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Summary 

At least since 1994 Italy has had a legislative and regulatory framework supporting the collection of customer satisfaction feedback by government agencies.  First, pursuant to an administrative directive by Italy’s executive branch in 1994, and later through a law enacted in 2000, the Italian legal system recognizes the importance and value of customer feedback for constant improvement in the provision of government transparency and efficiency.  In general, the legal framework includes procedures for obtaining customer feedback, and individualizes specific methods for obtaining such feedback.  Finally, in accordance with existing legislation, multiple government agencies have approved their own internal guidelines and manuals allowing for the collection of feedback from citizens, and the evaluation of citizen surveys to improve the delivery of services.

I. Legislative and Regulatory Famework for Customer Satisfaction

Several legislative and regulatory enactments have dealt with the matter of customer satisfaction feedback from government agencies in Italy at least since 1994.  Those measures are presented below in chronological order.

A.    Directive of the President of the Council of Ministers of January 27, 1994

The 1994 Directive of the President and Council of Ministers establishes the fundamental guiding principles for the provision of services by government agencies, including the principle of equal treatment of all users.[1]  This principle prohibits discrimination on any grounds whatsoever.[2]  Other relevant principles include

  • the principle of impartiality, which guides the interpretation of all conditions—both general and particular—for the provision of the respective services;[3]
  • the principle of continuity, which aims at avoiding interruption of services and inconvenience to users;[4]
  • the principle of free selection of services by users;[5] and
  • the principle of participation, which allows for citizen access to government information relevant to decisions in matters of their interest.[6]

Within the context of the principle of participation, the Directive allows citizens to submit documentation, observations, and suggestions for the improvement of government services and actions,[7] and to be informed of the decisions involving them along with the procedural means for challenging such decisions.[8]  The Directive also requires government agencies to issue criteria on the quality and quantity standards to which they must abide during the provision of their services.[9]  Such standards must be preapproved through a public hearing.[10]  Government agencies must also afford citizens a meaningful opportunity to evaluate whether agencies have achieved their goals.[11]  Agencies must summon public meetings in a determined geographical zone or area of service.[12]  The respective government agencies must publish input from the public, and also identify specific measures it will take to increase efficiency in the pursuance of public goals, taking into consideration citizen opinions and reviews.[13]

Finally, the Directive creates a Permanent Committee for the Implementation of the Charter of Public Services, in order to guarantee compliance with the principles and procedures established therein.[14]  This Committee must promote the adoption of measures aimed at the simplification of the relationship between government agencies and users, and ensure the possibility of free selection of services by citizens.[15]

B.     Law No. 150 of June 7, 2000

Law No. 150 of 2000 regulates the information and communications provided by government agencies to users.[16]  In particular, it created an office for public relations within each government agency.[17]  According to the Law, each office must include mechanisms in its regulations that guarantee citizens access to information, and “implement, after listening to the citizens . . . verification processes for the quality of services and user satisfaction.”[18]

C.    Directive of the Ministry of Public Function of March 24, 2004, on the Detection of the Quality Perceived by Citizens

The 2004 Directive of the Ministry of Public Function on the Detection of the Quality Perceived by Citizens[19] seeks to improve citizens’ satisfaction with government services and the quality of such services.[20]  The Directive highlights the central role that citizens play in providing government agencies with feedback to assess the responsiveness of the services delivered.[21]  The Directive also recognizes that customer satisfaction surveys are one of the most broadly used instruments to measure user satisfaction with the services received.[22]  Consequently, the Directive highlights that customer satisfaction instruments allow government agencies to “exit from their own self-referentiality, helping them to relate with the citizens, to always better know and understand the needs of final recipients of their own activities, and to thus project their public policies and systems for the provision of services.”[23]  In addition, the Directive notes that obtaining information on customer satisfaction helps to build a relational model between government agencies and citizens that is based on trust and enables government agencies to determine how best to fulfill citizens’ expectations for the services provided.[24]

As a result, the Directive mandates that government agencies take the following steps  to survey customer satisfaction:

