It is just the matter of 16–17 bln roubles — and by 2020 all the previous orders executed
Established by Peter’s the Great decree in 1724, St Petersburg University is the only Russia’s university with 290 years of history. The special status of the University, as the oldest university in Russia, is granted by the Federal Law “About Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov and St Petersburg State University”, which states that SPbU and MSU are granted the special status of “unique scientific and educational complexes, the oldest institutions of higher education in Russia being of great importance to the development of the Russian society”. Today, SPbU student body is over 30,000.
Just as the University is recognised around the world for excellence in research and education, so it is a cohesion economic institution, which comprises a complex of buildings and premises, a wide range of sophisticated equipment, and is operated by specialists who are responsible for maintenance and asset management.
Today, SPbU owns over 350 buildings and premises, among which 60 buildings are cultural heritage sites. The University’s special status grants the following:
- a separate line in the budget of the Russian Federation;
- a right to organise additional admissions tests as part of application to all the main educational programmes;
- a right to establish its own educational standards at the University’s discretion;
- a right to award its own scientific degrees;
- a right to establish its own selection procedure to recruit academic staff;
- a right to appoint SPbU Rector by the decree of the President of the Russian Federation.
The fact that University is granted the special status has little effect, if any, on how to tackle the issues relating to assets management and economic activity. SPbU, like any other university in Russia, shall comply with the legislation and meet the requirements which are imposed by financial monitoring and surveillance agencies, agencies for supervision in education and healthcare, agencies for surveillance on consumer rights protection and others.
For the University, 2000 triggered public debates and discussions, which have so far ensued on a periodic basis, on whether the University should be granted special rights and privileges, a separate line in the budget in particular. The idea was supported by Dean I.P. Boiko and Dean N.M. Kropachev to name but a few, who stressed that introducing a separate line in the budget would open up an opportunity for the University administration to increase budget, similarly with MSU, which has had a separate line in the budget for many decades now. Those who opposed the initiative, among them was SPbU chief accountant R.I. Tsvetov and Vice-Rector for Facilities Management L.V. Ognev, were anxious to stress that they remained uncertain about whether the initiative would bring about an increase in the budget, and should it have happened, which was most unlikely as they assumed, it would have eventually end in regular monitoring by the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, which was met by a tit-for-tat reaction, in their opponents’ turn, by saying: “Fine. It will bring order!” (Let us remind that in 2006–2010 Vice-Rector L.V. Ognev and engineer-in-chief Yu.V. Chekalin were pleaded guilty of embezzling millions from SPbU and therefore were imposed a sentence: see A scandal at SPbU: Serious financial violations exposed; A Vice-Rector of SPbU receives an 8-year suspended sentence; Builders convicted for embezzlement at SPbU; SPbU engineer-in-chief pleads guilty to embezzling 38 mln from budget, Fontanka, 09.08.2010; SPbU engineer-in-chief pleads guilty to embezzling 38 mln , Delovoy Peterburg, 10.08.2010; SPbU engineer-in-chief judged for embezzling 38 mln allocated for SPbU reconstruction, Pravo.ru, 09.08.2010.)
In 2008-2015,such new measures as introducing a separate line in the budget, immediate subordination to the government and the privilege to appoint Rector by the President of the Russian Federation raised finance allocated from the Federal Budget for research more than three times and for education more than twofold.
Annually, the University, due to its specific nature and a significant number of real estate assets in its operation, is subject to monitoring and surveillance by the government surveillance agencies and federal services, among which is the Accounts Chamber, Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science, Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, Federal Tax Service, Prosecution Service, Federal Antimonopoly Service, Federal Agency for Public Property Management, Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Federal Treasury, State Labour Inspectorate, State Fire Control Service, State Administration and Constructing Inspectorate, Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service, Federal Drug Control Service, Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection, Ecological Safety, Committee for the State Inspection and Protection of Historic Monuments, Federal Subsoil Resources Management Agency, recently abolished Federal Migration Service, Federal Service for Surveillance in Finance and Budget, Ministry of Education and Science, and labour inspection to name but a few.
Each year, there conducted dozens of both regular and unscheduled inspections by monitoring and surveillance agencies and services. Such inspections are conducted as complaints and claims are received from both citizens and legal entities, and result in ordering the University administration to investigate the claims and complaints, verify the discrepancies, report to the complainer and send a copy of the report to the relevant agency. Although the agencies and services receive fewer claims and complaints against the University administration, unlike against other universities under the Government jurisdiction, nevertheless such claims and complaints number in dozens each year.
