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17 July 2013

Ambitious public administration reform in Spain

(Photo Min. Presidencia, Spain)
On July 15th, supporting the publication of an official report of the Commission on Public Administration Reform (CORA), the Spanish government organised with OECD a seminar on International Good Practices for Public Administration Reform. Six OECD member countries had sent representatives to discuss the most up-to-date trends in public service modernization with their Spanish counterparts. The seminar was opened, in presence of the press, by the Deputy Prime Minister (Ms Saenz de Santamaria) and Mr. A. Gurria, SG of OECD, gabe a keynote speech.
In Spain, most commentators noted the promise that the extensive reforms were meant to save €37.7 bn by removing duplications between levels of government, other institutional changes such as the suppression of advisory bodies, and reducing burdens for business.
As summarized by a "confidential" online bulletin", Ms Saenz said the reform sought both Good Governance and Better Regulation.
One critical commentator noted that the report proposed to claw back powers that had been devolved to the autonomous communities, changes that would require extensive legal reforms.
Background: CORA is an inter-ministerial commission established in October 2012, with strong political support (the Ministry of the Presidency - PMO, backed up by the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration.) The reform benefitted from inputs from a Consultative Body ("Consejo Asesor") consisting of representatives from public sector unions, autonomous communities and municipalities, public defenders offices, prominent academics, business associations (e.g. chambers of commerce), CSOs, etc.
The report seeks solutions to the current economic woes of the country, and proposes several structural reforms centred on increasing efficiency (through spending cuts) while improving performance. The Commission worked on four main areas of reform:
  • Eliminating regulatory and institutional duplication across levels of government, namely between the central/federal government and regional Autonomous Communities
  • Rationalization: the elimination or consolidation of state enterprises
  • Implementation of shared services models, facilitated by ICT platforms, to take greater advantage of economies of scale in purchasing
  • Administrative simplification: reducing administrative burdens for citizens and business.
A new Implementation Unit with high level membership will monitor the package and keep it on schedule.
The rich material will hopefully soon be available. In the meantime, here is your blogger's contribution to the event, a presentation on the French approach to simplification.

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