Innovation in personnel recruiting via the web (ConLi)

Published on: 05/06/2009

Article 97 of the Italian Constitution establishes that it is possible to work for a Public Administration only after a selection process and a public examination. This procedure was long and complex, starting from an offer of work in a notice of competition, followed by the paper applications of the possible interested citizens through a registered letter. Then, there was a first selection among the applications received. After this, applicants had to be examined (written and oral exams) by a Selection Board. Finally, a ranking of those who passed the exams could be published publicly.

The Province of Reggio Emilia is now introducing new computerized procedures for its personnel recruiting through online selection processes and competitions.

This experimental implementation helps rationalising the old personnel recruiting process, which was long, complex and based exclusively on paper forms.

Since its starting date - January 2008 -, there were 5 competitive entrance examinations on July 2008 with an overall participation of 890 applicants.

The selection process was entirely online, supported by clear and detailed instructions that helped the applicants to deal successfully with possible problems. The applicants could therefore avoid addressing our Personnel Department to ask information about those competitions.

Main results

  • Since there was no need to use paper forms, it was possible to save money, time and paper as well as to avoid the risk of losing some application forms.
  • Applicants' data were available in real-time, making the selection process faster and safer than before.
  • It was possible to communicate with the applicants via the web only, providing all the information related to the competitions on the institutional website of the Province, so everyone was informed at the same time without delays or loss of information.

Policy Context

This experience was conceived within the framework of "Innovation and digitization  of the Public Administration", a plan launched by the Italian Government.

Since online call for tenders were already operating (e-procurement), the Province of Reggio Emilia decided to facilitate the access to public appointments too, using a simple and modern approach.

This case was developed in compliance with article 3 of the Italian law 15/2005 as follows "the Public Administrations should encourage the use of ICT for internal use - as well as for their relations with different administrations and private actors - in order to make their activities more efficient".

Description of target users and groups

Citizens who would like to work in a public administration with the required qualifications.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The whole application procedure was completely online, with clear and detailed instructions, therefore applicants could apply in a faster way, saving paper and money too.

All the required documentation and fees had to be hand in the same day of the first test.

Applications were screened as soon as they were received via the web. Moreover, all the notices related to the examinations were published on the website of the Province of Reggio Emilia, so that everyone could receive up-to-date information.

Technology solution

This project was built according to the features of a legal administrative framework.

Applications had to be submitted through a very simple computer-aided procedure, where there were compulsory yes-no questions. The system automatically rejected those applications that did not fulfill the established criteria as soon as they are submitted, while in the past this operation was done through a preliminary check after the submission of the applications.

A certified mail system was adopted to receive the applications and guarantee dates and contents.

An additional technological simplification was the online publication of the exam calendar, so that its formal convocation was made possible without using paper notices. The results of each exam and the final ranking were also published online, with a further paper saving.

Technology choice: Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

This project was thought to simplify a complex procedure in order to make it easily accessible to all the possible interested citizens.

Therefore, the main results and benefits were:

  • simplification of the procedures for acquiring applications,
  • easily accessible procedures for applicants, who perceive a better quality service,
  • reduction of the time necessary for accomplishing the whole examinations,
  • decrease of the operating costs,
  • reduction of legal disputes,
  • decrease of the human resources costs,
  • reduction of the margin of error due to human interference.

The computerisation of selection processes influences the applicants' perception related to the transparency of procedures. This is due to a real-time access to information, notices and documents, as well as the possibility to follow every step of this process without having to wait for being contacted by a public employee.

Return on investment

Return on investment: €5-15,000

Track record of sharing

Similar experiences were carried out by other public administrations, such as universities or local healthcare centres, but local or national administrations seemed not to be ready to receive this type of innovative procedure. This is the reason why these is no problem, especially legal or organizational ones, to reply these projects, as well as transferring their methods to other contexts.

Lessons learnt

  • Change is possible and it can also be easily implemented in contexts where regulations are very strict.
  • It is necessary to listen to the citizens' need of simplification.
  • Comparison with solutions adopted in private contexts can result in a stimulus to find similar solutions for the public context too.
Scope: Local (city or municipality)