Elenco dei Funzionari Internazionali di Cittadinanza Italiana
Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The website dedicated to International Officers of Italian Citizenship was born after the realization that there was a lack of attention, on the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to this group of workers. These officers work in international organizations, often in problematic countries and remote areas of the world, are hence excessively scattered. Despite the importance of their jobs, these workers had a hard time getting in contact with their homeland, and more importantly they saw their recognition, on the part of the Italian law, of some rights somewhat reduced, when compared to what the Italian law recognizes to other employees with similar positions working inside the country. Particularly, Italian officials could not benefit from the right to have a lawful suspension from work for their spouses, in order to be able to move abroad when needed along with their families. This was a central issue in particular for women, who were often confronted with the dramatic choice of pursuing their career while leaving their families behind or giving up the possibility to move abroad and work for international organizations in order to stay united with their families. Another important issue was the valorization of the experiences acquired by these professionals once they may have decided to move back to their homeland. In particular, there was no legal framework aiming at granting a recognition of the importance and value of their past working experiences, would the officers decide to apply for a public position. Moreover, Italian officials encountered major difficulties when they wanted to move both to the private sector and to other international organizations, due to the lack of proper data collection – regarding their past working experiences as well as their studies and other competencies – that hampered a proper knowledge, by third parties, not only of the capabilities of the officers, but also of their very existence.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Firstly, in order to address the problems mentioned, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promoted the creation of a dedicated legislative framework. The drafting of the law, due to the difficulty of defining a totally new group (Italian officers working in international organizations) that was not previously taken into account by any legislative provision, was carried out in close cooperation with the main international officers’ associations and the Department of Public Service at the Presidency of the Council. This resulted in the passing of a Presidential Decree sanctioning the creation of a website where all Italian officers working for international organizations can subscribe, along with a precise definition of the “international officer” category and the requisites that have to be met in order to be a valid candidate for the inscription on the site. In the meanwhile, the same Ministry of Foreign Affairs started creating the website itself. The competent Directorates (the Directorate General for Human Resources, Budget and Innovation and the Directorate General for Management and Information and Communication Technology) dedicated a small group of their employees to the creation of the site. As the law prescribed, the realization of the site was cost-free, as no new financial resources were appointed to realize this innovative tool. The main goal of the site was to create a list of international officers of Italian citizenship. The mere presence on the list of an officer would then suffice to grant them some rights that previously this group did not have. In particular, officers listed have the right of asking an off-duty period for their spouses, in order for them to be able to move around the world along with their families. Moreover, the law, and consequently the website, formally recognizes the importance of the work done by international officials abroad by granting them, were they participating to a public exam to enter the civil service, extra points during the examination. The target audience was mainly international officers of Italian citizenship, who had been insofar somewhat left out of the legislative process granting public servants with similar positions the above-mentioned rights. Along with international officers, the site was dedicated to any private or public company that wanted either to verify the actual presence on the list of an officer asking for off-work period for their spouses or any other right. Furthermore, the site allows international organizations the possibility to verify the actual past service carried out by officers, as the competent office at the Directorate General for Human Resources, Budget and Innovation, before allowing the inscription on the list, would control and check the effective fulfillment of the requisites sanctioned by the law.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The initiative is an unique example of dematerialization in the Italian public administration. This is true in several ways: firstly, the site can reach all the international officers of Italian citizenship whom, because of the very characteristics of their jobs, would have been harder to reach had the Administration chosen another type of tool. Now, officers living at the other corner of the world can simply submit their application online, application that is reviewed by the competent office under thirty days. The system works solely on auto-certifications, that are sent in an electronic format by the interested officers when they subscribe: this has led to a great simplification of a procedure that, usually, requires the use of conventional mail, thus removing the risks of important paperwork getting lost, and dramatically cutting the time needed to process an application and finalize the inscription. Secondly, the site is a cost-free tool for both the officials that want to see their name inscribed on the list and the Ministry, thanks to some technical innovations that allow for the automatic verification of some of the prescribed requirements (i.e. officers have to have worked for at least two years in an international organization to qualify).

