Chapter 6. Multi-level regulatory governance in Argentina

This chapter analyses the current policies applied by the Government of Argentina to promote regulatory coherence with subnational regulation, and policies to support the implementation of regulatory policies by local governments in Argentina. For this purpose, the regulatory practices of the City and the Province of Buenos Aires are assessed, and case studies of these governments added in this chapter for clarification. Furthermore, it assesses Argentina’s practices regarding international regulatory co-operation.

    

The challenges of multi-level regulatory governance

Regulatory fragmentation poses challenges for citizens and businesses in their everyday life given the multiplicity of layers of government and actors that produce and enforce a given regulation. A wide array of detailed and cumbersome legal instruments might hinder the interaction between public institutions at different levels of government, especially if there is no clear and straightforward mechanism to solve multi-level discrepancies. Furthermore, the complexity of a regulatory system increases in a more decentralised system composed of more layers of regulatory actors (Rodrigo, Allio and Andres-Amo, 2009[1]).

Central, regional and local governments co-exist with their own set of attributions with different layers of government having the capacity to design, implement and enforce regulation. The challenges of a multi-level regulatory framework include duplicated or overlapping rules, low-quality regulation and uneven enforcement. It also places unnecessary burdens on citizens’ activities as well as trade, investment and entrepreneurship influencing negatively on the performance of economies and therefore affecting growth. The 2012 Recommendation of the OECD Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance addresses multi-level regulatory governance in two items: coherence and co-ordination; and regulatory management capacities at the subnational level (OECD, 2012[2]).

Distribution of regulatory attributions within the Argentinian territory

Argentina is a federal republic with three levels of government all of which have regulatory attributions; national (1), provincial (23) and municipal (2 218) as well as the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA) (OECD, 2016[3]). Indeed, the regulatory powers of all levels of government are enshrined in several legal provisions, the National Constitution, the corresponding Constitutions of the Provinces and municipal charters.

The national constitution specifies that provinces have their own legislative, executive and judicial systems and the power to elect their authorities and issue their own constitutions. Furthermore, the premise regarding the distribution of regulatory powers is that all provinces have the powers that have not been explicitly delegated to the federal level in the constitution (see Figure ‎6.1).

Provinces may create regions for socio-economic development or, with the knowledge of the National Congress, sign international agreements, to the extent that they would not conflict with the powers explicitly delegated to the national government (Figure ‎6.1). Provinces manage natural resources in their corresponding territories and they may be responsible for secondary education. As for municipalities, the national constitution grants them autonomy for the following matters: electing their authorities, police authority and the power to create taxes.

Consequently, Argentinian national and subnational levels of governments have exclusive as well as shared regulatory powers. In some particular cases, this complexity causes overlapping of regulation and competencies increasing the challenges of regulatory fragmentation for citizens and businesses. Moreover, in case of overlap or contesting regulation, there is currently no established conflict resolution procedure amongst the national and subnational levels of government apart from court appeals. For example, in imposing local taxes and establishing environmental regulation.

Shared competencies between the federal and provincial governments include college education, healthcare, housing and energy. As for municipalities, they have both exclusive and shared competencies: exclusive powers for municipalities account waste management, road construction, sewerage, markets and cemeteries, public transportation and public roads regulation; shared competencies include primary education, primary healthcare, water and sewage, construction and maintenance for regional roads (OECD, 2016[3]). See Figure ‎6.1 for an explanation of the distribution of attributions as per the national constitution.

Figure ‎6.1. Examples of attributions and competencies in the Argentinian National Constitution
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Notes: This figure illustrates attributions according to Argentina’s national constitution. These are not the totality of the attributions. In the case of municipalities, the attributions depend on the province they depend on and each municipal government develops their own municipal charter.

Source: Adapted from Presidencia de la Nación (n.d.[5])Constitución Nacional Argentinahttps://www.casarosada.gob.ar/images/stories/constitucion-nacional-argentina.pdf. (accessed on 28 July 2018).

Box ‎6.1. Historical background of Argentina’s federalism

The Viceroy of Buenos Aires was the Spanish central authority during the Río de la Plata Viceroyalty that lasted from 1776 to 1810. Argentina gained independence in 1816 and the viceroy disappeared which allowed for the provinces to develop their own institutional arrangements. Since then, two attempts were made to enact a national constitution: in 1819 and in 1826. Both constitutions were rejected by the majority of the provinces, which continued to establish its own independence by enacting provincial constitutional documents. This early subnational constitutionalism is evidence of the high degree of provinces’ autonomy installed for more than 40 years (1810-53).

