Last Friday the Italian Senate approved the ordinary law converting the Decree 83/2012 thus establishing the Agency for Digital Italy. Its mission includes the implementation of the Digital Agenda, meaning with that both the European initiative and the National strategy which is expected next September.

The Decree had been effective starting July 26th, when it was published on the Official Journal, so the Agency already exists at least formally. But final entry into force is subject to “conversion” of the decree into an ordinary law, which took place last Friday, and its subsequent publication on the OJ, which will take place later this week.

The new actor takes the role of the former DigitPA after only two and a half years since its establishment but, in fact, is more than that. The new agency is tasked with functions formerly assigned to a Department of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, including European and international relations, and some crucial security-related activities that had been assigned instead to the Higher Institute for Communications and Information Technology. This involves a thourough reorganisation to which we are not completely unfamiliar.

To let everyone preview and evaluate the profile of the new agency I include a draft translation of articles 19 through 22 establishing the agency. The reading experience may not be optimal due to Italian legalese and my poor contribution to an unexpectedly good draft provided by GT.

Article 19 (Establishment of the Agency for Digital Italy)

1. The Agency for Digital Italy is established under the supervision of the Prime Minister or the Delegated Minister appointed by him, the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Minister for Public Administration and simplification, the Minister for Economic Development and the Minister of Education, University and Research.

2. The Agency shall operate on principles of organizational, technical, operational and managerial autonomy, on principles of transparency and economy, and pursues the objectives of effectiveness, efficiency, fairness, simplification and participation of citizens and businesses. For matters not covered by this Decree, Articles 8 and 9 of Legislative Decree 30 July 1999, n. 300, shall apply to the Agency.

Article 20 (Functions)

1. The Agency shall be responsible for the implementation of the objectives of the Italian Digital Agenda, consistently with the guidelines developed by the Steering Committee (“Cabina di regia”) referred to in Article 47 of Decree-Law 9 February 2012, n. 5, converted into law with amendments into law April 4, 2012, n. 35, and with the European Digital Agenda.

2. Without prejudice to the functions of INDIRE regarding the support to the development of the innovation plan in educational institutions, the Agency fulfils also the functions of coordination, direction and control entrusted by law to DigitPA and, specifically, Article 3 of Legislative Decree 1 December 2009, n. 177, except as provided in paragraph 4, and the tasks entrusted to the Agency for the Promotion of Technologies for Innovation, created by Article 1, paragraph 368, letter d) of Law 23 December 2005, n. 266, and the functions performed by the Department for the Digitization of Public Administration and Technological Innovation of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. The Agency has also the functions of the Higher Institute of Communications and Information Technology in the field of network security. By decree of the President of the Council of Ministers, to be issued within sixty days from the date of entry into force of the law of conversion of this decree, upon proposal of the Minister of Economic Development, in consultation with the Minister of Economy and Finance and the Minister for Public Administration and Simplification, criteria shall be identified for the transfer of existing staff of the Higher Institute of Communications and Information Technology required to perform the functions referred to in the previous period. The Ministry of Economic Development shall provide for the reduction of staff and structures to an extent corresponding to functions and staff actually transferred to the Agency. The Agency shall coordinate the management of information at state, regional and local levels thus implementing Article 117, second paragraph, letter r), of the Constitution.

3. In particular, the Agency shall exercise its functions in relation to public administrations to promote the adoption of digital technologies in the country and to rationalize public spending. To this end, the Agency shall:

a) Promote the widespread use of information and communication technologies in order to foster innovation and economic growth, including through the development and faster adoption of Next Generation Networks (NGN);

b) Lay down technical rules, regulations and guidelines on information security and on uniformity of languages, procedures and standards, including open ones, so as to ensure full interoperability and application cooperation among the computer systems of public administrations and between them and the the systems of the European Union;

c) Ensure the homogeneity of public information systems intended to deliver services to citizens and businesses using the necessary technical coordination, ensuring consistent levels of quality and usability throughout the country and full integration at the European level;