Upon completion of the inspection, a monitoring and surveillance agency, if violations are exposed, issues an order to eliminate them at stipulated time. It should be useful at this point to mention some aspects specific to monitoring and surveillance by the services and agencies. For a start, just as laws and regulations are subject to change, so are the surveillance requirements, which tend to be, not infrequently, introduced spontaneously, without public debates, allocating appropriate funds and time resources to respond to the changes and start to implement them in practice. Second, the monitoring and surveillance agencies implement the same laws and regulations differently.
An obvious example of how the agencies tend to implement laws differently is orders issued by the EMEROM fire authorities to eliminate fire safety violations in the buildings owned by SPbU. Execution of such orders, far too often, contradicts and violates cultural heritage laws, national laws currently in force related to the protection of cultural heritage (historic and cultural monuments) of the peoples of the Russian Federation (for example, there is no second exit from the Petrovsky Hall in the Twelve Collegia, which will be discussed below).
The provisions of the law and regulations, moreover, are subject to uncertain interpretation by sub-offices of the agencies and services located in various regions and districts, and the buildings owned by SPbU are located in eight administration districts of St Petersburg (Vasileostrovsky, Central, Admiralteysky, Vyborgsky, Nevsky, Primorsky, Petrodvortsovy, Pushkinskny) and in Leningrad and Belgorod regions, Krasnodar Krai, Karelia and Crimea.
Third, variability in interpretation is also due to human factor: when performing supervision and surveillance of the institution, some of the officers do tend to indulge to their idiosyncrasies at work. Most notorious examples are those who work as the EMERCOM fire officers, who, when monitoring compliance with the fire safety regulations, expose violations and conceal some of them by specifying only a few when making a report, thus leaving them “for the future”. If the University fails to comply with the laws and regulations, it is held administratively liable and issued an order to remedy a failure by paying a fine. The University does remedy the failure and execute the order to the extent it requires.
Should the University staff be informed about other violations which are intentionally not recorded in the report, they would definitely remedy the failure. Yet the violations are secreted – till the next inspection. Half a year or a year later, fire safety officers officially monitors the progress against the orders which were issued during the previous inspection and list “newly-exposed” violations in the fire inspection report. These “newly-exposed” violations, although previously revealed, have remained undisclosed to the University so far. The main thing is not just that the University is enforced to pay another fine (were these violations reported during the first inspection, the University would be issued one fine only). Rather, the problem is extra risks associated with the violations remained!
There are other discrepancies as well. Let us take the following example: the EMERCOM orders to replace partitions which are made from the material that, according to fire inspector, do not comply with the fire safety requirements. The University dismantles the partition and installs new ones made from another material. A year after, the fire inspector orders to re-install the suspended ceiling system, at the same room. As a result, a new wave of construction, renovation and maintenance is well underway! A year after, the University is issued an order to change floor coating at the same room… And so on and so forth!
The same situation is with the Federal Laws “About the contract system in purchase of the goods, services to meet the state and municipal requirements” № 44-ФЗ of April 05, 2013 and “About the contract system in purchase of the goods, works, and services by legal entities” № 223-ФЗ of July 18, 2011. Just as the FAS offices in different regions and districts (in St Petersburg, Moscow, and its central office) approach them differently, so do different UFAS offices in St Petersburg, which adopt decisions, diametrically opposed to each other when dealing with the identical legal situations. Besides, tender or auction documents tend to be exposed to repeated inspections by the FAS office two or even three times, with some violations “unnoticed” during the first inspection and exposed during the next rounds. How do private entities “neutralise” the inspector of this kind? How had these issues been discussed before SPbU refused to set its own admissions tests and accepted USE results? The answers are far from being unknown!
