DIGITALISATION OF CONSTRUCTION PROCEDURES
Comune di Cremona

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The problems that we wanted to face, in the framework of the national and regional legislation’s changes of the last 15 years, were represented by: · An extremely complex and fragmented regulatory framework for the construction sector; · Different approaches in processing administrative papers by every single institution; · Several mistakes in the construction administrative papers submitted by the professional technicians and consequent delays in the processing phase; · Uncertainty concerning the timetable to be respected to acquire all the necessary documents released by the Municipality or by other institutions (Municipality: Public Works Department, Ecology Department, Traffic Department etc.; Other Institutions: Local Health Agency (ASL), Environmental Regional Agency (ARPA), Fire Brigade etc.); · Waste of time for the citizens who have to wait in the offices and consequent reduction of their possibility to dedicate time to other administrative procedures. For this reason, it was necessary to face the problems described here above in order to speed up the procedures through a progressive action for their simplification. Our goals were: · Ensuring transparency and, at the same time, searching for the “best practice” to help our the citizens, enterprises or operators in safeguarding their rights; · Solving the mistakes contained in the practices establishing a benchmark that can be flexible and adaptable to any kinds of practices and interventions; · Fighting the delays in acquiring all the necessary documents released by the Municipality or by other institutions (Municipality: Public Works Department, Ecology Department, Traffic Department etc.; Other Institutions: Local Health Agency (ASL), Environmental Regional Agency (ARPA), Fire Brigade etc.); · Reducing the number of users who come to the offices and their waiting-time.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The strategic approach to these problems aimed at reaching several goals all characterized by the same vision: simplification of administrative procedures in the construction sector. Our goals were basically three and they were related to specific actions: 1. Offices’ re-organization for the management of construction administrative procedures; simplification of the relations with the projects’ partners or with other territorial institutions; 2. standardization of forms and papers concerning acquisition and exchange of data, documents, information among the stakeholders involved in the new digital procedures that allow to acquire documents released by the Municipality or by other institutions in an easier way; 3. implementation of the new and simpler sector’s regulation at local level. The new Construction Regulation for Landscape’s Quality and Energy Efficiency and the new Regulation for Traffic and Urban Quality contain at least ten previous regulations. The idea of a progressive simplification and digitalization of the procedures in the construction sector of Cremona Municipality (as it is reaffirmed at point number 7 of the “Guidelines for 2009-2014 Term of Office”) represented a strategic goal for the new Municipality Board exactly as it was underlined by the Digital Code of Public Administration. It was also decided to work for a general operation of renovation of the services offered to the citizens and of the Municipality’s working procedures. For this reason, Cremona Municipality, since 2010, has decided to create for the first time a specific office dedicated to the themes of simplification in order to transfer, concretely, in the procedures and practices (new and in progress) the new guidelines of the regulations. The procedures’ simplification process was started by the legislator more or less 10 years ago and it tended to reinforce self-certification of construction interventions on behalf of the technicians. For this reason, it was necessary to establish clear rules and timetables in line with the regulations of the enterprises and the citizens’ habits.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The fact that this initiative is completely and extremely innovative is testified by the fact that Cremona Municipality was the only one (at national level) that decided to work for this important and ambitious challenge. This important work, in fact, was recognized at national level (the important economic newspaper “Sole24Ore” has often demonstrated its interest and appreciation in the initiative) and at regional level (Cremona Municipality has received two awards in the framework of the regional call for proposals “Lombardia più semplice: Misura 1 – Le buone prassi” and “Lombardia più semplice – Misura 2 – with the project Re.Se.T. (Network of Territorial Services” in partnership with Cremona Province and Polytechnic University of Milan). We must underline that, for this initiative, the employees who worked to this project had to be particularly creative especially for the most difficult procedures that had to respect specific regulatory constraints. In fact, we had to invent a new method that could be adaptable to the new regulatory requirements and to the IT resources of the institutions and offices involved in the procedures.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The strategy was organized in several “steps”: 1st step: analysis of the stakeholders’ construction procedures and of their interest in participating actively in the project. All the partners signed an Agreement; 2nd step: analysis of the construction procedures implemented in several offices: Construction Department, Environmental Department etc. We aimed at highlighting the useful and necessary strategies to improve these procedures from the point of view of human and technical resources and to transform them in digital practices; 3rd step: updating the standard software used by the Municipality in order to meet some specific needs; 4th step: communication campaign with the partners and some professional categories: engineers, architects, technicians, building surveyors; 5th step: experimentation of new procedures with pilot tests carried out in cooperation with the Professional Orders, Entrepreneurial Associations and citizens through meetings, conferences and presentations; 6th step: progressive definitive implementation of digital procedures.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
