“Success of the Pilot Project to Strengthen
Parliamentary Oversight in the Russian Federation”
Canada-Russia Parliamentary Program
March 3, 2004
EDITED TRANSCRIPT OF CIDA ROUNDTABLE i
March 03, 2004
MC (Ms. Francoise Ducros, Director General, Russia- Ukraine And Nuclear Programs
Division, Canadian International Development Agency): Introduction
Mrs. Galina Anisimova, Head of Methodological-Analytical Department:
Ladies and Gentlemen, participants of this roundtable, thank you for the opportunity to
speak to you today about the results of the Pilot-Project. First of all, I would like to note
the reason that we decided to come to Canada for experience. Our countries have a lot in
common including a similar federalist structure and budget process. Both countries have
multi-national aspects. In Russia, as in Canada, we have a history of many cultures living
together. In Russia, it has been unfolding for 1500 years. So, we considered all of these
factors and met with representatives from the OAG and the Parliamentary Centre, which
has been involved in Russia for many years, and we came to the conclusion that this
project had potential for successful cooperation.
The Pilot Project began two years ago, at which time the Russian side was invited to
develop the program in consultation with the Parliamentary Centre. On January 21 and
30th of this year, in connection with this project, the Collegium of the Accounts Chamber
already approved the reports from two Value For Money audits that were undertaken
according to Canadian methodology. One audit was done of the federal program,
“Children of the North,” and the second audit was done of another federal program,
“Social Support for the Disabled”. (The planned duration of these programs is 2002-
2005.) Before we carried out these audits, we developed VFM auditing methodology
jointly with our Canadian colleagues. This was an important theoretical task for us. In
analyzing the success of this project, one of the criteria was public response to the two
audits, which turned out to be quite significant.
So, what are some of the aspects that need to be taken into consideration to ensure
success of the program? The following are some of our observations. The program
would not have succeeded without the support of the partners. We are grateful for
support from both OAG Canada and Top Management of the AC of the Russian
Federation. I would like to thank some specific individuals: the Chairman of the AC, Mr.
Stepashin and the Deputy Chairman of the AC, Mr. Semikolennykh, and undoubtedly the
Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, and thanks to David Rattray for his enormous
technical assistance. The Parliamentary Centre played a critical role. Special thanks to
Peter Dobell, one of the founding fathers of Russian-Canadian parliamentary relations,
and Geoff Dubrow, Ivo Balinov, and Sonja Vojnovic of the Parliamentary Centre. And
thank you to CIDA for its financial support.
Thank you for the professionalism of those involved in the preparation and
implementation of this project. Our Canadian colleagues are professionals of high
I would like to note the high level of enthusiasm shown by the participants of the project.
They did not approach this project as just another program, as a formality, but they
demonstrated a strong desire to produce excellent results from this project. To prove this
point, I already mentioned how the plan was developed in a relatively short period of
time. From the very beginning we were able to establish an informal working
relationship. In a very short time it became clear that we were communicating in a
common professional language. This ensured success from the very beginning of the
I would like to acknowledge the important assistance that the Canadians provided in
terms of developing methodology. We had access to a lot of information that we needed
regarding VFM auditing. The comments and recommendations pertaining to our draft
manual for VFM auditing helped us to master the methodology very quickly. It is
important to bear in mind that Russian conditions are different from Canadian conditions.
We had to adapt many methodological approaches to the Russian conditions. From our
meetings at the OAG yesterday and today, I can tell you that we see many theoretical
aspects from the same point of view. The deficiencies that have been identified as a
result of these two audits indicate that our government has some negative issues to deal
with regarding the ineffective management of these programs. This evoked a relevant
and significant response from the parliament and the mass media. The audit also helped
indicate deficiencies in various ministries and departments’ fulfillment of their functions
in the implementation of programs.
We consider this a direct effect. But there are also indirect effects of our cooperation.