To remedy the failure in due course calls for intensified joint efforts and coordination between SPbU’s specialists in preparing and verifying comprehensive technical documentation to be approved by a number of the federal agencies and authorities, and finance allocated to eliminate the violations. Surprisingly, in SPbU there was no relevant department to perform the tasks mentioned above. From early 1990s to 2010, the deans were responsible for operating and maintenance of the buildings, without appropriate specialists. It is not a coincidence that it was a time when the University buildings were extensively remodeled and replanned by using budget funds and through income generating activities (see SPbU buildings: Illegal remodelling and reconstruction ). The most notorious violations occurred during the reconstruction of the following buildings at: 7-9-11 Litera C, OA Universitetskaya Emb. and 3 Litera P Philologichesky per., St Petersburg.
In the building at 7-9-11 Litera OA Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, the upper-story structures were reconstructed (the loft was transformed into an attic). In the building in 3 Litera P Philologichesky per., illegal reconstruction and the construction of the fifth storey were under the agreement between the deans in relation to the renovation project before 2008. In the buildings in 7-9-11 Litera S and Sh Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, the reconstruction of the buildings housing the Gorky Library was not regulated by the reconstruction project approved by the relevant authorities and funded from the federal programme, rather they were reconstructed in a rather inconsistent manner.
This is budget exhaustion, pure and simple (see Malicious intent or criminal negligence?). In 2005–2006, a number of wings were adjoined to the main central structures, which were not specified in the projects, and one of the reconstructed buildings was adjoined to the gas boiling building. In 2007-1008, all these obvious violations suspended the funding. Also, there was discussed reconstruction of the building at 7-9-11 Litera Sh Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, for education purposes, however, it was not feasible, as urban planning legislation and regulations on cultural heritage reconstruction were subject to tough alterations and amendments. Thus, today it is hardly possible to approve the design and reconstruction project by the KGIOP (see Minutes of the Rector meeting of October 07, 2013).
In 2009–2010, the Real Estate and Land Management Office was established. Previously, the registration of SPbU’s title to real estate had hardly been in the focus of attention, and the issue of how to legitimate reconstruction and remodeling works carried out with the violations had been intentionally disregarded (see Why SPbU has not so far registered its title to real estate assets?).
Since 2010, the University has been, slowly but surely, legitimating real estate objects owned by SPbU on the basis of operational management and under lands and reconstruction projects (see Why SPbU has not so far registered its title to real estate assets?). Yet the bondage of the previous effective management and work of a number of the deans during 2008-2016 have impeded obtaining the license to operational acceptance of the following buildings:
- 7 lItera A 22 Line, V.O., St Petersburgr;
- 7-9-11 lit. OA Universitetskaya Emb., V.O., St Petersburg;
- 7-9-11 lit. C Universitetskaya Emb., V.O., St Petersburg;
- 3 lit. P Philologichesky per., V.O., St Petersburg;
- 5 lit. A Ulyanovskaya ul, Petergof, St Petersburg;
- 35 lit. B Universitetsky pr., Petergof, St Petersburg;
- 35 lit. E Universitetsky pr., Petergof, St Petersburg;
- lit. M, pos. Tarasovo, 19th km of the Sredne-Vyborgskoe shosse, Vyborgsky destrict, Leningrad region;
- lit. N, pos. Tarasovo, 19th km of the Sredne-Vyborgskoe shosse, Vyborgsky destrict, Leningrad region;
- 33 korpus 4 lit. D Tsentralnaya ul., der. Zaostrovye, Shamokshinskaya volost, Lodeynopolsky district, Leningrad region;
- lit. B, pos. Kuznechnoe, Priozersky district, Leningrad region;
- 8 lit. A 14th ulitsa, pos. Ulyanovka, Tosnensky district, Leningrad region;
- 205 lit. M pr. Sovetsky, pos. Ulyanovka, Tosnensky district, Leningrad region;
- 205 lit. R pr. Sovetsky, pos. Ulyanovka, Tosnensky district, Leningrad region;
- 205 lit. C pr. Sovetsky, pos. Ulyanovka, Tosnensky district, Leningrad region;
- 205 lit. F pr. Sovetsky, pos. Ulyanovka, Tosnensky district, Leningrad region,
and get approvals for replanning and reconstruction, which makes it impossible, at least so far, to get state registration of right for federal ownership, right to the buildings mentioned above on the basis of operational management, and the right of permanent use of the land plots where these buildings are located. Unless the rights are acknowledged and registered, the buildings are unauthorised constructions.