On the basis of the “Agreement for the digitalization of the Construction and Enterprises’ documents” signed by Cremona Municipality, Cremona Province, ASL, ARPA, Fire Brigade, Energy Municipality Agency, Cremona Builders Association (ANCE), ASCOM (Cr), CONFESERCENTI (Cr), CONFARTIGIANATO (Cr), C.N.A. (Cr), ASSOCIAZIONE INDUSTRIALI (Cr), CONFAPINDUSTRIA (Cr), Ordine Dottori Commercialisti (Cr), Architects Professional Order (Cr), Engineers Professional Order (Cr), Building Surveyors Professional Order, (Cr), Agronomists Professional Order (Cr), Geologists Professional Order (Lombardy), Enterprises Technicians Professional Order (Cr), Agrotechnicians Professional Order(Cr), it was started a new project: · building and implementation of the new digital system through the experimentation of new procedures; · periodical monitoring of these procedures to avoid problems; · sharing the IT platform and its new procedures with the subjects interested in using it to exchange data, documents and opinions; · monitoring and analysis of the users’ “feedbacks” in order to improve the system; · drafting the users’ operating manual for a correct use of the digital portal (“front office”).
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The resources (human and financial) that were used for the project’s implementation came from the municipality’s budget. Hereafter you can find a list of the project’s expenses: 1. hardware: n. 13 monitors 23 inches, n. 2 cd-writers, n. 1 projector + screen for the Landscape and Construction Commission Room, n. 2 PCs (one is a laptop for the Landscape and Construction Commission Room and the other one was used for reporting during the meetings). Total:15.000,00 Euros; 2. Software’s purchase 6.000,00 € 3. Consultants 10.000,00 € 4. Staff’s training (to manage in an autonomous way the “back office” program and its updates). 3.000 € 5. Municipality’s staff for planning and implementing the portal, coordinating activities and supporting implementation and management of the software. € 41.160,00 (n. 2 employees – more or less 2000 hours per year; cost = € 20,58 per hour) The total cost of the operation was € 75.150,00.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The resources (human and financial) that were used for the project’s implementation came from the municipality’s budget. Hereafter you can find a list of the project’s expenses: 1. hardware: n. 13 monitors 23 inches, n. 2 cd-writers, n. 1 projector + screen for the Landscape and Construction Commission Room, n. 2 PCs (one is a laptop for the Landscape and Construction Commission Room and the other one was used for reporting during the meetings). Total:15.000,00 Euros; 2. Software’s purchase 6.000,00 € 3. Consultants 10.000,00 € 4. Staff’s training (to manage in an autonomous way the “back office” program and its updates). 3.000 € 5. Municipality’s staff for planning and implementing the portal, coordinating activities and supporting implementation and management of the software. € 41.160,00 (n. 2 employees – more or less 2000 hours per year; cost = € 20,58 per hour) The total cost of the operation was € 75.150,00.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Simultaneous advisory activity for citizens and enterprises carried out by the offices; constant monitoring and analysis of the users’ “feedback” in order to improve the new practice. - Communication and dissemination of the project’s results; It was planned a re-organization of the offices interested by the new procedures (and/or involved in them) in order to improve efficiency and contacts with the project’s partners and the other institutions on the territory. In particular, the Province will play an important role of coordination and territorial marketing to involve other municipalities in the progressive standardization process of forms and procedures; improvement of the procedures concerning acquisition and exchange of data, documents, information among the subjects involved in the pilot procedures. Communication It was planned a periodical information campaign for the citizens and the users to foster the use of the services’ network. In the same way, in order to raise the awareness of the territorial institutions we decided to promote new opportunities for meetings (conferences, presentations) about administrative simplification in general and, more specifically, on the technical aspects concerning the participation and the use of the services’ network. Tools used: press releases, conferences, training meetings, brochures, playbills and web pages. The data concerning the activated procedures will be periodically revised in order to check their real use and the users’ problems. Cremona Municipality regularly prepares a report about these topics.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The problems mainly concerned the necessity to overcome the general scepticism that characterized the municipality’s employees and the professional technicians. This scepticism was defeated by the on-line project’s implementation. Some technicians were more virtuous than others (and not only because they were younger) while others had some problems in working with the new system. Another important obstacle was represented by the old hardware used in the Muncipality’s offices that were not adapt for the new digital procedures. It was necessary to change the offices’ hardware of the municipality’s offices for the construction administrative processes’ management. Moreover, the direct experience of some technical studies gave us important information to improve the on-line system. At the end, it was written down a handbook (that can be read and downloaded on the website of Cremona Municipality) containing information about the use of digital procedures.