by Mikhail Karyagin, the expert in Freedom of Information Foundation

 Completed monitoring of the Russian Federation's government bodies allows us to draw several important observations.

There is obvious divergence between various government bodies' informational openness. Since monitoring parameters were explicitly grouped by topical categories, it appears that some parameter groups are represented quite well (for instance, the "anti-corruption" set of parameters regarding officials' incomes and properties) while other parameter sets are evaluated by quite low scores (for instance, the record of real estate objects and their owners).

The federal form of each state has an effect on its freedom of information ratings.

Since the Russian Federation has many regions (85 of them including Crimea and Sevastopol) its informational field is rather fragmented, and topical information is often provided through regional (not federal unified) e-resources so that search becomes much more complicated.

Lack of uniformity in the presentation of information. This problem partially results from the previously mentioned fragmentation of the information field, since in each region there is a specific procedure for data processing so that the same information can be presented in quite different forms (including images), in different sections of the website (sometimes contradicting any logic from a user's point of view), or not be available at all.

Third-sector participation in the presentation of governmental information.

The monitoring has revealed some interesting non-governmental resources maintained by non-profit organisations, which fill some gaps in governmental informational openness. For instance, there is no crime map available on the website of the Ministry for Internal Affairs: however, the RosPravosudie non-political project does maintain such a map.

Also, it can be quite difficult to find a court decision on the court's website, but the "судебныерешения.рф" e-resource can be helpful.

However, this monitoring cycle has not taken such resources into account since they are not governmental.

Moreover, creation of parallel governmental resources dedicated to topics already covered by civil activists seems to be not very efficient; cooperation between government bodies and civil activists may be more fruitful.

In general, I can consider monitoring results for the Russian Federation as positive since there are not many parameters for which no information has been found. I believe that such monitoring should be held annually or semiannually and cover more countries. If 20-50 countries will be covered there could be a sound claim for a cross-national research similar to that made by Ronald Inglehart though not so wide and complex.

 

Proposals

1)    To develop tools for searching information on governmental employees' incomes. Data should be searchable by employee full name and position.

2)    To develop tools for searching information on tax amounts paid by a specific citizen.

3)    To develop tools for searching the database of dissertation theses by author's full name.

4)    To develop a unified resource publishing acts issued by municipal bodies.

5)    To specify information on the State Head's activities in more details by means of publishing information on the persons hosted by the State Head in 2013-2014.

6)    To publish detailed statistical data on criminal actions, searchable by police unit number (address).

7)    To launch a service allowing one to learn his (her) election voting station upon entering residence address.

8)    To itemize online guidebooks on funds of the Central State Archive.

9)    To develop tools for allowing to find a realty object owner by the object address or cadastre number, or a realty object by its owner's name.