If the University is rejected to obtain state registration of the right for federal ownership, right to the building above mentioned on the basis of operational management, and the right of permanent use of the land plots where these buildings are located, it does not mean that the University is not responsible for executing the orders issued by the monitoring and surveillance agencies (EMERCOM, for example); yet the University is not entitled to use budget funds for maintenance and reconstruction of those buildings that shall be registered, which is possible only after these unauthorised constructions are demolished. Catch-22! Thus, the University, if it is to execute the orders issued by the monitoring and surveillance agencies, has to seek for extra-budgetary resources.
The expenditures incurred by SPbU since 2008 up to now to eliminate the violations committed by the maintenance and operation offices and the deans when performing reconstruction works in 1990s and up to late 2000s, are estimated over 33 mln roubles, including the cost for construction assessment of the following buildings located at: 7-9-11 lit. C Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg approximately 1,000,000 roubles; lit.Sh approximately 4,500,000 roubles; lit. ОА approximately 1,500,000 roubles; and 3 lit. P Philolgichesky per. 500,000 roubles.
Registration of the titles to the unauthorised constructions is a legal process, and SPbU is not entitled to institute legal proceedings, which is within the scope of the local office of the Federal Property Management Agency in St Petersburg. It is SPbU that is to cover expenditures in relation to legal construction and technical expert evaluations, in particular a 60,000 rub expert evaluation of a case, which is being discussed in the Arbitrary Court, of the declaration of the title to the unauthorised construction located at 7-9-11 lit. C Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, 199034.
SPbU is consistent in taking whatever action is needed to execute the orders issued by the agencies. Small events are held without delays using the University’s resources, and if the specialists outside the University are required, the University signs the agreement and employs various financial resources for those purposes.
A great deal of the orders is those related to emergency prevention; injury prevention and public health, prevention of environmental damage; compliance with the requirements in operation of the buildings, premises, constructions, equipment and technological processes. The key indicator of continued success in ensuring compliance with the laws and regulations is a decreasing number of the items in the orders.
- Orders for emergency prevention
From 2007 to 2016, the Fire Safety Authority has issued 38 orders: there is no second exit in the Petrovsky Hall in the Twelve Collegia (the only hall preserved in its original state), uneven floor surface to such an extent that violates safety requirements (the first floor is laid on the soil, and there is no basement), there is no railing around the roof; in the Palace of Peter II there is no railing around the roof as well, and the width of the corridors does not fit the current width requirements etc.
The University was advised to eliminate the following violations: there is no second exit in the Petrovsky Hall in the Twelve Collegia (the only hall preserved in its original state when it had been under Peter the Great), uneven floor surface to the extent that violate safety requirements (since XVIII century the first floor is laid on the soil, there is no basement), there is no railing around the roof (should such railings be installed, it would violate the preservation order laid on SPbU to preserve a building of historic and cultural interest), and in the Palace of Peter II there is no railing around the roof, the width of the corridors in the building constructed in XVIII century does not fit the width requirements currently in force in XXI century.
It should be useful at this point to remind that the works of any kind in the buildings of historic and cultural interest shall be approved by the KGIOP, with approved technical documentation issued for each type of work. To withdraw the claims, the University had to apply to the Central Department of the EMERCOM Fire Safety Authority, and after long negotiations the University obtained concurrence to withdraw the claims, while to eliminate other violations the University had to take costly fire safety measures.
Normally the construction and building works are carried out in compliance with the regulations that are in force at the time when the construction works are carried out, and the fact that these regulations are subject to constant changes and amendments leads to catch-22 situation.
The University had allocated vast sums of money to dismantle security bars in the windows that had been installed in the turbulent 1990s and later prohibited, and to remove doors and install the new ones in order to comply with the requirement stating that the doors must swing out in the direction of exit, and later, when new “Fire Safety Regulations in the Russian Federation” approved by the Government Decree № 390 of April 25, 2012 were adopted, the requirements were subject to change and alteration once again. In 2014, the amendments to the Federal Law “About amending the Federal Law “Technical Guideline for Fire Safety Regulations”” № 117-ФЗ from July 10, 2012 introduced the requirement to equip every building of an education institution with the fire alarm system that transmits the signal directly to the fire station.
