Reports

France End-of-Term Report 2015-2017 (Year 2)

Country : France
Dates Under Review : July 2016 - June 2017
Report publication year : 2018
Researcher : Sofia Wickberg

Overview - France End-of-Term Report 2015-2017 (Year 2)

France’s first action plan was ambitious regarding the number of commitments and areas included but was limited by focusing largely on open data reforms. A majority of commitments were substantially implemented thanks to concurrent legislative reforms. The implementation of new open data rules might be a significant obstacle to be considered in the next action plan.

Process 

The government did not maintain any regular multistakeholder forum during the action plan. During the second year of implementation, the government launched “Open Ministry”, to at serve as a dialogue forum for implementing institutions, civil society, and experts. “Open Ministry” held four meetings, though these meetings were largely not focused on reviewing the first action plan.

France did not act contrary to OGP process

A country is considered to have acted contrary to process if one or more of the following occurs:

  • The National Action Plan was developed with neither online or offline engagements with citizens and civil society
  • The government fails to engage with the IRM researchers in charge of the country’s Year 1 and Year 2 reports
  • The IRM report establishes that there was no progress made on implementing any of the commitments in the country’s action plan
During Action Plan Implementation
Y2
No Consultation
Inform
Consult
Involve
Collaborate
Who was involved? 
Civil Society Involvement
Beyond "governance" civil society
Mostly "governance" civil society
No/little civil society X
Narrow / little government consultation Primarily agencies that serve other agencies Significant involvement of line ministries and agencies
Government Involvement

Despite the launch of the Open Ministry consultation platform during the second year of the action plan, the IRM researcher noted a decline in civil society involvement in the action plan, and a lack of enthusiasm for the OGP process among stakeholders, including the government.

Commitment Performance 

While most of France’s commitments in the first action plan saw substantial implementation, only a few were fully implemented. The action plan saw improvements on defining conflict of interest for civil servants and increasing transparency in public procurement.

