New Public Management in Former Soviet Union Countries


After the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, there were the newly independent countries that started to look for branding new styles of governmental management. At that time, many countries in the world were already affected by the concept of New Public Management. Its ideas fully shaped the system of governmental administration yielding the favorable results, especially in the states of the Western world. Some complex changes were made in a public sector through a set of significant reforms initiated.

But for the republics of the former Soviet Union the implementation of a New Public Management approach had undergone the unexpected difficulties. Being technically focused on improving the economic performance, which became urgent in the circumstances concerned, the reforms were based on the methods of New Public Management. They actually exacerbated the already-existing issues in an administrative system. As a result, it led to a number of not reverse transformations that slowed down the economic development in these countries for years. At present, the Russian Federation is considered to be one of the most corrupted ones among them.

Therefore, this paper provides a detailed overview of the processes related to the implementation of the New Public Management concept in the Russian Federation that is one of the countries emerging from the former Soviet Union. It describes the main ideas and principles according to which the concept is driven and the reasons why the administrative reforms made on its basis in Russia failed and caused more complicated issues to solve. Moreover, a strong emphasis is made on the accountability and transparency which after a period of goal-directed reforming in the public sector underwent enormous changes.

New Public Management

Before discussing the role of New Public Management in administrative reforming processes and its impact on the economic growth and development of the Russian Federation, there is a prime necessity to describe and analyze its meaning, background and principles. This is a complex global phenomenon basically drawn from the private sector. New Public Management elements comprise of different forms of governance focused on decentralizing transformations within the governmental organization, controlling public institutions, output measures, management practices and discipline in the resource use. These forms refer to break-ups of traditional structures into autonomous agencies, professional management with explicit objectives and performance administration using the concept of private sector management and working on the principle “Doing more with less”.

Different definitions for New Public Management have been given over the past two decades. The one that fully describes the approach was suggested by Sandford Borins, a Professor of Public Management, at the University of Toronto. He stated that New Public Management was a normative conceptualization of public governance focused on provision of high quality services, rewarding agencies if the required performance goals are met, increasing the autonomy of public officials, making available resources necessary for managers to perform at the high level and keeping on achieving the public purposes. These have to be performed by the private sector, etc. The given management model has been used by state governments since the 1980s in order to improve the situation in the public sector. It has three major legacies for the area of public management. They are the following ones:

  • a brand new effective dimension to the study of reforms in the public administration;
  • a strong performance-motivated management and the implementation of performance focused institutional arrangements, new managerial doctrines and structural forms;
  • an integrated usage of economic, political and other conceptual patterns.

New Public Management is results-driven and objectives’ focused. It places an emphasis on adjustable arrangements in agency staff, employment terms and conditions, etc. It is based on three essential principles that describe its nature. They are effectiveness, economy and efficiency. New Public Management also stands for the progressive reduction of public bureaucracy as well as makes the positive changes in the state functioning. More importantly, it advocates for privatization.

The New Public Management approach is meant to achieve a wide range of structural innovations and an alternative way of state intervention to look for cooperation and assistance from community agencies and reliance of citizens. It is designed to limit the state functioning without doing any harm to any state processes performed. This comprises of decreasing bureaucracy, authority devolution, developing the results-driven appraisal system, designing commercialization and evolving the market orientation of public activities.

The concept should be fully supported by the effective accountability over open reporting system. At this point, the rule orientation is transformed into the result one, passive activities, or non-activities at all, some dynamic actions, centralization into decentralization and administrative duties into the rights of citizens. New Public Management ideas absolutely reestablish the pre-existing system of state administration. It is focused upon the entrepreneurial role of public agencies which are run with a market-based public management triggering high level effectiveness in the functioning of a public sector.

The most important ideas are stated below that are:

1. Decreasing the bureaucracy level (reorganization of the public body and the cut down of staff working in this area).

2. De-bureaucratization (this process comprises of the efficiency increasing but not the output quantity which means that the governmental systems working and functioning in a proper way must follow some systemic procedures and should implement the approval of existing processes).

