Publish municipal council decisions and reports online (FR0002)
STAKES The monitoring of decisions made by local authorities is essential for information and participation in public life.
CONTEXT & AIM Regulatory acts cannot be executed prior to their publication in full in the list of administrative measures or in any other municipal document, or before they are posted. This hardcopy publication can be accompanied by an additional publication in digital format. Said digital publication does not replace the hard copy version of the publication. Any individual or legal entity can also receive municipal by-laws under the conditions stipulated in Act 78-753 of 17 July 1978 and publish them under its responsibility. To render information and local decisions more accessible, online publication will be reinforced as part of the bill on the new territorial organization of the Republic (NOTRe).
• Publish the list of administrative measures, deliberations, and local municipal by-laws in electronic format alongside a paper version, and provide permanent access free of charge
• Post the minutes for municipal council meetings within one week after the municipal council meeting on the local government website (where it exists) for at least six years (as opposed to a one-off posting made within eight days for an indeterminate minimum period)
IRM End of Term Status Summary
1. Enable citizens to consult, have a better understanding and reuse financial data and decisions of local and regional authorities
Editorial Note: For ease of evaluation, Commitment 1 is broken into Commitment 1.1, Commitment 1.2, and Commitment 1.3, which are assessed individually.
To meet the citizens' legitimate expectations and considering the large proportion of public funds spent by local and regional authorities, the financial transparency of these local authorities must be improved.
· Milestone 1.1.1. Allow citizens to better grasp the financial details of local and regional authorities
o Publish in open data the general operating grant (Dotation globale de fonctionnement) which is the State's financial contribution to local and regional authorities
o Publish in open data, on data.gouv.fr, all of account balances of local authorities and groups with specific taxation, from 2013 financial year onward
o Make it compulsory for local executives and chairmen of EPCI to present a report to deliberative assembly (municipal, departmental or regional council) on the follow-up given to observations made by the regional chamber of the Cour des comptes
· Milestone 1.1.2. Regularly provide the financial data of the financial jurisdictions such as:
o The data used for the work on local finance
o Some data on financial jurisdictions activities, notably the updated list of publications from the Cour des comptes and the resources of the financial jurisdictions
· Milestone 1.1.3. Strengthen open data in local and regional authorities: enshrine in law the requirement for local communities of more than 3500 inhabitants to publish their public information in open data format
The monitoring of decisions made by local authorities is essential for information and participation in public life.
· Milestone1.2.1. Publish the list of administrative measures, deliberations, and local municipal by-laws in electronic format alongside a paper version, and provide permanent access free of charge
· Milestone 1.2.2. Post the minutes for municipal council meetings within one week after the municipal council meeting on the local government website (where it exists) for at least six years (as opposed to a one-off posting made within eight days for an indeterminate minimum period)
In accordance with Article L.2121-26 of the General Local Authorities Code, decisions relating to building permits can be provided to any person requesting said information. Said decisions must also be published in hardcopy format.
· Start a working group with the stakeholders concerned to gradually arrange open data access to building permits data by 2017
o This collaboration could bring together Chief Data Officer, Etalab, the General Commissariat for Sustainable Development, and local authorities (via Open Data France, for example)
Editorial Note:This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text please see France's national action plan: https://bit.ly/2MTYhsR.
Responsible Institutions: Ministry of Interior; Ministry of Public Accounts and Action; Ministry of Spatial Planning, Rurality and Local Government; Court of Accounts; and Ministry of Environment, of Energy and of the Sea
Supporting Institution(s): N/A
Start Date: Not Specified
End Date: Not Specified
This commitment aimed to improve transparency at the local government level and to facilitate access to information about local financial management, decision-making and land management, specifically the attribution of building permits. For the purposes of analysis, this commitment is broken into three parts, each addressing a different aspect of local transparency and open data initiatives.
Commitment 1.1 sought to improve the financial transparency of local government. Article L.2121-26 of the local and regional authorities' general code requires local governments to communicate information about public finances to citizens upon request. Taking access to information one step further, this commitment provided for the proactive publication of this information in open data format.
Commitment 1.2 required the online publication of municipal councils' deliberations and meeting minutes. This would improve access to information about municipal decision-making as this information was previously posted only in paper version outside the town hall.
