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Governors: reboot and upgrade

The President of the Russian Federation set the parameters for the preparation of governors on the site of the Russian Academy of Sciences

September and early October were marked by personnel changes in the structures of regional government. The governor's corps has been renewed by almost a quarter. Fourteen candidates supported by the federal center won the elections for heads of regions. Openly weak or compromised leaders were forced to resign. It is quite understandable that some experts and the media were quick to link a series of gubernatorial resignations and appointments with the unofficial start of the election campaign of Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, we are talking about much deeper and more important changes, calculated by no means for six months or a year. At the moment when the election campaign of the head of state is unfolding, it is the governors who become for him the main support “on the ground” - in the Russian regions. But the professionalism and competence of the leaders of the constituent entities of the Federation is much more important when the president is already elected and starts work. Not a single large-scale reform is possible without the participation of governors - these are the main conductors of the course of the country's leader and the government appointed by him. It is difficult to overestimate the degree of their responsibility. Therefore, the autumn personnel reshuffle-14 can be considered a starting point, the first stage of a large-scale reform, under the conditional and unofficial name “New Governors for a New Russia”.

Governors: reboot and upgrade
Photo by:

Vyacheslav Kushnaryov

Director of the Far Eastern Institute of Management RASHiGS

Mechanical castling, replacing some powerful people with others to solve such a task will obviously not be enough. At present, Moscow is trying to develop, set and test “in deed” a new benchmark for a regional leader who is able to work effectively even in the most difficult circumstances. Judging by who won the elections or is currently acting as the governor of governors, the cohort of young people, who have already gained enough managerial experience, who are responsible and able to make decisions independently, is in demand. These are leaders who possess a “state”, rather than narrow regional thinking, subtly feel the realities of today and follow in the wake of the country's strategic development, the program of which is put forward by the federal center.

What else is required from the governor of the new sample? He must skillfully use the so-called resource tools - that is, work with investors, participate in the development and implementation of federal targeted programs and projects, generate ideas and effectively interact with various federal structures. This is, briefly, a technocrat, a technocrat with a good level of education, focused on innovation in all areas of his activity, but rather conservative, so as not to get carried away with ideas that are torn from life.

The media (in particular the Vedomosti newspaper) have already quoted the Kremlin's curators for personnel policy, who made it clear: candidates for the posts of the heads of regions will be selected primarily by meritocratic criteria (meritocracy - the power of the most worthy). In the opinion of political analyst Alexei Titkov, today such a criterion becomes the most important - although, of course, loyalty to the Center still means a lot.

By the way, on the example of the Far Eastern Federal District, it can be concluded that almost all heads of regions now meet the new criteria, where large-scale investment projects, both federal and international, began. It is no accident that Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recent Eastern Economic Forum publicly expressed his confidence to such governors and gave them 3-year-old carte blanche. It is assumed that it is during this period that the Far Eastern Territories will be able to rise to the top of the national rating of investment attractiveness.

Cadres decide a lot, but they won't come by themselves. Future top managers also need to be nominated from a certain reserve, trained and supported. Therefore, after the “change of faces and scenery”, the next necessary stage of a large-scale reform of the governor's corps is the selection of the optimal platform for massive professional training and retraining of regional leaders in accordance with the new requirements. So far - and this is no secret to anyone - the newly elected governors in the fall of 2017 were mostly "Varangians" who were gathered all over the country and thus unwittingly "bleed" federal ministries and departments. Yes, by sending the best personnel to the regions, the head of state demonstrated that the regional direction has now become one of the priorities of the Center's policy. 

But it is impossible to solve such large-scale tasks with the help of Moscow’s henchmen alone. It will always be difficult for such leaders to assemble capable teams in a short time, to penetrate deep into local problems and not to clinch with the local elites. We have already observed similar cases more than once literally throughout the country. For example, the former head of the Nizhny Novgorod region and former deputy Yury Luzhkov Valery Shantsev constantly clashed with the local elites of the Volga region, from which the investment and business climate in a strategically important region was far from ideal. The governor’s entourage added fuel to the fire — for example, the scandalous trip of Shantsev’s press secretary at the expense of the budget for a beauty contest, which was mentioned even by Channel One TV. So it was not possible to become the former governor Viktor Tolokonsky for Krasnoyarsk Territory (before this appointment he headed the Novosibirsk Region). In the Primorye "Varyag" Vladimir Miklushevsky was involved in serious inter-elite conflicts, which led to the almost complete loss of governor control over the situation in the region.
Taking into account that the governor must come to the region seriously and for a long time and in no way repeat the mistakes of the temporary workers, the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation decided to pay special attention to the training of future leaders for the subjects of the Federation at the site of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President RF. This educational institution has the most significant experience in the training of such personnel, has a strong scientific potential and practical capabilities. It is especially important that the training goes not only in Moscow, but also as close as possible to the place of future work of “effective managers” at the regional level. Soon, a similar educational module will be launched in the Far East on the basis of the Far Eastern Institute of Management - today it is the only branch of the RANEPA in the DFO (to which, we recall, 9 subjects of the Federation).

In total, 162 Governor Candidates from all 85 regions of the country will be trained at the RANEPA. In the Far East, by the end of 2018, a similar course in management and economics about 20 people will have to complete. It is on this personnel reserve that Moscow is now making the main bet. In addition to the RANEPA, such educational structures as the Sberbank Corporate University, the Skolkovo School of Management and the Higher School of Economics National Research University have joined the development of a large-scale project. All of them have a long and diverse experience in training senior staff for all institutions of the Russian state, entire sectors of the economy, and the largest business structures.

Apparently, after the autumn appointments and resignations of the mass rotation of the governor should not be expected. The reform of the personnel corps of the Russian regions is aimed not at endless rearrangements in the ruling elite, but at creating its own personnel reserve in each of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. A reserve that will at any time be ready to begin to solve complex problems and successfully cope with them.
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