The use of new technologies in the administrative procedure: transparency and participation in public decisions

It is increasingly common for public administrations to use ICT technologies to achieve the objectives of efficiency and effectiveness of administrative activity. The use of these technologies is able to guarantee greater participation of private individuals in administrative procedures, in compliance with the principles of impartiality and simplification. However, some concerns could be raised in cases where the administrative decision is based exclusively on a mathematical model, excluding any human activity. In these cases, the private individual may not be in a position to effectively influence administrative procedure, just as private may not be fully aware of the reasons of the decision. In these cases it should be useful to analyze how transparency can be improved in the activity of the public administration

Right to be heard and expertise of public offices in the screening of foreign direct investments

The screening of FDI is a growing phenomenon, born to ensure the protection of national security. However, the administrative procedures designed to perform the control of foreign investments are still more a draft than a precise instrument. These procedures should ensure a good balance of the involved interests: public ones, like national security and the attraction of resources from abroad, and private ones, first of all the completion of the investment, which is the main aim of the investor and of the invested enterprise. It should be useful to analyze the organization of public offices and procedures in this field, to underline that the administrations suffer a general lack of expertise, which may lead to a bad use of technical discretion and, therefore, to an inefficient balance of private and public interests.

The services conference and the disagreement management

The paper aims to examine the model of services conference in Italian legal system. The services conference is used to accelerate the administrative procedure and to promote a coordination between public and private interests. In this perspective, the services conference become the place for public-private negotiation and for compensatory side payments.

The duty to give reasons for major infrastructure projects. The Italian case

The duty to give reasons is an administrative law general principle that ensures the accountability and the legitimacy of the public administrations in democratic legal system. As a consequence, citizens have the chance to verify whether public decisions are lawful or not. However, when the government decides the localization of major infrastructure or noxious facilities, it is not necessary to give reasons for the choice. It should be useful to examine the Italian case, where the principle seems relevant for localization process of major facilities.

The Italian model of ‘public debate’

It is very complex to manage dissent when government establishes the localization of major or noxious facilities. On one hand, public participation in decisions affecting citizens is consistent with the democratic model; on the other hand, administrative decisions require some level of technical understanding. It should be useful to examine the reform linked to the introduction of ‘public debate’, based on the French model, for the localization of major infrastructures in Italy. It could be a useful mechanism to prevent local opposition, but it may pose some risks for the efficiency of the public administrations.