Commitment 1.3 aimed to publish information regarding building permits in open data format. Construction permits are approved by the municipality and information about issuance of building permits has been available upon request. This commitment sought to make anonymous data on construction permits available in open data format This information would facilitate impact studies, enrich national databases, inform social sciences, and allow tax authorities to exercise control on assets.
This commitment was substantially completed by the midterm. The website for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) features a tool to extract data on general operating grant and the sums given to each local government, as well as the criteria used to calculate the grants. The draft government self-assessment indicates that in order to complete this commitment, data on the grants should be made available in open data format, in a single dataset, and should be indexed on data.gouv.fr, with data on grants given since 2014. The Ministry of Economy and Finance has published account balances of local authorities and groups with special taxation from year 2013. The IRM progress report does not indicate progress regarding the obligation for local executives to present to the local assembly a report on the follow-up from their respective local institutions' audits.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance published the 2015 accounting results for local governments on the data.gouv.fr platform. It remains unclear if any additional data outside year 2015 will be published or if the data used by the supreme audit institution to review local finances will be available to the public.
The commitment activity, which requires local governments with more than 3,500 residents to comply with open data common requirements, was assessed as only ‘limited completion' since the Digital Republic bill was not passed by the end of the first year of implementation (June 2016). It would later be adopted in October 2016.
End of Term: Substantial
Commitment 1.1 is very broad and both the government self-assessment and the IRM progress report provide a list of activities to be assessed and coded. While most commitment activities were substantially completed, the progress made during the second year of implementation was not significant enough to justify coding Commitment 1.1 as completed. Regarding the commitment activities to allow citizens to better grasp the financial details of local and regional authorities:
Publication of general operating grant information: The data extracting tool featured on the website of the Ministry of Interior has been referenced on data.gouv.fr by hyperlinks to the Minister of Interior website. The tool makes it possible to extract financial data in .csv format for the current year. Several datasets on grants and financial balances of local governments (municipalities, intercommunalities, departments, and regions) are available from 2014 to 2017. However, a general overview for each local government is only available for the current year. The physical and financial criteria used to award grants are available for 2016 and 2017. The government self-assessment indicates that the Minister of Interior still needs to centralise the information in one comprehensive dataset, make the data available in an open data format and index it on data.gouv.fr.
· Publication of account balances for local authorities: The Ministry of Economy and Finance has published the account balances of municipalities, departments, regions, groups with specific taxation, and local public institutions on data.gouv.fr in open data format for the years 2012 to 2015. Data for 2016, however, is only available for municipalities.
· Compulsory presentation of audit findings: Article 107 of the law on the new territorial organisation of the Republic (referred to as NOTRe or “our” law in French) modifies Article L 243-7 of the financial jurisdictions code and requires local executives to report on how they followed up on observations and recommendations from local audit institutions. Local executives now must present their reports to the local assembly within a year and send it to the Court of Audit (Cour des comptes). The government self-assessment and midterm IRM report note a tracking tool developed during the Court of Audit #DataSession organised in May 2016 but the IRM researcher was not able to access the tool while writing this report in October 2017.
Regarding activities on regularly providing financial data of financial jurisdictions:
· By October 2017, the Court of Audit had published 82 datasets on data.gouv.fr in open data format, including anonymous decisions of local audit institutions for 2016 and their final observation reports from 2013, 2014, and 2015. According to Etalab,[Note10: Etalab team, personal communication with the IRM researcher, 23 Oct. 2017.] the Court of Audit has published all the underlying data used to produced its reports, including the evaluations produced by the local audit institutions (Cours regionales des comptes). The government self-assessment indicates the Court of Audit should publish updated information about its resources and activities and should provide more historical depth to the information it provides.
Regarding the commitment activities on strengthening legal requirements for open data in local and regional authorities:
· The Digital Republic Law adopted 7 October 2016 now requires local governments with more than 3,500 residents to comply with open data common law. OpenData France, an association created in 2013 to help local governments open their data, has published two guides to assist local governments.[Note11: These guides are available at: http://www.opendatafrance.net/ressources/.]
Midterm: Not started
The NOTRe Law promulgated on 7 August 2015 includes a legal obligation for municipalities to publish information on deliberation and meeting minutes. The implementing decree entered into force in February 2016. By the midterm IRM report, it was not clear how many municipalities had started to implement the new requirements, nor how many had a website.
End of Term: Limited
The government self-assessment indicates that Articles 124 and 128 of the NOTRe Law promulgated on 7 August 2015 contain obligations for municipalities to publish online local administrative acts, deliberations and municipal bylaws. The obligation regarding municipal council meetings is actually contained in Article 84.
The decree n° 2016-146 provides for different forms of implementation: municipal council meeting minutes should be published in paper format and in electronic format if the municipality has a website; and administrative acts that the municipality chooses to publish in electronic format should be published in their entirety in a non-modifiable format. There is ambiguity regarding whether the NOTRe Law and its implementation decree fulfil the requirements laid out in the commitment text to “publish the list of administrative measures, deliberations, and local municipal bylaws in electronic format alongside a paper version, and provide permanent access free of charge” (emphasis added). The new text of the local government code (“code général des collectivités territoriales”) states that the publication of administrative acts is guaranteed in paper format and that they can be made available in electronic format.[Note12: Art. 124 paragraph 1, “La publication au recueil des actes administratifs du dispositif des délibérations mentionnées au deuxième alinéa est assurée sur papier. Elle peut l'être également, dans des conditions de nature à garantir leur authenticité, sous forme électronique. La version électronique est mise à la disposition du public de manière permanente et gratuite.”] Similarly, Article 84 indicates that municipal council meeting minutes should be published online if the municipality has a website.
There are 36,000 municipalities in France and the new legal framework requires approximately 3,800 municipalities and Public Industrial and Commercial Establishments to open their data.[Note13: OpenDataFrance, “Rapport sur les dispositifs d'accompagnement des collectivites locales à l'ouverture des donnees publiques” (Oct. 2016), https://cdn2.nextinpact.com/medias/rapport-odf-ct.pdf.] The IRM researcher conducted a random website search of ten municipalities[Note14: Aix-en-Provence, Allos, Avignon, Bagneux, Bordeaux, Cagnes-sur-mer, Corte, Hénin-Beaumont, Lyon, Nice, and Poitiers and found that all of them published the agenda and minutes of municipal council meetings, deliberations and administrative acts online in PDF format, with varying degrees of comprehensiveness and quality of the content of meeting minutes.
A working group had been initiated at the time of writing the midterm IRM report (December 2016), but no information about this group's work was available to the public. The objective of the working group was to give access to building permit data by 2017. Concerns over lack of privacy and identifying information in construction permits was posed early in the process and a consequential step was thus to get the validation of the National Commission for Information and Freedom (“Commission national de l'information et des libertés” or CNIL) on anonymisation standards. The Ministry of Environment organised the HackRisks hackathon in October 2016 and 123 datasets related to construction permits were made available in open data format.
In the midterm IRM report,[Note15: Independent Reporting Mechanism, France Rapport D'ètape (OGP, 2017), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/France_Progress-Report_2015-2017.pdf. the previous IRM researcher gauged this sub-commitment to be overly ambitious for completion within the timeframe. For more information, please see the IRM midterm report.[Note16: Independent Reporting Mechanism, France Rapport D'ètape (OGP, 2017), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/France_Progress-Report_2015-2017.pdf.
End of Term: Limited
Based on the draft self-assessment and publicly available information, there has been no advancement on this commitment since the midterm report, therefore the IRM researcher finds this commitment to remain limited in completion.
The IRM researcher was not able to find any publicly available information on additional progress made concerning the working group. However, during an interview, Etalab signalled that the CNIL had not yet approved the anonymisation standards and that work on this commitment would continue beyond the implementation of this action plan.
One promising new development since the first year of implementation was the opening of the database Sit@del, part of the public statistics system. Sit@del addresses the construction of new buildings, contains data about construction permits, conversion permits, destruction permits, and prior declarations.[Note17: Insee, 'Sit @ del2' (Insee, 13 Oct. 2016), thttps://www.insee.fr/fr/metadonnees/definition/c2020 (accessed 19 Sept. 2017).] Datasets are limited to issued permits and do not include permit requests, separated by municipality.[Note18: See http://developpement-durable.bsocom.fr/statistiques/ReportFolders/reportFolders.aspx (accessed 19 Sept. 2017).]
The Ministry of the Environment organised a hackathon in October 2016, #Hackrisques, where 123 datasets were opened, including Sit@del. Among the datasets made available were of authorised and initiated projects in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur and La Réunion regions between 2013 and 2015. At the time of writing this report (December 2017), the datasets were no longer downloadable.[Note19: Ministère de l'environnement, #HackRisques: Comment mieux prévenir les risques naturels?, https://meem-mlhd.github.io/hackrisques-data/index.html (accessed 19 Sept. 2017, link broken as of April 2018).]
Did It Open Government?
Commitment 1.1 Access to Information: Major
Commitment 1.2 Access to Information: Marginal
Commitment 1.3 Access to Information: Did not change
The commitment to Open Regional and Local Authorities' data (Commitment 1.1) contributed significantly to opening government with respect to access to information. Previously, limited information was made accessible to citizens regarding the operations of local government. Now, local governments are 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.[Note20: OpenDataFrance, Rapport sur les dispositifs d'accompagnement des collectivites locales a l'ouverture des donnees publiques. (OpenDataFrance, Oct. 2016), https://cdn2.nextinpact.com/medias/rapport-odf-ct.pdf.] During the timeframe of the action plan, two important laws were passed which improve access to information from local governments, namely the Digital Republic Law n° 2016-1321 and the NOTRe Law n° 2015-991. Local governments are now required to open data by default which represents a significant improvement in terms of access to information. Stakeholder comments on the Etalab forum recommend specifying the datasets that local governments should prioritise, which would generate more coherence across the country.[Note21: Etalab Forum, Engagement 1 (Etalab, 2016), https://forum.etalab.gouv.fr/t/engagement-1-permettre-a-tous-de-consulter-de-comprendre-et-de-reutiliser-les-donnees-financieres-et-les-decisions-des-collectivites-territoriales-rapport-dautoevaluation-a-mi-parcours-du-plan-daction-pour-la-france-2015-2017-pour-une-action-publique-transparente-et-collaborative/1902.] What prevents this commitment from being considered “outstanding” in terms of changing government practice is the question of whether the published data is being reused and thus, useful. The data.gouv.fr dashboard indicates that 69 of the 123 datasets were never reused and that seven have rarely been reused. The limited use of this disclosed data might also indicate poor advertising efforts on the part of the government. To improve visibility and mobilisation, Transparency France suggests that public authorities identify best practices for existing initiatives.[Note22: OpenDataFrance, Rapport sur les dispositifs d'accompagnement des collectivites locales a l'ouverture des donnees publiques.
The commitment to publish the decisions and reports of municipal council meetings online (Commitment 1.2) marginally opened government regarding access to information. The NOTRe Law n° 2015-991 and related decree n° 2016-146 made it mandatory for local governments exceeding 3,500 inhabitants to publish online decisions and meeting minutes; this is an improvement from previously only being required to physically post the minutes at the meeting premises. The ambiguity of the laws' wording, which does not systematically require disclosure, weakens their impact. From desk research, the IRM researcher found the decision was largely implemented. However, not all the published data is in open data format (e.g. minutes from municipal council meetings) and the level of detail varies substantially. The quality and quantity of information also varies between localities. Transparency France recommends that the data be standardised and published in open data format.[Note23: Etalab Forum, Engagement 1, (accessed 19 Sept. 2017).]
An important consideration for this commitment is the involvement and resources of local governments. The action plan, midterm assessment or government self-assessment are unclear whether local authorities were consulted and involved in the development of this commitment. Transparency France points to a technical difficulty of this commitment since not all local governments have a website. OpenData France was commissioned by the government to identify needs of local government and make suggestions to support their efforts to open data. The report[Note24: OpenData France, Rapport sur les dispositifs d'accompagnement des collectivites locales a l'ouverture des donnees publiques. notes that there is an important discrepancy between large metropolitan areas and smaller rural cities where there is a lack of financial resources and information. OpenData France finds that even in larger cities where the public interest is greater, data often is not standardised, making it harder to reuse the published data. The report recommends the creation of a common local data standard, the creation of an Application Program Interface (API) for the reuse of local data communicated to the prefecture and opened at the national level, and investment in awareness-raising and trainings for local administrators. OpenData France was asked to track nine pilot territories in their effort to open data through trainings and experimentation.[Note25: OpenData locale, “Restitution 1 d'OpenData Locale” (OpenDataFrance, May 2017), http://site.infocom94.fr/_attachments/articles-article7/ODL_restitution1_avril%25202017_02mai2017.pdf?open=true.] Etalab also highlighted the role of local governments through recent mechanisms such as the développement concerté de l'administration numérique territoriale (DcANT).[Note26: Etalab team, personal communication with the IRM researcher, 23 Oct. 2017.]
The commitment to publish information on building permits in open data format (Commitment 1.3) has not changed government practice regarding access to information, given the lack of progress on the related activities.
This commitment was not carried forward to the next action plan.
Transparency of Public Services
FR0030, 2018, E-Government
Transparency of Public Procurement
FR0031, 2018, E-Government
Transparency of Development Aid
FR0032, 2018, Aid
Expand open data
FR0033, 2018, E-Government
Improved data policies and administration
FR0034, 2018, Capacity Building
Transparency of Public Algorithms
FR0035, 2018, E-Government
Open data at sub-national level
FR0036, 2018, Capacity Building
State AI lab
FR0037, 2018, Capacity Building
FR0038, 2018, Capacity Building
Public Service Incubators
FR0039, 2018, Capacity Building
Streamline data flows
FR0040, 2018, E-Government
Open Etat forum
FR0041, 2018, E-Government
Online procedures dashboard
FR0042, 2018, E-Government
FR0043, 2018, Capacity Building
Imrove public consultation mechanisms
FR0044, 2018, E-Government
International transparency and citizen participation
FR0045, 2018, Aid
Public pariticipation in sustainable development
FR0046, 2018, Capacity Building
FR0047, 2018, E-Government
Citizen involvement in Cour des Comptes
FR0048, 2018, Capacity Building
Private sector transparency
FR0049, 2018, Asset Disclosure
Access to information on public officials
FR0050, 2018, Asset Disclosure
Open Regional and Local Authorities' Data
FR0001, 2015, Fiscal Transparency
Publish municipal council decisions and reports online
FR0002, 2015, E-Government
Publish building permits in open data format
FR0003, 2015, Open Data
Increase Transparency in Public Procurement
FR0004, 2015, Open Contracting and Procurement
Improve Transparency in International Development Aid
FR0005, 2015, Aid
Open Access to Public Policy Evaluations
FR0006, 2015, E-Government
Involve Citizens in Cour des Comptes Work
FR0007, 2015, Fiscal Transparency
Access to Public Officials Transparency Obligations
FR0008, 2015, E-Government
FR0009, 2015, Beneficial Ownership
Transparency in Extractive Industries
FR0010, 2015, Extractive Industries
Transparency in International Trade Commercial Negotiations
FR0011, 2015, Labor
Fix My Neighborhood
FR0012, 2015, E-Government
FR0013, 2015, Open Data
Co-produce Data Infrastructure with Civil Society
FR0014, 2015, Open Data
Open Legal Resources
FR0015, 2015, Legislation & Regulation
Reform Participatory Mechanisms
FR0016, 2015, Public Participation
Mediation and Justice
FR0017, 2015, Judiciary
Open and Circulate Data
FR0018, 2015, Land & Spatial Planning
Open Calculation Models and Simulators
FR0019, 2015, Open Data
Open Platform for Government Resources
FR0020, 2015, E-Government
Improve Public Services through E-Government and User Interaction
FR0021, 2015, E-Government
Empower Civil Society to Support Schools
FR0022, 2015, E-Government
Diversify Recruitment within Public Institutions
FR0023, 2015, Capacity Building
FR0024, 2015, Capacity Building
Spread Public Innovation
FR0025, 2015, Capacity Building
Protect Against Conflicts of Interest
FR0026, 2015, Conflicts of Interest
Civil Society & Transparency in COP21 Conference Planning
FR0027, 2015, Environment and Climate
Open data and Climate/Sustainable Development
FR0028, 2015, Open Data
Collaborate with Civil Society on Climate and Sustainable Development
FR0029, 2015, Environment and Climate