Ex post evaluations have become more commonplace across a wider range of policy areas, and the public is now informed in advance of ex post evaluations that will take place through two-year plans posted on the website of each ministry. Italy also introduced new non-binding guidance on ex post evaluation and RIA in 2018.

Ministries have to prepare a simplified RIA, providing a first assessment of expected impacts and a justification for not conducting a full RIA for low impact proposals, which is reviewed by the Department of Legal and Legislative Affairs (DAGL) within the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Ministries are also required to publish twice a year a 6-month legislative programme, highlighting planned RIAs and consultations. The programmes are to be posted on the central government website and the website of individual ministries.

DAGL reviews the quality of RIAs and ex post evaluations. It can issue a negative opinion to the State Secretary to the Presidency if RIA quality is deemed inadequate and before the draft legislation is presented to the Council. The DAGL also validates planned RIAs and consultations included in the 6-month legislative programmes and ex post evaluation included in the two-year ministries plans, proposes changes to the regulatory policy framework, promotes training, provides technical guidance and reports annually to Parliament on regulatory quality tools. An Impact Assessment Independent Unit (Nucleo AIR) supports the DAGL in reviewing ex ante and ex post evaluations. This unit is composed of external experts serving a four-year term, selected through an open and competitive process. The Consultative Chamber on draft normative acts of the Council of State checks the quality of RIA and stakeholder engagement practices and evaluates regulatory policy.

In practice, however, several problems persist in implementation. Many RIAs lack sufficient quantification not only in terms of impacts, but also regarding the number of people affected. While RIAs are published, they are difficult to find by the general public. The challenge ahead is therefore to “connect the dots” to develop a culture of evidence-based user-centric policy making: Besides improving their quality, RIAs should be systematically made available when a regulation is proposed on a single webpage. The website could also link to the websites of independent regulators where their RIAs are posted. Most importantly, the planning and preparation of regulations needs to be genuinely informed by RIA, rather than it being an “add-on” for regulations that have fundamentally been already decided upon. While initial steps have been taken to plan ex post evaluations when preparing RIAs for major legislation, it is important to ensure that ex post evaluations are actually always taking place as planned in practice, and that results are effectively used for improving existing regulations. Consultation processes have been improved by the creation of a single online access point. They could become more systematic and consistent across different ministries and used to understand citizens’ preferences, gather evidence on implementation options (early stage) and gaps (evaluation) – and feedback from consultations should be more systematically responded to, and taken into account.

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