A national constitution was adopted in 1853, creating the “Argentinian confederation”. In this new constitution, the provinces delegated some of their powers while reserving other powers for themselves. It was enshrined in Article 121 (pillar for Argentinian federalism) where there is an explicit recognition of the pre-existence of the provinces’ governmental powers stated as follows: “the provinces retain all powers not delegated by this Constitution to the Federal Government, and those they have expressly reserved by special covenant at the time of their incorporation”.

Source: Ramirez Calvo (2012[4]), “Sub-national constitutionalism in Argentina. An overview”, Perspectives on Federalismhttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/256088070_Subnational_Constitutionalism_in_Argentina (accessed on 28 June 2018).

Co-ordinating national and subnational levels of government

Co-ordination is one of the building blocks for the attainment of regulatory goals. The 2012 Recommendation of the OECD Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance states that countries should “promote regulatory coherence through co-ordination mechanisms between the supranational, national and subnational levels of government. As an important component of co-ordination, better communication between levels of governments may help to prevent conflicts and duplication of regulation” (OECD, 2012[2]). Also, co-ordination can provide a platform to share experiences and innovate regarding good regulatory practices at the subnational level and help increase expertise and deal with common problems.

Even when Argentina has not yet established a fit-for-purpose co-ordination mechanism for regulatory matters, the government has set up sectoral initiatives for co-ordination purposes including national councils, policy alignment programmes and/or referential joint websites. The most common tool used is sectoral ad hoc federal councils that are established to improve sectoral policies, concerning issues like the modernisation of the state, energy, environment or human health. However, it is important to mention that the adhesion to a federal council on behalf of the provinces is voluntary. Consequently, CABA and the provinces may choose not to participate in these co-ordination platforms.

The composition and functions of federal councils are given by different laws, decrees, resolutions and/or constitutive dispositions that create them. It is worth noting that depending on the council, decisions and recommendations may be advisory or binding.

For example, the government has established the Federal Council for Modernisation where the members share good practices for the modernisation of the Argentinian state (see Box ‎6.2). However, subnational governments are not obliged to implement the decisions or recommendations adopted in their jurisdictions. In that sense, the Federal Council of Energy is another example of non-binding decisions for members.

Box ‎6.2. The Federal Council of Modernisation

Modernisation of the Argentinian state as a national priority

In 2015, a programme for public sector modernisation was implemented at the national level. The programme stemmed from the fact that 94% of municipalities did not offer digital administrative procedures or access to public information. Also, only 165 out of 1 328 administrative procedures at the subnational level of government were digital and a third of Argentinians had no Internet access.

The Secretariat of Modernisation was created to lead the implementation of the programme for which the main objective was to create a more dynamic public sector, increasing transparency, implementing digital services and e-government, and guaranteeing access to public information. Provinces have their own modernisation officials, who implement provincial strategies for modernisation and support local municipalities.

Though it is soon to measure the results of the modernisation plan, Argentina has increased 34 places and ranks 17th in the latest Global Open Data Index. To date, 70% of provinces have signed the Federal Commitment for the Modernisation of the State and more than 1 000 administrative procedures and formalities have been made available online.

The federal council as a means for policy and regulatory co-ordination in Argentina

The federal councils were established as discussion fora to improve sectoral policies by enhancing co-ordination and co-operation between the national and provincial governments.

The Federal Civil Service Council was created in 1992 to collaborate in planning, co-ordinating and implementing civil service policies. Due to the national modernisation strategy, this council was relaunched in 2016 as the Federal Modernisation Council.

The Federal Modernisation Council aims at simplifying administrative procedures by digitising and streamlining internal and external administrative procedures to facilitate the governments’ relations with citizens and businesses as well as to oversee the implementation of the Digital Country (País Digital) programme. The council is chaired by the Minister of Modernisation and composed of representatives of the provinces and CABA. The council’s members meet at assemblies four times a year to discuss issues relating administrative simplification by means of digitising administrative procedures, formalities and services, as well as to share good practices on the governments’ management of processes and systems.

At the time of writing of this report, the council was analysing the draft of the national law for the modernisation of the Argentinian state (Anteproyecto de Ley de Modernización del Estado).

Source: Gobierno de Argentina (2018[6]), Compromiso Federal para la Modernización del Estado, https://www.argentina.gob.ar/sites/default/files/compromiso_federal_para_la_modernizacion_del_estado_0.pdf (accessed on 07 February 2019).

On the other hand, the Federal Council on Environment aims to reach binding decisions regarding the development of environmental policies. In 2002, the national government enacted Law No. 25.675 of National Environmental Policy by which this federal council was established. According to the national constitution, provinces can manage their own natural resources and, in that sense, members are obliged to adopt the regulations reached by the council’s general assembly when a resolution is issued. Table ‎6.1 below shows examples of federal councils and whether their decisions are binding or advisory.

