Why Is Administrative Simplification So Complicated?

Looking beyond 2010

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“Too much ‘red tape’!” is one of the most common complaints from businesses and citizens in OECD countries. Administrative simplification is a regulatory quality tool to review and reduce administrative and regulatory procedures. It has remained high on the agenda in most OECD countries over the last decade and continues to be so. Countries’ efforts to strengthen their competitiveness, productivity and entrepreneurship during the current recession have made simplification efforts even more urgent.  

Until now, efforts to reduce administrative burdens have primarily been driven by ambitions to improve the cost efficiency of administrative regulations, as these impose direct and indirect costs on regulated subjects. Many countries will finish their current projects over the next few years and must decide how to continue their efforts and how to make them more efficient.  

This report looks beyond 2010 and presents policy options for administrative simplification that are in line with current trends and developments. It provides policy makers with guidance on the available tools and explains common mistakes to be avoided when designing, undertaking and evaluating administrative simplification programmes.

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Annex B. Evaluating Administrative Burden Reduction Programmes and their Impacts

Since a couple of decades, OECD countries have embarked on a series of structural reforms targeting the way public administrations organise themselves and deliver. In this context, administrative simplification strategies seek to rationalise and streamline the bureaucratic machinery, and enhance the efficiency of its procedures. It is therefore one of the most diffused approaches to cope with the costs of regulatory inflation. “Cutting red tape” forms integral part of such strategies. The term red tape is generally used to refer to administrative burdens (ABs), i.e. “regulatory costs in the form of asking for permits, filling out forms, and reporting and notification requirements for the government” (OECD, 2006, p. 17). These can be harmful if they unnecessarily limit innovation, trade, investment and economic efficiency in general.

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