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France

Access to Public Officials Transparency Obligations (FR0008)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: High Authority for Transparency in Public Life

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: France End-of-Term Report 2015-2017, France Mid-Term Progress Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

CONTEXT & AIM
Since the October 11th 2013 Transparency Bills, public life has beneficiated from a new impulsion. In particular, these bills state that the 10,000 highest-ranking public officials (elected or appointed) must declare their assets and interests to the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP), the body monitoring said assets and interests. One of the bills’ objectives is to widely involve civil society in these controls. Declarations of assets and interests of members of the Government, as well as declarations of interests by French and European members of Parliament and local elected representatives, are published and posted on the HATVP website. According to the Constitutional Council, the publication of this information allows "each citizen to ensure the implementation of guarantees on the probity and integrity of these elected representatives, and to avoid and prevent conflicts of interest "13. It also allows citizens to complement these declarations by passing on to the High Authority information they have and that is not contained in the declarations published. Declarations can be sent to the HATVP in paper format or, since the decree of March 3rd 2015, via an online reporting tool. This new online reporting tool makes published declarations more accessible, notably preventing potential problems of interpretation associated with handwritten declarations. This momentum must be maintained by supporting the circulation of information published in an open, easy-to-use format.

ROADMAP
• Publish public data contained in declarations of assets and interests made using an online reporting tool in an open, reusable format (declarations of assets made by members of the Government and declarations of interests of members of the Government, members of Parliament, French representatives in the European Parliament and main local elected officials)
- With the development of the online reporting tool (ADEL), it will be possible to circulate information in a reusable format within the 2016 year
- Efforts by HATVP to convey the information about the online reporting tool to persons bound by reporting obligations will be stepped up. The aim is to ensure a high level of remote reporting and, as a result, a large volume of open-data information

IRM End of Term Status Summary

6. Facilitate access to public officials' transparency obligations

Commitment Text:

Roadmap

Publish public data contained in declarations of assets and interests made using an online reporting tool in an open, reusable format (declarations of assets made by members of the Government and declarations of interests of members of the Government, members of Parliament, French representatives in the European Parliament and main local elected officials)

With the development of the online reporting tool (ADEL), it will be possible to circulate information in a reusable format within the 2016 year

Efforts by HATVP to convey the information about the online reporting tool to persons bound by reporting obligations will be stepped up. The aim is to ensure a high level of remote reporting and, as a result, a large volume of open-data information

Responsible Institution(s): Haute autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique

Supporting Institution(s): N/A

Start Date: Not specified 

End Date: Not specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to publish data from public officials' asset and interest declarations in open data format to prevent conflicts of interest and illicit enrichment.

Since 1988, members of the government, elected officials, and the heads of local government have been required to declare their assets before entering their position. This obligation was expanded in 2013 when two laws on public life transparency were adopted 11 October 2013 (n° 2013-906 and n° 2013-907), expanding the obligation to 15,000 officials including close aides to the president, ministers and leaders of two legislative assemblies, magistrates, high-ranking civil servants, and military officials[Note57: Full list available here: http://www.hatvp.fr/les-declarants-2/.] requiring them to declare their interests and existing asset declarations in a timely manner.[Note58: The declarations must be submitted within two months of taking office, failing which, they risk three years imprisonment and a 45 000€ fine (five years and 75 000€ for members of government).] The 2013 laws provide for the publication of the interest declarations by members of government, parliamentarians, MEPs, local elected officials, and of the asset declarations of members of government. Asset declarations by parliamentarians are available for consultation in the préfecture of their respective constituencies. The 2013 law also established the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP) who is in charge of collecting and verifying the declarations.

Originally, the declarations were filled out by hand and mailed, which created potential problems of interpreting the handwritten declarations. This commitment provides for the availability of these declarations in open data format to facilitate the possibility for citizens and CSOs to hold officials accountable. For this purpose, the HATVP will develop an online reporting tool (ADEL) for officials to use when declaring their interests and assets. The commitment also aimed to assist officials in using this tool, ensure they are aware of its existence, and ensure the highest level of remote reporting, precision and standardisation.