Table ‎6.1. Federal councils in Argentina
Nature of federal council’s decisions and recommendations

Federal councils

Year of creation

Binding

Advisory

Environment

2002

X

Modernisation

2016

X

Health

1981

X

Education

2006

X

Water resources

2009

X

Housing

1995

X

Energy

2017

X

Taxes

1988

X

Consumer protection

2017

X

Small and medium-sized enterprises

2016

X

In 2017, a co-operation agreement was signed by the federal government, the provinces and CABA to establish the Bulletin Network. The aim of the network is to strengthen co-operation and improve transparency by facilitating access to regulations via the official bulletins where regulation is published by each level of government. This network also serves as a discussion forum to promote the exchange of experiences regarding information and communication strategies (Red de Boletines Argentinos, 2018[7]).

Regulatory policy, institutions and tools at the subnational level

The 2012 Recommendation of the OECD Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance invites governments to “foster the development of regulatory management capacity and performance at subnational levels of government”. The rationale behind this recommendation is aimed at reducing regulatory costs and barriers at the local level which can limit competition and impede investment, business growth and job creation (OECD, 2012[2]).

In that sense, recommendation 12 of the 2014 OECD Recommendation on Effective Public Investment across Levels of Government (see Box ‎6.3) recognises the importance of developing quality and consistent regulatory systems across levels of government. Coherent regulatory systems may enhance public and private investment at the subnational level by reducing the costs of overlapping or contradictory regulations at the different levels of government. While it is true that subnational governments should be able to implement regulation from higher levels of government effectively, these subnational governments should also have the capacity to define and implement their own strategy for regulatory management (OECD, 2014[8]).

Box ‎6.3. Recommendation of the Council on Effective Public Investment across Levels of Government

The purpose of the recommendation is to help governments at all levels assess the strengths and weaknesses of their public investment capacity; recommendation no. 12 highlights the importance of regulatory quality. The recommendation reads as follows:

A. Co-ordinate public investment across levels of government and policies.

  1. 1. Invest using an integrated strategy tailored to different places.

  2. 2. Adopt effective instruments for co-ordinating across national and subnational levels of government.

  3. 3. Co-ordinate horizontally among subnational governments to invest at the relevant scale.

B. Strengthen capacities for public investment and promote policy learning at all levels of government.

  1. 4. Assess upfront the long-term impacts and risks of public investment.

  2. 5. Engage with stakeholders throughout the investment cycle.

  3. 6. Mobilise private actors and financing institutions to diversify sources of funding and strengthen capacities.

  4. 7. Reinforce the expertise of public officials and institutions involved in public investment.

  5. 8. Focus on results and promote learning from experience.

C. Ensure proper framework conditions for public investment at all levels of government.

  1. 9. Develop a fiscal framework adapted to the investment objectives pursued.

  2. 10. Require sound and transparent financial management at all levels of government.

  3. 11. Promote transparency and strategic use of public procurement at all levels of government.

  4. 12. Strive for quality and consistency in regulatory systems across levels of government.

Source: OECD (2012[2]), Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264209022-en.

In Argentina, subnational levels of government have their own regulatory powers and, in that sense, their own rulemaking process which comprises a heterogeneous implementation of regulatory management tools. For the purpose of the present review, the extent to which CABA and the Province of Buenos Aires (PBA) apply regulatory tools in their rulemaking process will be assessed; it is worth noting that the results cannot be generalised to all subnational levels of governments in Argentina. Nevertheless, the results provide relevant information in terms of the approach taken and how the current efforts are set on implementing simplification initiatives to manage the current stock of regulation.

Case study: City of Buenos Aires

Economic background

CABA is the capital of Argentina and is located in the country’s central-eastern region. In terms of population, it is the most populated city in Argentina with 2 890 151 inhabitants (INDEC, 2010[9]) and one of the most populated cities in Latin America.

The Port of CABA is the biggest in South America and represents the capital’s financial, industrial and commercial centre. The importance of the Port for Argentina’s national economy is undeniable due to Argentina’s high production and export of agricultural commodities. A large part of domestic and international trade activities depends on this port, as it connects Argentina with Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Economic activities are diverse and include manufacturing and processing products such as grain, meat, dairy, leather, wool and tobacco, as well as oil refining, metalworking, machine building, and production of automobiles, textiles, clothing, beverages and chemicals. Buenos Aires also has a diverse service sector that comprises advertising, tourism, construction and real estate (WPS, 2018[10]).

CABA remains the most significant urban area for economic activities in Argentina. The GGP of CABA makes up 20% of Argentina’s total gross domestic product (GDP). Also, CABA’s per capita global gross profit (GGP) is more than three times the average per capita GGP compared to the rest of the country (CABA, 2018[11]).

