In the past, people who applied for recognition of their teacher's qualification in Xiong'an New Area, North China's Hebei province, were required to submit a written certificate of their moral competence which they had to obtain from grassroots authorities or their employers.
Nowadays, however, all they have to do is sign and submit a written statement which can be easily downloaded from the internet.
The change was brought about by the area's adoption of the notification and commitment system, which is a pilot reform designed to improve China's business environment by significantly reducing the number of administrative items requiring a certificate.
Since its launch in Xiong'an last September, the reform had removed the certification requirement for over 1,370 administrative items by the end of this June, bringing substantial convenience to the public.
Less certificates, fewer visits
Take the recognition of teacher's qualification for example. Applicants may download a commitment letter from the internet, which states that they are qualified for the recognition and willing to assume the legal liability if they make false statements. Then they only have to sign the letter and take a picture of it before uploading the digital picture to the government service system. Upon the approval of their commitments, they go through a physical examination, and then finish the process by submitting the printed examination results to the area’s government service center.
According to a staff of the center, it will take only a month or so for applicants to obtain the recognition, representing a significant reduction in the time needed. "Less common seals mean fewer visits to government offices," said the staff.
Institutional certification reform
With the purpose of improving China's business environment and accelerating the building of a law-based government, the Ministry of Justice made the pilot rollout of the notification and commitment system the top priority of its tasks for 2019.
The ministry expected the system to effectively relieve the burden on individuals and enterprises by slashing unreasonable administrative certificates.
In May 2019, it began to pilot the system in 13 provincial-level regions, including Hebei, and five ministries. Xiong'an was chosen to be the pilot area in Hebei.
The area then selected 16 administrative items to which the system was applied, involving such issues as audio and video production, pharmaceutical sales licenses, teacher's qualifications, establishment of law firms, lawyers' practicing right and individuals' criminal records.
The system requires administrative organs to first notify applicants of all the information at one time, and then spare them from submitting certificates as long as they make a written commitment that they are willing to assume legal liabilities for any false statement.
Stringent fact check
As part of the pilot work, the local government strengthened in-process and post-event supervision in an effort to prevent false statements.
It draws on three online national platforms for government services, data sharing and sharing of credit information to verify applicants' commitments.
To nurture a credit-based society, it introduced a credit archive system and a blacklist system, and imposed administrative penalties on dishonest applicants.
It also strengthened a cross-agency disciplinary mechanism to make sure that all the administrative organs sanction dishonest applicants in a concerted manner.
In addition, it established a disclosure system to encourage applicants to put their commitment under the supervision of the whole society.