The High Level Capacity Building Seminar on “Administrative Simplification: Overcoming Barriers To Implementation” was organised jointly by WG II on E-government and Administrative Simplification and WG IV on Public Service Delivery, Public Private Partnerships and Regulatory Reform in Cairo, Egypt on 18-19 June 2008.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of State for Administrative Development of Egypt, organised jointly with the OECD, in the framework of the Working Group II and Working Group IV of the Good Governance for Development (GfD) in Arab Countries Initiative.
Both Working Group II (e-government and administrative simplification) and Working Group IV (public private partnerships, public service delivery and regulatory reform) have been cooperating closely from the beginning of the GfD Initiative creating synergies and exploiting the links between administrative simplification and regulatory reform issues. Administrative simplification is often seen as a tool for regulatory reform.
H.E. Dr. Ahmed Mahmood Darwish, Minister of State for Administrative Development in Egypt, chaired the event showing great commitment to the GfD Initiative’s work, especially in the area of administrative simplification. Mr. Kheireddine Ben Soltane, Juridical Counsellor for the Prime Minister in Tunisia, represented the chair of the GfD Working Group IV, Tunisia. Mr. Giovanni Maria De Vita, Head of the Commercial Section, Embassy of Italy in Egypt, represented the co-chair of the GfD Working Groups II and IV. Dr. Ali Ahmad Thani Bin Obood, Director General of the Civil Service Bureau in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) participated as the national coordinator in UAE for the GfD Initiative.
Around 80 participants attended the seminar. In total, 10 Arab delegations were represented: Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian National Authority, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. In addition, there were also 5 OECD countries: Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. The Arab Administrative Development Organisation (ARADO) participated as well. A number of Egyptian ministries, agencies, sub national governments and other institutions actively took part in the seminar.
Cutting red tape , simplification of administrative procedures, and especially overcoming barriers to effective implementation of administrative simplification strategies have been underlined by Arab participating countries to the GfD as one of the top priorities in their policy agenda. In many countries, problems such as burdensome legislation, deep-rooted inefficient administrative procedures, enormous amount of time and money spent for unnecessary administrative obligations are barriers to overcome towards promoting economic growth and bringing social development.
This seminar was articulated with four workshop sessions that offered a unique opportunity to identify and discuss the main barriers to simplification strategies and learn from each other’s experiences to develop sound strategies through concrete examples. The OECD provides a forum for policy dialogue that can be helpful to those countries that are looking for more innovative approaches for administrative simplification.
It was organised as a respond to a clear demand from MENA countries, especially Egypt, to create capacities to develop administrative simplification strategies. It aimed at expanding the network of experts on the administrative simplification in MENA and OECD countries. This seminar is a follow of the Fifth High-level Regional Seminar on Strategies, Tools and Capacities for Administrative Simplification, also held in Cairo, Egypt on 20-21 June 2007.
Whereas the discussion during the seminar in 2007 was broad and introductory on the subject of administrative simplification, the High Level Capacity Building Seminar on “Administrative Simplification: Overcoming Barriers to Implementation” in 2008 was concretely focused on barriers commonly found when designing and implementing administrative simplification strategies. The first part of the seminar was conceived to explore Arab and OECD experiences on the topic and some of the barriers encountered. During the second part of the seminar, four workshop sessions were conducted by experienced OECD policy makers from pioneer countries on administrative simplification such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal.
Administrative simplification is not about saving money but about gaining efficiency. Most governments engage in these activities by laying down objectives accountable in monetise terms. These are returns to society as business and other activities need fewer resources to undertake administrative procedures and paperwork.
It was agreed that there are basically five ways to develop administrative simplification:
Participants identified two kinds of barriers: strategic or technical barriers. Different possibilities to overcome them based on experiences of participating countries were discussed. Barriers and actions to overcome them were listed during the wrap up session .
Some of the ideas to overcome those barriers include:
Outcomes and future work
The main goal of this seminar was to continue the policy dialogue and learn from each other to develop stronger administrative simplification strategies. This learning experience was based on concrete examples of success, as well as of failure stories.
It was a unique opportunity to build support for and strengthen the network of experts on administrative simplification in Arab and OECD countries. In particular, participants put forward ideas to continue working in the framework of the GfD Initiative.
The three key areas highlighted of interest during the seminar are (1) the design of “whole-of-government” strategies for administrative simplification, (2) how to overcome barriers encountered and (3) mechanisms for measuring administrative burdens. In the frame of the second phase of the GfD Initiative, joint learning activities have been designed to create capacities, build links and create synergies in Arab countries. Participants have expressed their interest in actively engage in these activities to continue the policy dialogue with other countries. Some of the outcomes to follow up this event are:
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