M5S senators ask Franceschini to postpone MiBACT reform. Lack of staff, will cause chaos

A group of sixteen senators from the 5 Star Movement are calling on Minister Franceschini to postpone the MiBACT reform because it is understaffed and will cause chaos.

A group of senators from the 5 Star Movement (Margherita Corrado, Bianca Laura Granato, Luisa Angrisani, Danila De Lucia, Maria Domenica Castellone, Iunio Valerio Romano, Virginia La Mura, Orietta Vanin, Michela Montevecchi, Fabrizio Trentacoste, Donatella Agostinelli, Gisella Naturale, Giuseppe Auddino, Antonella Campagna, Elisa Pirro, Marco Pellegrini) on Thursday submitted a question asking Cultural Heritage Minister Dario Franceschini to postpone the MiBACT reform presented in December(a summary of the measures to be introduced can be found at this link). The reform will complete the design already put in place by Franceschini between 2014 and 2016, and which, according to the Pentastellated senators, is “already causing a series of dysfunctions that the sector’s operators, although heavily penalized by the so-called ’gag decree’, do not stop denouncing” (the reference is to the ministerial decree of December 23, 2015, which obliges MiBACT employees to seek permission from their respective manager in case they need to speak to the press).

According to the sixteen senators, “the major critical issues that have been detected in recent years pertain to the exercise of protection, the exclusive competence of the Ministry, while enhancement, daughter and sister of the former, is a concurrent matter with the Regions.” in particular, the sectorial superintendencies, which before the reform were divided into three areas (archaeology, fine arts and landscape), have been merged since 2014, and according to the questioners “ have been left in transition without sufficient operational guidelines and with few resources; they have lost, by losing the direct relationship with the museums that collected their testimonies, the link with the history of the territory; they have lost, sometimes, archives and deposits (often literally imprisoned in the new autonomous institutes),” and in addition, the superintendencies themselves “have been cancelled and remade twice, first by reducing their number and amalgamating part of their sectorial competencies, then by redistributing their areas of pertinence and adding archaeology to the already unified competencies, with this causing all sorts of inconveniences to the employees who have continued to work in the different offices, often tens of kilometers apart, with the difficulties and demotivation that can be imagined in the daily exercise of protection.”

What has been lacking, according to the grilloes, is “an organizational plan defined in detail,” and as a result, in their view, “it has happened that some of the staff, at first shared among several new offices, finding themselves in the condition of being able to choose whether to remain in force at the ABAP Superintendencies or to move to the museum poles and the new autonomous institutes, preferred the latter, which offer greater earning opportunities for extraordinary openings and have better visibility, and left almost empty (accomplices of retirements and the hiring of only technical officials) some particularly inconvenient protection offices.” The difficulties, the question goes on to say, would have affected not only workers, but also users (who, according to Franceschini, should have been benefited by the reorganization), due to the “poorly managed transformation”: “from the multiple protocoling of files received by the already several superintendencies in the meantime merged, to protocols stopped for restarting, to e-mail that remained unreachable due to the closure of boxes, to accounts closed and reassigned with intervals of several months.”

The Pentastellated senators believe that the reform presented last month is “an initiative destined to cause new (in the view of questioners perhaps strategic) chaos,” and in addition, despite the will of spending restraint that underpinned the 2014-2016 reform, “seven more institutions with special autonomy,” the questioners continue, “will now be added to the many already existing ones, led, like the others, by people chosen at the minister’s discretion and with second- or even first-tier executive salaries, creating a staggering increase in the number of super-executives.” But there is also the chapter on superintendencies: “By introducing 10 new ABAP superintendencies,” specify the Movement senators, “the apparatus of the periphery of protection will also be redesigned to a large extent, again and without preliminary studies and numbers that justify the planned intervention.”

In light of all this, the sixteen senators demand to know whether the minister does not believe that, as a result of the further reform, “the control of protection proceedings by the ABAP superintendencies, which have been painstakingly reorganized to carry them out on time,” will be lost, whether the minister does not agree that the reform “will produce serious harm to the cultural heritage in general and the landscape in particular, while according to the constitutional dictate (Article 9) the state should preserve and promote the one and the other, in order to ensure their public enjoyment,” whether he is not of the opinion that “giving birth to 10 new protection offices with the current numbers of employees and administrative officials, and in the absence of new internal managers educated on the issues of competence, therefore making use of external or ad hoc chosen personnel (if it will be possible for them), means rather to want to weaken the protection causing two reactions Inaction, due to lack of staff or fear of doing, or activism, but hetero-directed,” and whether he does not consider it appropriate, “out of respect for the cultural heritage, ministerial employees, local government and honest business,” to postpone the reform, this at least until after the completion of competitions for new managers and other necessary staff, particularly administrative staff. Without the new staff, in fact, the senators believe that “the daily activities of protection would end up not being carried out anymore due to lack of the minimum numbers of operators.”

Pictured: Palazzo Madama, seat of the Senate. Ph. Credit Paul Hermans

M5S senators ask Franceschini to postpone MiBACT reform. Lack of staff, will cause chaos
M5S senators ask Franceschini to postpone MiBACT reform. Lack of staff, will cause chaos

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