Italy

   

Executive Capacity

#32
Key Findings
With its government split into separate power centers, Italy scores relatively poorly (rank 32) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 1.0 point relative to 2014.

The first Conte cabinet was shaped by two party leaders with very different programs, with the prime minister wielding little clout. This left little room for strategic planning. The Government Office’s control over the legislative process and line ministries was minimal, with ministers responding primarily to their party leader. That pattern has continued somewhat under the second Conte government.

This bifurcated power structure required frequent political “summits” between the prime minister and party leaders to resolve conflicts. Poor coordination produced poorly prepared decisions that later needed correction. Under the first Conte government, consultation with expert and societal actors was rare, and communication rather incoherent. The successor cabinet has shown some improvement.

The first Conte cabinet was confrontational toward the EU, and made little effort to respect international obligations. The second Conte government has backed away from this mode of operation. The government is trying to introduce more independent monitoring mechanisms in response to the collapse of the Genova bridge.

Strategic Capacity

#38

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
4
The concept of strategic planning is not particularly developed in Italian governmental and administrative culture. This is in part due to the fact that governments have been predominantly preoccupied with coalition problems and that the administration is still very much guided by a legalistic culture. Nevertheless, some progress has been made under recent governments. Recent government programs have been more detailed, and have become significant instruments for organizing and planning government activity. Within the government office (called the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, or Presidenza del Consiglio), a special department guided by a minister without portfolio has been created to oversee the implementation of this program. This department produces regular reports on the program’s implementation status.

The first Conte cabinet was in a somewhat peculiar position, supported as it was by two parties (the Five Star Movement and the Northern League) with rather different programs that had to be welded together into a rather formal and rigid government “contract,” and with a prime minister that wielded little political clout compared to the two deputy prime ministers (and coalition-party leaders). This configuration left little space for a policy focused strategic planning. During its first two months in office, the second Conte government showed little improvement with regard to strategic planning.

The financial aspect of strategic planning has historically been somewhat more developed, as the Treasury has to implement rigorous budgetary-stability goals, and works within a triennial perspective.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
3
The government does not regularly consult non-governmental academics. A small group of partisan experts selected by the prime minister and other ministers frequently offer strategic and technical advice. However, independent experts are rarely consulted in a transparent way. Important legislative proposals do not benefit from an institutionalized, open and transparent consultation process. In the finance, culture and labor ministries the role of external experts is more established. Independent academic experts have in the past been involved in the spending review, but only on a short-term basis.

The coalition government between the Five Star Movement and Salvini’s Northern League developed a strong anti-expert rhetorical style that further reduced the space for independent consultation.

Interministerial Coordination

#34

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
5
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as a rule evaluates all draft bills before they are submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval. This scrutiny however mainly deals with legal aspects (which largely concern compatibility with European laws) as the PMO itself does not have the size and the systematic sectoral expertise that would allow it to scrutinize policy in detail. This means that intervention by the PMO is in general more reactive than proactive. As a result, corrections to the legislative proposals of the government are often necessary prior to parliamentary approval. Important draft bills are in general scrutinized by the office with regard to the effects a bill may have on the cohesion of the majority coalition. A detailed scrutiny of the financial implications of each bill is conducted by the Treasury, which has a kind of preventive veto power.

