State Governance Reform: Project Offices

15 january 2016

At the Gaidar Forum 2016 titled Russia and the World: Looking to the Future, the Analytical Center organized an expert discussion on Increasing the Efficiency of State Governance Institutions by Introducing Project Management Practices.

During the discussion, experts described the role of project management in strategic planning, looked at examples of its use in state governance, received information about the Project Olimp contest, and discussed possible amendments to laws and regulations that could help introduce effective project management in federal and regional governance institutions.

‘There is no need to convince anybody now that project management is a very good and effective tool, which we need,’ Pavel Shestopalov, the Assistant for the Economics and Finance Department of the Russian Government, said opening the discussion. He was supported by Mikhail Pryadnilnikov, the Deputy Head of the Analytical Center . ‘Project management must become a key development tool; it must also play an important role in strategic planning. Project management can be used in the management of Government programs and major investment projects where a key execution problem is low efficiency and huge budget spending.  Project management is also important in regional governance, especially when it comes to the management of regional finances.’

Representatives of Russian regions, as well as Belarus and Kazakhstan, who have accumulated considerable experience in project management at this stage, talked about opportunities and challenges of project management. Azamat Oinarov, the Chair of the Management Board of Kazakhstan GCHP Center, said that Kazakhstan had completely transitioned to situational management, ‘The project-based approach has significantly reduced uncertainty in state governance.’  Yuri Yuzhakov, the Director of the Project Management Department and the Vice-Governor of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District, and Vladimir Alevrov, the Deputy Head of the Directorate and the Head of the Organization Development of Civil Service and HR Policy Department of the Government of Yaroslavl Oblast, spoke on behalf of Russian regions. Special mention was made of problems that arise when attempts are made to develop incentives for the implementation of regional programs and strategies, to support project management by top officials and to effect changes in laws and regulations.

‘Today we have practically zero laws regulating project management, even the notion of project is not defined,’ said Ivan Filimoshkin, the Director for Relations with State Customers of GK Project Practice. Pavel Shestopalov said that the Government has charged the Analytical Center with the development of new laws and regulations for project management, and the Center already serves as the main venue for discussions on this topic among experts. It was the Analytical Center that first organized and has now held for the third time the Project Olimp contest in the context of introducing project management in the government sector.

Olesya Safonova, the Head of the Department for Project Management in the Public Sector of the Analytical Center, talked about the Project Olimp contest. She noted that this year a new nomination has been introduced. It is called Project Offices and there is a chance that in cooperation with the Agency for Strategic Initiative a special nomination called Project Offices in Investment Projects may be introduced as well.

‘A project office should not be involved in operational matters at all,’ believes Alexander Malkov, the Head of Investment Projects Monitoring Unit of the Finance, Banking and Investment Development Department of the Ministry of Economic Development.

Evgeny Podshivalov, the Director of the Department for the Improvement of Investment Climate of the Agency for Strategy Initiatives, believes that project management is a necessary condition for improving investment climate.  All the exerts agreed that investment projects in Government sector need to be implemented using project offices. Mr Podshivalov also said that the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration had set up a center for regional development, which is already implementing an educational project to train sufficient numbers of project management expertd for the regions.

Andrey Baldin, the CEO of Project Services, noted that project management should also help solve the problems of interdepartmental cooperation. ‘Introduction of project offices is a state governance reform that changes the way Government authorities operate,’ the expert believes.

In 2015, the Analytical Center attempted to create a model project office, to which the Project Olimp end participants were polled.  Yuri Kim, the CEO of the Center for Assessment and Development of Project Management, shared some interesting conclusions that were made based on the findings of these polls.  Polls made it possible to identify problems with organization of project offices and come up with key ideas for overcoming them.  ‘Project management in Government structures is impossible without project offices that act as drivers of this approach,’ Mr. Kim summed up.