For instance, we invited many of our Canadian colleagues and other specialists to take
part in a round table in Moscow last year. Mr. Rattray’s presentation allowed us to
understand the issues of internal control that we have in the Russian Federation. We
came to the conclusion about the necessity of establishing closer relations with the
Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation (this is the ministry responsible for
developing the system of internal control). As a result, we are developing a joint-project
with the Ministry of Finance, which is developing the only classification system in the
Russian Federation for classifying financial violations. This will be a very important
document for us, for which all of the specialists involved in the system of financial
control are waiting. I will conclude my short presentation by elaborating on another
direct effect. This effect indicated the importance of transforming the culture of the
functioning of government financial control. This is a very important step in the
development of civil society in the Russian Federation.
I thank you for your attention and I would like to introduce my colleagues from the
Accounts Chamber who carried out the two audit projects. Mr. Vladimir Reznikov, Chief
of Inspections in the Accounts Chamber, carried out the VFM Audit and prepared the
documents for the “Children of the North” Program. Mr. Oleg Slavutsky, Chief Inspector
of the Accounts Chamber, carried out the VFM Audit for the “Support for the Disabled”
Program and prepared the audit report, which caused quite a stir in the general public.
Mr. Eduard Krustkaln, Head of the Department for Pubic Relations, he helped create the
stir! I would like to introduce Elena Muravnik, a Consultant with our International
Relations Department; her responsibility is developing international contacts, which are
critical for such projects. Thank you very much.
MC: Thank you very much. I know you have raised many questions, and I know the
people in this room will be very forthcoming with their questions. But, before I open up
the floor, I thought I would turn it over to David Rattray for his comments and save
questions for the end.
Mr. David Rattray, Assistant Auditor General:
Thank you very much. I’d like to begin by saying that one of the people that was not
mentioned was very instrumental in dealing with the transfer of the methodology,
someone who really, really knows her stuff well, and that’s Galina. Believe me, from a
Canadian perspective and from someone with the task of having to deal with
methodological issues and so on, this is one very smart lady and one very hard-working
lady who has made our task so much easier.
I think this is really a case, on my part, of practice what you preach. As some of you may
know, for several years I was the Assistant Auditor General responsible for the CIDA
office. When I was asked to become involved in this project, alone, on a part-time basis,
from our office, I very willingly took up the challenge. And in keeping with what one
might expect from an Auditor General’s office, I started the project saying, “What are my
success indicators? At the end of the day, at the end of two years or more, how will I be
able to measure the success of the project?” And that’s what I would like to talk to you
about briefly today.
First of all, I look for clear and demonstrable support needed from the highest level. This
is something we’ve put forward in many CIDA reports when deciding what elements are
necessary for success. And I can say without hesitation, as Galina mentioned earlier, this
is the very highest level of personal intervention and support. With respect to all of the
offices, the Accounts Chamber, and the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, there
have been numerous delegations both ways and the heads of both audit organizations
have always been available, and have always spent time with the delegations to work
with them and direct them. An indication of that was Mr. Stepashin, who is the head of
the Accounts Chamber, in October 2002, when we ran a joint seminar, he took time out
of an extremely busy schedule at that time to address the seminar and spent a
considerable amount of his time with the participants in that seminar. I know personally
how busy he was during that period of time. I found out later, that he in fact had a
Canadian trade delegation there visiting with him. Also, we’ve had delegations come to
Canada and Sheila Fraser has a busy schedule as well. She has participated in the same
work from our office. To point out a little further, we have three very senior officials
from the Accounts Chamber, who will be coming to Canada at the end of March. And
actually, they will be here during another tabling of our periodic reports. As the
Accounts Chamber gets very close to tabling two of its own reports, (in May, I believe),
we thought it would be appropriate for three of the senior people from the office to see
what the excitement is about around tabling day. So, we’re working on preparing the
team now, and we’ll have a brief for Mr. Semikolennykh, for his role in the tabling in
Moscow and also have the press releases. We’ve also had elected officials from both
countries active in the program, for example, in October 2002, I mentioned the seminar,
Marlene Jennings, previously a member of the Public Accounts Committee at the time,
currently an active member of the Public Accounts Committee today, made a visit along
with myself to speak at the seminar and also to address the elected members of the
Federation Council as well as the Duma. She talked about her role here in the Canadian
Parliament. We’ve also had John Williams, current chair of the Public Accounts
Committee, chair of GOPAC, and I could get into that later, but he’s the chair of a major
world-wide initiative who has visited Moscow and participated in discussions there, and
has always found time to meet with most of the delegations that have come to Ottawa, as
well. We’ve also had the chair of the Commission on Interaction with the Accounts
Chamber of the Russian Federation, what I like to call the Public Accounts Committee of
the Upper House, Mr. Agaptsov. And the Deputy Chairman of the ACRF, Mr.