Prime Minister Conte’s political weakness has meant that the Government Office has had even less control over the legislative process than previous cabinets.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
6
The Prime Minister’s Office is in principle regularly kept informed of the development of policy proposals generated by line ministries. With regard to the policy proposals of particular political relevance for the government, the consultation process starts from the early stages of drafting and is more significant, involving not only formal but also substantive issues. In the fields less directly connected with the main mission of the government, exchanges are more formal and occur only when proposals have been fully drafted. Under the first Conte government, government control over line ministries was weaker than in previous governments, given the political weakness of the prime minister and the ideologically bifurcated nature of the coalition. Ministers responded more readily to their party leader than to the head of government. This pattern seems likely to continue under the second Conte government.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
6
A significant number of policy proposals require de jure scrutiny by a Council of Ministers committee or even the explicit consent of a plurality of ministers. In a number of cases, this is only a formal exercise and the Council of Ministers committees are not an important mechanism. It is more significant that a number of important issues are de facto dealt through consultations among a few ministers (and their ministerial cabinets) before being brought to the Council of Ministers or are sent to this type of proceeding after preliminary discussion in the council. These consultations, which usually include the Treasury, typically avoid conflicts in the Council. Discussions of policy proposals in Council of Ministers meetings are typically very cursory. Most problems have been resolved beforehand, either in formal or informal meetings. Under the first Conte government, the strong political clout of the two coalition-party leaders (who also served as deputy prime ministers) and the weakness of the prime minister reduced the ability of Council of Ministers committees to solve conflicts. Consequently, frequent political “summits” between the prime minister and the party leaders proved necessary.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
7
Before every Council of Ministers meeting there is a preparatory meeting – the pre-consiglio – where the heads of all legislative ministerial offices filter and coordinate the proposals to be submitted to the Council of Ministers meeting. The head of the Department for Juridical and Legislative Affairs of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers chairs these meetings. Proposals on which there is no agreement will rarely make it to the Council of Ministers. Further informal meetings between ministerial officials take place at earlier stages of drafting. However, the bureaucracies of individual ministries are normally protective of their prerogatives and are not keen to surrender autonomy. Under the Conte governments, the PMO bureaucracy seems to have lost some of its coordination ability, with the departmental bureaucracies and interparty bargains gaining as a result.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
5
Under the first Conte government, meetings between the president of the council and the two main political leaders, deputy prime ministers Di Maio and Salvini, acquired increased importance. But these were often hastily convened upon the eruption of an internal conflict. This coordination mechanism did not work smoothly, as the leaders of the two coalition parties were often busy conducting political campaigns. This often produced poorly prepared decisions that later needed to be corrected. This pattern has continued under the second Conte government.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
3
Although the government has created a digital-transformation team tasked with promoting digitalization within the public administration, there seems to be little use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.

Citations:
https://teamdigitale.governo.it/assets/pdf/Relazione_TeamTrasformazioneDigitale_ITA_30set.pdf

Evidence-based Instruments

#23

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
7
RIAs are in principle required from all ministries and local authorities (under laws 50/1999 and 246/2005). At the national level, RIAs fall under the responsibility of the ministries. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is responsible for the review and quality control of the whole RIA processes as well as for the coordination of activities associated with an RIA. The Department for Juridical and Legislative Affairs of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers is responsible for the elaboration of RIA methodology. Annual reports are submitted to parliament.

Following reforms adopted by previous governments, the current RIA framework prohibits any discussion by the Council of Ministers of a proposal that lacks a RIA. It is, however, questionable whether sufficient resources are available to implement RIAs effectively. While in the past these rules were not always applied, things have gradually changed, and most normative acts are now accompanied by a RIA. The government’s 2017 report to parliament (the last to be found on the webpage of the PMO as of the time of writing) documents this increase, which has also been driven by the growing pressure of EU rules. However, the quality of RIAs is still far from homogeneous, and qualified observers have found that while RIAs conducted by independent authorities are in general sound, those of ministerial departments continue to be rather formalistic (Osservatorio air 2014). A new RIA regulation that should be more comprehensive took effect on 15 December 2017.

A 2018 OECD study showed Italy lagging behind in this field, particularly with regard to ex post evaluations.

The Conte government recently started to review the impact of large ongoing infrastructure and transportation projects.

Citations:
Maria Francesca Rocchetti: Impact Assessment in Italy: State of the Art and Patterns of Regulatory Reform: http://regulatoryreform.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Rocchetti-Impact-Assessment-in-Italy-Sept-2014.pdf
http://presidenza.governo.it/DAGL/uff_studi/Relazione_2017.pdf
http://www.osservatorioair.it/in-gazzetta-ufficiale-il-nuovo-regolamento-di-disciplina-dellair-della-vir-e-della-consultazione/
http://www.oecd.org/publications/better-regulation-practices-across-the-european-union-9789264311732-en.htm

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
3
The RIA process is still in its infancy in Italy. The participation of stakeholders remains limited and is not systematically pursued. The annual reports, which are presented by the Prime Minister’s Office to parliament (typically with a delay of one or two years), indicate a gradual improvement in this field. Communication to the public needs also to be significantly improved. The impact of RIAs on the policymaking process is still insufficient.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
5
Sustainability checks within the framework of RIA are still underdeveloped but are gradually improving. The reports of the Prime Minister’s Office to the parliament show that they are not yet systematically integrated within RIA and they are not exhaustive from the point of view of the indicators included (economic indicators play a greater role than social and environmental ones). With a decision taken in 2017, the PMO together with the Ministry of Environment will exercise tighter control over the adoption of sustainability criteria in regulation. The second Conte government has indicated its willingness to pay greater attention to sustainability criteria in its policies. It remains to be seen whether this decision will be implemented.

