Assessment and Proposals for Action
In focusing on meeting the goals of the European Union’s Lisbon Agenda on economic growth and job creation, Portugal has decided to create an attractive business climate by significantly improving public sector performance. Since 2006, with high political priority, attention, and results, Portugal has been implementing a series of extensive and ambitious integrated administrative simplification and e-government programmes: the Simplex Programmes. These programmes – unique among OECD countries and having attracted significant public attention in Portugal – aim at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery to citizens and businesses as well as improving competitiveness through better regulatory frameworks. Other farreaching reform programmes also aim at transforming the public sector. These efforts, which are well under way, benefit from high level attention, ensuring sustainability and continuity, not just at the central government level but also among regions and municipalities.
Évaluation et mesures proposées
S’attachant à réaliser les objectifs de l’Agenda de Lisbonne de l’Union européenne concernant la croissance économique et la création d’emplois, le Portugal a décidé de créer des conditions propices aux entreprises en améliorant considérablement les performances du secteur public. Depuis 2006, il accorde, avec brio, une haute priorité et une attention toute particulière à la mise en oeuvre des programmes Simplex, une série ambitieuse de vastes programmes intégrés de simplification administrative et d’administration électronique. Ces programmes, uniques dans les pays de l’OCDE et suscitant beaucoup d’intérêt de la part du public dans le pays, visent à rendre plus efficace la prestation des services publics destinés aux citoyens et aux entreprises et de renforcer la compétitivité en améliorant les conditions cadres de la réglementation. D’autres programmes de réforme ambitieux ont également pour but de faire évoluer le secteur public. Ces mesures qui sont bien engagées bénéficient d’une attention particulière à un haut niveau leur garantissant durabilité et continuité non seulement au niveau du gouvernement central mais aussi des régions et des municipalités.
Country Profile and Context
Portuguese society is facing a number of challenges similar to those in many other OECD countries: adjusting to the forces of globalisation in order to further benefit from its integration in the world economy; ageing population; a public sector facing increasing demand for quality service delivery while becoming more cost-efficient under tight budget restraints; and challenges in developing and spreading a new set of values to the overall public sector to ensure the transformation of an administrative culture which needs to become more dynamic and attentive to public needs and demands. The Portuguese government has recognised these challenges and has prioritised to improve the overall performance of the public sector for the greater benefit of society, and to become a more competitive economy in the global market. As a consequence, Portugal has asked the OECD for a peer review of administrative simplification and e-government as part of its continued effort to simplify the Portuguese public sector.
Policies and Strategies
Portugal is one of the few OECD countries which have chosen to integrate administrative simplification and e-government politically and strategically to achieve the public policy goal of making everyday life easier for citizens and businesses in their interaction with public authorities. By actively seeking the synergies between administrative simplification and e-government – using the latter as a key lever for simplification – Portugal is trying to impose significant and swift changes on its public administration and its administrative culture both at central and local levels.
Legal and Regulatory Context
Regulatory management and reform is a dynamic issue that aims at improving the legal and regulatory context in which businesses operate and citizens thrive. An analysis of efforts to improve the regulatory framework is something different from a static analysis of the quality of regulation at a given point in time. The latter can however be helpful in illustrating the need for reform and perhaps in pointing to areas where change is most imminent. Setting up the right legal and regulatory framework is important to ensure that administrative simplification and the development of e-government activities can take place without unnecessary barriers.
E-Government for Simplification
Most OECD countries view e-government as a lever for change, a key tool to support and enhance the implementation of policies in other areas. E-Government has proven its advantages in simplifying the public administration: it allows administrations to share information and data internally and with users more easily; it enables administrations to broaden the channels of service delivery to include e-government services; it provides administrations with tools to ensure integrated and "seamless" services. E-Government delivers a set of tools enabling the public sector to reconsider and simplify the regulatory context around public sector business processes, and to use this set of tools to create simpler business processes within public sector organisations or across organisational boundaries and levels of government.
Implementing simplification in the public sector requires a broad range of management tools; these tools change operational framework conditions, a prerequisite for successful implementation of simplification initiatives with a lasting impact across the public sector as a whole. Operational framework conditions cover a broad range of public management areas such as financial management, human resource management, management of processes and organisations including collaboration and co-operation, and administrative culture.
Administrative simplification and e-government initiatives require a set of performance tools to monitor the outcomes of implementation for full impact. Although an increasing number of OECD countries are developing performance tracking frameworks, only a limited number have put them into operation. The aim is to enable governments to evaluate simplification activities and introduce any necessary corrective adjustments to meet their political and strategic goals.
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