Semikolennykh, who has visited Canada, and also hosted us and spent considerable time
with us. This is all to say that I look to indications of support at very senior levels in both
countries, and we have some practical examples of how this is carried out and how we
now have, I believe, from the outset, the leadership needed in both countries to make our
My second indicator of success is whether there is any indication or awareness that the
Value for Money auditing concept and practices are in fact transferring from our heads
and our material over to our counterparts in the Accounts Chamber. And I look clearly
for tangible evidence. What I found were several articles written by Galina and others,
articulating Canadian experiences around audits, parliament, parliamentary reform,
systems of internal control and adapting them very effectively to the Russian situation. I
mentioned that one of the procedures we used to transfer audit methodology was through
seminars. So, at the latest seminar in October 2002, it wasn’t simply myself and
Manfred, Geoff, and others from Canada who spoke at the seminars, in fact, a lot of our
Russian colleagues from the Accounts Chamber, from the elected offices were actually
active participants and speakers, and panellists throughout the several days of the
seminar. And I think the third point around the whole indication of awareness of transfer
and methodology transfer is that what we see today is three products.
o Value for Money Manual- They have searched world-wide to gather concepts and
practices on the Performance Auditing, Value for Money Auditing, and have
concentrated primarily on our office and our manuals, but not exclusively. The
manual that they are ready to approve, likely in the month of April at the latest,
and I’m hoping before Sheila Fraser is finished in April, is a demonstration, in my
mind, of the concept of Performance Auditing clearly adapted to the Russian
environment and yet respecting the world-wide concept of Performance Auditing.
o Two Value for Money Reports- It is interesting as you watch in a very short
period of time, two Value for Money reports emerging from an Accounts
Chamber. We basically, two years ago, started with no methodology. I’ve often
said that for what took us close to twenty-five years, they’re catching up very
quickly. It’s a tribute to the staff of the office and their ability to take this concept
and develop it into something very practical. This week we are working on the
final product of those two audits and we may have one more pass through it, but
they will be ready to table it in the Upper House in Moscow in May.
o Tangible conversion of the concepts. Seminar materials are clear indications.
The Value for Money Manual, that’s now being approved, is a clear indicator.
We’re very impressed with the training courses that they have developed so far
and the plans for the ones that are coming forward, with not only their own
accounts chamber but also all of the regional accounts chambers. Not only do
they have ten provinces like we do, they have 89 subjects or 89 programs to deal
with. Some of the most important tangible results are the two Value for Money
Reports, which are about to be made public.
My last point has to do with the establishment of strong working relationships. Those
that have been involved from the Accounts Chamber, the Committee on Cooperation
with the Accounts Chamber from the Federation Council, CIDA, both Emmanuelle
Tremblay here and Gabrielle Constant in Moscow, the Parliamentary Centre, Geoff, Ivo,
and Sonja and other members who have been involved in this project, and the elected
Canadian officials and certainly people from our own office, who have actively formed a
very tight and intricate working relationship. Each party between the two audit offices is
clearly an equal partner. It was very clear to us at the outset of this project that it is not
for us in Canada to say, “We have the answers. Here it is. It is simply a matter of us
telling you how to do it”. We simply illustrated how we go about our work and have
always been very open to suggested changes in terms of adaptability to the Russian
Federation. The Canadian experience has been a sharing one, and I think, in many cases,
we got back just as much as we’ve given. In conclusion, at this stage of the project, near
the completion, I believe there is still a great deal more to do. I’ve given you this
description of the indicators, but in my view, a manual and two projects are indicators of
what’s possible as they continue to develop more of the transfers, more of the awareness,
but particularly as it moves from Moscow, from the Accounts Chamber to the Subjects of
the Federation, there is a great deal yet to be accomplished. I believe that the work thus
far has laid the cornerstone of something that will be sustainable for our Russian
colleagues and I would predict that in a few short years, they will certainly become world
leaders in the field of Performance Auditing.
