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France Design Report 2018-2020

France’s second action plan primarily focuses on open data and digitalization efforts. Notable commitments call for publishing data on public procurement, involving the public in sustainable development policies, and setting up a register of lobbyists. Moving forward, the government could diversify the thematic scope of commitments and engage a wider range of civil society.

Table 1. At a glanceParticipating since: 2014
Action plan under review: 2
Report type: Design
Number of commitments: 21Action plan development
Is there a multi-stakeholder forum? No

Level of public influence: Involve

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design
Commitments relevant to OGP values: 18 (86%)

Transformative commitments: 2 (10%)

Potentially starred commitments: 2 (10%)

Action plan implementation
Starred commitments: N/A

Completed commitments: N/A

Commitments with major DIOG:* N/A

Commitments with outstanding DIOG:* N/A

* DIOG: Did it open government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. France joined OGP in 2014. This report evaluates the design of France’s second action plan.

General overview of action plan

The development of France’s second OGP action plan coincided with a presidential campaign and legislative election, and, later, a change of government. The period of political campaigning and the subsequent change of government contributed to prolonging the elaboration of the plan from February 2017 to April 2018. The new government’s increased focus on the state modernization agenda is reflected in the commitments focusing on e-government and the digitization of public services.

Etalab, an office within the office of the prime minister, leads OGP activities in France. Its mandate largely involves implementing technological solutions to improve transparency. There is no formal multi-stakeholder forum for OGP in France. However, Etalab organized a multi-stakeholder event, the Ministère Ouvert, in February 2017 to initiate a dialogue between government agencies and civil society on the second action plan.

The development of France’s second action plan took place over 14 months and involved consultations held mainly online. Etalab set up the Forum Open d’Etat, a multi-stakeholder platform bringing together government officials, civil society organizations (CSOs), business and citizens to discuss actions taken by public administration. Overall, consultations enriched the content of the action plan. Etalab incorporated some but not all suggestions from CSOs.

France’s second OGP action plan focuses mainly on transparency initiatives, digitalization of public services, and open data. Commitments in the current plan cover topics such as public procurement, development aid, citizen engagement in climate change and sustainable development policies, transparency of algorithms, and openness around lobbying and public officials. Several commitments involve the provision of mechanisms for user feedback. Some initiatives prioritized by civil society groups — including beneficial ownership transparency and reporting by the extractive sector — were not carried over from the previous action plan.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle
2. Increase transparency in public procurement

Centralize and standardize procurement data

The government could clarify what type of procurement data will be included in the single flow. It could also launch an information campaign for the general public and smaller-sized companies, with information on how they can make use of the single flow of data. In addition, more clarity is needed on the training of officials involved in the digitization of public procurement. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
17. Citizen involvement in decision on energy transition and sustainable development

Public monitoring and assessment of the national plans on climate change and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); access to various strategic datasets

The government needs to clarify and operationalize a mechanism for civil society to take part in the monitoring and assessment of the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change and in the elaboration of the action plan concerning the SDGs. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
20. Lobbying transparency

Publish information on interest groups undertaking lobbying activities

The government needs to prioritize setting up the register of lobbyists. To achieve higher impact, the register could include information on specific laws that interest groups seek to influence. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Recommendations

The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM recommendations

1. Formalize the multi-stakeholder forum, taking advantage of the Forum Open d’Etat to develop future action plans and monitor the implementation of commitments.
2. Create momentum around OGP in France by involving high-level governmental officials and reaching out to civil society actors beyond the open data community.
3. Future action plans could be designed to ensure the implementation of promises from the Great National Debate. Given popular demand for more citizen voices in decision making, commitments could operationalize pledges such as the facilitation of the referendum of shared initiative, the council of citizen participation and other forms of direct democracy in local and national politics.
4. Enhance ethics and integrity in public service. Future commitments could include clarifying ethics rules for elected officials, high level civil servants and the Parliament’s staff. The next action plan could be used to strengthen the role of ethics commissioners within the public service and further enhance the transparency of lobbying activities.
5. Align the action plan on existing initiatives and demands from civil society (i.e. ensuring transparency of the beneficial ownership register, open justice, extractive industry)

 

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