Government structure and rulemaking process

Since 1996, CABA has its own constitution establishing the government structure, which is similar to the other provinces of Argentina. Indeed, following the premise explained in prior sections, CABA also has all powers not explicitly given to the federal government. Article 129 of the federal Constitution recognises CABA’s autonomous system of government, with its own executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. CABA is divided into 15 communes all of which have regulatory competencies and are subdivided into 48 neighbourhoods (Comunas CABA, 2018[12]).

CABA’s executive branch is represented by the head of government who is elected by popular vote for a four-year period with the possibility of re-election. The executive has nine ministries and three secretariats (see Figure ‎6.2). It has a vice head of government who is also the head of the legislative branch. The legislative power is exercised by the Legislature of CABA, a unicameral assembly with 60 congress members. Finally, the judicial branch is composed of the High Tribunal of Justice, City Council of the Judiciary, Public Ministry and the common courts.

Article 85 of CABA’s constitution provides that regulation can be issued by the legislative branch, the executive branch, the ombudsman and the communes. In that sense, all levels of government have regulatory powers and responsibilities which already signals the importance of having quality control mechanisms to avoid overlaps or unnecessary regulation.

Figure ‎6.2. CABA’s executive branch
picture

Source: CABA (2018[13])Buenos Aires Ciudad - Organigramahttp://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/organigrama/?menu_id=505 (accessed on 25 July 2018). 

Law No. 1.777 of Organic Law of Communes and CABA’s constitution provide exclusive and shared powers between CABA’s government and its communes. In case of doubt of the extension of the exclusive and shared powers, regulatory powers must be interpreted in favour of the communes (Article 9 of the Law No. 1.777). The executive branch shall not exercise the exclusive powers of the communes.

The Chief of the Government of the Executive Power, the heads of ministries and secretariats, and their dependent bodies can issue regulations, as well as autocratic entities and state societies. Technical, administrative and legal general directions or equivalencies in each ministry have the competency to support and advise the ministers and dependent bodies in technical and legal issues of regulations. For the Chief of Government, the Legal and Technical Secretariat exert this competency.

Previous to the signing of draft laws and decrees, the SECLYT-CABA conducts informal meetings with different General Legal, Technical and Administrative Directorates of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aire DGTAL and with areas in charge of regulatory projects to be signed by the Chief of the Government with the objective of offering support in legal and technical aspects to ensure their application.

The regulatory process in the city depends on two variables. The first refers to the signing of the regulation (Chief of Government, ministerial authorities, autocratic entities or state societies). The second depends on the potential impact of the regulation on economic activities.

Figure ‎6.3 describes the regulatory process if the Chief of Government is the signer. If the signer is a minister, a secretary or another hierarchical authority with competency, the process is: the area drafts the regulation, the DGTAL or legal area conducts the technical and legal analysis and then, the project is signed by the authority.

Figure ‎6.3. CABA’s procedure for issuing regulations signed by the Chief of the Government
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If the regulation has an impact on economic activities, previous to the signing, the Deputy Secretariat of Economic Development intervenes, according to the competencies declared in Joint Resolution No. RESFC-2018-14-MJGGC and the procedures approved by Resolution No. 2.440-MEFGC-18 and Resolution No. 169-SSDECO-18.

All the documents issued as draft regulatory projects go through the electronic system SADE, so they are registered and can be monitored. It is worth mentioning that these legal and technical analyses are for internal use and are not published or accessible to the public. 

The SLyT-CABA is also in charge of the official press bulletins of the CABA, where all regulations must be published to be effective. 

Law No. 5.360 of Ministries of the City of Buenos Aires provides that the SLyT-CABA assists the executive branch in verifying technical and legal aspects of the draft of regulations proposed by ministries. However, the SLyT-CABA’s opinions are advisory and are given when requested by ministries. Therefore, ministries are not legally obliged to either request or consider the SLyT-CABA’s opinion but might occur in practice.

Certain ministries are implementing measures to improve the rulemaking process. Recently, the Ministry of Economy and Finance modified its organisational structure and charged the Under-Secretariat of Economic Development with promoting policies aimed at having a clear and efficient legal framework for economic activities, and to supervise CABA’s economic-related regulatory policy.

Use of regulatory management tools (regulatory impact assessment, consultation, administrative simplification and centralised registries)

In terms of ex ante regulatory impact assessment (see Chapter 3 for a detailed explanation on ex ante assessment of regulation in Argentina), CABA carries out systematic legal analysis of regulatory proposals but seldom performs a systematic assessment of the impact of regulation that would allow evaluating the possible effects of regulations issued. In other words, as stated before the ministries’ DGTALs and the SLyT-CABA need to deliver a legal justification of the draft regulation which on some occasions is accompanied by a technical appraisal.