  • Conduct periodic quality surveys of citizens’ perceptions of public services, providing appropriate methodologies and tools.[25]
  • Disseminate and publish, through appropriate means, the results of the citizen surveys that support improvement plans.[26]
  • Consider four different phases for conducting customer satisfaction surveys:

o   First: Preparation of the research, which should include a preinvestigation activity in order to assess aspects crucial for implementing a successful customer satisfaction survey.
o    Second: Data collection, which should include interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, etc., in order to obtain information from citizen users.
o   Third: Preparation and interpretation of data, to evaluate the information obtained according to several criteria established in the Directive.
o   Fourth: Distribution and use of the results among government agencies and the general public.[27]

D.    Legislative Decree No. 150 of October 27, 2009

Legislative Decree No. 150, issued in 2009, seeks to optimize the provision of services by government agencies and the transparency of their activities.[28]  To that end, this legislation creates a system for the assessment of agencies’ performance that refers to several criteria, including obtaining information on the degree of satisfaction from users of public services and activities.[29]

In addition, this legislation allows for the participation of citizens in the evaluation of government agencies’ performance of their activities and services.  Customer satisfaction information may be provided by individual citizens and also by citizen organizations to the organisms created within each respective government agency to collect and evaluate such information.[30]

E.     Directive No. 2 of 2017 of the Council of Ministers

Council of Ministers Directive No. 2 of 2017 instructs government agencies to promote stronger citizen participation in agency decisions and to consider public consultation mechanisms, including internet-based means, for obtaining customer feedback.[31]

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II. Administrative Guidelines 

Pursuant to existing legislation, individual public agencies have approved their own guidelines and manuals allowing for feedback from citizens.  Among them, the Guide on Customer Satisfaction on the Quality of Services approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies,[32] and the Guidelines for the Survey of Customer Satisfaction[33] approved by the Department of Internal and Territorial Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior implement the 2004 Directive of the Ministry of Public Function on the Detection of the Quality Perceived by Citizens.

Several aspects of interest of the Guidelines include

  • the definition of “customer satisfaction” as an instrument used internally within a given government agency or externally for the general citizenry that allows for citizen perception surveys concerning the delivery of services by government agencies;[34]
  • the recognition that the results obtained from surveys facilitate the identification of strengths and weaknesses in the services offered, and consequently allow for the redesign of a “quality system” for the provision of public services;[35]
  • the determination of the stages involved in obtaining customer feedback, which include aspects such as the specific matters on which the respective survey seeks to obtain feedback, the objectives sought through the research, the duration of the survey, and the instruments used for the investigation;[36]
  • a listing of the specific mechanisms to be utilized for conducting surveys, including individual in-depth interviews, observations from participants, group meetings, focus groups, family groups, simulations, role playing, brainstorming, and panels, among others;[37]
  • the regulation of the questionnaire as one of the core means to evaluate customer satisfaction;[38] and
  • the establishment of instruments for monitoring the perceived quality of the services rendered.[39]

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Prepared by Dante Figueroa
Senior Legal Information Analyst
October 2017


[1] Direttiva Presidente Consiglio dei Ministri 27 gennaio 1994, “Princìpi sull’Erogazione dei Servizi Pubblici” [Directive of the President of the Council of Ministers of January 27, 1994, “Principles on the Provision of Public Services”], G.U. No. 43, Feb. 22, 1994, http://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/do/gazzetta/serie_generale/3/pdfPaginato? dataPubblicazioneGazzetta=19940222&numeroGazzetta=43&tipoSerie=SG&tipoSupplemento=GU&numeroSupplemento=0&numPagina=12&edizione=0&elenco30giorni%20, archived at https://perma.cc/L9A4-W3DW.

[2] Id. art. I(1).

[3] Id. art. I(2).

[4] Id. art. I(3).

[5] Id. art. I(4).

[6] Id. art. I(5)2.

[7] Id. art. I(5)3.

[8] Id. art. II(3)(4).

[9] Id. art. II(1)(3).

[10] Id. art. II(1)(4).

[11] Id. art. II(5)(1).

[12] Id. art. II(5)(4).

[13] Id. art. II(5)(5).

[14] Id. art. III(2)(1).

[15] Id. art. III.3(e) & (f).

[16] Legge 7 giugno 2000, n. 150 Disciplina delle attivita’ di informazione e di comunicazione delle pubbliche amministrazioni [Law No. 150 of June 7, 2000, on the Activity of Information and Communication by Government Agencies], G.U. No. 136, June 13, 2000, http://www.normattiva.it/uri-res/N2Ls?urn:nir:stato:legge:2000-06-07;150, archived at https://perma.cc/6B72-J3XH.

[17] Id. art. 8(1).

[18] Id. art. 8(2)(d) (all translations by author).

[19] Direttiva del Ministro della Funzione Pubblica 24 marzo 2004 Sulla Rilevazione della Qualita Percepita dai Cittadini [Directive of the Ministry of Public Function of March 24, 2004, on the Detection of the Quality Perceived by Citizens], Ministro per la Semplificazione e la Pubblica Amministrazione [Ministry for the Simplification and the Public Administration], http://www.funzionepubblica.gov.it/sites/funzionepubblica.gov.it/files/16818.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/KLU8-JGNV.

[20] Id. art. 1.¶ 1.

[21] Id. art. 1.¶ 2.

[22] Id. art. 1.¶ 3.

[23] Id. art. 1.¶ 4.

[24] Id. art. 4(I).¶ 2.

[25] Id. art. 3.¶ 2.

[26] Id. art. 3.¶ 3.

[27] Id. art. 4.¶ 2.

[28] Decreto Legislativo 27 ottobre 2009, n. 150 Attuazione della Legge 4 Marzo 2009, n. 15, in materia di Ottimizzazione della Produttivita’ del Lavoro Pubblico e di Efficienza e Trasparenza delle Pubbliche Amministrazioni [Legislative Decree No. 150 of October 27, 2009, Implementation of Law No. 15 of March 4, 2009, on the Optimization of the Productivity of Public Works and on the Efficiency and Transparency of Government Agencies], G.U. No. 254, Oct. 31, 2009, http://www.normattiva.it/uri-res/N2Ls?urn:nir:stato: decreto.legislativo:2009-10-27;150!vig=2017-10-03, archived at https://perma.cc/WCH3-EBRW.

[29] Id. art. 8(1)(c).

[30] Id. art. 19-bis(1).

[31] Direttiva 31 maggio 2017 Linee guida sulla consultazione pubblica in Italia (Direttiva n. 2/2017) [Directive No. 2 of May 31, 2017, Guidelines on Public Consultation in Italy], G.U. No. 163, July 14, 2017, http://www.gazzetta ufficiale.it/eli/id/2017/07/14/17A04797/sg, archived at https://perma.cc/A57K-JCPW.

[32] Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali [Ministry of Labor and Social Policies], Customer Satisfaction sulla Qualità dei Servizi Erogati dagli Uffici Centrali e Territoriali [Customer Satisfaction on the Quality of Services Provided by the Central and Territorial Offices] (Jan. 2015), http://www.lavoro.gov.it/strumenti-e-servizi/customer-satisfaction/Documents/customer_satisfaction.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/27PX-SZ9E.

[33] Ministero dell’Interno, Dipartimento per gli Affari Interni e Territoriali, Direzione Centrale per l’Amministrazione Generale e per gli U.T.G. Ufficio per la Riforma della P.A. [Ministry of the Interior, Department for Internal and Territorial Affairs, Central Directorate for the General Administration and for the U.T.G. Office for the Reform of the P.A.], Linee Guida per lo Svolgimento di Indagini di Customer Satisfaction [Guidelines for the Survey of Customer Satisfaction], http://www1.interno.gov.it/mininterno/export/sites/default/it/assets/files/6/2005 62310458.pdf (last visited Oct. 24, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/UT2J-MT3T.

[34] Id. § 1.2.

[35] Id. § 1.3.

[36] Id. § 2.1.

[37] Id. § 3.1.

[38] Id. § 4.

[39] Id. § 3.9.1.