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France

Reform Participatory Mechanisms (FR0016)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: France, First Action Plan, 2015-17

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Prime Minister’s Office; Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; Ministry of State for State Reform and Simplification attached to the Prime Minister; National Commission for Public Debate

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Public Participation

IRM Review

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

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

STAKES
The informed participation of citizens in the process of public decision-making is based on the ability of administrations to facilitate the understanding, by each of them, of the functioning of institutions and their activity, to open resources that can be used by them and to effectively mobilize their contribution.
As emphasized by France Stratégie in the report on Tomorrow’s Public Action 21: "Society is willing to endow citizens’ decisional bodies with real powers, in addition to representative democracy". Participative arrangements have become numerous, in very diverse formats.
"Properly run, these approaches contribute to rebuilding trust within the population because they embody the principle of questioning citizens". Public stakeholders should then be able to capitalize on consultations already carried out, and be able to easily mobilize tools for dialogue and consultation, and effectively integrate them into the process of the development of public decision-making.
Also, citizens expect, in return for their commitment, greater openness of consultations to a renewed set of actors, with the terms of the debate clearly explained, and clear and transparent information on the rules for the consultation, particularly on the use and consequences of their contributions.
CONTEXT & AIM
French citizens have access, via the portal www.vie-publique.fr, which is produced, published and managed by the Legal and Administrative Information Department (DILA), to useful resources and data to understand the main subjects that are driving public debate.
Organized under three sections, "actualités (news)", "repères (points of reference)" and "ressources (resources)", it provides a vast amount of information on public life, the functioning of institutions and topical subjects being debated (government projects, current arrangements, developments of society or institutions, etc.).
Since November 2014, the site has also been listing the main debates, consultations and public forums across the territory, as well as the final summaries when they exist. The "DebatesCore"22 standard, finalized for this listing, groups online public debates or those that provide documentation online, as well as consultations opened over the Internet by the State, its public institutions or local and regional authorities prior to the adoption of a legislative text. Debatscore thus enables better debate traceability and individual tracking in consultations already carried out.
Attentiveness to citizens and users feedback and the use of consultative tools and mechanisms have been widely developed in the ministries. For example, the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research has implemented, for the definition of the common foundation, the reform of the curricula and the national consultation on digital matters, consultation mechanisms involving the entire teaching profession as well as the stakeholders concerned by the various subjects (for example, in digital matters, local authorities, parents, civil society, the digital industries, etc.)
Despite such initiatives, citizens and users sometimes feel that they have been consulted too late, or have not really been listened to, causing many of them to refuse to get involved in further consultations. In its public report "Consulter autrement, participer effectivement"23, the Council of State "called for an administration qualified as "deliberative" because it seeks to develop, beyond formal consultations which should be simplified, new procedures characterized by transparency, openness, public debate and accountability".

ROADMAP
• Capitalize on previous consultations: improve listing and strengthen accessibility to public debates that took place in France
- Continue the effort of listing public debates in France by extending the "DebatesCore"24 standard throughout the whole territory, to facilitate collection and accessibility, at a single access point, for consultations performed
• Empower public actors to successfully lead public consultations
- The Secretariat-General for Government Modernization is committed to proposing a simple and agile mechanism for consultation in the form of "Citizens' Workshops"
• Carry out trials, with pilot ministries, of this mechanism, which is more flexible and agile than conventional consultation formats
• Present, to partner administrations, the charter establishing the main principles of "Citizens' Workshops" and their implementation protocol
• Support partner administrations in implementing these workshops
- The Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy is committed to offering a "toolbox" to guide the institutions in choosing and implementing participative mechanisms

IRM End of Term Status Summary

13. Leverage previous consultations and reform participatory mechanisms

Commitment Text:

ROADMAP

1. Capitalize on previous consultations: improve listing and strengthen accessibility to public debates that took place in France

· Continue the effort of listing public debates in France by extending the “DebatesCore” standard throughout the whole territory, to facilitate collection and accessibility, at a single access point, for consultations performed

2. Empower public actors to successfully lead public consultations

· The Secretariat-General for Government Modernization is committed to proposing a simple and agile mechanism for consultation in the form of “Citizens' Workshops”

Carry out trials, with pilot ministries, of this mechanism, which is more flexible and agile than conventional consultation formats

Present, to partner administrations, the charter establishing the main principles of 'Citizens' Workshops' and their implementation protocol

Support partner administrations in implementing these workshops

· The Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy is committed to offering a “toolbox” to guide the institutions in choosing and implementing participative mechanisms

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: Prime Minister's Office; Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; Ministry of State for State Reform and Simplification attached to the Prime Minister; National Commission for Public Debate

Supporting Institution(s): N/A

Start Date: Not Specified 

End Date: Not Specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to improve stakeholders' awareness and access to public consultations through digital tools and enhance the capacity of government agencies and other stakeholders to hold participative consultations. This commitment would provide better searching and tracking for public consultations by applying the DebatesCore standard to events listed on the vie-publique.fr platform. DebatesCore was created by the Legal and Administrative Information Department (DILA) to establish a digital standard for consultations, so that consultation tools are better referenced and released in open data. This was expected to resolve ongoing issues with the online inventory of public consultations, including poor traceability and tracking of content.

The second objective is to improve the capacity of government agencies to engage with the public by piloting citizen consultation workshops and creating a toolbox to help agencies choose appropriate mechanisms for citizen engagement. The aim of this commitment is to increase citizens' engagement in consultations and participatory policymaking. The commitment assumes that if more information on existing participatory mechanisms is made available to the public, disaffected stakeholders will have a renewed interest in using public consultations to engage in dialogues with government officials.