Status

Midterm: Limited

This commitment saw limited completion by midterm. Declarations of interests by elected officials and asset declarations by government members were published in .pdf format. The online platform, ADEL, was finalised in 2015 and was increasingly used by public officials to file their declarations, becoming the primary means of declaring by the end of 2015.[Note59: HATVP, Rapport d'activité 2016 (HATVP, accessed 15 Sept. 2017), 25, http://www.hatvp.fr/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/RA2016.pdf.] The HATVP published a guide (“guide du déclarant”) to be distributed to public officials required to file declarations but it was unclear how widely the guide was distributed. For more information, please see the IRM midterm report.[Note60: 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: Complete

This commitment is complete. An online platform is now in place and n° 2016-570 requires officials file their declaration through this tool. By the end of October 2017, 761 declarations were accessible in open data format.[Note61: 31 interest declarations from the current government, 11 asset declarations from former members of government, 629 interest declarations from members of the National Assembly, 7 interest declarations from senators and 83 interest declarations from local elected officials] HATVP officials indicated that new declarations are published every Thursday.[Note62: HATVP official, personal communication with IRM researcher, 3 Nov. 2017.]

The decree n° 2016-570 promulgated 11 May 2016 mandated the use of the ADEL platform to file declarations beginning 15 October 2016. All declarations published after 1 July 2017 are now available in open data (.xml) format under Etalab's open licence. The HATVP will transfer all declarations to this format, opening new data each week.[Note63: HATVP, Les déclarations des responsables publics désormais accessibles en open data (HATVP, 27 Jul. 2017), http://www.hatvp.fr/presse/les-declarations-des-responsables-publics-desormais-accessibles-en-open-data/ (accessed on 15 September 2017).] A dataset containing all the declarations currently transferred to .xml is also available.

In the first year of implementation, the HATVP published a guide to help officials file their declarations, specifying how to use the new ADEL platform. Information about the new requirements was published in the Gazette des communes[Note64: Brigitte Menguy, Elus locaux : les déclarations de patrimoine et d'intérêts devront être dématérialisées au 15 octobre (lagazette.fr, 17 May 2016), http://www.lagazettedescommunes.com/442322/elus-locaux-les-declarations-de-patrimoine-et-dinterets-devront-etre-dematerialisees-au-15-octobre/ (accessed 15 Sept. 2017).] and in the Courrier des maires et des élus locaux[Note65: Le Courrier des maires et des élus locaux, 50 questions La transparence de la vie publique, n°309, (Feb. 2017).] in May 2016 and February 2017 respectively. It is unclear if an awareness-raising strategy was established or what activities were held to educate officials.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

Prior to this commitment, officials' asset and interest declarations were only available in PDF format sourced from handwritten forms. N° 2016-570 requires officials to declare their assets and/or interests online on the ADEL platform. As implemented, this commitment has improved significantly the quality and accessibility of information regarding public officials' declarations, making them more intelligible, standardised and reusable. The IRM researcher considers this commitment to be ‘major' in opening government practice regarding access to information on officials' asset and interest declarations.

The HATVP organised a workshop 24 May 2017 with various stakeholders (social scientists, data-journalists, developers, and engineers) to explore how data provided by the HATVP might be improved. Participants suggested that additional aggregate information on declarations could be provided, that a collaborative platform be instituted to improve the agency's open data initiative and that data visualisation be enhanced to make information easier to communicate to the public.[Note66: HATVP, #OpenGov : retour sur l'atelier ouvert organisé par la Haute Autorité (HATVP, 30 May 2017), http://www.hatvp.fr/presse/opengov-retour-sur-latelier-ouvert-organise-par-la-haute-autorite/ (accessed 15 Sept. 2017).]

Policymakers could consider re-exploring the accessibility of officials' asset information to incorporate recommendations from Transparency International France[Note67: Transparency International France, Lois sur la transparence de la vie publique et la lutte contre la délinquance financière deux ans après : bilan et perspectives (Transparency International, 6 Oct. 2015), https://www.transparency-france.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/lois_2013_bilan_et_perspectives_06102015-1.pdf (accessed 15 Sept. 2017).] and from the HATVP itself. The asset declarations of most elected officials are still only available for consultation at their respective prefecture, which require an on-site visit. In addition, individuals consulting these declarations are not allowed to take notes or to communicate the information. This is the result of a compromise between the desire for transparency and the need to safeguard officials' privacy. Major stakeholders, such as those cited above, argue that since publication of asset declarations is the law, they should be online in open data, as is the case for interest declarations and for asset declarations by government members.

