Simplification of Procedures
Published on 12/3/2021

The fight against the complexity of administrative procedures and bureaucracy of the Public Administration, as reflected in the measurements and indicators of international organizations, but mainly as experienced daily by the citizens and businesses of the country, has always been a key "political priority" of various governments in recent years.

For many decades, the Greek Public Administration has been seeking to improve the regulatory environment for citizens and businesses and to reduce bureaucratic burdens in various policy areas and administrative procedures. The long-standing problem, which has been identified both empirically and academically, is that efforts to redesign and simplify procedures have not been integrated into a coherent public policy based on common principles and objectives and using a common methodology and common rules. Instead, they were designed and implemented in isolation and were usually a secondary objective or an outgrowth of any legislative or regulatory intervention.

The result of the above finding is that even in cases where the Greek Public Administration promoted pragmatic and effective solutions for the redesign, simplification and digitisation of procedures, they did not yield the maximum benefit in terms of changing the stereotypes and the citizen's perception of the State, the Public Administration and the Institutions. Any positive impact was of a sectoral or time-limited nature, and in the medium term was lost in the wider bureaucratic chaos of the Greek Public Administration. Such a condition does not allow citizens to regain confidence in the Institutions, since, as the OECD states in a recent report, this is closely linked to their perception of the quality of public service delivery by state structures.

It is now also an operational priority and is being addressed through direct digitisation actions of critical administrative processes through the portal, led centrally by the new Ministry of Digital Governance, which have been widely acknowledged as highly successful. The centralized and technology-intensive approach applied is the opposite of the one that dominated the previous period, when the actions to simplify procedures and reduce administrative burdens that were implemented were fragmented and responded to the specific challenges and problems of the individual institution that designed and implemented them, without any obvious centralized approach and a single technological basis. This fact, in many cases, negated any positive impact of the simplifications, as it produced mixed results across the administrative apparatus, and thus continues to reproduce the generalised perception of an anachronistic and inefficient public administration.

The National Programme for the Simplification of Procedures (NPSP), which was institutionalised by Article 45 of Law no. 4635/20119, is the central, governmental framework for inter-ministerial coordination, for the planning and implementation of actions for the redesign and simplification of administrative procedures, aspires to contribute to the global and holistic improvement of the services provided by the public sector to the citizen, businesses and public officials and officers. The innovative and radical element introduced by the NPSP is the establishment of a coherent policy identity for all scattered and isolated simplification actions, creating an administrative framework for the coordination and synchronisation of these initiatives, in order to have the maximum and most visible positive impact on the economy and society. In addition, the NPSP aspires to be a tool for upgrading and improving the Good Regulation process, in the light of reducing bureaucracy and linking regulatory objectives to the needs and expectations of citizens and businesses.

The NPSP seeks to reconcile two equally important needs: (i) the need to free productive and social forces from unnecessary bureaucratic rigidities in order to give the necessary impetus to the country's development process and to improve the daily life of the citizen and (ii) the need to protect the public interest, which is achieved through high quality regulations and rules, in order to ensure social cohesion and solidarity as key elements of democracy and the rule of law.

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