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Italy: New Legislation for Administrative Reorganization of the State

(Sept. 9, 2015) On August 28, 2015, new legislation providing for a comprehensive reorganization of the public administration entered into effect in Italy. (Law No. 124 of August 7, 2015, Powers Delegated to the Government Concerning the Reorganization of the Public Administration [Law No. 124], NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)

Provisions on Digital Access to Government Information

The legislation approves the adoption of a digital citizenship charter. The purpose of the charter is to guarantee citizens and companies the right to access all data, documents, and services of interest to them in digital format, through the use of information and communications technology. (Id. art. 1(1).) The Law seeks to reduce the need for users to physically enter government offices in order to access relevant information. (Id.) To that effect, the Executive Branch is directed to enact legislative decrees that amend and supplement the Code of Digital Administration. (Id.; Legislative Decree No. 82 of March 7, 2005, NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)

One criterion for the legislation is that it provide for expansion of the availability of broadband and ultra-broadband connectivity, in addition to general facilitation of access to the Internet, at public offices. (Law No. 124, art. 1(1)(c).)

The Law is also designed to guarantee access to public financing for the expansion of broadband connections at educational, health, and tourism institutions. (Id.) For the tourism sector, the Law seeks to facilitate the creation of a single Wi-Fi network with open access, as a part of the Public System for the Management of the Digital Identity. That system, known as SPID in Italian, is an initiative of the Agency for Digital Italy, through which government agencies allow access to their services by citizens and companies. (Id.; Sistema Pubblico per la gestione dell’Identità Digitale – SPID, Agency for Digital Italy website (last updated July 28, 2105).)

Law 124 aims to facilitate the selection of a digital provider by individuals and companies, to use in their dealings with government entities. (Law 124, art. 1(1)(g).) In particular, the Law seeks to guarantee the establishment of a connection between the Internet site of the National Social Security Institute and the websites of its equivalents at the regional and local levels, to create a single system for the determination of the civil status of Italians. (Id. art. 1(1)(h).) The Law also proposes the increased use of electronic methods of payment, so that these become the main forms of payment when dealing with government agencies and public utility services. (Id. art. 1(1)(q).)

The government is charged by the Law with passing implementing legislation for the reorganization of the Conferenza di servizi (the Italian institution for the simplification of public administration activities). (Id. art. 2(1).) The implementing legislation must accomplish the following goals:

• reduce the cases for which the convening of Conferenza is mandatory (id. art. 2(1)(a));

• allow meetings via teleconferencing (id. art. 2(1)(b)); and

• expedite meetings and decision-making processes at the Conferenza (id. art. 2(1)(f) through (q)).

Provision on Presumed Assent

The Law regulates an important point of administrative law peculiar to civil law jurisdictions, “administrative silence” or “presumed assent.” Under the new provision, when no response is given within 30 days to requests submitted via communications between government agencies or between government agencies and the managers of public goods or services, the request is considered to be tacitly approved by the agency receiving the request. (Id. art. 3(1).) Measures that require an express assent according to European Union law are excepted from the presumed assent provisions. (Id. art. 3(4); Silenzio della pubblica amministrazione [Administrative Silence], TRECCANI.IT (last visited Sept. 8, 2015).)

Provisions on Simplifying Various Administrative Procedures

The Law mandates that the government issue, within 180 days, provisions to make administrative procedures in general more simple and expeditious. (Law No. 124, art. 4(1).) In certain cases in which private parties maintain contracts or transactions with public agencies, those agencies are now empowered to unilaterally order the termination of such contracts or transactions. (Id. art. 6(1)(a).) Simplified administrative provisions are also contemplated for handling matters concerning the publicity, transparency, and dissemination of information by public agencies (id. art. 7(1)), in particular matters related to the formation of the National Anti-Corruption Plan. (Id. art. 7(1)(d).)

Provisions on Public Employees and Officials

The Law streamlines and reorganizes the system for the evaluation of public officials’ performance. (Id. art. 11(1).) Other provisions relate to the composition, duration of term of office, and competence of members of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, an honorific recognition given to some citizens. (Id. art. 9(1).) Measures to reorganize the functions and financing of the commerce, industry, artisan, and agricultural chambers of the legislature are also included. (Id. art. 10(1).)

The Law also reforms provisions on the duration of terms of office for prosecutors and other officials of the General Prosecutor’s Office. (Id. art. 12(1).) The terms of office for deputy attorneys general and district attorneys are now established as four years, with one possible renewal. (Id. art. 12(2).)

The Law newly permits public employees to telework and includes other, related measures on how they are to perform their work responsibilities while teleworking, with the stated goal of enrolling at least 10% of employees in the telework program within the next three years. (Id. art. 14(1).)

Provisions on Public Research Entities

The Law also aims to simplify the functions of public research entities to make them compliant with the European Charter for Researchers and the European Framework for Research Careers. (Id. art. 13(1).) The stated purpose of this amendment is to guarantee the professional freedom and autonomy of researchers, and to help protect their intellectual property rights. (Id.)

Miscellaneous Other Provisons

The Law also

• regulates the relationship between disciplinary and criminal proceedings affecting armed forces staff (id. art. 15(1));

• mandates the government to reorganize the norms governing the participation of government agencies in stock corporations (id. art. 18(1));

• directs the government to reorder judicial procedures carried out at the Courts of Auditors (Corte dei conti), with an emphasis on the use of information technology and digital resources (id. art. 20(1)); and

• streamlines escheat procedures (id. art. 20(1)(f)).