copy the linklink copied!Annex A. Project background and methodology

The Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) of the European Commission supports Member States in their efforts to strengthen their administrative capacity through a number of tools and concrete actions. In this framework, the Unit E1 “Capacity Centre Administrative Capacity Building, Solidarity Fund” is reflecting on the way to better support managing authorities and strengthen their administrative capacities for the next programming period.

Taking inspiration from the Italian experience of Administrative Reinforcement Plans (PRA) (Box A.1.), it was proposed to test this type of approach by developing an EU-wide Pilot Project. The project consists in selecting five pilot Managing Authorities (MAs) of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and/or Cohesion Fund programmes wishing to enhance their administrative capacity to be better prepared for the 2021-2027 programming period. The experiences of the five pilot cases will be disseminated and feed into reflections on how to strengthen the administrative capacity of ESIF Managing Authorities for the use of regional policy funds for the post-2020 programming period.

copy the linklink copied!
Box A.1. Italian experience of Administrative Reinforcement Plans

Italy’s Administrative Reinforcement Plans (PRAs) are strategic planning documents designed to address key weaknesses among Managing Authorities in the 2007-2013 programming period, such as persistently low absorption linked to administrative complexity, and inefficient use of Technical Assistance funding to address this. Among other aspects, PRAs aim to contribute to structural change, reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries and promote legal and procedural simplification. The principle is that they should be compulsory and require simple management with no additional or unnecessary burden.

PRAs are officially adopted by the relevant Minister or regional executive, and administrative responsibility is assigned to high-level officials outside the MA. A steering committee, which meets twice a year, is formed for each PRA comprising representatives of the European Commission, relevant Ministers and a regional delegation. A technical secretariat supports the steering committee and the PRA is monitored quarterly, both quantitatively and qualitatively. After two years there is an evaluation of each PRA.

Overall, 30 PRAs (21 Regions and nine Central Administrations with Operational Programmes) were developed and are fully operational. The overall governance and coordination of all activities are ensured by the Steering Committee for PRAs, coordinated by the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and by the Technical Secretariat of the Committee coordinated by the Agency for Territorial Cohesion.

Source: A. Naldini (2016), ‘The Italian Administrative Reinforcement Plans: the process, challenges, and initial results’ (presentation), Ismeri Europa.

DG REGIO has approached the OECD to provide the technical support for the pilot project in two phases:

  1. I. Preparation of a comprehensive roadmap for administrative capacity building;

  2. II. Implementation of selected actions of the roadmap.

Phase I of the project was launched with a kick-off meeting in June 2018 with representatives from the five selected MAs, DG REGIO and the OECD. The OECD then sent a questionnaire and request for key documents/policies/legislation to each MA. Reviewing this material allowed the OECD team to develop initial hypotheses on possible challenges facing the MAs. These hypotheses were tested during a week-long mission to each MA carried out between September 2018 and January 2019. The missions were structured around an intensive series of semi-structured interviews with people from across the MA at leadership and operational levels, as well as with representatives from other bodies involved in the Management and Control System (MCS), such as Intermediary Bodies (IBs), beneficiaries, and members of the Monitoring Committee.

The missions concluded with a day-long workshop where preliminary conclusions were presented to staff from across the MCS. The purpose was to use these conclusions as the basis for an extensive SWOT analysis by all the participants at the workshop. The first half of the workshop focused on developing the SWOT around several themes that emerged from the series of interviews – people strategy, strategic planning, etc. – and the second half focussed on developing potential solutions to these issues. As noted above, the OECD analytical framework was applied at each stage of the missions to structure questions and contextualise responses.

Following the missions, the OECD developed a draft Roadmap of administrative capacity-building actions for each MA, supported by a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses supporting these suggestions. The draft Roadmaps formed the basis for a mid-term review meeting between the European Commission, the OECD and MA leadership in Brussels in March 2019. The OECD revised the Roadmaps based on feedback received at this meeting, and developed a final draft version to use as a basis for discussion during a second round of missions intended to finalise and validate the Roadmaps.

The Roadmaps were finalised in July 2019 and implementation of selected administrative capacity-building actions is expected to begin in January 2020. The timeline of the project Phase I is shown below in Table A.1.

copy the linklink copied!
Table A.1. Project timeline





Kick-off meeting among the OECD, the European Commission and the five MAs


Review of key documents provided by MAs


OECD/EC missions to each MA



Drafting of diagnosis and development of draft Roadmap


Mid-term meeting between EC, OECD and MAs in Brussels


Review of MA comments


Second round of OECD missions to MAs to present Roadmaps and prioritise actions


Finalisation of Roadmaps


Finalisation of Synthesis Report



OECD support for implementation of selected actions

This pilot project also tests the new approach proposed by the Commission for the 2021-2027 programming period, which would allow Member States to develop Roadmaps for administrative capacity-building measures. The experiences will be disseminated to other MAs, feeding into preparatory work for the upcoming Programming Period.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2020

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at