Furthermore, with the recent reform at the City’s level stated above, the Ministry of Finance and the Chief of Cabinet issued on 7 September 2018 a resolution to adopt Joint Resolution No. 14/MJGGC/18 of Good Regulatory Practices for the Regulation and Promotion of the Economic Activity in the City of Buenos Aires. This document also introduces other regulatory management tools such as system interoperability, regulatory simplification, stakeholder’s engagement, amongst others, with subsequent publication of guidelines for this purpose. The main purpose is to measure CABA’s economic regulations impact in the private sector. Moreover, important efforts are being carried out to implement this reform; the Ministry of Finance is already analysing the economic impact of new regulation on a case by case scenario, i.e. brewery industry, market of second-hand mobile phones.1

To what extent does CABA engage with stakeholders specifically for the rulemaking process is another element being assessed. As stated in Chapter 3, it is through consulting with the public that governments collect information with potentially affected or interested stakeholders while developing or reviewing regulations. In CABA’s government, engaging with stakeholders through public consultation for regulatory matters is not yet part of their systematic procedure, but the publication of the joint resolution for “Good Practices for the Regulation” mentioned before has as one of its objectives to address this gap.2

Nonetheless, in 2016, CABA launched the Dialogue BA initiative (Lacalle, 2016[14]), a forum created to discuss ad hoc public policies amongst which regulations related to electoral reform and access to public information were part of the policies put forward for consultation. Dialogue BA includes diverse sectors such as the government (including representatives of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches), academia and civil society come together to debate in open tables to reach consensus on these topics. After the discussion, the group drafts conclusions that may be used for developing new regulations. For example, in the early stages to drafting the Urban Code of the CABA, the government launched a participatory process with stakeholder representatives, such as the civil society, the academia, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), legislators, experts in the field, etc. The consultation process accounted for more than 700 proposals drafted in more than 200 meetings with the participation of 5 000 participants.

Apart from Dialogue BA, CABA has implemented several initiatives that aim at increasing transparency and stem from the commitment of the three branches of government to the open government agenda3 and include:

  • BA Chooses (BA Elige): an online platform for citizen engagement. Citizens can propose public works and services.

  • BA Data: an online platform that concentrates and provides open data from every agency of the government.

  • BA Public Works (BA Obras): an online platform that provides information on public works, infrastructure and budget.

  • Government commitments: account 50 specific and measurable objectives indicated by the Chief of Government. The government of the city is accountable for these commitments in face of the citizens. The commitment’s follow up information has been published on the web portal www.buenosaires.gob.ar/compromisos.

Moreover, in 2016 CABA created collaborative centres with other peer subnational governments with the aim of sharing public policy experiences implemented by CABA with other cities and provinces.

CABA focuses strongly on the current stock of regulation for the implementation of regulatory management tools; administrative simplification is, therefore, the most developed tool based on the modernisation programme. Indeed, since 2009 an important effort is underway to eradicate the use of paper for administrative procedures, both for internal government processes and for formalities (trámites) for business and citizens (see Box 5.4).

The main regulatory tool consists of administrative simplification through digitisation of administrative procedures. In 2009, the CABA committed to a modernisation plan (Law No. 3.304 for the Modernisation of Public Administration) which included a strategy to become a paperless government (see Box ‎6.4). CABA established online administrative proceedings using electronic files and signatures.

Box ‎6.4. Digitisation in the City of Buenos Aires: Towards a paperless government

From 2009 to 2014, the City of Buenos Aires managed to shift from a paper-based to a digitised public administration. By 2009, over 15 million documents were produced per year and by the end of 2014, over 850 administrative procedures were digitised and paper was eliminated from the administration which allows for the implementation of quality control mechanisms and tracing of procedures.

The project included training of human resources; processes improvement and implementation of technology. The strategy brought standardisation of processes and transformation of habits of public servants and citizens and resulted in sustainable use of resources.

Archives were also digitised which allowed for a better stock of data and ease of access to information. The initiative was accompanied by a new Internet network installed across public spaces such as libraries, municipal buildings, parks, subway stations, hospitals, museums and squares.

To date, the administration is totally based on the SADE system, which includes the Electronic File System, the Digital Generator of Official Documents and the Remotely Conducted Administrative Procedures TAD.

CABA has also enabled formalities for citizens and business online. At the time of writing this report CABA reports to have 266 formalities as TAD, in which information can be submitted electronically, and in some cases, officials’ responses can also be received electronically. The website http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/tramites contains the listing of the formalities for informational purposes, and if it is the case, citizens or entrepreneurs are then directed to the websites http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/tramites-online or http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/tramites/tad. With some variations, users can then follow the management of the formality electronically.