Citations:
http://presidenza.governo.it/DAGL/uff_studi/Relazione_2017.pdf
http://www.minambiente.it/pagina/la-strategia-nazionale-lo-sviluppo-sostenibile

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
5
Italian governments and parliaments rarely conduct in-depth ex post evaluations of policies before promoting a revision of existing or the development of new policies. Any new bill is accompanied by a technical report, which typically discusses existing policies and explains the benefits of the new policy. But only rarely is this the result of an evaluation process conducted through a public and open debate. A good example was the revision of the Fornero pension reform of 2011 adopted by the first Conte government. This revision (the so-called Quota 100) resulted from an election-campaign pledge by the Northern League, but its implementation was not preceded by any serious cost-benefit analysis. The second Conte government’s decisions to retain both the expensive pension revision and the citizen’s income were also made without any serious ex post evaluation of these two policies.

Societal Consultation

#35

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
4
Consultations with economic and social actors have not been a key priority for recent governments. With their options limited by a difficult budgetary and economic situation, recent governments have been reluctant to involve themselves in long and (according to experience) often unproductive consultations. The Gentiloni government tried to change this pattern somewhat, but the first Conte coalition government (supported by the Five Star Movement and Salvini’s Northern League) proved again rather reluctant to engage and consult with social actors. The coalition leaders instead preferred to present themselves as the direct representatives of the people.
+

Policy Communication

#31

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
4
Italian governments have in general coordinated communication rather weakly. Ministers and even undersecretaries have often been able and willing to express their personal positions without coordinating their comments with the Prime Minister’s Office. Under the first Conte government, communication was dominated by Di Maio and Salvini, the leaders of two coalition parties who also served as deputy prime ministers. The prime minister was systematically overshadowed. The cabinet thus demonstrated a rather incoherent communication “strategy.” Only in the final days of the government did the prime minister try to regain a leading role. Under the second Conte government, the prime minister has sought with greater determination to affirm his communication primacy, but is frequently challenged by the very vocal leaders of the coalition partners.

Implementation

#29

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
5
The formation of the first Conte government, following the 2018 elections, proved rather difficult, and the policy differences between the two coalition parties made the swift implementation of their policy platforms problematic. Under this government, as demanded by the Northern League, policy implementation was most prompt with regard to blocking the influx of immigrants, even at the price of antagonizing Italy’s European partners. However, in other fields (e.g., pension reform and the new citizen’s income), preparatory work has proven more uncertain, and full implementation has been slow.

One key policy initiative of the first Conte government was the 2019 budget project, which triggered direct and substantial conflict with the European Union. The initial project had to be corrected repeatedly in order to avoid escalating the conflict with the EU.

Several important policies inserted in the government program were simple repetitions of electoral promises (formulated in order to capture votes, but without any specification of the details or costs involved). Extensive work was required to transform these into workable policies. Overall, the policy results of the first Conte government were meager. It remains to be seen whether the second Conte government will be more successful.

Citations:
http://www.programmagoverno.gov.it/media/3877/report-sullo-stato-di-attuazione-all8-luglio-2018.pdf

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
6
The “contract” (i.e., the coalition agreement) between the two coalition parties of the first Conte government was the main instrument designed to ensure that ministers fulfilled the government program. However, problems emerged for a number of reasons. First, in many policy fields, the contract specifies only general principles rather than containing clearly defined solutions. Second, in other fields in which the government might be required to act because of emerging problems, the contract says very little. Third, the two coalition parties responded to different electoral constituencies, which produced open conflicts that blocked decision-making.

Finally, there is the problem of the amount of resources devoted to different policies given budgetary limitations. The ability of the prime minister to solve these problems and effectively steer ministers is severely limited by the prime minister’s lack of political weight. The more frequent use of “summits,” which bring together the prime minister and the two deputy prime ministers, was the rather unwieldy solution adopted. These summits often led to the postponement of a decision rather than to a solution.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
7
The monitoring of the implementation of the government program is delegated to one of the undersecretaries attached to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and supported by a special office of the presidency (Ufficio per l’attuazione del programma di governo). This office monitors the main legislative activities of the ministries and more recently has started to monitor regularly also the implementation activities related to the legislation adopted. The office publishes a monthly report. However, monitoring tends to be a formal activity that simply documents what has been done rather than being a real instrument of political control. The fact that the undersecretary in charge of the office under the first Conte government was a close political ally of Northern League leader Salvini, but was less close to the president of the council and the other coalition party, possibly reduced this instrument’s role in guiding executive activity.

Citations:
http://www.programmagoverno.gov.it/media/4056/report_conte_2019_09_04.pdf

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
4
Autonomous executive agencies are not very common in Italian ministries, but they have increased with time. Although their activities are monitored, this monitoring is neither systematic nor particularly effective. There are some exceptions: for example, the monitoring of the tax agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) by the Ministry of Finance is more effective than many other oversights. The Corte dei Conti – the main Audit Office – performs a systematic monitoring of bureaucratic offices and also of executive agencies but this monitoring is mainly focused on legal and procedural aspects and is much less effective in covering other aspects such as cost efficiency. Monitoring of regional healthcare agencies, and healthcare expenditure and procurements is still inadequate. Despite major regional differences and deviations from “standard costs,” established by recent studies, systematic oversight is not yet in place. After long discussions about the introduction of nationally defined “standard costs” in the health sector, this tool has yet to be fully implemented. The capacity of regional governments to properly manage and monitor healthcare resources can vary significantly from region to region, which has cast doubt over further decentralization and the ability of the central government to control this sector.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
In recent years, a double and to some extent contradictory trend has taken place in the relationship between central government and local administrations (regions, provinces and municipalities). On the one hand, constitutional reforms and normal legislative and administrative changes transferred broader tasks to local governments. This has particularly been the case for regions where the devolution of functions in the field of healthcare has been particularly extensive, for example. On the other hand, however, because of budgetary constraints and strong pressure from the European Union and international markets, the central government has increasingly reduced transfers to local governments in order to balance its own budget. Local governments have tried to resist this fiscal squeeze without great success and have had to increase local taxation. At the same time, the government has reduced the autonomy of municipalities to levy property taxes. As a result, functions delegated to subnational governments are now often underfunded, and local authorities have been forced to cut services.

The first Conte government did not devotee much attention to this issue. Moreover, as some of its preferred national policies (e.g., the pension reform and the citizen’s income) were extremely expensive, it was not keen to increase funding for local authorities.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
7
The constitutional and legislative changes, which had substantially increased the powers and scope of regional government activity over the last 20 years, did not make the relationship between different levels of government less antagonistic. Across an increased number of policy fields, central and regional governments have concurrent legislative powers. In these areas, the central state should simply define general guidelines, leaving the articulation of specific legislative contents to regional assemblies. However, the national government and parliament have a tendency not to respect this division of authority, impinging upon the sphere of regional autonomy instead.

For their part, regions often adopt a posture of resistance to national rules. This has produced an exceeding amount of litigation before the Constitutional Court. Tensions between the two levels have also increased as a result of the strained fiscal context. The central government has sought greater oversight over local governments (often perceived as the culprits of unrestrained spending). In order to balance the national budget, central government transfers to local authorities are repeatedly cut. These cuts are typically applied universally, rather than selectively. However, in several emergencies, the national government has given substantial financial aid to municipalities and regions. Moreover, central government has provided the necessary funds whenever local governments have been close to defaulting.

A clearer definition of the powers and responsibilities of central state and regions failed when the proposed constitutional reform was defeated in the referendum of December 2016.

Under the first Conte government, some regions advanced a request for a broader devolution of competences, as allowed by the constitution. However, as the two main governing parties were divided on this request, the issue remained unresolved.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
5
Minimal standards for decentralized public services (e.g., public healthcare and utilities) are agreed upon and set at national level in a number of areas. The permanent conference for relations between the state, regions, provinces and cities (Conferenza Stato-Regioni ed Unificata) is an important forum in which national standards are discussed. However, the implementation of these standards is still far from satisfactory: as the administrative quality of different local authorities varies significantly, standards can differ substantially from one area of the country to another. In many fields the north–south divide remains significant, and seriously affects equality of opportunities and national cohesion. So far, efforts to overcome it have not proven very successful.