Commitment Completion 

Current Plan
Year 1: 3%
Year 2: 10%

Commitment Ambition 

Current Plan
Year 1: 21%

Starred commitments 

Current Plan
Year 1: 10%
Year 2: 17%

Commitments Overview

Commitment Title Potential starred * Complete Major or Outstanding Results? ** Overview
1.1. Open Regional and Local Authorities’ data No No Yes Local governments are now legally required to publish financial and operational data. OpenData France notes that the threshold for opening data (3,500 residents) represents a significant step forward for transparency at the local level.
1.2. Publish decisions and reports of municipal council meetings online No No No The 2015 NOTRe Law (which entered force in February 2016) requires municipalities to publish information on deliberation and meeting minutes. However, the law does not require disclosure of this information in electronic format.
1.3. Publish information relative to building permits in open data No No No While the government launched a database for building permits (Sit@del) and organized a hackathon, the working group to facilitate the publication of building permit data was mostly inactive during the reporting period.
✪2. Increase transparency in public procurement Yes No Yes The government set legal requirements to open data on procurement and concession contracts, and standardised data for disclosure. However, these activities are scheduled to be completed outside the reporting period.
3. Improve transparency in international development aid No No Yes The French Development Agency and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs now publish data on development projects in open and reusable formats and on a single platform. This marks a significant improvement from the status quo.
4. Open access to evaluation of public policies and their conclusions No No No While the Secretary-General for Government Modernization has published new public policy evaluations on its website, a free library of public policy evaluation reports already existed prior to the action plan.
5. Involve citizens further in the work of the Cour des comptes No No No Cour des comptes (France’s supreme audit institution) made new data available to the public, and collaborated with data scientists. However, the datasets have rarely been used, and there is no evidence of improved civic engagement with Cour des comptes.
6. Facilitate access to public officials’ transparency obligations No Yes Yes Decree N° 2016-570 (May 2016) requires public officials to declare their declaration through an online reporting platform (ADEL). By October 2017, 761 declarations were available in open data format on ADEL, representing a significant improvement to transparency of this information.
✪7. Identify beneficial owners of legal entities registered in France Yes No No Decree no. 2016-1635 requires companies and corporate groups to identify and register their ultimate beneficial owners by August 2017. Citizens must demonstrate a legitimate interest to make an information request through a judicial ordinance, though the term “legitimate interest” is undefined.
8. Transparency in extractives Yes No No This commitment called for France to join the Extractives Industries Transparency Industries (EITI). However, efforts towards EITI accession have stalled due to disagreements between the government and civil society over the parameters of EITI in France.
9. Increase transparency in international trade commercial negotiations No No No By the end of the action plan period, the government has made only limited amounts of information on trade negotiations available to the public, and this commitment has not improved transparency in this area.
10.1. Fix my neighborhood No Withdrawn No The “Fix my Neighbourhood” project aimed to help local government dispatch alerts to relevant departments. This commitment was officially withdrawn at the midterm.
10.2. Digital Fix-it No No No Digital Fix-it sought to develop a pilot application to allow citizens to report incidences of cybervandalism on state-controlled and semi-public websites. However, the project has not been started.
11. Co-produce with civil society the data infrastructure essential to society and economy No No Yes The government opened several sets of reference data and consulted the public on the development of the country’s essential data infrastructure. Despite the consultations with stakeholders, it is unclear how these inputs were included in the criteria for releasing information.
✪12. Open legal resources & collaboration with civil society on opening the law Yes No No The passage of the Digital Republic Law in November 2016 represents a significant step toward improving access to legal information. However, at the end of the action plan period, the law has yet to be fully implemented and public consultations on bills are not institutionalised.
13. Leverage previous consultations and reform participatory mechanisms No No No This commitment aimed to improve public consultations through digital tools. However, by the end of the action plan period, there was no change in the level of centralisation or accessibility of information on public consultations.
14. Strengthen mediation and citizens’ ability to act in matters relating to justice No No No While the law on modernising justice and the Digital Republic Law contain major steps forward regarding access to judicial decisions and access to justice, the relevant clauses have not been implemented at the end of the action plan period.
✪15. Strengthen government policy on the opening and circulation of data Yes No No The 2016 Digital Republic Law entrenches the principle of default open data and represents a significant change in government practice. However, the law has yet to be fully implemented.
16. Open calculation models and simulators No No No While the OpenFisca platform was extended to new areas of legislation and new codes were published, this commitment remained limited in scale and scope.
17. Transform government’s technological resources into an open platform No Yes No The government launched an e-government portal France Connect and carried out awareness-raising activities. However, no new information has been disclosed through his commitment.
18. Strengthen interaction with the user and improve public services through e-government No No No The government updated the digital public services dashboard and carried out a survey for feedback on users’ habits and satisfaction with the services provided. However, the information on user satisfaction for the services on the dashboard is very general.
19. Empower civil society to support schools No No No This commitment sought to allow citizens to contribute to youth education. However, the activities did not create new opportunities for citizens to engage in the decision-making process for education.
20. Diversify recruitment within public institutions No No No The government made preparatory steps towards improving diversity in the civil service, this commitment did not establish public-facing mechanisms to hold officials accountable for discriminatory practices within the civil service.
21. Grow a culture of openness, data literacy and digital technologies No No No While digital literacy trainings for civil servants took place, there is no clear evidence that they lead to any significant change in government practices.
22. Spread public innovation, and develop research on open government No No No The commitment aimed to spread digital innovation across the public sector, particularly at the local level. However, the activities carried out for this commitment were limited in scope and did not meaningfully contribute to opening up government.
✪23. Empowering and protecting public officials in preventing conflicts of interest Yes Yes Yes Law n° 2016-483 has for the first time clarified the definition of “conflict of interest” for civil servants” and clarified ethical standards in the public sector.  there is no public information on measures to strengthen whistleblower protection through this law.
24. Involve civil society in the COP21 conference and promote transparency regarding the agenda and negotiations No No No While the Ministry of Environment, Energy and the Sea published a participation charter after consulting relevant stakeholders, no new tools or platforms were created to encourage public participation on environmental policy. 
25. Open data and models related to climate and sustainable development No No No This commitment opened a number of new datasets on climate and sustainable development. However, the criteria of the data to be publish is unclear, as is the regularity of which the data will be updated.
26. Initiate new collaboration with civil society to develop innovative solutions to meet the challenges of climate and sustainable development No No No While this commitment encouraged a participatory approach and civil society-led solutions to environmental issues, it is unclear if the activities carried out contributed to permanent changes in government practices.  

* Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as being specific, relevant, and potentially transformative
** Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as having major or outstanding results in terms of the ‘Did it Open Government?’ variable
✪ Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as being specific, relevant, potentially transformative, and substantially or fully implemented

IRM Report - France End-of-Term Report 2015-2017 (Year 2)


Executive Summary: France

France's first action plan was ambitious regarding the number of commitments and issue areas included but was limited by focusing largely on open data reforms. A majority of commitments were substantially implemented thanks to major concurrent legislative reforms. The implementation of new open data rules might be a significant obstacle to be considered in the next action plan.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country. France joined OGP in April 2014. This report summarises the results of the period July 2016 to October 2017.

Table 1: At a Glance

 

Mid-term

End of term

Number of Commitments

29

29

Level of Completion

Completed

1

3

Substantial

10

14

Limited

15

10

Not Started

2

1

Withdrawn

1

1

Number of Commitments with…

Clear Relevance to OGP Values

24

24

Transformative Potential Impact

6

6

Substantial or Complete Implementation

11

17

All Three ()

3

5

Did It Open government?

Major

6

Outstanding

0

Moving Forward

Number of Commitments Carried Over to Next Action Plan

12

       

 

“Mission Etalab” is the lead agency coordinating OGP in France. Etalab is part of the Inter-ministerial Director of Digital Information and Communication system (DINSIC), tasked primarily with publishing data and coordinating France's open government policy across ministries. Etalab is responsible for developing the OGP action plan and coordinating its implementation with ministries and institutions responsible for specific commitments and milestones, though it has little legal power to enforce policy changes within ministries.

It is notable that 2017 was an important electoral year in France, with the presidential and legislative elections held in spring, after an unusually long electoral campaign – most major parties having organised primaries. The second year of implementation was thus marked by this pre-electoral climate.

At the time of writing this report (November-December 2017), the French government had yet to produce and publish its end-of-term self-assessment report, though a draft version of the report was made available to the IRM researcher and is regularly referenced in this report. Etalab created a digital book to provide regular updates on OGP activities; however, this was last updated May 2017. In late March 2018, the government published an end-of-term self-assessment report, though it is currently only available in French.

Three of the action plan's commitments significantly contributed to open government and create major changes in government practices. Five commitments were considered ‘starred' commitments by the end of the implementation period.

As of December 2017, France had published the new action plan for its second cycle of public comments and contributions. The consultation period closed 18 December 2017. In its draft state, the new action plan includes twelve commitments carried over from the previous plan: opening data by default and building a public data infrastructure; transparency in public procurement; transparency in development aid; transparency in public officials' interests and asset declaration; transparency in algorithms; transparency in environmental data; registration of beneficial ownership; public participation in the work of the Supreme Audit Institution (Cour des comptes); public participation in decision-making concerning the ecological transition; assistance to public administration to make better use of public consultations; and fostering innovation. Two commitments are new and focus on transparency of in lobbying activities and the encouragement of open science.

Consultation with Civil Society during Implementation

Countries participating in OGP follow a process for consultation during development and implementation of their action plan.

While there was a high level of consultation between government and stakeholders during the action plan development, there was no regular multistakeholder forum for soliciting feedback on the implementation of the action plan. The public, however, was able provide input on action plan implementation through the Etalab website, which offered the possibility to comment on action plan updates. As indicated in the midterm report, Etalab continued to regularly hold in-person meetings with select civil society organisations (CSOs) who were involved either in the plan's development or implementation. Therefore, the IRM researcher found the level of public influence during action plan implementation to be at the “consult” level (see Table 3 “Level of Public Influence during Implementation”).

During the second year of implementation, the government launched a new form of public consultation called Ministère ouvert (Open Ministry), aimed at improving dialogue between different implementing institutions, civil society and experts. The first “Open Ministry” event was organised on 21 June 2016 in Paris by the Secretary of State for State Reform, the institution in charge of implementing 10 of the 30 commitments in the action plan, and brought together 150 participants.[Note1: “Ministère Ouvert” (21 Jul. 2016), https://www.etalab.gouv.fr/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/20160721_Minist%C3%A8re-ouvert-1-Synth%C3%A8se-%C3%A0-larbitrage-du-Secr%C3%A9taire-dEtat-charg%C3%A9-de-la-R%C3%A9forme-de-lEtat-et-de-la-Simplification-1.pdf.] Minutes of this first event are available online and show the meeting focused on consulting with civil society on the second action plan (2017-2019), and less about reviewing the current action plan. A second “Open Ministry” was organised on 26 September 2016, during a conference for local governments on citizens' digital identities in Dijon, with a focus on local government and innovation in the public sector. The IRM researcher was unable to find the minutes of this event but a video of the introductory remarks is available online.[Note2: Video available at: http://www.villes-internet.net/articles/576946b34cb238e86709d67e.] A third “Open Ministry” was organised on 11 October 2016 by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. This event focused more on the principles of open government and the potential of open government research than on monitoring implementation of current commitments, as can be seen from the programme.[Note3: Programme available here: https://rdv.etalab.gouv.fr/e/9/ce-que-peut-la-recherche-pour-un-gouvernement-ouvert.] Lastly, an “Open Ministry” was organised on 28 February 2017 to launch the consultation for the second action plan (2017-2019).

