Q&A: Francesco Gerbino on supporting the public sector

The IT arm of Italy's Ministry of Economy and Finance uses business analytics to simplify processes and anticipate needs

As the IT arm of Italy's Ministry of Economy and Finance, Sogei plays a crucial role in bringing innovation, strategy and unity to the country's public sector. And with SAS® Business Analytics, Sogei provides the technology support the Italian government needs to monitor and assess far-ranging issues like fiscal policy and health expenditures.

Established to manage the taxpayer data archive, Sogei's mandate has grown to include 1,800 employees and a budget of nearly 320 million euros (US$468 million). It is emerging as a center of excellence committed to supporting government action with innovative tax technology solutions.

Timely, accurate and useful information ensures governance over complex environments such as the Tax Information System.

Francesco Gerbino
Director of ICT Services and Systems

In an interview with SAS, Francesco Gerbino, Sogei's Director of ICT Services and Systems, talks about the company's mandate, projects and technology innovations as well as its role in the European Union and international community.

Simplification of government processes, tax evasion, fiscal federalism and tax autonomy are all hot issues at the moment. With these things in mind, what is Sogei's mission today?

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has refocused Sogei's mission around a number of key issues. The first is the integration of tax record databases with other central government entities, to provide better service to taxpayers and to help fight tax evasion.

The second area of focus was the integration of information from agencies that oversee local tax concerns, to both enrich the central database and to make processes more efficient for decentralized tax authorities. Integration is even more crucial when you consider that our business is generated from tax agencies (such as revenue, customs and territory), public land, state monopolies (such as tobacco) and public gaming.

How does Sogei's work impact or benefit other European Union community members?

Sogei's export of best practices helps provide countries that are candidates to enter the European Union (EU), or that actively trade with the EU economy, with the know-how and competence to adjust to European legislation or e-government projects aimed at improving administrative efficiency.

Recently, we won a tender to verify the alignment of Balkan tax administrations with European standards. Another initiative is with Tunisia related to e-accessibility. It's a social progress project to make government services accessible to the disabled via the Internet.

What innovation projects is Sogei currently focused on?

We are monitoring pharmaceutical and specialized expenditures related to the use of a health card, and we recently launched a network for doctors to electronically communicate prescription data and INPS (National Social Security Institute) medical certificates to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

A territory management project uses information from the agency for disbursements in agriculture to help reduce illegal building and loss of related tax revenue. It combines data from satellite images with the land registry database to identify "ghost buildings."

As a technology partner of the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies, we are certifying that next generation video lottery game equipment complies with Italian regulations, by electronically verifying the regularity of the games and real-time control of tax revenue.

What role does analytics play in defining government policies and actions?

We originally started using SAS Analytics to analyze and estimate tax revenue. Today, there is a well-established practice in the use of analytical tools, including econometrics, which allow the administration to make informed and accurate decisions regarding tax policy. For example, assessing the impact of taxation on economic sectors helps decision makers refine their development policies, and taxpayer segmentation studies people's behavior to encourage the development of more effective measures for the prevention of tax evasion.

The use of analytics allows us to provide the Department of Finance, and other state agencies, with real-time statistical information that is classified by territory, business, legal nature and income bracket dating back to 1995.

How can technology resources be better managed using analytics?

Given the complexity of the technology infrastructure – ranging from mainframes to the server farm – analytics give us a unified view of how technology resources are consumed. This is advantageous for two reasons: first, we are able to implement a policy related to IT spending and identify critical areas and possible improvements; and second, we can anticipate future development needs and establish appropriate procurement policies. Timely, accurate and useful information ensures governance over complex environments such as the Tax Information System, which is a technological asset for the country.

This story was originally published on ita.sas.com


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