Source: Clusellas, Martinelli and Martelo (2014[15]) Gestión Documental Electrónica. Una Transformación de Raíz hacia el Gobierno Electrónico en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Secretaría de Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.

For this purpose, in 2009 CABA established an Administrative Reform Board as a formal mechanism aimed at improving the efficiency of internal administrative procedures. The board includes high-political members such as the Minister Chief of Cabinet, the Legal and Technical Secretariat, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Modernisation. In its first years (2009-14), this Administrative Reform Board focused on the implementation of the SADE and the digitisation process aimed at having a “paperless government”. Currently, the board is proposing other administrative simplification initiatives such as the reduction of 50% of the City’s public records. CABA’s objective is to avoid duplication of registration and to eliminate the burden of registering activities that are no longer relevant to be publicly recorded. Meetings are held weekly and involve a four-stage process described in Figure ‎6.4.

Figure ‎6.4. Administrative Reform Board
Stages for simplifying administrative procedures
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As mentioned above, the board focuses on the simplification of the administrative burdens. In the past year, several decrees and resolutions were issued to reduce the information requirements for some industries, including dry cleaners, events producers, environmental laboratories, dog walkers, among others. The elimination, consolidation or simplification of registries should improve and streamline the management of administrative procedures, benefiting the public administration and the users.

CABA has also introduced the initiative Marca BA147. It identifies the main point of contact with which residents of the city of Buenos Aires can employ to connect with their local government. From the point of view of the CABA, it is configured as a multi-channel attention system to manage the demand of its citizens. These demands requests for: i) general information (public office opening hours, cultural activities, traffic cuts, etc.); ii) the repair or improvement of the public space; iii) booking of appointments for formalities that must be conducted on site (as the renewal of driver's license); and iv) online formalities (request of birth certificate, replacement of a lost document).

In the case of the management of formalities, Marca BA147 allows citizens to contact directly public officials in charge of the formality via telephone or through messaging systems on smartphones, in order to raise questions, complaints or learn the status of their submissions. CABA reports that the latter channel has had wide positive acceptance by citizens, which has resulted in further reductions of burdens for citizens, as they have saved time on trips to public offices. Moreover, the mobile application includes the possibility of completing administrative procedures remotely (e.g. birth certificate, replacement of a lost identification) and has a chat that helps citizens and users of the platform.

Case study: Province of Buenos Aires

Economic background

The Province of Buenos Aires (PBA) is the largest (300 000 km²) and most populated province in Argentina with 15 594 428 inhabitants according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina (INDEC, 2010[9]). It is located in the central-eastern part of the country, in a region known as the Pampas. The capital of the Province is the city of La Plata.

PBA’s economic activities are diverse and include commerce, real estate, construction, transport and storage, and tourism. However, the most important sector is the industrial, especially chemicals, food and beverage production, which represents the largest contribution to provincial GDP (26.9%). Another significant economic activity is agriculture; the province agricultural activity is strongly related to agricultural-based products manufacture and Argentina’s high levels of commodities’ exports (Ministry of Economy, 2011[16]).

The province plays a central role in Argentina’s economy. It contributes 36% of the national GDP, more than half of the country’s manufacturing industry and 37% of its exports (Ministry of Economy, 2011[16]). Argentina’s economic growth is closely linked to the success of the Province’s economic performance.

Government structure and rulemaking process

According to Law No. 24.430 Constitution of Argentina, the PBA has all the powers not attributed to the national government (Article 1). Bases on this precept, the province has its own constitution from where its regulatory powers stem. PBA comprises 135 municipalities each of which has its own government, responsible for providing basic local services and therefore for issuing regulation.

The provincial government has an executive branch, a legislative branch and a judicial branch. The executive branch comprises a governor and a vice governor, both of whom are elected by popular vote. The legislative branch consists of an upper and a lower house embodied in a senate and a chamber of deputies. The judicial branch consists of trial courts, courts of appeals and the Supreme Court.

As it is the case in the national level, PBA has a Legal and Technical Secretariat within the office of the governor, in charge of assessing the technical and legal aspects of drafts of regulations and the publication of regulation in the official bulletins (Law No. 14.989 of Ministries of the Province of Buenos Aires).

When issuing regulations, PBA has a specific procedure to comply with that differs from the national procedure and from CABA. Indeed, after a ministry proposes new regulations that must be signed by the head of government (decrees), the General Advisory Office delivers a first legal and non-binding “opinion” on the draft; parallel to this document, the General Accountancy Office produces a report on budget feasibility. It is after this process is carried out that the State District Attorney Office issues a preview verifying the legality of the draft. While the General Advisory Office’s opinion is merely a legal assessment, the State District Attorney Office has powers to require information and act as an oversight entity.

