Job rotation of federal civil servants in regions will help fight corruption

The mechanism of rotation may be a useful instrument to fight corruption
The heads of the regional departments of federal bodies and their deputies responsible for control and supervisory functions will be subject to job rotation.

­The fight against corruption is a top priority of President Dmitry Medvedev’s domestic policy. In April 2010, he ordered the government to adopt measures aimed at implementing a job rotation mechanism for the public civil servants. It is supposed to be part of the wider National Anti-Corruption Plan.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development implemented the presidential order earlier this month. After approving the plan, the government submitted it to the parliament last week. The need for job rotation as an anti-corruption measure is also required by law in regards to the federal civil service.

The government expects the job rotation mechanism to be implemented in 2013. These measures will concern civil servants working in federal bodies such as the Agricultural Supervision Agency, the consumer rights and sanitation watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, the Federal Education and Science Supervision Agency, the Federal Supervision Service for nature management, among others.

According to the government’s proposals, the term of service for the heads of regional departments and their deputies will last three to five years. All the decisions on their job rotation will be taken by the president or the government. The draft bill says that the procedure will start after the president issues a list of positions that are subject to rotation for the heads of law enforcement agencies. The government, in its turn, should prepare a list of such posts for other federal agencies.     

The job rotation for civil servants is mentioned in the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) adopted in 2003. Russia had previously ratified this legally binding international anti-corruption instrument that obliges the signatories to implement a range of anti-corruption measures affecting their state’s legislation, institutions and practices.

In July 2010, the new law on civil service in the Foreign Ministry determined the order of rotation for Russian diplomats, though not just for anti-corruption reasons.    

The mechanism of rotation may be a useful instrument to fight corruption, but it should not be used to spare officials their responsibilities, believes Vladimir Yuzhakov from the Center for Strategic Research. There were such cases in Russia’s history, and the new legislation should guarantee they will not repeat in the future, he told Kommersant daily.

In recent times, federal agencies have actively replaced officials in their regional departments to fight corruption. Two thirds of top managers of Rostechnadzor, the supervisory body on ecological, technological and nuclear issues – 42 regional heads and their deputies – were dismissed in 2009. The number of the agency’s territorial bodies was reduced from 84 to 38.

The Interior Ministry has recently determined a list of positions that will be subject to rotation as a part of the wide-ranging police reform in Russia. The term for such officials will be five years. They will be able “to assess the situation with fresh eyes, identify the problems, and find ways to solve them,” Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev said.