3. Decentralization process (it transfers decision making activities closer to people. It could be citizens or clients depending on the area of its influence. This allows company employees, administrators or managers at all levels to gain more freedom of actions and get some authorities they never have had before).

4. Privatization (this process is naturally related to New Public Management because it delegates managerial responsibilities from public organizations to business structures which perform under the conditions of free market and competition).

5. New managerialism (this is a plain usage of business administration processes within the branches of government. It is of prime importance to employ officials that have some professional and managerial skills and proficiencies).

6. Evaluation of performance (standardization and measure processes as well as procedures should be established due to the necessity of the public system improving the supervision for all the services over time) (Salamon, 2002).

Therefore, the concept of New Public Management is focused on the improvement of public sector and all procedures held within. There still remain some particular factors which make the implementing processes complicated and barely controlled by the proper authorities of any state. For this reason, even if the ideas of this approach to public administration look promising and effective, their practical use raises strong doubts, especially after analyzing the situation in the Russian Federation. There this concept has fallen short of expectations.

Introduction of New Public Management in the Russian Federation

The first attempts towards the implementation of New Public Management in the Russian Federation were made in the 1990s. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, there was a strong necessity for Russia to reform the governmental administration in order to move on and develop as an independent country. At that point of time, the concept of New Public Management was on its rise. Many countries in the world tried to use its doctrines in order to achieve their performance targets.

In the Russian Federation, more than in any other country in the world, public administration was in an urgent need of reforms to be initiated. This might be due to the Soviet central planning which Russia was left over with. For this reason, in a relatively short period of time, governmental authorities started to implement the ideas of New Public Management counting on the fact that they would justify the placed expectations. The process of reforming was primarily started up in the public administration, educational system, social services and industrial enterprises (Kettl, 2005). Later on, reforms in civil services were initiated. The first results that were produced gave a chance to see and understand whether the New Public Management model forced by the government had worked or not.

At the first view, it was seen that these reforms were contradictory to already existing administrative patterns. But their implementation was inalterably carried on. It led to the collapse of the current system and further corruption in the country. This points to the fact that despite the introduction of the effective model that could transform and improve the public sector, the situation in the Russian Federation precipitately deteriorated due to some unaccounted factors.

The Reforming Process

The reforming process of public administration system has gone through several stages. There were several attempts to implement the doctrines of New Public Management after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In 1992, the Civil Service Reform was initiated while the Constitution of the Russian Federation was progressively drafted. In 1995, a Federal law called On the Basic Principles of the Civil Service in the Russian Federation was put into effect (Litvack, 1998). The divulgation of this law became another big step made towards establishing civil services based on the merit in Russia. Along with it, numerous essential regulations referred to various problems in the public sector were also enacted.

Shortly thereafter, it became apparent that the Federal law and accompanying regulations all together did not solve the actual problems. In 1997, a brand new Concept of Administrative reform was elaborated by the top Russian experts. In 1998, the president Eltsyn included some provisions of the Concept in his yearly address to the Parliament. But that were all actions made for this type of reform at that time. A renewed call was made for it by the president Putin in 2000. This new reform comprised of the Administrative reform, the Municipal government reform and the Civil Service reform. In order to support it, the budgetary reform was also initiated.

The Russian Center of Strategic Research elaborated the Concept of Public Service Reform in 2001. It was promptly approved by the president. In 2002, the Federal Program Public Service Reform in Russia was initiated for the purpose of putting the concept ideas into practice. In the course of the given program, some significant federal laws were enacted. One of them was the Federal law On Public Service System according to which the Public Service System in the Russian Federation comprised of the Military Service, the Police Service and the Civil Service. The last one mentioned has two levels. The first one is the federal Civil Service; and the second one is the Civil Service of subjects of Federation. All three Public Service types are closely related. It means that any job taken whether in the Military Service, the Police Service or the Civil Service is considered to be equal by relevance.

The Federal law On the Civil Service was passed in 2004. It superseded the Federal law On the basic principles adopted in 1995. This law outlined the following aspects:

1. Every position within the Civil Service in the Russian Federation should be obtained on the basis of open competition. Several exceptions to this rule can be applied.