After the issuance of these three reports (i.e. opinion, report and preview), the draft is sent to the SLyT-PBA for assessment. The SLyT-PBA produces a non-binding report and sends the draft to the proponent ministry and the Chief Cabinet Ministry to be endorsed. Subsequently, after all the reports have been issued, the governor signs the draft. Finally, the SLyT-PBA orders the registration and publication of the decree in the official gazette and the notification to the State District Attorney Office. This procedure is illustrated in Figure ‎6.5.

Figure ‎6.5. PBA’s procedure for issuing regulations
picture

Anecdotic evidence shows that there are no direct legal consequences if ministries do not consider this procedure. Law No. 14.989 of Ministries of the Province of Buenos Aires provides that the SLyT-PBA supports the executive branch on its functions; hence, the secretariat has an advisory role. Furthermore, the process differs if the new regulations are only signed by ministries. In this case, the Secretariat does not issue a report.

Use of regulatory management tools (regulatory impact assessment, consultation, administrative simplification and centralised registries)

As in the case of CABA, the employment of regulatory management tools in PBA is mostly related to specific efforts on administrative simplification. Even when there are institutions and documents relating to the control of the issuance of regulation, the assessment relies strongly on legal and budgetary implications of the regulation. In that sense, at the start of the preparation of this report, PBA did not have an impact assessment or other instruments to evaluate the possible economic impacts of regulations yet. The analysis of new regulations is done as explained in the prior section.

Regarding the rulemaking process, PBA is entitled to request information from stakeholders before the issuance of regulation but does not do it currently in a systematic manner. Furthermore, provincial regulation provides the mechanism of non-binding public hearings when issuing economic regulation, i.e. revisiting public services tariffs.

Before finalising this report, PBA issued on 11 July 2018 Administrative Resolution RESOL-2018-16-GDEBA-SLYT of the Programme of Regulatory Impact Assessment. The objective is to introduce the regulatory impact assessment (RIA) tool and stakeholder engagement practices in the preparation of draft regulations to ministries interested in participating in the programme. PBA also issued guidelines, a manual for RIA and a template.

As for the current stock of regulation, administrative simplification is one of the specific objectives of PBA’s modernisation plan (Law No. 14.828 of Strategic Plan for the Modernisation of the Public Administration of Province of Buenos Aires) which establishes that public administration must develop strategies to eliminate, reduce or simplify administrative procedures to offer quality and efficient public services. This provincial law was issued to achieve the objectives of the national modernisation plan and the Federal Commitment for the Modernisation of the State (see Box ‎6.2).

PBA is implementing digitisation measures to simplify internal administrative procedures for achieving a paperless public administration and a more transparent and agile government. Examples of simplification practices adopted are as follows:

  • Single Simplified Procedure of the Ministry of Agribusiness: Digital platform for requiring industrial permits.

  • Remote Audit System of the Revenue Agency of the Province: Digital mechanism to avoid tax evasion.

  • Digital Certification System: Digital system for issuing certificates.

  • Digital System for Public Management of PBA’s Treasury: Digital tool for budget management.

Similar efforts are being carried out by PBA regarding formalities for citizens and businesses. PBA reports that it has prioritised 17 formalities for citizens and 67 formalities for businesses to be simplified. The simplification measures include the elimination of data and document requirements, digitisation, interoperability, reduction of official response time, amongst others.

Regarding legal certainty and transparency, there is a provincial government web portal that centralises its regulations and provides general access to regulation (http://www.gob.gba.gov.ar/dijl/). Also, through the portal of the Registry of Accessions to Provincial Standards, citizens have access to the provincial regulations that municipalities have adopted.

In addition, by means of Law No. 14.962 of the Registry of Provincial Accessions to National Standards, was created to centralise the national regulations adopted by the provincial government. Currently, the web portal is not functional.

Finally, the web portal for formalities of the PBA (https://portal.gba.gob.ar/web/portal/) includes administrative procedures organised by topic and final user. The site provides details on the people or businesses that can carry out a given formality, the steps that must be followed, the information requirements that should be submitted, and, in some cases, offers the possibility of doing the formality remotely. However, there is no complete registry of administrative procedures and services available yet.

References

[11] CABA (2018), BA in Figures, https://turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar/en/article/ba-figures (accessed on 12 July 2018).

[13] CABA (2018), Buenos Aires Ciudad - Organigrama (City of Buenos Aires - Organisational Structure), http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/organigrama/?menu_id=505 (accessed on 25 July 2018).