From 2010 to 2015, the University, in eliminating minor violations, had to spend 124,000,000 roubles, thus only partly executing the orders issued by the agencies. A progressive decrease in the number of the violations remained: in 2010 — 1,436; in 2013 — 800; in 2014 — 499; in 2015 — 349; and in 2016 — 265. Thus, the order for emergency prevention issued by the Fire Safety Authority decreased six-fold, from 1,520 items in 2008 to 265 items in 2016.
It took years to achieve so impressive results, primarily through changing the attitude to the fire safety regulation of the whole University: from administration staff to ordinary workers, and by working with the students. Today, the University has adopted a practice to issue inner orders by the fire safety office that impose urgent measures to eliminate violations that are exposed during its inspections, which is obligatory for all University. The disciplinary penalties in this regard, within the scope of the Labour Code, were difficult to avoid and given to some of the employees.
Today, there are 4 orders in relation to 80 objects issued by the Fire Safety Authority. The total amount of funds to eliminate the violations is 365,000,000 roubles, while the total amount of funds to eliminate all the fire safety violations is 495,000,000 roubles. And guess what? As little as 3 mln roubles are allocated from the federal budget for that end.
At some of the premises, SPbU operates gas boiler buildings, so the North-West Office of the Rostechnadzor monitored compliance with the industrial safety requirements when operating explosive industrial objects. In 2015, 3 regular and 1 unscheduled inspections resulted in issuing 3 orders. In eliminating the violations, the University spent 106,000 roubles, with 58 out of 59 violations eliminated.
- Orders for life and health damage prevention and environmental damage prevention
So far, the University has successfully executed all the orders to develop tentative regulations on waste management issued by the Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety in 2010-2015.
From 2013 to 2015, SPbU was issued 4 orders by the Rospotrebnadzor. The University designed and approved the programmes on inspection of the waste water composition and properties; established 3 monitoring areas of wastewater disposed into the Finish Bay at 2 Oranienbaumskoe shosse, Petergof (“Sergievka”); a wastewater disposal project for the object at 7-9-11 Universitetskaya Emb.
The University is to execute only one order the completion of which is scheduled at the end of 2016. Elimination of the violations is executed according to the schedule.
To eliminate the violations it is necessary to receive 110,000,000 roubles for maintenance of the premises, water and wastewater treatment facilities, engineering systems, workbench setup, and repairing overalls to name but a few.
From 2013 to 2016, the University was issued orders, as a result of one regular inspection and 4 unscheduled inspections initiated after accidents, by the State Labour Inspectorate in St Petersburg. To remedy a failure cost 8,993,973.6 roubles received from the Social Insurance Fund, which allowed to execute the order for certification of work sites to the full extent rather than just to train management stuff and workers on occupational safety and health (591 persons), and to offer health checkup for the employees (103 persons examined).
- Fulfillment of cultural heritage preservation requirements and exterior elevation requirements
In 1975, St Petersburg (Leningrad) University was issued 45 preservation orders by the monument preservation agencies, which focused on cultural heritage preservation, among which 7 preservation orders did not allow fieldworks at the objects; the requirements of 6 orders have been fulfilled to the full extent, among which 4 orders were executed by using funds from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation through the Federal Target Program “Culture of Russia (2012-2018)”. The total amount of funds allotted for restoration by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation equals approximately 1,000,000,000 roubles. The requirements stipulated in 7 preservation orders have so far been partially fulfilled, including those fulfilled by the Ministry of Culture and Government of St Petersburg. The main obstacle in cultural heritage preservation is those legal requirements which do not allow the University to use its own resources for the reconstruction. SPbU, due to insufficient funding allotted from the federal budget, has to seek additional financial resources by applying to various programmes implemented by the Government of the Russian Federation. Today, the total amount necessary for executing order issued by the KGIOP in St Petersburg equals approximately 16,000,000,000 roubles. Just think of it – 16 bln roubles!
To execute the orders issued by the State Administration and Constructing Inspectorate, SPbU has designed 46 SPbU exterior elevation certificates to be approved by the Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture in St Petersburg, 16 projects on window assembly in SPbU buildings, 54 architectural and planning assignments for additional equipment; all mentioned above projects are governed by the decree “About approval of the Regulations on exterior elevation operation and maintenance in St Petersburg” № 1135 issued September 14, 2006 by the Government of St Petersburg. The exterior elevation certificates and window assembly projects were designed exclusively by SPbU engineers, without external agencies, thus the cost saving fund equals 16 mln roubles.