2. Every civil servant should have a sufficient level of professionalism required for the adequate performance of responsibilities and actions.

In 2002, 70 percent of civil servants had the professional education. One third of them had the degree in economics, one fifth in law and one sixth had a higher technical education. Only 3 percent of civil servants had the degree in the area of civil service because public administration was a completely new category. This data showed that there was a great short in staff specialized in the given field.

3. In case of situations when the process of appointing some permanent civil servants takes too much time, it is allowed to fill vacant positions with the skilled personnel by using pre-qualified pools. They comprise civil servants and other citizens that have been assigned beyond the framework of competence standards.

The competence standards for the Civil Service positions were not developed in the Russian Federation though this concept keeps attracting the attention of public officials today.

4. The responsibilities of every single civil servant and every governing institution should be accurately defined in job descriptions and administrative regulations. The situations when civil servants deal with citizens or private enterprises, businesses or companies are inspected particularly.

According to the Federal law On the Civil Service, job descriptions must comprise of civil servant's duties, issues that could be managed by him independently, the rules related to interaction between him and other officials, governing institutions, citizens and private businesses, terms and conditions as well as the procedures of preparation and approval of decisions, skills and qualifications required for obtaining the Civil Service position, etc.

5. Every citizen who obtains a position in the Russian Civil Service should sign a contract. It includes the precise and strict employment terms and conditions.

6. The remuneration fund should be created in governing institutions. It can be distributed by the Head of governmental authorities in some cases.

In 2002, the average monthly salary for public servants was 7,200 RUB (according to the exchange rate of 30 RUB for 1 USD it was $240). Civil servants that have worked centrally earned the salaries 1.5 times more than those that have worked in the territories. It made the employment in governmental structures unwanted for potential public managers and servants (Peters, 2009).

7. The regulation commissions of Conflict of Interest must be appointed in every governing institution in order to solve the issues concerning activities of civil servants, etc.

Dispute resolution procedures must be managed by a special commission which should be appointed in every governing institution. According to the Federal law On the Civil Service, a Commission on dispute resolution examines the certain types of disputes (other cases must be resolved only in courts). There is an option for a civil servant. He is allowed to apply to the Commission or go to court.

In 2003, the administrative reform was initiated by the Presidential Decree called On Measures to Implement the Administrative Reform. There are two major management concepts that form a basis for the administrative reform. They are the following:

1. It is of great importance to identify governmental functions and define a set of functions that must be transferred from one governing institution to another one that does not.

2. It is important to clearly define three types of functions: the first one is concerning setting rules; the second one is dealing with enforcing these rules; and the third one is that manages the rules’ implementation. This is the way of avoiding corruption and uncontrollable administrative discretion.

According to these concepts, all the functions performed by government bodies were reviewed. It led to the next Presidential Decree issued in 2004. From that moment, there were three types of governmental bodies instead of six established. These are Services, Agencies and Ministries. The Decree fully describes the roles and functions performed by each of them.

The brand new governmental bodies differentiation made in 2004 was viewed as important steps towards improving the quality of public sector in the Russian Federation. But looking at the effects that this reform package had produced, it became evident that it was not sufficient. In May 2004, the World Bank wrote the Analytical note for the government of Russia. There it was stated there was a strong necessity to continue this type of reforms. A comprehensive model of potential further activities was provided. The same position was laid out in the Russian Economic Report published in the same year. This model was taken on the basis of a new Concept of the Administrative Reform in the Russian Federation passed by the Government in 2005.

Therefore, after enacting several concepts of future public administration reforms, an active process of their implementation had begun. In the concepts, the detailed plans of actions for meeting the goals were described. This has already been mentioned above. Sometimes to support the particular concept, a Federal program (an implementation tool with specific control mechanisms and budgeting) should be launched. For instance, the Federal Program Public Service Reform in the Russian Federation was launched in order to support the reforms initiated in the public sector.

