ITs recruited to fight corruption. Information Agency INFOX.RU, 11 July 2018
But the only problem is that organizers of this struggle are not angels with wings.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin made a new move in the struggle with the everlasting plague of the Russian society - corruption. He bound the government to consider the opportunity to create an information system which would unite ministries and departments in tackling corruption - first of all, concealing illegally obtained property. This is very similar to clause 20 of the UN Anti-corruption Convention which prescribes to monitor the expenses of officials. Russia has been refusing to apply provisions of this clause for more than twenty years on the pretext of its contradiction to the presumption of innocence.
Putin's Decree prescribes to realize "The National Anti-Corruption Plan for 2018-2020" which means the application of the IT technologies to this hard work.
Some issues of the Plan
It is necessary to ensure full and transparent information about the officials' incomes and property. If property obviously not adequate to income is revealed, it should be withdrawn in favour of the state. The Federal Guard Service is in charge of the monitoring. It should get assistance from the Administration of the President and the government. The report on fulfillment of this task must be ready by 1 October.
The General Office of the Public Prosecutor is planned to get the authority "to keep the register of juridical persons prosecuted under clause 19.28 of the Administrative Code of Russia". This clause — "Illegal remuneration on behalf of a juridical person", is commonly known as giving bribe to public official. The guilty one in this case is a juridical person, those who accept bribes are punished according to other clauses. So, the above mentioned register should be placed in the "unified information system in purchasing", probably on the site of the state purchasing. The plan of this register must be ready no later than 1 December 2018.
The third point looks more vague: the government should think how a client can timely get to know about the conflict of interests during the realization of the state purchase — probably with the help of other departments. I. e. if Anna Arutyunova from the Moscow Committee of the State Services approves transaction with a firm where there are interests of Mikhail Antonov, notification that they are a married couple should appear somewhere. And this information must be always open in the Moscow government. It is a hard work, indeed. A report containing merely a clear idea of how to make such a system is expected before 1 July 2019.
And finally, the government and General Office of the Public Prosecutor have to decide before 1 February how the state clients can get automatic access to the register mentioned in the second point.
Lawyer of the Moscow office of attorneys at law Pen and Paper Roman Kuzmin is cautious about some of these innovations:
"As to the introduction of information system based on the one which has been already working in the Administration of the President, it is exclusively a technical measure. It will be useful only because information about incomes and expenses of officials will be kept in the joint system available to the federal bodies. This will make access to information easier. But the most important things in this issue are not how data are stored and the access to them is organized. It is crucial to what extent the inserted data are true and how the law-enforcement works with them. And that is another pair of shoes far away from information technologies.
Suggestion of keeping a register of juridical persons who have been brought to administrative responsibility for paying illegal rewards, looks much better. By analogy with the register of unscrupulous suppliers it would be logical to limit participation of the companies mentioned in such registers in the state purchases. This won't resolve the problem to the end because it is possible to create a new company. But, in general, this measure may produce a positive effect, for it's more difficult for a newly created company to get a state commission due to non-observance of certain requirements for activity duration, experience, financial results, etc."
Specialist in artificial intellect and computerized learning, founder of 22century.ru portal Sergey Makarov is sure that there is sense in the suggested measures: "Similar procedures are successfully used in banks. E.g. fraud-monitoring which is actively developing. It provides automatic analysis of the client's transactions and reveals suspicious events. Success of solving problems like that depends on the opportunity to create a training set on which a modern model of computerized learning, e.g. recurrent neuron net, may be trained."
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Indeed, we are quite ready to accept such solutions ideologically and technically, and they can be really helpful to the honest state clients. But, what's the percentage of those clients in Russia, especially in terms of money, according to funds allocated by them? And how, as Roman Kuzmin fairly wants to know, is the law-enforcement going to deal with the others?
Taking into consideration our reality, there is a great risk that even the commission to work out anti-corruption systems mentioned in the Decree will be given to an innocent contractor with the conflict of interests.