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The initiative was developed and implemented in less than a year, by acting on two different but complementary levels at the same time. The first level is the legislative one. Law 227, dating from 2010, had set some guidelines for the establishment of the status of “international officers”, which did not exist in Italy at the time. Nevertheless, these provisions were not complete, as they needed an applicative regulation. In the autumn of 2013 then, under the renewed attention by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the main associations regrouping Italian officers working for international organizations, the legislative process started anew. The process resulted in the passing of Presidential Decree number 103, which entered into force in August 2014. The Decree lists with greater precision the requisites that have to be fulfilled to be considered an international officer, hence the requirements for the inscription on the site. Italian citizens who have worked for more than two continuous years or three non-continuous years for international organizations can ask to be listed on the site. They will have to list their personal data, work experiences, as well as their academic achievements, languages spoken and other training courses. The competent office at the Directorate General for Human Resources, Budget and Innovation will then examine the requests and admit the officers that meet the above-mentioned requirements on the list, which reports the data inserted by officers. While the law was being passed, the site was being prepared. Firstly, the work started based on a draft of the text that was still to enter into force. The administration focused on few key aspects in order to provide the best service possible on such a short notice The site was designed in order to be very intuitive of use, even to officers who are not digital native. The steps required to submit the application have been reduced to a minimum, as to allow a quick submission. An important issue that was addressed at the end of the design process was data safety. As the data entered by Italian officers is sensitive (it includes for instance email addresses, a copy of an identity document) the main concern was to prevent any type of illegal data collection. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs first consulted the public Authority charged with the protection of privacy and personal data and then proceeded to enclose the site under a secure protocol, granting the maximum safety available for a public site. Secondly, the team dedicated to this project worked to the layout and design of the site. To this regard, a crucial element that had to be considered was the accessibility of the site. As it was to be a public site, it had to meet all the principal requirements regarding access. For example, the site was designed to function correctly on all the major operative systems, and it is readable even by partially-sighted people. Finally, the site was tested by a small pool of Ministry workers in order to avoid any bug or issue at the moment of its launch. The site was copied in a testing space, where submissions by virtual officers were simulated in order to fix any problem. The site was completed in time for the entry into force of the law, and was subsequently launched.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative was implemented thanks to a great number of stakeholders. First and foremost, the principal associations of Italian officers working for international organizations (UFIOI, AIFI, AFI) gave an input to start the legislative process that led to the passing of the mentioned Decree and the subsequent creation of the website. A significant contribution was made also by the Department for Public Service at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, that helped framing the category of international officers in the drafting of the law. Another important role in the legislative process was played by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, that was charged with surveillance of the economic and financial costs of the project. The implementation of the law and the creation of the site was carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In particular, the Office V of the Directorate General for Human Resources, Budget and Innovation worked alongside with the technical unit from the Office IV of the Directorate General for Management and Information and Communication Technology to design, implement , test and maintain the site. The Press and Institutional Communication Service contributed as well to the realization of the site by providing a general framework for its layout.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The direct financial costs, as prescribed by the law, were none. Nevertheless, the implementation of the law and the creation of the site required pulling some dedicated human resources from the offices involved in the initiative to work on the project. In particular, the site was designed by the Office V of the Directorate General for Human Resources, Budget and Innovation and the Office IV of the Directorate General for Management and Information and Communication Technology. The two mentioned offices decided together to create a small team of selected resources that were dedicated mainly (but not solely) to the project. This small team, composed essentially by 7 people, dedicated a great number of working hours to the initiative. The team was made up by two diplomats, in charge of the project, three members of the administrative staff of the project, and two web programmers. In addition to this small team, the site was implemented thanks to the collaboration of the Press Service, that provided the general indications on the layout that the site had to follow in order to be in line with other Ministry pages.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The website can be considered a fruitful initiative. 1. One reason for this is the great number of requests that have been sent to the Office V (responsible for the management of the site) from international officers who want to be listed on it. Despite the launching of the site happening in the middle of the holiday seasons (as it was prescribed by the entry into force of the law), the Office received many applications from officers who wanted to be listed on the site on the very first day of the launch. 2. Another reason for the success of the site is the fact that, after an officer has completed the inscription, he can have access to a small range of benefits for which he did not qualify before. In particular, officers can ask for off-work time for their spouses and extra credits when participating in public exams. 3. Moreover, the initiative helped the creation of a network of Italian officers abroad, that can, seeing each other’s names on the list, get in contact. This can lead to an improvement of professional skills for them, as well as to a greater representation of Italy in the principal international organizations. 4. The site also increases efficiency in the delivery of services on the part of the public administration. For this reason, it was welcomed by the main associations regrouping Italian foreign officers, who can now not get in contact with the administration in a quick, cost-free way.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The progress of the initiative was monitored firstly on a time-based level. As at first, while the legislative process was still ongoing, the site had to be realized based on a draft of the law, so people working on it set for themselves the goal of having a “rough” version of the site ready to launch, if necessary, by the end of June (when the law was supposed to be entering into force). When the deadline became clear, and postponed if compared to the initial one , the team decided to set intermediate goals. The first one was to have a perfectly working site online by the set date. The second goal was to provide the office that would have, later on, to examine the requests from international officers, with a back end site, designed in order to give the office some form of independence from the technicians working on the IT part. The implementation of the process was monitored by frequent meetings (weekly or even more often in the final stage) between members of the team. Another form of process evaluation was carried out by testing the various steps that international officers have to undertake in order to register to the list. First, the registration phase was checked, in order to make sure that there was no possibility for a malware program to subscribe to the site and then “steal” data from it. Then the team worked on data entry, on automatizing the control of some basic requisites required for the inscription and on the final submission phase, in which candidates to the list join to their application a copy of their ID.