From this point of view, the new initiative is based on the same old approach of self-reforming – it is the departments in charge of research and the higher educational establishments that will be determining the methods for assessing their performance levels, although this will be done with taking into account the model methodology being developed under the aegis of the RF Ministry of Education and Science.
The aims of assessing the performance of the establishments in question are formulated rather vaguely, which has given rise to all the other problems, including the choice of objects to be reformed, the approaches and the system of indicators itself. In the RF Government’s draft Decree “On Assessment of the Effectiveness of Activity of Research Establishments of the Russian Federation”, the aim is formulated as “the formation of an effective system of research establishments and increasing its contribution to the innovational development of the economy”. “The Procedure for Assessing the Effectiveness of Activity of Research Establishments of the Russian Federation” attached to the draft does not contain the description of the goals to be achiever, but it specifies, however, how the results of the assessment could be used: for redistributing budget funds and for optimizing the network of research establishments. The said optimization means the transformation, reorganization and liquidation of research establishments, and also the implementation of the package of measures designed to improve the effectiveness of their activity. Thus, even if an establishment does not receive any estimate-based budget funding, and therefore, cannot be required to spent its resources in the most effective manner, it can, nevertheless, be subjected to an assessment of its performance with a possible view towards a subsequent change of its form of ownership, or even closure. Although the goals have been formulated, it remains unclear what tasks should be performed by the establishments being reorganized, and on what principles their relations with the State should be based.
The model methodology developed for the conduct of assessment is much more elaborated than any previous instruments of this kind. The most innovative and important approaches are the following:
1) the requirement that each of the departments conducting the assessment should form a Commission for Assessing the Efficiency of Research Establishments, whose activity should be based on such principles as independence and the minimization of the additional burden to be shouldered by the research establishment being assessed;
2) the delegation, to the federal executive bodies and the state academies of sciences, of the rights and responsibilities with regard to adapting the model methodology to the specific features of the subordinated establishments;
A. Khlunov. Resursy dkia razviviia – tem, kto effektiven. (Resources for development should be granted to those whose work is effective). Interview given to the website “Nauka i tekhnologii RF” (RF science and technologies), 16 September 2008, http://strf.ru/material.aspxd_no=15496&CatalogId=223&print= 3) the singling out of reference groups of establishments, which would be conducive to obtaining a more adequate assessment of the performance of research and higher educational establishments.
At the same time, the issues of as to who should carry out the assessment, what should be the subject of assessment, and in what way the assessment should be carried out, have not been sufficiently elaborated as yet.
The international experience of carrying out such assessments indicates that usually an assessment is conducted with the help of internal, external and international experts. The proposed methodology does not mention any participation of foreign experts, despite the fact that the present state of the official community of experts in Russia does not guarantee that their conclusions will be objective ( or entirely free of any clash of interests).
Although any assessment of the efficiency of those applied research establishments (institutes) that do not receive any estimate – based budget funding should be carried out with the mandatory participation of the consumers of their products, i.e. businesses, this specificity is not taken into consideration in the methodology, either. Moreover, the provision concerning the activity of assessment commissions determines that it should include representatives of the customer departments. In order to guarantee genuine independence of assessment, it should be carried out without any participation of federal bodies or of the managements of state academies of sciences.
The next important aspect of assessment is its subject. It is suggested in the methodology that the subject of assessment should be the research establishments proper, and not the mechanisms for allocating budget funds. But it should be remembered that research and higher educational establishments are “secondary” in some respects, because they “ adapt and accommodate” themselves to the rules of obtaining budget funds, established for them by state departments. The effectiveness of work of research establishments could be further increased if the methods of their financing are simultaneously revised as well. Let us once again touch upon relevant international experience. It is mandatory in foreign countries that such an assessment be performed with regard to state centers and laboratories, as well as the departments that finance research and development – in order to determine the degree of their efficiency in implementing their mission with respect to science.
In Russia, the currently adopted methods of budget financing have long been criticized with regard both to the estimate – based method of financing and the program methods being implemented within the framework of the federal target programs (FTP) and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ programs of fundamental research. At present, the procedures for carrying out budget fund auctions are insufficiently transparent and the thematic tasks are usually narrowed, which predetermines the outcome of an auction.. The financial discipline and the terms for allocating contested budget funds via the FTP mechanism and the Program of the Russian Academy of Sciences are insufficiently elaborated as yet.
Thus, funds are allocated to projects not at the beginning of a year but, in fact, in mid-year, and are transferred stage by stage, which completely ignores the specificity of production cycle in science. At the same time, any revision of the general plan of work, which should be normal practice as far as research is concerned, is actually prohibited. Finally, the duration of a financing cycle is set at one year even in the case of long – term projects, which significantly hampers the task of planning. Thus, what is really important for increasing the effectiveness of research and higher educational establishments is the parallel appraisal of their activity and the optimization of the mechanisms of budget funds allocation.
The proposed classification of the said establishments based on the results of the assessment has also given rise to some questions. Their envisaged division into reference groups is based on purely formal indications of the departmental identity or the organizational and legal form of activity of establishments, and does not take into account the essence of the research being conducted by them.