Failure of Public Administration Reforms and Its Reasons

The overall picture of implementing the reforms in the Russian Federation showed that within the framework of the adopted laws and regulations for the reforming process there was a set of issues being in the course of time urgent to solve. The Government of the Russian Federation concentrated largely on the analysis of implementation procedures defining the particular reasons. This caused the failure of reforms based on the theory of New Public Management.

Though a part of reforms initiated carried out a profoundly positive impact on the situation in the Russian Federation, another part of it was still insufficient. The following is the list of factors improving the current issues and causing the new ones:

  • the experience gap among public administration officials and civil servants;
  • conflict between the central and territorial level of public staff;
  • deficit of public administrators in the required fields of expertise;
  • a back-log of needs of governmental structures;
  • low salaries for the staff employed in the public sector that made public positions unattractive for potential candidates;
  • inequities in salaries for territorial and central public administrators;
  • low trust of citizens in people working in public services;
  • lack of transparency;
  • further accountability issues;
  • corruption;
  • lack of opportunities for promotion;
  • bureaucracy;
  • the employment instability due to changes in leadership, etc.

Many of the given above issues that occurred during the period of reforms in the Russian Federation had some historical reasons. For example, when the Soviet Union was dissolved, every country that had become independent used the same conceptions for the state governance as it used to be in the former Soviet Union. That means that the same issues as bureaucracy or lack of transparency continued to be the part of public administration. In the course of time, some of the problems were solved; some were transformed into the new ones depending on the conception scheme used for governance.

One of significant factors was a negative attitude of Russians towards the governmental structures, in general, as well as towards every single representative of them, in particular. Another thing was the attitude of people towards such widely spread in the Russian Federation phenomenon as tough bureaucracy. During the period of the Soviet Union, no researches related to this question had been done. Different social groups depending on their class, age, nationality and educational level had contradictive attitudes to the bureaucracy in the country.

The more complicated question was the low salaries paid for public administrators. Though public staff had some subsidies (for example, health resorts, medical care, food or some goods), low salaries continued to dissatisfy people. When the Soviet Union was dissolved, all indirect benefits finished. However, the existing level of salaries remained the same. Such juncture of events could only worsen the situation. Many people working in public services decided to leave their positions in order to start working in other areas. Those that decided to keep working started to look for alternative sources of income using their public position (Maslov, 2012). The actions caused a negative attitude of people because in order to get any document issued or a question solved they should have paid though officially. There were no fees required.

The lack of transparency was not in the top priority list of the Government of the Russian Federation. It could be explained by its irrelevancy in the former Soviet Union from where Russia had had its roots. During the Soviet period, all governmental decisions were made secretly. If to go back to the past, the postulate related to the communist party claimed that it knew better what the society needed than any other. The public servants followed the guides of the party. However, this didn't work directly for the interests of people. The lack of transparency was and still is slow and difficult to change. There was an attempt made to improve the situation by drafting legislation on freedom of information. It was approved by the Government of the Russian Federation. But no further work had been made on it until 2006. Then the Law on Information was enacted. Later, in 2010, the Law on Access to Government Information was adopted (“World Bank”, 2011). But mass media and other resources are not intensively used by governmental authorities yet. That's why it is quite difficult for the Russian citizens to get the actual and truthful information about administrative or any other state processes in details. The atmosphere of secrecy is still present in the country.

During the 1990s, the conflict between the central and territorial level of public staff arose. The appointment of personnel to benefit the federal governmental authorities led to the direct centralization of power. Strengthening the top-down command structure in 2002 brought strengthening the center with the assumption that public services have already had wide powers. Because of the conflict between the regions and the center, it should be stated that the center had won the struggle with regions for the political authority. Also, this led to the weakness of the territorial self-government operating with narrow functions and small budgets.

The experience gap could be explained as a result of intentions of public servants that had made the career through the bureaucratic period in the country and used their position in the public administration for the purposes of getting personal incomes out of it. Therefore, public administrators with the length of ten to fifteen years of service got enough powers to secure positions in private businesses and enterprises with state shares. This was the so-called governmental privatization by public officials in the 1990s.