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The new digital procedures provided several advantages: · Better use of the resources; · costs’ reduction; · reduction in the number of people coming to the offices; · reduction of delays for the construction companies; · competitiveness; · facilitating dialogue between public administration and citizens providing support to the users. QUALITY ADVANTAGES The professionals became more responsible of the administrative procedures in their contacts with the Municipality and in the self-certification procedures. COSTS’ REDUCTION FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION COSTS’ REDUCTION FOR USERS (citizens and enterprises) DELAYS’ REDUCTION (i.e: in the procedures, in the service’s provision, etc.) In one year, it is foreseen the activation of more or less 1.000 procedures (Building Permit, Landscape Authorization, Safety Standards Certificates, Fishing Permits etc) with a consequent costs’ reduction: · Costs for Public Administration for the management of paper forms (n. 1.000 paper forms per year x € 15,00 according to CNIPE “White Paper on Digitalization” = € 15.000,00); · Cost for Public Administration: paper, toner, printers (n. 1.000 papers per year that mean printing more or less 10.000 documents x € 0,36 cost per copy = € 3.600,00); · Costs for users: less use of paper, toner, printers for professionals/citizens/enterprises (n. 1.000 papers per year that correspond to the average cost of € 200,00/paper = € 200.000,00). · Reduction of time dedicated to papers’ processing (from 6/7 days with the traditional paper form to1/2 days with the digital system); · More time to work for the citizens and the professional operators (½ hour/paper per 1.000 papers/year – total: 500 working hours). QUANTITY ADVANTAGES Simplification of administrative procedures will change the staff’s work organization. · HARDWARE The procedure will be digitally completed. In the same way, the acts of the public administration will be released in digital format, signed by the involved institution (by the Regional Services’ Card) and then sent by electronic mail. For these new activities it will be necessary to upgrade the hardware. · SOFTWARE Beyond the continuous upgrading and implementation of the software Sig.la to submit and manage the construction papers, it is planned the implementation of an advanced web helpdesk for interactive services, completely integrated with the institutional websites (it can be used also by smartphones; tablets, etc.) for the creation and/or implementation of the necessary software, also thank to the help of highly skilled consultants. Considering the good results obtained in the past it was decided to foster the use of the Regional Services Card as useful document to enter several portals/platforms and to sign electronically the documents.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
· SUSTAINABILITY OF THE INITIATIVE According to what was explained before, we think we can be satisfied of what we did to reinforce digitalization of the procedures in the construction sector that were transferred on a digital portal. The initiative can make the municipality save a lot of money because some expenses were completely eliminated: filing, printing and sending letters etc. · TRASFERRING THE INITIATIVE The initiative is transferable to other Departments of Public Administration and the pilot project can be exported to other Municipalities that are interested in this kind of initiatives.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The progressive digitalization and simplification of administrative procedures represents only the beginning of a long path. In this moment of financial crisis it is necessary to reduce the bureaucratic costs and speed up the procedures for citizens/no-profit associations/enterprises in order to offer transparency, efficiency and quality in the organization of public services. We are part of this framework and, even if we have implemented in a serious way this project, we know there are other goals we must reach. The lessons learned are: 1. we have learned that today, if we want to carry out new actions, we need to work with other subjects and share ideas, paths and resources in order to save money and not waste resources; 2. We have learned the lesson of the great architect L. Mies van der Rohe: “Less is more”. This lesson is particularly important for public administrations that want to simplify their procedures and their approach with the citizens . 3. We have learned that we must put at stake our ideas accepting important challenges like this one. 4. We had the opportunity to understand that if we use IT in a correct and creative way we can really make public administration’s life easier. Then, we think that our example and the practices of other Italian municipalities can contribute to foster the change of organizational models in the Public Administration in order to save money and ensure transparency. This was possible thanks to our networking and with the contribution of all the actors involved.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Comune di Cremona
Institution Type:   Other  
Contact Person:   Gianluca Galimberti
Title:   Mayor  
Telephone/ Fax:   +390372407787
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   europa@comune.cremona.it  
Address:   Piazza del Comune 8
Postal Code:   26100
City:   Cremona
State/Province:   Lombardy
Country:  

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