Because of this, practically all the institutes concerned with research in physics are classed with basic science, while federal state unitary enterprises are classed with applied – research institutes (establishments), which is not correct. A much more difficult problem consists in the fact that Russian scientific research institutes and higher educational establishments are not internally uniform with regard to their effectiveness – some of their laboratories are very good, and some are not. A list based on the ranking of the establishments will offer an unacceptable grossly averaged view of the situation, quire different from reality, and it should be borne in mind that the division of institutes into clusters would require rather rigid administrative decisions with respect to those of them who fail to join the group of leaders. The inadequacy of this methodology has already been confirmed by a number of attempts at its implementation, as was the case with the cluster of academic institutes whose in the sphere of research is astronomy. In this case, the strongest and internationally acclaimed institutes failed to become the leaders, unlike their much weaker counterparts44.
A separate problem area is the methods and indicators of assessment. The RF Ministry of Education and Science has chosen the qualitative method based on cutting down a considerable number of formal indicators relating to the performance of the establishments, despite the existence of a precedent which has revealed this method’s limitations, namely, the indicator of the efficiency of scientific work (IESW). This index, introduced for the purpose of appraising the work of research associates, has been commonly applied for three years. The deficiencies of the IESW have been described in detail; among other things, it has been shown how the use of the qualitative method resulted in partial disregarding of the specificity of work in individual spheres of knowledge and specializations, in re-orientating scholars to formal indicators of the effectiveness of work45 and, consequently, in a decline in its quality. Therefore, qualitative and quantitative methods are better to be combined in the course of assessing the performance of an establishment, with the finalizing expert evaluation of the establishment on the whole playing the decisive role. It is also advisable that the indices be tested on some pilot cluster or group of establishments. When such evaluation methodologies are being introduced in foreign countries, provision is made for a three-to-five year period of transition for their adjustment and adaptation. Moreover, as the accrual and procession of information as well as the ordeal of cooperating with the commissions of experts impose a heavy burden on establishments under inventory, the assessment interval could safely be increased from three to five years.
For now, the proposed number of indicators to be used for assessment purposes seems to be excessive, while the indicators themselves are aimed at appraising resources rather than the efficiency of their use. Thus, it is suggested that institutes will be required to submit data on the number of patents but not on their licensing, on the number of basic chairs but not on the number of graduates who have chosen to stay on in the realm of science and work in research establishments; on the presence, in the structure of an institute, of technology transfer center, but not on whether the institute resorts to services of some or other technology transfer center (for example, a regional one).
A number of indicators are questionable as such. For example, it is doubtful whether the quantity “official scientific schools” should be subject to assessment at all, and even the more so because the meaning of this term is unclear. Most probably, what is meant is simply groups of research associates who have got similarly titled grants. Another example is the indicator of the existence of a “concept (or plan) of attracting and keeping highly qualified scientific personnel”. The answer “yes” given to this question in reality means nothing.
By some indicators, budget-funded establishments are sure to show much lower results than, for example, federal state unitary enterprises, but not because their potential is lower, but thanks to the existing normative and legal restrictions. In the main, this is true of the research results commercialization indices. Finally, the very composition of the set of commercialization indices cannot adequately reflect the effectiveness of work of scientific research institutes and higher educational establishments because in conditions of low demand for science products on the part of business the effectiveness of innovational activity of research establishments simply cannot be high.
Thus, bearing in mind that for the time being there are more shortcomings than merits in the proposed methodology for appraising the activity of establishments, it would be logical not only to finish off and elaborate some technical aspects and the set of indicators, but also to revise the very principles and objects of assessment. This would enable the Government to more accurately assess the true potential and the effectiveness of work of state establishments, and later to provide assistance to a sufficiently large group of those of them whose failure to achieve high results is caused by the lack of appropriate conditions or resources.
Sources: Kruglyi stol: “Otsenka rezul’tativnosti nauchnykh organizatsii Rossiiskoi Federatsii”(The round table: “The Assessment of the Effectiveness of the Activity of Research Establishments of the Russian Federation”. 19.09.2008. The minutes. http://strf.ru/organization.aspxCatalogId=221&d_no=15594; V.
Pokrovskii. В. Gaechnyi kliuch dlia nauki. (A spanner for science). // Nezavisimaia gazeta – Nauka (The independent newspaper – Science). 08.10.2008. http://www.ng.ru/printed/ The Russian Economy in 2007: Trends and Outlooks. Issue 29. Moscow: IET. 2008. P. 413.
The foreign economic strategy of the Russian Federation until A. Pakhomov The RF Ministry of Economic Development has developed a draft of the Foreign Economic Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2020, which determines the key priorities and parameters of Russia’s foreign economic policy in connection with the long – term targets and tasks of her internal policy.
The article considers the targets and tasks of Russia’s foreign economic policy incorporated in the draft of the foreign economic strategy, as well as the instruments for their implementation.
The document is based on the provisions of the Concept of the Long–Term Socio- Economic Development of the RF until 2020 (hereinafter CLD-2020), the Main Directions of Activity of the RF Government until 2012, the Concept of the Foreign Policy of the RF, the long – term strategies and programs of development of individual oblasts and regions, normative legal acts, etc.
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