal of reducing the digital disparity between regions disappeared and reappeared several times, and it is missing from the latest version of the document. The current version of the program was adopted in 2019, and it includes several subprograms, such as Subprogram 4—“Information Government” (Ivanova, 2020).
In 2018, the “Digital Economy in Russia” national program (national project) was adopted in parallel with the “Information Society” government program. In total, 1.6349 trillion rubles are planned to be spent to implement the project. One of the national project’s goals is to create a stable and safe information and telecommunications infrastructure for the high-speed transfer, processing, and storage of large amounts of data. The program includes six federal projects, such as “Digital Public Administration” (active from November 11, 2018, to December 31, 2024).
Nevertheless, in practice, the introduction of digital governments in Russia and throughout the world has accompanied several significant problems and limitations. More often than not, these concerns relate to existing government services’ failure to seek a fundamental restructuring in order to provide citizens and businesses with higher-quality public services. On the contrary, the mere digitization of individual operations and documents has taken place while preserving existing interdepartmental processes and interactions. This approach has often led to the development of complex and unusable digital platforms and low satisfaction among users. For this reason, departments have experienced an insufficient penetration of digital transformations and a lack of modern channels of communication among departments. Various incompatible departmental platforms have been created, which have likewise led to more difficulty in providing public services to citizens and businesses. Finally, the divide between efficient, digital, and interactive external government platforms and traditional, mostly manual, internal processes has persisted, which does not allow for increased efficiency. The next significant problem is a lack of communication between the various levels of government (federal, regional, and municipal), which causes imbalances in the use of digital technologies, depending on places’ levels of government. Many local government organizations do not meet national requirements for digitalization. Another significant problem is qualified staff, as well as their training and retraining in new digital realities. At the same time, this problem concerns both management personnel and executors. This problem is essential and complex, relating to regions’ quality of human capital (Kuladzhi et al., 2017; Skotarenko et al., 2019).
A digital government is based on previous e-government reforms. It aims to improve government services using the new opportunities provided by digital technology—enabling a government to better serve its citizens and creating a favorable environment for business and industry competition.
Russia has reached some impressive achievements in creating a reliable national broadband infrastructure, providing—among other achievements—a widespread penetration of mobile communication. Several initial steps have also been made in establishing the interdepartmental cooperation necessary for providing digital services through a single national portal.
In terms of transitioning to the next digital transformation stage, Russia’s main achievement has been its development of a modernized digital infrastructure that is capable of supporting the “government as a platform” approach.
The transition to data-driven administration and the innovative use of new digital technologies—such as data analytics and the blockchain (Babkin et al., 2018), artificial intelligence, and the Internet-of-Things—has sped up the transition to a new level of digital government in Russia. This transition can particularly create the basis for future technological breakthroughs (Berawi, 2019a; Berawi, 2019b).
Achieving a leading position in digital government entails a complete internal digital transformation of the public sector, as well as providing individual services to citizens and businesses via several trustworthy, transparent, and efficient channels. To accomplish these goals, a significant transformation of Russia’s existing e-government architecture is required. This architectural transformation must include the reengineering of administrative processes and an emphasis on using national databases, the joint use of digital services among government bodies, and the provision of active services on the digital government platform to allow direct interaction with citizens and businesses. Only by rearranging the digitalization processes in all areas discussed above can the government transition to the fifth maturity level—“smart government”.
This research work was supported by the Academic Excellence Project 5-100 proposed by Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University.
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