d) Support and promote initiatives on digitization of government document flows, including the preservation phase, accelerating computerization of administrative documents and promoting removal of technical, operational and organizational burdens that hinder the realization of digital administration and to the effective implementation of the right to use technology, provided by Article 3 of the Digital Code, referred to in Legislative Decree 7 March 2005, n. 82, as amended;

e) Monitor the quality of services and the rationalization of expenditure on information technologies in collaboration with CONSIP spa and SOGEI spa;

f) Promote and disseminate ICT literacy initiatives for citizens, as well as vocational and training activities for public employees, also through agreements with the School of Public Administration and with Formez, and the use of innovative educational technologies, within the available budget and with, no new or increased charges for public finance;

g) Monitor, possibly through sample verifications, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plans of public administrations prepared in accordance with the requirements referred to in subparagraph b), in terms of effectiveness, economy and quality of achievements by proposing to Government bodies, institutions and, where necessary, the President of the Council of Ministers, the subsequent remedial measures, and by reporting to the Court of Auditors where possible loss of revenue are detected;

h) Carry out design and coordination of initiatives that are strategic or of major national interest, even of intersectoral character, for a more effective online delivery of public administration services to citizens and businesses;

i) Take the role of national reference authority with respect to the EU and international bodies and participate to the implementation of European programs in order to attract, find and monitor the sources of funding for the development of the information society;

l) Adopt guidelines and formulate non-mandatory opinions to public administrations concerning the technical and economic  adequacy of contracts for the purchase of ICT goods and services, also with a view to the full integration of information systems;

m) At the request of the authorities concerned, promote memoranda of understanding and institutional agreements for the creation of shared technical structures in different vertical areas or in different geographic areas, for the resolution of operational conflicts and for a faster and more effective achievement of full integration and application cooperation between the public information systems, monitoring the implementation of the memoranda and agreements themselves.

4. On the date of entry into force of the ordinary law converting this Decree, the administrative, contractual and instrumental tasks allocated to DigitPA for the implementation and management of relevant projects in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 3 shall be entrusted to the CONSIP Spa.

5. The Agency shall perform its functions according to the principle of optimization and rationalization of expenditure on information technology in order to obtain significant savings, in any event ensuring from 2013 a cost savings of at least 12 million euros a year compared to the overall ICT costs incurred by government in 2012.

Article 21 (Representatives and Charter)

1. The Representatives of the Agency are:

a) the Director General;
b) the Steering Committee;
c) the Board of Auditors.

2. Within sixty days after the entry into force of this Decree, the President of the Council of Ministers or the Delegated Minister, in consultation with the Minister for Public Administration and Simplification, the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Education , University and Research and the Minister of Economy and Finance shall appoint the Director General following the publication of a notice drawing from persons of specific, documented professional qualification in the field of technological innovation with documented experience of high-level management of innovation processes.

3. The Director General is in charge of and leads the Agency, and he is its legal representative. He remains in office for three years.

4. By decree of the President of the Council of Ministers or the Delegated Minister, upon proposal of the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Education, University and Research and the Minister for Public Administration and Simplification, in consultation with the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Charter of the Agency shall be approved within fourty five days of the appointment of the Director-General, in accordance with the principles and criteria provided for in Article 8, paragraph 4, of Legislative Decree 30 July 1999, n. 300, as compatible with this decree. The Charter shall provide for the Steering Committee to be composed of a representative of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, a representative of the Ministry of Economic Development, a representative of the Ministry of Education, University and Research, a representative of the Minister for Public Administration and Simplification, a representative of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and two representatives appointed by the Joint Conference of State, Regions, Cities and Local Autonomies, all in possession of the professional requirements referred to in paragraph 2. The members of the Steering Committee shall receive no payment, fee, compensation or reimbursement of expenses. The Charter shall also define the appointment process, duties and rules of operation of the Steering Committee and of the Audit Committee, which shall be composed of three members.