National standards have increasingly been adopted for utilities (e.g., water, electricity and communications), but in most cases independent authorities are responsible for the definition and implementation of standards. Implementation in this field is fairly adequate.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
5
The ability of the government to effectively enforce regulations against resourceful interest groups received renewed attention after the 2018 collapse of the Genova motorway bridge. It has become clear, for instance, that the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructures did not adequately monitor the implementation of the motorway concession agreements by the private companies who were the concessionaires (particularly in the field of investments and security controls). A review of other fields would likely reveal similar problems. The second Conte government is trying to introduce more independent monitoring mechanisms.

Adaptability

#30

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
6
In the medium term, the most significant impact that international, and particularly supranational (EU-related) developments have had upon the structure and working of the government concerns the role of the minister of finance and of the treasury. Because of budgetary requirements deriving from European integration and participation in the euro zone, the minister of finance has acquired increasing weight in the governmental decision-making process, exercising an effective gatekeeping role with respect to the proposals of line ministries. Another example of this development is the strict internal stability pact, designed to meet the European Union’s stability and growth pact obligations across all administrative levels. Consequently, the prime minister and finance minister gained a more central role in the implementation of the government program, guiding the most important decisions, while other ministers assumed a secondary role.

Under the first Conte government, this trend appeared to be reversing itself. The political influence of the prime minister and finance minister was reduced to accommodate the policy initiatives of the two coalition-party leaders, Di Maio and Salvini, who made little effort to respect Italy’s international and European obligations. However, the second Conte government has backed somewhat away from this mode of operation.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
4
The ability of Italian governments to take a leading role in international efforts is generally limited. This is in part due to the country’s relatively small size, but also because Italian politics tends to focus on internal matters. Moreover, frequent changes in political leadership have made it difficult to provide a strong and clear position in international efforts. There have been occasional exceptions when the government has been more active on a specific issue (such as the abolition of death penalty, or in the promotion of peace talks in the Middle East). With regard to the immigration crisis, Italian governments have tried to promote a sharing of responsibility among EU member states.

Under the pressure of Salvini and the Northern League, the first Conte government took a much more confrontational path with the European Union and some of the main EU member states, while at the same time trying to strengthen bonds with the United States and Russia. This change increasingly isolated Italy within the country’s main sphere of activity (i.e., the European Union), and reduced the country’s effectiveness in international governance efforts. On the immigration front, demands for cooperation from other EU states were largely rejected. The second Conte government has seemed willing to adopt a more cooperative approach toward the EU.

Organizational Reform

#27

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
5
Traditionally, the attention paid to the internal organization of the government machine has been selective and sporadic. No systematic monitoring was accomplished on a regular basis. The spending review initiated under the Monti government, and continued by the Letta, Renzi and Gentiloni governments, reformed this field somewhat. Reforms have focused mainly on financial issues, but have also involved the monitoring of institutional arrangements of government (with particular attention given to the structures of local government). However, many of these review exercises’ proposals for a deeper restructuring of government have not been implemented. The first Conte government discontinued the spending review. After limited past reforms that increased the ability to monitor the government program, little attention has been paid to a serious restructuring of the Prime Minister’s Office. Reforms introduced under the Conte government only marginally affected the state bureaucracy’s low level of productivity.

Citations:
http://www.funzionepubblica.gov.it/sites/funzionepubblica.gov.it/files/Valutazione_DLgs_25_maggio_2017_n74.pdf

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
5
Despite several years of public debate, successive governments have been unable to significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of central government. The attempt of the Renzi government to introduce a broad constitutional reform was strongly rejected in the referendum held in December 2016. The reform had aimed to reduce the delays caused by and veto powers originating from the perfect bicameralism, and redistribute powers between regional and central governments to make the responsibilities of each level clearer. The rejection of the reform demonstrated the difficulties of introducing broad reforms.

Under the first Conte government, the Five Stars Movement strongly pushed for a reduction of the number of deputies and senators. This reform, promoted essentially for symbolic reasons (i.e., reducing the costs of politics), was approved under the second Conte government. By contrast, the Conte governments have been unable to find a solution for the request by some regions for greater autonomy.
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