MC: Thank you very much, David. I think I’ll turn it over to Geoff. I’m sure there will
Mr. Geoff Dubrow, Director, Canada-Russia Parliamentary Program:
Thank you very much. Well, good afternoon. I’d like to start by making a few
acknowledgements of my own. And before I do so, I’d like to say that the fact that
Galina and David have taken so much time in their speeches to do so, I think is not based
on protocol, but rather on the fact that at this stage of the project that we’ve been very
successful at wrapping up, there is a very strong sense of success and friendship that has
emerged between Canadian institutions and our Russian partners. I just want to start by
thanking CIDA very much for organizing this event and letting us share our experience,
especially Linda Irwin and Emmanuelle Tremblay. I’d like to acknowledge the presence
of my colleagues from the centre who have contributed to the success of the program, our
executive director Robin Miller, Sonja Vojnovic and Ivo Balinov, and as Galina
mentioned, Peter Dobell, who founded the program ten years ago. I’d like to thank the
Accounts Chamber very much for their participation, through Galina Anisimova and the
delegation and of course the Office of the Auditor General and their representatives who
have been instrumental in this project, David Rattray and Manfred Kuhnapfel.
I thought it might be good, before I start, to explain in a few words what has been the role
of the Parliamentary Centre in this project. I would say, in essence, that we have had two
o Management of the Project- Using our knowledge of the Russian landscape to
advise and to guide our partners, such as the Office of the Auditor General, such
as the Public Accounts Committee.
o Working with the Russian Parliament, sharing expertise on parliamentary
oversight with the Federation Council and with the State Duma.
I thought I would use my time to talk about the underlying approach that the centre has
used with the design of this project and some of the lessons that we’ve learned. We’ve
heard a lot of comments here about the role of Accounts Chamber, but of course, our
principle partner has always been parliaments. We’re the Parliamentary Centre; and our
main institution is parliament. But we entered into this project with the Russian
Parliament, with the understanding that we would work with them to strengthen their
capacities and demand, to control government expenditures of the state budget. We
worked to strengthen the demand side of the equation within the Parliament to strengthen
parliamentary oversight, the type of work that’s done by our Public Accounts Committee
for the House of Commons. But we recognized that we needed to reach beyond the
borders of parliament to other institutions. And in this particular case, that was the
Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation because their work on the supply side is
absolutely critical to the success of this project. Namely, through their cooperation with
the Office of the Auditor General, preparing to supply Members of Parliament with
reports that contain the type of information that they need to hold the government to
account in Russia. And what I mean by that, is that they are preparing reports that not
only look at whether funds were spent for the specific purpose intended in the budget,
but, was there value for money in the way that money was spent? Those types of reports
tend to be of much more interest to Members of Parliament than simple financial reports,
although both are, of course, quite important.
I think, just to give you another example, the Federation Council, in particular, and the
Accounts Chamber are part of a much wider policy framework within Russia, part of a
policy community, if you like, that is debating among other things, the role of the
Accounts Chamber in the system of state financial control, and the extent to which VFM
auditing should be used in that sense. So, even though our principle partners have been
the Parliament and the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, we have
nonetheless taken the opportunity provided by the Accounts Chamber in the recent
conference to talk about how Canadian experience factors in the relation between
external audits departments, internal audits departments, and performance evaluation, and
what are the relations between those, because those lines are still not clear in Russia.
Galina, in fact, mentioned changing the culture of financial control. As a result of what
I’ve mentioned, I think that part of the success of this project has been that we are
plugging in to the wider priorities of the Russian Government and the Russian
Federation. It is the Russians that have been guiding the reform process. In fact, Galina
mentioned that she played a very major role herself in writing the Pilot Project proposal.
And as David mentioned, Canada played a supporting role by guiding the process. There
has never been any question as to who is in the driver’s seat—it has been the Russian
partners. As has also been mentioned, buy-in from the highest levels of the Accounts
Chamber and the Federation Council is critical, and I think that has been essential for the
success of the program.