A number of civil society organisations decided to boycott the OGP Global Summit in Paris in December 2016 to express their disappointment in the government's approach to open government. Ten organisations representing a variety of causes including the environment, open source/open Internet, human rights, and transparency signed a press release listing their concern about the government commitment to the principles of OGP and the discrepancy between discourse and action. They point to the lack of follow-up on public consultations and the absence of actual co-creation efforts, as well as to the lacking systematic use of open source platforms.[Note4: The press release is available here: http://republiquecitoyenne.fr/telechargement/open-government-empty-promise.pdf. ] Other interviewed stakeholders recognised Etalab's willingness to involve civil society.[Note5: Member of Open Source Politics, personal communication (email) with the IRM researcher, 31 Oct. 2017; Staff member of Transparency France, personal communication (email) with the IRM researcher, 7 Nov. 2017.] However, Sarah Labelle, a social scientist working with Etalab in 2016, notes that Etalab operates, as a heterotopia – existing between the government and civil society and unable to compel the government to engage in more open and participatory practices.[Note6: Sarah Labelle, personal communication with the IRM researcher, 2 Nov. 2017.] Over the course of researching for this report, the IRM researcher found that many requests for interviews with government and CSO stakeholders went unanswered. The experience of the IRM researcher suggests a decline in civil society involvement over the implementation period and a lack of enthusiasm for the OGP process among stakeholders, including the government.

Table 2: Consultation during Implementation

Regular Multistakeholder Forum

Midterm

End of Term

1. Did a forum exist?

No

No

2. Did it meet regularly?          

No

No

 

Table 3: Level of Public Influence during Implementation

The IRM has adapted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) “Spectrum of Participation” to apply to OGP.[Note7: International Association for Public Participation, "IAP2's Public Participation Spectrum" (IAP2, 2014), c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iap2.org/resource/resmgr/foundations_course/IAP2_P2_Spectrum_FINAL.pdf.] This spectrum shows the potential level of public influence on the contents of the action plan. In the spirit of OGP, most countries should aspire for “collaborative.”

 

Level of Public Influence during Implementation of Action Plan

Midterm

End of Term

Empower

The government handed decision-making power to members of the public.

 

 

Collaborate

There was iterative dialogue AND the public helped set the agenda.

 

 

Involve

The government gave feedback on how public inputs were considered.

 

 

Consult

The public could give inputs.

Inform

The government provided the public with information on the action plan.

 

 

No Consultation

No consultation

 

 

About the Assessment

The indicators and method used in the IRM research can be found in the IRM Procedures Manual.[Note8: IRM Procedures Manual, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-irm.] One measure, the “starred commitment” (), deserves further explanation due to its particular interest to readers and usefulness for encouraging a race to the top among OGP-participating countries. Starred commitments are considered exemplary OGP commitments. To receive a star, a commitment must meet several criteria:

  • Starred commitments will have “medium” or “high” specificity. A commitment must lay out clearly defined activities and steps to make a judgment about its potential impact.
  • The commitment's language should make clear its relevance to opening government. Specifically, it must relate to at least one of the OGP values of Access to Information, Civic Participation, or Public Accountability.
  • The commitment would have a "transformative" potential impact if completely implemented.[Note9: The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/node/5919.]
  • The government must make significant progress on this commitment during the action plan implementation period, receiving an assessment of "substantial" or "complete" implementation.

Starred commitments can lose their starred status if their completion falls short of substantial or full completion at the end of the action plan implementation period. 

In the midterm report, France's action plan contained three starred commitments. At the end of term, based on the changes in the level of completion, France's action plan contained five starred commitments.

Finally, the tables in this section present an excerpt of the wealth of data the IRM collects during its reporting process. For the full dataset for France, see the OGP Explorer at www.opengovpartnership.org/explorer.

About “Did It Open Government?”

