The paper analyzes to what extent the crisis erupted in 2008 and the subsequent age of global uncertainty changed the recipes of reinventing government and administrative reform experienced in the last two decades of the twentieth century, characterized by the rolling back of the state, due to its fiscal crisis, the opening of markets, and the advancement of globalization. As a matter of fact, the explosion of the financial and economic crisis of 2008 and its long-lasting effects definitely undermined the unquestioned confidence in a clear set of measures aiming to push back the state and to mimic market recipes in its management. In a more and more uncertain context, a global search for a smarter and simpler government, able to do more (or at least the same) with less, started in last ten years. Privatization and deregulation were put at the margins of the political agenda, even if still practiced in specific cases. These were supplanted by a more sophisticated approach to regulation, based on public participation and accountability, retrospective review, and cognitive sciences. A significant revision of NPM took place too. Major attention was paid to setting priorities, measuring and publicizing outcomes, enhancing transparency and accountability. Local governments were concentrated in number and specialized in tasks. The establishment of a digital government and of effective electronic services accessible to all required an overall commitment to advance the public sector at the frontier of technological innovation. A relevant reformation of administrative law too was needed to cope with all these major transformations. The paper, however, highlights that the praise for a smarter government runs the risk of remaining an ambiguous formula, simply revealing the absence of a set of clearly successful measures in the reforms’ toolkit. Taking seriously the quest for a smarter government, on the contrary, would require huge investments in careful policy-making, high bureaucratic capacity, continuous digital innovation, sophisticated administrative law rules and institutions. Effective change, in any case, is slow and uncertain. Governments and bureaucracies are complex machineries, which tend to perpetuate traditions and conducts. As a consequence, the impact of many reforms is simply interstitial. Only mid-term and stable policies can produce significant effects.

Napolitano, G. (2016). Looking for a smarter government (and administrative law) in the age of uncertainty. In S. Rose-Ackerman, P.L. Lindseth, B. Emerson (a cura di), Comparative Administrative Law (pp. 352-369). Cheltenham : Edward Elgar.

Looking for a smarter government (and administrative law) in the age of uncertainty

Giulio Napolitano
2016-01-01

Abstract

The paper analyzes to what extent the crisis erupted in 2008 and the subsequent age of global uncertainty changed the recipes of reinventing government and administrative reform experienced in the last two decades of the twentieth century, characterized by the rolling back of the state, due to its fiscal crisis, the opening of markets, and the advancement of globalization. As a matter of fact, the explosion of the financial and economic crisis of 2008 and its long-lasting effects definitely undermined the unquestioned confidence in a clear set of measures aiming to push back the state and to mimic market recipes in its management. In a more and more uncertain context, a global search for a smarter and simpler government, able to do more (or at least the same) with less, started in last ten years. Privatization and deregulation were put at the margins of the political agenda, even if still practiced in specific cases. These were supplanted by a more sophisticated approach to regulation, based on public participation and accountability, retrospective review, and cognitive sciences. A significant revision of NPM took place too. Major attention was paid to setting priorities, measuring and publicizing outcomes, enhancing transparency and accountability. Local governments were concentrated in number and specialized in tasks. The establishment of a digital government and of effective electronic services accessible to all required an overall commitment to advance the public sector at the frontier of technological innovation. A relevant reformation of administrative law too was needed to cope with all these major transformations. The paper, however, highlights that the praise for a smarter government runs the risk of remaining an ambiguous formula, simply revealing the absence of a set of clearly successful measures in the reforms’ toolkit. Taking seriously the quest for a smarter government, on the contrary, would require huge investments in careful policy-making, high bureaucratic capacity, continuous digital innovation, sophisticated administrative law rules and institutions. Effective change, in any case, is slow and uncertain. Governments and bureaucracies are complex machineries, which tend to perpetuate traditions and conducts. As a consequence, the impact of many reforms is simply interstitial. Only mid-term and stable policies can produce significant effects.
978 1 78471 866 4
Napolitano, G. (2016). Looking for a smarter government (and administrative law) in the age of uncertainty. In S. Rose-Ackerman, P.L. Lindseth, B. Emerson (a cura di), Comparative Administrative Law (pp. 352-369). Cheltenham : Edward Elgar.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11590/425020
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact