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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cabinet Approves IT Blueprint

Itar-TassIvanov taking his seat at the head of the Cabinet on Wednesday, the first time he has chaired the meeting.
If a government plan to go digital comes to fruition, Russians will be able to circumvent endless lines at passport offices and even marriage registries by 2010.

The e-Government project, which was approved by the Cabinet at a meeting Thursday, will increase efficiency and transfer the bulk of official bureaucracy online, IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman said.

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who chaired the Cabinet meeting for the first time Thursday, praised the project for its aims to simplify bureaucratic procedures.

"If [Cabinet ministers] are sometimes confused about what is done by which ministry, service or agency, what can one expect from ordinary citizens," Ivanov said, Interfax reported.

The e-Government initiative includes measures to put tax forms online, install computers in schools and develop better legislation for the IT sector.

By 2010, all federal and regional government authorities will have streamlined telephone service centers, web sites, and information service centers, Reiman said. He also said a high percentage of all communication among federal, regional and local governments would be carried out electronically by that date, Reiman said.

Ten key information-processing services, including application forms for passports and driving licenses, child allowance payments and traffic fines will all be available online, Reiman said.

A comprehensive list of services will be compiled by next year, he said.

Analysts said widespread corruption could be a major stumbling block for the program, however.

Alexander Shugol, an IT analyst with J'son & Partners, said a similar program begun in 2002 was derailed by official disorganization and inaction.

"For e-Government to be up and running, there has to be a highly developed database structure," Shugol said.

"Unfortunately, widespread reports of information leakages and of pirates peddling DVDs with people's private information have discredited the idea of a unified database."

The government is primed for the implementation of the digitization initiative, but more work needs to be done in building the public's trust in the program for it to work, Shugol said.

"Five years ago, the main problems were Internet penetration and availability of personal computers, but these days, the main hindrance is people's reluctance to entrust personal information in an electronic form to government officials," Shugol said. "Reports of corruption in official circles only help foster such assumptions."

The government also needs to consolidate the country's IT infrastructure before embarking on such an ambitious project, said Andrei Bogdanov, a telecoms analyst with Troika Dialog.

"So far, Internet penetration is only about 25 percent and this is a big drawback for such a program," Bogdanov said.