To capture changes in government practice, the IRM introduced a new variable “Did It Open Government?” in end-of-term reports. This variable attempts to move beyond measuring outputs and deliverables to looking at how the government practice has changed as a result of the commitment's implementation.

As written, some OGP commitments are vague and/or not clearly relevant to OGP values but achieve significant policy reforms. In other cases, commitments as written appear relevant and ambitious, but fail to open government as implemented. The “Did It Open Government” variable attempts to captures these subtleties.

The “Did It Open Government?” variable assesses changes in government practice using the following spectrum:

·       Worsened: Government openness worsens as a result of the commitment.

·       Did not change: No changes in government practice.

·       Marginal: Some change, but minor in terms of its effect on level of openness.

·       Major: A step forward for government openness in the relevant policy area, but remains limited in scope or scale.

·       Outstanding: A reform that has transformed “business as usual” in the relevant policy area by opening government.

To assess this variable, researchers establish the status quo at the outset of the action plan. They then assess outcomes as implemented for changes in government openness.

Readers should keep in mind limitations. IRM end-of-term reports are prepared only a few months after the implementation cycle is completed. The variable focuses on outcomes that can be observed in government openness practices at the end of the two-year implementation period. The report and the variable do not intend to assess impact because of the complex methodological implications and the time frame of the report.

Commitment Implementation

General Overview of Commitments

As part of OGP, countries are required to make commitments in a two-year action plan. The tables below summarise the completion level at the end of term and progress on the “Did It Open Government?” metric. For commitments that were complete at the midterm, the report will provide a summary of the progress report findings but focus on analysis of the ‘Did It Open Government?' variable. For further details on these commitments, please see the French IRM progress report (2017).

The national action plan focuses on five key areas – ensuring accountability; consulting, debating and co-creating; opening digital resources; opening public administration; and opening government for sustainable development.

Table 4: Assessment of Progress by Commitment

Commitment Overview

Specificity

OGP Value Relevance (as written)

Potential Impact

Completion

Midterm

Did It Open Government?

End of Term

None

Low

Medium

High

Access to Information

Civic Participation

Public Accountability

Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability

None

Minor

Moderate

Transformative

Not Started

Limited

Substantial

Completed

Worsened

Did Not Change

Marginal

Major

Outstanding

Theme 1: Ensure Accountability

1.1. Open Regional and Local Authorities' data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.2. Publish the decisions and reports of municipal council meetings online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.3. Publish information relative to building permits in open data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Increase transparency in public procurement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Improve transparency in international development aid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Open access to evaluations of public policies and their conclusions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Involve citizens further in the work carried out by the Cour des Comptes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Access to public officials' transparency obligations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Identify beneficial owners of legal entities registered in France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Transparency in Extractives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Increase transparency in International Trade Commercial Negotiations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme 2: Consult, Debate and Co-Create

10.1. Fix My Neighbourhood

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

Withdrawn

 

 

 

 

10.2. Digital Fix-It

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Co-produce with civil society the data infrastructure essential to society and economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. Further expand the opening of legal resources & the collaboration with civil society on opening the law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Leverage previous consultations & reform participatory mechanisms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. Strengthen mediation and citizens' ability to act in matters relating to justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme 3: Open Digital Resources

15. Strengthen government policy on the opening and circulation of data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16. Open Calculation Models and Simulators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17. Transform government's technological resources into an open platform

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. Strengthen interaction with the user and improve public services through e-government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme 4: Open up Public Administration

19. Empower Civil Society to support schools

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20. Diversify recruitment within public institutions

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21. Grow a culture of openness, data literacy and digital tech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22. Spread public innovation and develop research on Open Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23. Empowering and protecting public officials in preventing conflicts of interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme 5: Open Government for climate and sustainable development

24. Involve civil society in the COP21 conference and promote transparency regarding the agenda and negotiations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25. Open data and models related to climate and sustainable development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26. Initiate new collaborations with civil society to develop innovative solutions to meet the challenges of climate and sustainable development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                             

Methodological Note

The end-of-term report is based on desk research and interviews with governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders. The IRM report builds on the findings of the government's self-assessment report; other assessments of progress by civil society, the private sector, or international organisations; and the previous IRM progress report.

This report is based on a desk review of governmental programmes, laws and implementation decrees; a review of Etalab's digital monitoring platform; stakeholder interviews and monitoring of the media; and institutional and CSO websites.