Rome, November 22, 2017 - 17.31
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HISTORY

The State General Accounting Department (Ragioneria Generale dello Stato - RGS) was created in 1869 following Italy's unification, due to the need to manage one single budget for the entire country. Therefore, a rational State revenue and expenditure accounting system had to be developed which could closely monitor management activities, introducing specific tools to keep the Public Administration under close scrutiny according to a vision of Public Finance by which the rights of all stakeholders had to be protected.

This is the same vision which inspired the reform process Cavour carried out for the control and coordination of the entire financial administration: an objective Cavour himself thought could be achieved through two different types of control "one, independent, carried out by the Court of Accounts, the other, administrative, by the Finance Department".

The complexity and variety of tools used by the Government to steer the national economy, and the manifold parameters that come into play for their control, require the establishment of a central body whose responsibility shall not be limited to the appropriate accounting and financial management of public funds, but should also have the function of ensuring the controlled expansion of "Public Expenditure" aggregates. This therefore leads to the creation of a central body, such as the State General Accounting Department, that has the function to safeguard the financial balance of the public sector and the duty to:

· act as a technical filter between expenditure demands and decisions (ex-ante evaluation of the financial effects of each single expenditure);

· guarantee the correspondence between budgeted and real expenditures;

· regulate-adjuste the timing of outpayments.

Even then, Cavour believed that it was possible to monitor and coordinate public financial administration through two institutions: "one independent, the Court of Accounts, the other administrative, the Finance Department". Both have to "report to Parliament all necessary observations and propositions regarding such accounts and the improvements that should be made in the administration of finances".

On April 22, 1869, the Parliament passed the bill that had been presented a year earlier by Finance Minister Cambray-Digny which, through act n. 5026, authorized the establishment of the State General Accounts Office (Ragioneria Generale dello Stato) inside the then Finance Department.

Inl 1877, seven years later, the Treasury Department was created and the State General Accounts Office - RGS was placed under its jurisdiction (royal decree n. 4219, December 26, 1877).

In 1923, after fifty years, the project was finally approved (royal decree n. 129, January 28, 1923). In that same year, also the regulation on "the administration of state property and assets in Government Accounting" was approved, a set of essential accounting norms that was proposed by Finance Minister Alberto de Stefani. These regulations represented, de facto, the founding act of the State General Accounts Office - (Ragioneria Generale dello Stato - RGS) as we know it today.

In 1924, (royal decree n. 827, May 23, 1924) the merger between the Finance Department and the Treasury Department was approved.

In 1939, The State General Accounts Office (Ragioneria Generale dello Stato - RGS) went through an organic and functional overhaul and the first four inspectorates were created (Law of July 26, 1939, n. 1037).

In June 1955 (Presidential Decree n. 1544, June 30, 1955), the Regional Accounts Offices (Ragionerie Regionali dello Stato) were created following the unification of the Special Offices of the General Accounts Office (Uffici Speciali della Ragioneria Generale), which had regional authority, and the Accounts Offices (Ragionerie) that were already active in the Provincial Revenue Offices (Intendenze di Finanza) which then became the Provincial Accounts Offices (Ragionerie Provinciali dello Stato).

In 1962, an additional structural adjustment (Law n. 1291, August 16, 1962) added two Inspectorates and, with a later Presidential Decree, in 1988 the number of Inspectorates went from six to eight.

The law of August 5, 1978 reformed the State Budget and laid the foundation to turn the State Budget from just a summary document containing decisions made through "substantial" legislation, into a powerful knowledge instrument and a tool for the overall and periodic redefinition of financial requirements for the entire public sector. This process, however, never came to fruition.

In 1997, in the context of the re-organization of the Ministry that led to the merger of the Treasury Department with the Ministry of Budget and Planning, the State General Accounts Office (RGS) became a Department (II), keeping the functions of coordinating and directing the monitoring and control of Public Finance administration. On the occasion of this internal reorganization, the State Provincial Accounts Offices were placed under the responsibility of Department IV (General Affairs and Personnel).

In September 2002, the Government (legislative decree n. 194, September 6, 2002, converted into Law 246/2002) fully reinstated the Provincial Accounts Offices in the organization of the Department of National Accounts and thus repositioned them inside the central body. The same decree gave the State General Accounting Department (RGS) new and more specific responsibilities for the monitoring and analysis of expenditure trends, specifically regarding domestic growth and Stability Pact obligations.

Since its establishment, the State General Accounting Department has had the responsibility of preparing the draft annual national budget, including related adjustment and variation measures, the multi-annual national budget and also the Finance Bill and related provisions.

The position and role of the State General Accounting Department thus define the institute an "auxiliary body of the central administration" and identify the Department as the body entrusted with the real authority of "directing public expenditure" and "guiding" the entire administrative activity.