Saturday, August 14, 2021

Moscow’s Approach to National Projects Inherently and Deeply Flawed, Malenky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 8 – The Kremlin likes to pursue “national projects” because these suggest the center is capable of doing anything it sets its mind to, Andrey Malenky says. It even launched 42 new ones during the covid year of 2020. But the system is fatally flawed, leading to more spending and less achievement than its rulers want or its people deserve.

            The Regnum journalist says that the fundamental problem, indeed, “the most important national project,” is one that hasn’t been addressed, the creation of a system to manage national projects. Instead, they are pursued in ways that inevitably lead to increasing cost overruns and collapse even though few are ever ended (

            The existing arrangements mean that the center makes decisions with little concern for local conditions, gives orders that can’t be executed without funding from the center, is less willing to modify existing plans than to adopt new ones thereby ensuring duplication and confusion, and constantly changes the metrics by which progress is measured.

            What all this means is that the hyper-centralized government in Moscow acts as if the country is an undifferentiated whole, refuses to listen to arguments from the varied regions that it isn’t, continues to send ever more money to try to overcome these differences, and ends with an expensive set of arrangements that produce few of the promised outcomes, Malenky says.

            Underlying all of this is a fundamental conflict between how officials who come up with such plans in Moscow are evaluated and how regional governments are rated. The first are given credit for coming up with plans even if they are never fulfilled, confident that they can always blame the regional governments.

            And the second know that they can always seek more money but will have little or no chance to change national plans so that they better correspond to the conditions and needs which actually exist in their areas, given that Moscow is profoundly ignorant of and indifferent to precisely those questions.

                But while these problems in both Moscow and the regions are obvious – they form the stuff of regular reporting in the capital – there is no push to change these arrangements because the current system works well for the central bureaucracy even though it achieves little either for the country or for the regions national projects are supposed to help.


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