One thing that I think is also important, and I’ve seen this in other countries in the Former
Soviet Union, is not only buy-in from the people at the very top, but also the cooperation
at the middle and upper management levels to implement the projects. As many of you
know, often what happens in a project is that you have one or two people at the very top
who are willing to help implement the project, and you have an absence of middle
management. And you go all the way down to the drivers, cleaners, and cafeteria
workers, who often outnumber the people in the middle, who are able to implement the
project. So, when Galina mentioned the intelligence and capacity of her partners in the
Accounts Chamber and the members of the delegation, I don’t think she was flattering,
but rather she meant that it is very important in our context that the Russian partners have
that capacity, because it doesn’t always exist in a lot of countries.
Having said that, I’ve got four points and I’ve only said two, so I’ll speed up, but I’ll say
that, clearly for us, from a results-based management perspective, what we’ve learned is
that the more narrow you focus your goals, the easier it is to see results. Now, that might
sound obvious to all of you, who are well versed in results-based management, but I think
it has become clear that the more widely one programs, sometimes the more difficult it is
to demonstrate results in the short amount of time that you have to do so, i.e. over a
couple of years. So let me provide a couple of examples within the Accounts Chamber.
Our project originally started with one audit group at the methodology department. We
didn’t try to spread VFM auditing methodology to the whole Accounts Chamber. There
are twelve auditors and we started with only one. Similarly, in the Federation Council
and the Duma, we started working with one committee, we didn’t try to work with the
entire institution, and I think that’s been very important, as has the fact that we chose a
particularly narrow theme with very specific results. And I must commend Emmanuelle
Tremblay, who has been working with us throughout the project, including the PPF,
because I think it’s been very important for how we’ve managed to demonstrate results.
Having said that, I should mention that the Parliamentary Centre has been around for ten
years, and much of the work earlier on was much more broadly focussed, partly because
the Russian Federation was looking for broader answers in early stages in the beginning
of transition. And I do believe that the trust that built up during that time has been
invaluable to the Parliamentary Centre and to the Russia Program as a result.
I just want to talk about a few very important lessons that I think we’ve learned and I
think after that we’ll have time for questions. Galina mentioned the word “Collegium”.
And I think that’s very important. The Collegium, in essence, is the management board
of the Accounts Chamber, but it represents a fundamentally different model than that of
the Office of the Auditor General. And I don’t mean to get technical, but what I want to
say is that the OAG is called a monocratic system, whereby you have one person at the
very top, which has the power and the authority and the power to make a lot of decisions.
Correct me if I am wrong.
David Rattray: No, no, you’re absolutely right, you’d be amazed…
Geoff Dubrow: She can approve reports, with the consultation of her colleagues, but
nonetheless, the buck stops with the auditor general. In the Russian system, and I’ll
invite Galina to correct me if I’m wrong, the Russian management board works on a
collegial model. There are fourteen members and they make the decisions together.
They vote in the Accounts Chamber Collegium. There is the head of the Accounts
Chamber, Mr. Stepashin, the Deputy Chairman, Mr. Semikolennykh, and twelve auditors.
The decisions aren’t made by one individual, but collegially. So you have some of the
management board members stepping out, and saying, “Before you make this decision,
we want to know, what is this Value for Money Auditing?!” We thought we were
making progress until another delegation came with another auditor, and started asking us
questions and we realized that the awareness-raising component of the project was
critical for us to accept. We thereby expanded the project to add a second auditor,
another member of the management board, and the Accounts Chamber actually financed
the participation of a third auditor. As we tried to increase the awareness among the
members of the collegium, Mr. Stepashin himself has become a very strong supporter of
the VFM auditing system.
Last but not least, I will mention CIDA, and not only as a courtesy, but I say very
seriously, when I say that part of the success of the project is that the Parliamentary
Centre and CIDA have worked together as partners, taking major decisions together, in a
very cordial approach, which has greatly enhanced the ability to demonstrate successful
results from the project. Thank you very much.
MC: Thank you Geoff. Now, I think I will open up the floor for questions and
introductions. Since we have people from CIDA, as well as outside, DFAIT, etc. So
when you ask a question, if you would give your name and which organization you come
from, specifically for our guest. So, let’s open up the floor for questions.