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main problems regarding the realization of the initiative were of two orders. The first ones were due to the very small resources allocated to the project: no extra fund was set aside to carry out the project, and thus the site had to be realized counting only on the resources already available in the competent offices. This meant, for example, that all the programming had to be done by only two technicians, and that hiring a graphic designer or a web designer to improve the layout of the site was not a viable option. The second order of problems was of technical nature. Although this can be directly linked to the above-mentioned lack of resources, some issues had to be addressed by the team working on the site. In particular, the site had to be accessible even to disabled people (for instance, partially-sighted persons), which made its realization both technically harder and more constrained under a merely graphic perspective. The problem was overcome by designing a very simple site, with a clean layout, that facilitates ease-of-access from all users. Another issue was due to the nature of the data that had to be present on the public list, some of which can be qualified as sensible (for instance, email addresses). The risk of this data being dispersed on the web and misused was high, so to tackle this problem the Ministry of Foreign Affairs places the site under a secured protocol, issuing its very own safety certificate. Moreover, the data was not rendered immediately visible on the site, but relevant information on each officer can be seen only by clicking on a dedicated icon, in order to prevent automated programs from recovering these data.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The initiative led to the recognition, for international officers of Italian citizenship, of a number of rights that were previously reserved only to civil servants and officials with similar functions but who officiated in the Italian public sector. Italian officers working for international organizations can now benefit from the rights granted by Presidential Decree 103/2014. In particular, officers listed on the site can ask for a period off work for their spouses, in order to be able to move abroad freely and pursue their careers. Moreover, officers can ask some extra credits when taking a public exam in Italy, thus seeing their professionalism recognized in an official way. Another important result of the initiative was the establishment of a roster that, in the future, could help greatly officers desiring to move from one international organization to another. The networking potential of the site is, as a matter of fact, of great importance: senior officers could help deserving junior officers in their career progression, for instance. Also, the existence of a list of Italian officers abroad is helpful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in case an internal contact needs to be established with an international organization. The list can be of great use also to private enterprises or public agencies, when in need of special professional figures that have developed competencies linked to , a particular focus on a specific area or, more generally speaking , the international scene. The site also increases, broadly speaking, the transparency of the administration: as the various working experiences had by international officers are public, for instance, it is easier for private companies to verify them when spouses ask for off-work periods in order to follow their companions, as well as it is easier for public entities that have to evaluate titles when an officers is competing for a public position to verify whether the person has had the experiences he claims. All these benefits have been given via an innovative tool that allows international officers to see their rights recognized in an effective, cost-free way. The new approach, based on information technology, allows international officers to send in their application for the list, wherever they are and whenever they want. They can thus reach the Ministry very quickly, with no need to send in traditional mail, and not even the need to pass phone calls, which can prove difficult at times given the time difference. The site allows also the interested officers to send in a digital copy of an identification document, allowing the Ministry to verify the identity of the applicant. Officers also join to the application an auto-declaration of the completeness and truthfulness of the information, an operation that was once done in person, by signing a certificate, and that now has been dematerialized for a greater convenience of both international officers and the administration.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The initiative is sustainable insofar it has no direct financial costs. The management of the site, once it has been launched, is minimal on the technical side. The process of reception, analysis and validation of applications is currently carried out by a few members of the administrative and diplomatic staff of Office V of the Directorate General for Human Resources, Budget and Innovation. Also, a dedicated inter-ministries commission is being created. Its tasks will be to superintend the management and publicity of the site, as well as giving indications on possible improvements that can be made. The initiative could be replicated by other countries in need of a roster listing their international officers, as the advantages, beyond those given directly by the Italian law are many (for instance, there is a great networking potential, not only between officers, but also among officers and private enterprises, public institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations).

 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 experience with the initiative, as tough as the realization of the site was, has been very positive. The administration learned a number of lessons. On a purely technical side, the very few days after the launch were of capital importance, as it was during this period that “bugs” were found and fixed (for instance, a glitch on automatic control on requirements was addressed and solved). Other issues that had not been considered a problem came to light: for instance, many international officers found difficulties understanding the submission mechanism, or lamented that the allowed dimensions for joint documents were too small. This led to an analysis of the problem and some solutions, such as introducing on the home page of the site a short but precise handbook giving the basic information on the application process. The project allowed the Ministry to get in contact with a group, that of international officers, that has often been left aside, for a series of reasons including the fact that they were spread all over the world, and thus difficult not only to approach and represent, but even, merely, to count. The roster has now open new possibilities for both officers and the administration. Along with the cited possibilities directly deriving from the presence on the list, and the mentioned benefits linked to networking and publicity, other steps could be taken, using the site as a starting point. In particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could expand the site and insert into it new parts, for instance regarding new job opportunities for those officers that are currently not in service (by publicizing vacancies in general, or even by using the roster as a database in case a private or public entity was looking for a certain type of professional competency). A part encouraging young people to take the path of international organizations could be added, with relevant links not only to vacancies, but also to internship and scholarship opportunities.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Fabrizio Lobasso
Title:   Consigliere d'Ambasciata  
Telephone/ Fax:   0039 06 3691 5103
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   fabrizio.lobasso@esteri.it  
Address:   Piazzale della Farnesina
Postal Code:  
City:   Roma
State/Province:  
Country:  

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