The electronic operation of all the Administrations demands to take into account the new dynamics that can produce in the tramitación of the different procedures. In particular, the repercussions that technical incidents may have on administrative deadlines must be taken into account.
In this sense, art. 32 of Law 39/2015, of 1 October, on common administrative procedure of public administrations (LPACAP) provides for a new cause for extension of deadlines, by establishing that when a technical incident has made it impossible for the normal operation of the system of the corresponding information and until the problem is resolved, the corresponding Administration may determine an extension of the unexpired deadlines, having to publish in the electronic office both the technical incident that has occurred and the extension of the deadline that has not won.
In this scenario, two issues need to be considered:
- The optional nature of the extension of deadlines as a result of technical incidents.
- What would be the solution in case the technical incident occurred in the private setting of the citizen. For example, a cut in the provision of Internet service.
In the first case, it seems quite obvious that the Administration should not charge the public with the damage that can be caused by a technical incident that occurs in their information systems and that makes electronic communication with it impossible. Therefore, we recommend extending deadlines. At the same time, we recommend that the extension be proportional to the duration of the incident, taking into account that the minimum extension is one day, with the aim of providing citizens with knowledge of the technical incident and being able to exercise their rights. . Eg: if a technical incident occurs within five days and the incident lasts one day or less than one day (hours, minutes…), the extension will in any case be one day. If the incident lasts three days, the extension is recommended to be three days.
In the second case, as long as the interested party can justify the causes of the incident in their private sphere, it seems reasonable, for example, to allow the inclusion of the electronic application, through a secretarial procedure.
On the other hand, it would be advisable for organizations to have an internal protocol that regulates how to act in the event of technical incidents in the day-to-day activities of the Administration.
Article 32. Extension.
"1. The Administration, unless otherwise provided, may grant ex officio or at the request of the interested parties an extension of the established time limits not exceeding half of these, if the circumstances so warrant and this does not prejudice the rights of third parties. The extension agreement must be notified to the interested parties.
2. The extension of the time limits for the maximum time allowed shall in any case apply to procedures processed by diplomatic missions and consular posts, as well as to those which, substantiated at home, require the completion of any procedure abroad or in which involve interested residents outside Spain.
3. Both the request of the interested parties and the decision on the extension must take place, in any case, before the expiry of the period in question. In no case may an expired term be extended. Agreements on the extension of time limits or on their refusal are not subject to appeal, without prejudice to any proceedings against the decision terminating the proceedings. 4. When a technical incident has prevented the normal operation of the system or the corresponding application, and until the problem is resolved, the Administration may determine an extension of the deadlines, and shall publish in the electronic office both the technical impact that has occurred as a specific extension of the unexpired term. "