With a citizen-centric approach and a strong focus on co-creation, SIMPLEX is a simplification and modernization program focused on improving public service efficiency and designed to facilitate the citizens and businesses everyday life, and their interaction with the public administration.

Launched in 2006, it had several editions since then and resulted in the implementation of hundreds of initiatives that cut red tape, reduced context costs and used ICT to deliver better public services.

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In SIMPLEX, the needs of the public services users are the key criterion to identify priority areas for action and the most appropriate simplification measures. The program is highly participative, with a strong focus on co-creation and the participation of different stakeholders in the process of defining the initiatives to be implemented by the government agencies.

First launched in 2006 and with several editions since then, SIMPLEX is the central policy program in Portugal to boost the public services reform and facilitate the relationship between the citizens and the enterprises with the public administration. It combines in a single governmental program the objectives of better regulation; reduction of the administrative burden; interoperability; forms and procedures dematerialization; easy access to public services; cutting red tape; and the promotion of e-Government. It, therefore, enables a more efficient public administration and a better service delivery to the citizens and the entrepreneurs.

It covers all the governmental areas, from defense to agriculture, to foreign affairs or education, among all the others. In fact, some of the initiatives across more than one area and ministry, making the cooperation and coordination between different entities a prerogative of the program, which has a strong silo breaking focus.

The 1st edition of the program was in 2006, and between 2006 and 2011, more than 1.000 measures of administrative and legislative simplification and e-Government were successfully implemented across the all Portuguese public administration. The program then had a consolidation phase and, ten years later, in 2016, it was back and renamed SIMPLEX+. It retained its original feature of a single national program of a cross-cutting nature, covering all the domains where the state is actively present, but it addresses new challenges.

To identify the initiatives that make up the program, there were several meetings and design thinking sessions engaging different stakeholders all across the country, during what was called the SIMPLEX Tour. In these meetings, 2016, 2017 and 2018 SIMPLEX+ editions gathered the ideas of 2.634 citizens and entrepreneurs. Also, 283 public servants participated in the SIMPLEX JAM meetings, also organized across the country with the goal of collecting ideas for the initiatives. Another relevant form of participation was the SIMPLEX website, which works as an open channel for communication and submission of suggestions and ideas through the SIMPLEX+ BOOK, through which AMA received 802 proposals of projects to include in the program.

But the website is not only an instrument of engagement, but it’s also an instrument for transparency, publicizing SIMPLEX many activities and projects, their implementation stage and timelines, as well as the entities involved since initiatives,  are assigned to individual public entities for implementation, depending on their area of action.

The SIMPLEX program was also an opportunity to stimulate innovation and to invite innovators to look at the central administration. With that in mind, as part of the SIMPLEX+ program, the 'Startup SIMPLEX' competition was launched in 2016, inviting Startups to present their ideas for services and products that would improve the Portuguese public administration. There were 196 projects submitted and the three winners had their ideas embedded in the SIMPLEX+ 2016, as one of the 255 measures of that year’s edition.

Some of the most emblematic initiatives that happened under different SIMPLEX editions are: the “Born a Citizen”, that enables birth registration at the maternity unities or hospitals (2007); the “Automatic Tax Declaration”, which made tax returns completely digital and automatic (2017); the “I lost my wallet” counter, a one-stop counter that helps the citizen renew most of its documents in case his wallet is lost or stolen (2004); “On the Spot Firm”, that allows registering a company in less than one hour (2006); the “Electronic Vaccination Bulletin”, which makes available online the information about vaccination, providing personal notifications about coming dates (2018); etc.

With most of the initiatives implemented, the way the program is designed and executed is a successful and replicable model. The execution rate for the SIMPLEX 2016 is 89%, for the 2017 edition is 80% and for 2018 is already 83%. Considering that 154 of the SIMPLEX 2018 initiatives are to be finished until the end of 2019, and 15 are to be completed until the end of 2020, the execution rate of this edition is considered to be on track.

The responsibility for the program lies with the Minister of the Presidency and of Administrative Modernisation, with direct support from the Prime Minister. The Secretary of State Assistant and of Administrative Modernisation is in charge of coordinating and monitoring the program, with the technical support of the Administrative Modernization Agency (AMA).

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Year: 2006
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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