Corruption was another important factor needed to be removed or at least significantly mitigated in the governmental administration. The concept of New Public Management was supposed to decrease the given negative phenomenon. But as it turned out to be, it seemly became a potential for corruption among many actors being involved in state processes. They have got certain governmental functions (in some cases almost unlimited). It made more difficult to preserve accountability and control (Jakobson, 2001). Moreover, the line between the state authorities and private actors became seriously blurred.

If the level of accountability in the Soviet Union was low, the situation in the Russian Federation since the USSR was dissolved. Actually, it has not really significantly changed since that time. There is no need to state that accountability as much as transparency in governmental structures is important. When the ideas of New Public Management were implemented, public officials started to follow the new rules stated by a range of concepts adopted by the Government of the Russian Federation. But all administrative actions related to the documents that should have been formed in order to render an account of what were made by officials falling short of accepted law standards. The responsibilities that were given to public servants were defined by certain legislations. But their outlined norms were also violated. This gives a plain understanding that whether new laws were made or not in Russia through New Public Management implementation processes, the behavior of officials remained at the same level as well as the accountability level.

On the basis of the given above analysis of the factors that made a negative influence on the New Public Management processes of reforming in the Russian Federation, we can state that a number of important legislations passed by the Russian Government failed to bring the results expected. But the situation in public services was partly improved, and a range of urgent problems was solved.

Result Discussion

New Public Management ideas which became popular among many countries in the world in the 1990s showed a new way of administration of state affairs and brought the significant changes for the life of states. The Russian Federation as one of the countries being a part of the former Soviet Union followed the suit of other countries and started reforming processes within the framework of the New Public Concept. The expected results were not achieved. But fundamental governmental goals were accomplished.

The whole process of implementing the New Public Management model included the following reforms:

  • an administrative reform;
  • a civil service reform;
  • a social reform.

During the reforming procedures, many legislation acts were adopted. These are federal laws, such as On the Basic Principles of the Civil Service in the Russian Federation, Public Service Reform in Russia, On Public Service System. On the Civil Service, the concepts, i.e. the Concept of Administrative reform and the Concept of Public Service reform, etc. They have outlined the major principles of the brand new style of governing. After their adoption, civil services started to work under new terms and conditions. For example, all civil servants are appointed on the basis of competition. They should have a sufficient level of professionalism and sign a contract. The reform at the administration level has reconsidered governmental functions and established three types of governmental bodies instead of the existing six ones.

Among various significant improvements in the state governing made by the reforming processes, the Russian Federation continued to suffer from the insufficient effectiveness of governmental bodies. The current problems, such as the lack of transparency and accountability, corruption and bureaucracy were festered, while the new ones appeared. For example, the issue of officials’ functions strictly defined and limited on paper became broadened in reality after their reforming. As a result, it gives us the consideration that New Public Management was not good enough for Russia. At least, its implementation was enforced too fast without giving a clear look at the current governmental mechanisms and its readiness for fundamental changes.


New Public Management is a popular concept in the 1990s which outlined the effective ideas for positive governmental transformations. Some of the most important ones are putting into effect a new style of management in governmental structures including decentralizing changes and enhanced monitoring of the public sector. These ideas were continuously implemented by governments of many countries in the world and showed their effectiveness on a short notice.

The same conception was used in the Russian Federation. Thereat, many spheres in the public sector were in need of reforms because the whole Russian governmental system still functioned on the principles of the former Soviet Union. Therefore, the Government of Russia has adopted a set of laws and regulations for the reforming to be initiated. It has led to significant changes which in some way confused Russians. Many terms and conditions of the federal laws adopted were not followed by public officials as it was supposed to be. As a result, the reforming process didn't solve the urgent issues existing in the public sector but created the new ones. The lack of accountability and information transparency waved the country. The attitude of Russians towards public organizations; and its representatives remained at the same level. It was negative because of the range of factors and situations that people experienced when they went to public officials. Thus wise, there could be made a conclusion that despite the enormous attempts of the Russian Federation to change effectively the style of governance on the basis of the New Public Management approach, public institutions kept working improperly.

Order now

Related essays