[15] Clusellas, P., E. Martinelli and M. Martelo (2014), Gestión Documental Electrónica. Una Transformación de Raíz hacia el Gobierno Electrónico en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Electronic Document Management. A Root Transformation towards Electronic Government in the City of Buenos Aires), Secretaría de Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.

[12] Comunas CABA (2018), Comunas CABA (Autonomous City of Buenos Aires Communes), http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/comunas (accessed on 11 July 2018).

[6] Gobierno de Argentina (2018), Compromiso Federal para la Modernización del Estado (Federal Commitment to the Modernization of the State), https://www.argentina.gob.ar/sites/default/files/compromiso_federal_para_la_modernizacion_del_estado_0.pdf (accessed on 7 February 2019).

[9] INDEC (2010), National Census of Population and Housing 2010, National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina, https://www.indec.gob.ar/ftp/cuadros/poblacion/censo2010_tomo1.pdf (accessed on 11 July 2018).

[14] Lacalle, M. (2016), “Dialogando BA: Knowledge, participation and consensus in the co-creation of public policies”, Open Government Partnership, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/paper_Dialogando-BA-CoCreation_20180507.pdf.

[16] Ministry of Economy (2011), Indicadores Económicos (Economic Indicators), http://www.ec.gba.gov.ar/areas/finanzas/deuda/indicadores_deuda.php (accessed on 13 July 2018).

[23] OECD (2019), Digital Government Review of Argentina, Accelerating the Digitalisation of the Public Sector, Key Findings, OECD, Paris, http://www.oecd.org/gov/digital-government/digital-government-review-argentina-key-findings-2018.pdf (accessed on 10 February 2019).

[18] OECD (2018), OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264303072-en.

[17] OECD (2017), OECD Economic Surveys: Argentina 2017: Multi-dimensional Economic Survey, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eco_surveys-arg-2017-en.

[3] OECD (2016), Argentina. Territorial Organisation and Subnational Government Responsibilities, http://www2.mecon.gov.ar/hacienda/ (accessed on 25 July 2018).

[19] OECD (2015), OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264238770-en.

[8] OECD (2014), Recommendation of the Council on Effective Public Investment Across Levels of Government, OECD, Paris.

[2] OECD (2012), Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264209022-en.

[20] OECD (2011), Regulatory Policy and Governance: Supporting Economic Growth and Serving the Public Interest, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264116573-en.

[22] OECD (2010), Cutting Red Tape: Why Is Administrative Simplification So Complicated?: Looking beyond 2010, Cutting Red Tape, http://www.sourceoecd.org/governance/9789264089730 (accessed on 2 August 2017).

[25] OECD (2009), Regulatory Impact Analysis: A Tool for Policy Coherence, OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264067110-en.

[21] OECD (2008), Building an Institutional Framework for Regulatory Impact Analysis: Guidance for Policy Makers, OECD, Paris, http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/ria.htm (accessed on 9 February 2019).

[24] OECD (2008), Introductory Handbook for Undertaking Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), OECD, Paris, http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/ria.htm (accessed on 9 February 2019).

[5] Presidencia de la Nación (n.d.), Constitución Nacional Argentina (National Constitution of Argentina), https://www.casarosada.gob.ar/images/stories/constitucion-nacional-argentina.pdf (accessed on 25 July 2018).

[4] Ramirez Calvo, R. (2012), “Sub-national constitutionalism in Argentina. An overview”, Perspectives on Federalism, Vol. 4/2, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256088070_Subnational_Constitutionalism_in_Argentina (accessed on 28 June 2018).

[7] Red de Boletines Argentinos (2018), Inicio (Start), http://www.reddeboletines.gob.ar/ (accessed on 20 July 2018).

[1] Rodrigo, D., L. Allio and P. Andres-Amo (2009), “Multi-Level Regulatory Governance: Policies, Institutions and Tools for Regulatory Quality and Policy Coherence”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 13, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/224074617147.

[10] WPS (2018), Port of Buenos Aires Review, World Port Source, http://www.worldportsource.com/ports/review/ARG_Port_of_Buenos_Aires_47.php (accessed on 12 July 2018).

Notes

← 1. Resolution No. 2.440/MEFGC/18 indicates the general guidelines that the Deputy Secretariat of Economic Development must follow in order to analyse regulations if they have impacts on economic activities. On the other hand, Resolution No. 169/SSDECO/18 publishes the formats, procedures and evaluation criteria to control the regulatory process.

← 2. Although the consultation practices are not a systematic step in the regulatory process of CABA, it is in fact a relevant criterion, as it can be observed in the resolutions issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Deputy Secretariat of Economic Development. For instance, the Deputy Secretariat will not conduct any impact assessment if it lacks of a consultation process with the private sector.

← 3. http://www.gobiernoabierto.buenosaires.gob.ar.

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