Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Plan Afoot to Ax 40 Federal Bodies

The number of ministries and other federal bodies with similar powers would be slashed from 56 to 15 or 17 under a plan being drafted by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, the ministry said Tuesday.

A proposal to dissolve at least three governmental bodies has already been forwarded to the Cabinet, Economic Development and Trade Deputy Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev was quoted by news agencies as saying.

The ministry refused to name the three federal bodies it wants to eliminate or even identify whether they are ministries, committees, agencies, services or inspectorates -- the five main classifications of federal bodies.

"There are purely ethical reasons for this: What if the proposal is dismissed?" a ministry spokeswoman said.

President Vladimir Putin has called upon the Cabinet to come up with proposals to slash the federal government's notoriously bloated bureaucracy, which currently employs more than 2 million people. In addition to the economic ministry, the government's own apparatus is also drafting a plan.

Although he didn't name which three bodies his ministry is suggesting be eliminated first, Dmitriyev did say that all but 18 of the 500 people they collectively employ should be retained. He also said the move would free up 80 percent of the office space currently occupied by these bodies.

However, he noted that axing two or three agencies at a time is not his ministry's strategy for streamlining the federal government. Rather, he said, a complete overhaul should be carried out in an orchestrated fashion.

Exactly how the economic ministry thinks this should be done is still being debated. But a final plan, which will detail which federal bodies will stay and how they should function, will be ready by the end of the year, Dmitriyev said.

The ministry wants to divide federal bodies into a three-tier hierarchy, with the government at the top, several ministries in the middle and "the 'departments' that are not part of the government" at the bottom, he said.

The new system is aimed not only at getting rid of the overlapping functions and the excessive powers some have, but also at boosting the overall efficiency of governing by simplifying procedures for introducing new regulations.

Many laws cannot be realized the way it is now, Dmitriyev said. For example, he said, a law allowing people to invest a part of their pensions was passed six months ago, but cannot be implemented without 10 new government regulations and only one or two have been signed.

Putin first called for comprehensive administrative reform in 2001 and last year said he wanted it done by the end of 2003. It appears unlikely that the government will be able to reform itself by the end of this year, but Putin has managed to make some progress on overhauling the law enforcement complex.

Last month he did away with the Tax Police, giving most of its functions to the Interior Ministry. He also put the Border Guards under the control of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, and dissolved the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information, or FAPSI, whose functions were absorbed by the FSB and the Defense Ministry.