Question: I am curious about how the role of the Russian Parliament has changed. To
what degree, if any, has your work contributed to that changing role?
Mrs. Galina Anisimova:
I have worked for a long time for the budget committee of the Russian Parliament. My
responsibility was interaction with the Accounts Chamber. There was definitely a
significant positive change in our relations with the Parliament in the last three years. For
example, in 1999, we submitted our performance report to the budget committee of the
Accounts Chamber, and it was a very large report, so large that the Parliament could not
read all of it. So they never read it. Over the last three years, parliamentarians have paid
more attention to our reports, they have become much more interested. Our performance
reports for 2002-2003 sparked much debate in the budget committee between the ruling
party and the opposition. In our report, we identified instances when funds were spent
other than for intended purposes. Our terminology was that “damage was inflicted” on
the federal budget. Our case was so persuasive and so well founded that the government
could not refute it. The parliamentarians supported us and said that it was very
interesting information. As well, there was another report, which was discussed by the
budget committee last year, regarding how federal property is managed by the Russian
Federation abroad. The witnesses were heads of relevant ministries and other top-level
officials. Also, another issue that was discussed widely in the Parliament last year was
the use of intellectual property created using federal funds. The Ministry of Justice was
criticized because it did not properly fulfill its tasks set out by the Government. Another
issue considered by this committee was defence spending. The defence budget continues
to rise ahead of inflation rates, and money is not always spent effectively, and this is what
our report focussed on. There was another aspect of success. It has to do with
consistency in the workforce, to do with turnover of employees. It is a bad practice to
change people. Throughout the three years, we had the same people on the project.
Another important aspect was the quality of translation of the materials. You know that
we are a young state in terms of a market economy, and we became part of the global
economy only recently. As is true for most of the generation that was born in the Soviet
Union, most people in this generation do not have much conversational English practice.
But we were lucky in this respect; from the very beginning we received immediate high
quality translations of the material from Canada. So, thank you very much, Vadim.
Mr. Geoff Dubrow:
I just wanted to offer a point about the how the role of the Russian Parliament has
changed. This is the tenth anniversary of the Canada Russia Parliamentary Program, and
I have been with the program for five years, so I can compare how the Parliament has
changed over the last five years. I would say that the parliamentarians that we used to
work with in the past were searching for broad solutions to broad governmental
problems. “How does your system of local government work? What is your system of
government for aboriginal people?” We would provide this information and they would
say, “Thank you very much, we’ll get back to you,” for two reasons. First of all, they
weren’t the people making these decisions on their own. They would often have to go
back and consult government officials. They were often part of multi-institutional
decision making bodies, presidential committees, etc. But also, they were building up
trust and weren’t willing to work in great detail on particular aspects, but rather to get the
experience and go back home. What we’ve seen from our work with the Federation
Council, especially, more so than from the Duma, over the last two years, is a search for a
specific mechanism to perform a specific task, to strengthen parliamentary control over
the state budget, for example. So, they would come with more detailed questions, such
as, “What are your rules of procedure to strengthen parliamentary control? How do you
raise awareness about the importance of parliamentary control among members of
parliament?” And so, in a sense, they have made it much easier for us to provide specific
answers to specific questions to contribute to the results. Trust has now built up and they
are willing to sit down as partners, partly because they know that we never tell them what
they should do, but rather how our system works.
Mr. Manfred Kuhnapfel (Office of the Auditor General):
You are all here in a bilingual country of French and English. But, when you are dealing
with another country, it’s a different system. First of all, it’s very important to
understand that. It is not just information that we are giving that is being translated,
because the words that we use can be interpreted differently. In this case, with our
interpretation, we were very fortunate to have Vadim from the very beginning, and what
it was, was Vadim’s background, being a Russian himself, having worked as a journalist
in Russia, having been in administration, he knows the system. So, when I was dealing
with him, he could explain to me how the Russian system works. He was able to advise
on the structure of the system, how the departments and committees worked, how to
make sense of it. From a practical point of view, without skilled interpretation you
cannot communicate, you lose your efforts. We were fortunate that Vadim has been with
us for two years. With us, for example, he didn’t know how our office worked. I spent
hours with him trying to explain how our system works and which various definitions
were important to understand from our point of view. I am sure that a lot of people from
outside our government department would not know what we do. Vadim is able to pick
up during our meetings very easily where the misunderstanding might be and then help to
clarify that. So, it is not just a matter of straight translation from the documents, it is
more than that. So, it is very important. From working on other audits, I have seen that
the problems that were arising with these audits were very practical problems, so
interpretation is very important.