Article 22 (Abolishment of DigitPa and the Agency for the Promotion of Technologies for Innovation; Succession of relations and identification of actual human resources and equipment)

1. From the date of entry into force of this Decree, DigitPA and the Agency for the Promotion of Technologies for Innovation are abolished.

2. In order to ensure continuity of activities and relationships of the entities being abolished, the representatives in charge at the date of entry into force of the ordinary law converting this Decree shall continue to perform their functions until the appointment of the Director General, and shall also draw the final balance sheet of the abolished bodies to the date of termination of the bodies themselves, including the report of the internal audit body in charge on the same date, which shall be sent for approval to the Prime Minister and to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The Director General shall provisionally exercise as Special Commissioner the functions carried out by the suppressed entities and by the Department under Article 20, paragraph 2 until the appointment of the other representatives of the Agency.

3. The permanent staff of the administrations referred to in Article 20, paragraph 2, and the financial and material resources of the bodies and structures in the same Article 20, paragraph 2, including any associated reports assets and liabilities, shall be transferred to the Agency without fulfilling any liquidation procedure, even judicial. The permanent staff of the Department for the Digitization of Public Administration and Technological Innovation of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers may opt to transit to the Agency. The Agency shall took over the remaining work relationships until their natural expiration.

4. The personnel currently detached in the administrations referred to in Article 20, paragraph 2, may opt for transit to the Agency. The transit shall be effected after a selection based on an evaluation of professional qualifications and experience in the field of technological innovation, length of service in the administration of Article 20, paragraph 2 and qualifications. The detached personnel that will not transit to the Agency shall return to their administration.

5. Pending the definition of collective labour agreements, pursuant to Article 40, paragraph 2, of Legislative Decree 30 March 2001, n. 165, as amended, the national collective agreement for ministries shall apply to the staff of the Agency.

6. By decree of the President of the Council of Ministers or the Delegated Minister, in consultation with the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Education, University and Research, the Minister of Economy and Finance and the Minister for public administration and simplification, to be issued within forty-five days after the appointment of the Director General of the Agency, the actual allocation of human resources shall be determined within the limits of the actual personnel transferred pursuant to paragraphs 3 and 4, with corresponding staff reduction of the administrations of origin, set up to a maximum of 150 units, and also the provision of financial and material resources necessary for the operation of the Agency, taking into account the relationship between employees and functions of the Agency, with a view to optimization of resources and reduction of costs for operations and external collaborations. The same Decree shall define the equivalence table between the transferred staff and the ministry personnel. Transferred employees shall retain their social security benefits as well as basic and accessory compensation, limited to fixed and continuing items, paid at the time of placement. In case the treatment is higher than ministry staff, the difference shall be perceived as a check absorbed by future economic improvements.

7. By decree of the President of the Council of Ministers, or the Delegated Minister, to be issued within forty-five days after the appointment of the Director General of the Agency and no later than the date of adoption of the decree referred to in paragraph 6, the structures of the Prime Ministers shall be adapted in view of the transfer of functions referred to in Article 20, paragraph 2.

8. Implementation of Articles 19, 20, 21 and 22 shall be provided for with human, material and financial resources available under current legislation and without causing any new or increased charges for the public finance.

9. The Agency shall apply the provisions on legal aid and assistance to trial under Article 1 of the consolidated text of the Royal Decree of 30 October 1933, n. 1611.

10. Paragraph 1 of Article 68 of the Digital Administration Code, referred to in Legislative Decree 7 March 2005, n. 82, is replaced by the following:

«1. Public administrations shall acquire computer programs or parts of them as a result of a comparative technical and economic evaluation of the following market solutions: a) software developed on behalf of a public administration; b) reuse of software or parts thereof developed on account of public administrations; c) free or open source software, d) combination of the previous software solutions. Only when the comparative technical and economic evaluation demonstrates that access to open source solutions, or solutions already developed in public administrations a a lower price, the acquisition of licensed proprietary computer programs shall be allowed. The assessment referred to in this paragraph shall be performed following the conditions and criteria defined by the Agency for Digital Italy, which, at the request of stakeholders also issues its opinion concerning their application.”

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