Carried Forward?

This commitment was carried over to the next action plan. In the new action plan, the commitment focuses on making data more intelligible; on diversifying data formats; and on organising a data session to explore new ways of using data.


France's Commitments

  1. Transparency of Public Services

    FR0030, 2018, E-Government

  2. Transparency of Public Procurement

    FR0031, 2018, E-Government

  3. Transparency of Development Aid

    FR0032, 2018, Aid

  4. Expand open data

    FR0033, 2018, E-Government

  5. Improved data policies and administration

    FR0034, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Transparency of Public Algorithms

    FR0035, 2018, E-Government

  7. Open data at sub-national level

    FR0036, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. State AI lab

    FR0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Administrative capacity-building

    FR0038, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Public Service Incubators

    FR0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Streamline data flows

    FR0040, 2018, E-Government

  12. Open Etat forum

    FR0041, 2018, E-Government

  13. Online procedures dashboard

    FR0042, 2018, E-Government

  14. GovTech summit

    FR0043, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. Imrove public consultation mechanisms

    FR0044, 2018, E-Government

  16. International transparency and citizen participation

    FR0045, 2018, Aid

  17. Public pariticipation in sustainable development

    FR0046, 2018, Capacity Building

  18. Open Science

    FR0047, 2018, E-Government

  19. Citizen involvement in Cour des Comptes

    FR0048, 2018, Capacity Building

  20. Private sector transparency

    FR0049, 2018, Asset Disclosure

  21. Access to information on public officials

    FR0050, 2018, Asset Disclosure

  22. Open Regional and Local Authorities' Data

    FR0001, 2015, Fiscal Transparency

  23. Publish municipal council decisions and reports online

    FR0002, 2015, E-Government

  24. Publish building permits in open data format

    FR0003, 2015, Open Data

  25. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Public Procurement

    FR0004, 2015, Open Contracting and Procurement

  26. Improve Transparency in International Development Aid

    FR0005, 2015, Aid

  27. Open Access to Public Policy Evaluations

    FR0006, 2015, E-Government

  28. Involve Citizens in Cour des Comptes Work

    FR0007, 2015, Fiscal Transparency

  29. Access to Public Officials Transparency Obligations

    FR0008, 2015, E-Government

  30. Starred commitment Beneficial Ownership

    FR0009, 2015, Beneficial Ownership

  31. Transparency in Extractive Industries

    FR0010, 2015, Extractive Industries

  32. Transparency in International Trade Commercial Negotiations

    FR0011, 2015, Labor

  33. Fix My Neighborhood

    FR0012, 2015, E-Government

  34. Digital Fix-it

    FR0013, 2015, Open Data

  35. Co-produce Data Infrastructure with Civil Society

    FR0014, 2015, Open Data

  36. Starred commitment Open Legal Resources

    FR0015, 2015, Legislation & Regulation

  37. Reform Participatory Mechanisms

    FR0016, 2015, Public Participation

  38. Mediation and Justice

    FR0017, 2015, Judiciary

  39. Starred commitment Open and Circulate Data

    FR0018, 2015, Land & Spatial Planning

  40. Open Calculation Models and Simulators

    FR0019, 2015, Open Data

  41. Open Platform for Government Resources

    FR0020, 2015, E-Government

  42. Improve Public Services through E-Government and User Interaction

    FR0021, 2015, E-Government

  43. Empower Civil Society to Support Schools

    FR0022, 2015, E-Government

  44. Diversify Recruitment within Public Institutions

    FR0023, 2015, Capacity Building

  45. Culture Change

    FR0024, 2015, Capacity Building

  46. Spread Public Innovation

    FR0025, 2015, Capacity Building

  47. Starred commitment Protect Against Conflicts of Interest

    FR0026, 2015, Conflicts of Interest

  48. Civil Society & Transparency in COP21 Conference Planning

    FR0027, 2015, Environment and Climate

  49. Open data and Climate/Sustainable Development

    FR0028, 2015, Open Data

  50. Collaborate with Civil Society on Climate and Sustainable Development

    FR0029, 2015, Environment and Climate