Question: Regarding the two audits, you mentioned that they caused quite a stir. When
we are audited, we try to prepare a defence. I assume that the responsible ministries also
ready themselves. How should the negative outcomes of audits be dealt with? Is it the
role of the Accounts Chamber or the parliament? How do you obligate the ministries to
overcome these results?
Mr. Oleg Slavutsky (Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation):
The thing about advice coming from an audit entity, when they criticize us, they do it in a
very quiet voice, otherwise next year our voice will be louder. Speaking of the
Parliament, a new Parliament, the State Duma was just appointed. There is now a new
Commission, the Commission for the Direction of the Accounts Chamber, to whom all of
our reports will now be submitted. Recently, in Canada, there was the report submitted to
the Parliament from the Office of the Auditor General, “The Sponsorship Program”. This
also created quite a stir in society and may effect the composition of Parliament after the
next election. Unfortunately, we are not at that point yet, that our reports have such an
affect on the ruling party.
Question: Regarding the audit on “Support for the Disabled”, some of the audits have
actually been funded from Canada and I was wondering if there is a way to use some of
the conclusions of that report that might have implications for our programs to further
guide some of our own programs.
Mrs. Galina Anisimova: Certainly, it’s open for use.
Question: What is the general public perception of the Accounts Chamber and what has
been done to promote public awareness?
Mrs. Galina Anisimova:
I will give you the answer, factoring in Russian specifics, we have some private
companies that conduct polling and come up with point or ranking systems in terms of
popularity of leaders, specifically on the level of trust. I can tell you about last year’s
results. First, the most trusted was Prime Minister Primakov, and second, Mr. Stepashin,
the Chair of the Accounts Chamber. So, public trust of the Accounts Chamber and its
reports is increasing every year. We have a magazine called, “Financial Control,” in
which there are regular articles about our reports and findings. The magazine is
distributed throughout Russia. And also, of course we have our websites with report
Mr. Eduard Krustkaln (Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation):
I can tell you that when Mr. Stepashin became the chairman in year 2000, very few
people knew what the Accounts Chamber was. At that time, I was an assistant to the
Prime Minister, and quite frankly, I can tell you that I didn’t know what it was. So, when
I read that there was a federal law on the Accounts Chamber, I realized that this must be
something interesting. It is an important instrument of democracy and could be effective
in improving the state of affairs in the country. So, Mr. Stepashin invited me to join the
Accounts Chamber, and he always tried to preserve the openness of relationships before
society. This is why, right away, they set up the Department of Public Relations (there
was not one before that). We created a website and we publish up to 40 various pieces of
information about reports. Also, we publish some reports in their entirety. So anybody,
not only journalists, but every citizen has access. We have some printed materials, such
as bulletins of the Accounts Chamber, which are distributed through major libraries. We
have other methods of distributing information, such as through newspapers and
magazines that take our information and publish it. “Financial Control”, which Galina
mentioned, is an affiliated publication, so it is jointly published. In terms of readership,
it’s quite popular. So, we’ll continue along this line. I have come here to see how the
packaging is done in terms of these reports. Tomorrow we will focus on this particular
aspect. It’s a very good product and it should be easy to sell!
Question: What are your plans to transfer VFM Auditing to the Regions? What kind of
goals have you set time-wise?
