Qingdao, a coastal metropolis in East China's Shandong province, will be the first city in China to have set up a special division specifically responsible for conducting legitimacy review of the procedures leading to administrative decisions, according to an institutional reform plan recently issued by the city.
The city has been constantly improving its legitimacy review mechanism for administrative decision-making procedures, which is a core part of a law-based government. Some of its practices are now taking the lead across the province, and even the country.
The legitimacy review enhanced the legal awareness of local governments of all levels and their departments and normalized law-based administrative decision-making.
Official data showed that in 2018, the city's justice department has examined 707 administrative decision-making-related matters, including 225 topics of government meetings and municipal Party committee meetings, 11 major administrative decision processes, and 34 sets of minutes of government meetings.
Qingdao's practice of legitimacy review of administrative documents dates back to 2010 when the government initiated legitimacy review of its official documents.
The scope of the legitimacy review has been expanded since then. According to Wan Hongwen, head of the legitimacy review division of the justice department of Qingdao, all administrative decisions by the local government have now been included in the legitimacy review's coverage.
In recent years, Qingdao has issued a series of rules and measures on such matters as decision-making process, opinion polls, public hearings, expert argumentation and risk evaluation, which have laid a solid institutional foundation for the legitimacy review of the process and procedures that lead to administrative decisions.
During the legitimacy review, the justice department has always strictly adhered to the three principles of firmly defending the bottom line of law-based decision-making, insisting on consistency between powers and responsibilities, and protecting fair competition.
Not only does the department correct the irregularities in administrative decision-making, it also gives constructive suggestions so as to ensure smooth implementation of the decisions made, according to Wan Zhendong, head of the justice department of Qingdao.
"Currently, as our reform enters a crucial period and deep waters, a lot of innovative reforms have emerged in the government management field. There is no law or policy that governs these innovative practices,” said Wan. "The department takes into account all the relevant laws and policies when conducting legitimacy review. We must ensure the legal review meets the need for innovation without deviating from the track of the rule of law.”