Mrs. Galina Anisimova:
That’s a very good question, because I have brought a program with me from Moscow,
which deals with this particular issue, how to transfer to the regions. We have a special
item in the work plan of the Accounts Chamber for 2004. Two regions, Voronezh Oblast
and Rostov Oblast, will be the two regions where Value for Money Auditing will be
implemented this year. If we have CIDA’s support, then this will help us in terms of
spreading this experience. If this is not possible, we will do it ourselves. So, in all of the
regions of Russia, by April of this year according to our work plan, we will develop
training material and will develop an ideology for a training course for regional auditing
experts. Regional auditing experts must then adapt the training course to the specifics of
their region. For your information, we can give you a copy of this training program. You
can take a look at it if it is of interest to you. It has been approved by the relevant
commissions of the Federation Council and by the relevant regional Accounts Chambers.
Because of the need to change legislation, we will also involve the corresponding
legislatures in the two regions. Also, the Commission of the Federation Council for
Interaction with the Accounts Chamber will be actively involved in the implementation
of the program. And we also have a department in the Accounts Chamber dedicated to
the direction of regional Accounts Chambers, so it will also be an active participant. We
have an Association of Regional Accounts Chambers, which has the status of a public
organization, and one of the members is the Union of Municipal Auditing Departments.
Membership is voluntary and the purpose is to interact with our experience in terms of
methodology and information exchanges. We use this association as a channel to spread
these approaches. We cannot manage the regions directly, so indirectly we have
influence in the regions. The association has annual meetings, workshops, and
conferences and we have a very good relationship with them.
Question: Do you have groups that carry out internal audits within the Accounts
Chamber and, if so, what is the relationship between them and the Accounts Chamber?
Mrs. Galina Anisimova:
In the Russian Federation, the system of internal financial control is not yet fully
functional. We are currently working together with the Ministry of Finance on the
concept of internal control, which is being carried out by order of the President of the
Russian Federation. As part of this effort, the Accounts Chamber has reviewed existing
legislation on internal control. As a result, we have identified many outdated normative
acts and standards. What happened was that the old system collapsed as the country was
moving toward a market economy and a new system has not yet emerged. Currently,
internal control is a function of the Ministry of Finance, but relevant legislation needs to
be improved significantly. Internal control will probably be one of the important aspects
of administrative reform needed to create systems of internal control in the ministries.
This was a challenge when we were doing the Value for Money Audit. This is actually
one of our conclusions.
Question: This meeting has been very useful. Worldwide, there are whole series of
studies being carried out on the experience gained from doing this kind of work. One of
the aspects that emerges is the idea of ownership and the initiation process taken by the
Russian side. A second thing that emerges from these studies is that the difference
between a successful and unsuccessful project is not the likelihood that they will make
mistakes, but the likelihood that they will correct them. In some cases there is such a
rigid methodology imposed on projects that there is less room to acknowledge mistakes
and make changes. So the lesson to be learned is that whatever methodology you adopt,
don’t turn it into a straight jacket because that may stand in the way of achieving the
various results you are trying to achieve. Could you give an example of some mistakes
that you have made in the project? Geoff alluded to one, and that was, moving faster
than the understanding in the chamber of the report. You could have gotten ahead of the
consensus within the leadership of the Accounts Chamber, that in fact, this is a good idea
to begin with at all. Maybe you can elaborate a little on that.
Mrs. Galina Anisimova:
Probably there were some mistakes. But when you get good results, you tend to forget
about the mistakes! There were some technical mistakes, maybe, for example, it took us
too long to understand the link between criteria, objectives, and results. When we had
discussions this morning, we realized that we were talking about the same thing—the
language is different—and that was it, the essence and the concept was the same. But it
is difficult to call this a mistake; it is a growing pain.
Mr. Manfred Kuhnapfel:
It’s ongoing learning. When you start a process, you have to learn as you go along. You
have to monitor, not just look straight at the goal without looking around. One example
that I have noticed was during the visit of the first delegation. Peter Dobell was saying
that the Russian Delegation was coming and that basically we were going to give them an
overview of our functions. I had my colleagues primed by giving them some background
on Russia and the Accounts Chamber and so on. We started the discussion and, as it
went around, I saw that both delegations were using the same terminology but meaning
different things. So, when I looked back at the first round, immediately I said to myself,
“You’re wasting time.” So we had to adjust. It took a long time to do our homework to
understand how the different systems worked and so on. After that, the meetings with the
later delegations went more smoothly.
Special thanks to Rachel Morozkin for the transcription.