Status

Midterm: Limited

The implementation of this commitment was limited by the midterm. The first milestone was not started since the DebatesCore standard was not expanded. The IRM researcher was unable to find evidence of any new activities related to the development of the standard since 2014. During the first year of implementation, the IRM researcher observed regular updates to the public debates listed on the data.gouv.fr portal, though it was clear that only a few government agencies were using the portal to list their events. In an interview with the IRM researcher, the author of the DebatesCore standard said one reason the expansion project had been abandoned was the difficulty of finding agency contacts to regularly upload their information.

The second commitment activity regarding the pilot citizen workshops saw limited implementation. An initial pilot workshop of 17 participants was held at the Ministry of Health, with the stated outcome of offering guidance on a draft public policy addressing use of big data in the health sector. However, participants were not experts in either open data or health. At the end of the process, the participants wrote a report reviewing the workshop and issuing findings. The report says they were selected by the Ministry of Health though specific selection criteria but details of the workshop process was not made available either to them or the general public. They urged the Ministry of Health to follow up and explain how the results of the workshop were incorporated in drafting the health policy proposal. The IRM researcher was unable to find evidence of any follow up by the Ministry of Health. At the time of the midterm report, the IRM researcher was also unable to find publicly available evidence of a charter establishing principles for citizen workshops, nor was there any evidence of additional pilot workshops in other ministries or agencies. For more information, please see the IRM midterm report.[Note99: 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

Implementation of this commitment remains limited. The government self-assessment[Note100: 'Engagement 13: Capitaliser sur les consultations menées et rénover les dispositifs d'expression citoyenne' (accessed 18 Dec. 2017), http://suivi-gouvernement-ouvert.etalab.gouv.fr/fr/Engagement13.html.] points to the new website of the National Commission of Public Debate (CNDP), which archives CNDP's public consultations on environmental issues. Other consultations have been accessible on DILA's website, Vie Publique,[Note101: 'Débats et consultations' (accessed 18 Dec. 2017), http://www.vie-publique.fr/forums/. since 2012. The IRM researcher finds no significant change in the centralisation and accessibility of information regarding public debates. The self-assessment notes that the DebatesCore norm has not been implemented. However, Etalab indicates that the norm has not been abandoned but is being redeveloped for easier use.[Note102: Members of the Etalab team, interview with IRM researcher, 23 Oct. 2017.] Etalab notes that the most essential aspect of the tool should be to make public consultations accessible to attract new audiences. During the second year of implementation, Etalab, CSOs and civic techs developed a platform, consultation.etalab.gouv.fr, to encourage administrations to use public consultations.

With regards to citizen workshops, the Secretariat for the Modernisation of Public Action (SGMAP) has organised a second citizen workshop (two weekends between April to June 2017) on the role of schools in preventing addictions in youths.[Note103: The Citizen Workshops are composed of a panel of 10 to 30 citizens supposed to be representative of socioeconomic diversity. The methodology of the Citizen Workshop is available at http://www.modernisation.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/fichiers-attaches/boite-outils-demarches-participation.pdf, pp. 6-7 (accessed 13 April 2018). Little information is available about the selection of the sample. The list of participants' first names is found at the end of their report, available at http://www.drogues.gouv.fr/sites/drogues.gouv.fr/files/atoms/files/avis_citoyens.pdf (accessed 13 April 2018).] The recommendations of the Citizen Workshop are available online.[Note104: Available at http://www.drogues.gouv.fr/sites/drogues.gouv.fr/files/atoms/files/avis_citoyens.pdf (accessed 13 April 2018).] A third citizen workshop will be launched November 2018 but the topic has yet to be announced. The SGMAP has set itself the goal of organising two citizen workshops per year; it lacks resources to host any more despite numerous requests from administrations. An explanation of these workshops is available via an online toolbox that also contains various participatory methods that could be used by the government.[Note105: Available here: http://modernisation.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/fichiers-attaches/boite-outils-demarches-participation.pdf.] Some requirements are imposed on the hosting administrations, such as the obligation to provide access to all information relevant to the workshop, consider the findings of the workshop, and provide feedback to participants on how their suggestions will be used.[Note106: SGMAP official, personal communication with IRM researcher, 3 Nov. 2017.]

In 2015, the Ministry of Ecology launched a discussion on the development of a public participation charter. The charter was developed with the help of two committees – a restricted committee of participation experts and a steering committee of stakeholders, including contractors, ministerial officials, associations, practitioner networks, the CNDP and researchers – and three participatory workshops gathering a total of 230 people in Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux.[Note107: Ministère de l'écologie. La Charte de la participation publique. 2016, available at https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/charte-participation-du-public (accessed 13 April 2018).] The charter was finalised in 2016 as a non-legal, voluntary tool to encourage exemplary participation. In November 2016, there were only 27 organisations, from the central and local governments as well as from the private sector, adhering to the charter.[Note108: Ministère de la transition écologique et solidaire, La charte de la participation du public (17 Nov. 2016), https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/charte-participation-du-public#e4 (accessed 2 Oct. 2017).] On 21 April 2016 and 3 August 2016, the government passed two decrees enabling citizens and parliamentarians to demand that the CNDP hold a public debate on identified projects.[Note109: CNDP, “Communiqué de presse, décret paru au journal officiel le 27 avril 2017 de nouvelles compétences pour la commission nationale du débat public” (CNDP, 27 Apr. 2017).] It also created follow-up mechanisms with guarantors recruited to follow implementation and inform the public. The guarantors go through a competitive recruitment process and, when selected, receive trainings to familiarize with their role, which is to ensure that the public has sufficient information prior to public consultations to be able to take part in public debates. There are currently 251 guarantors.[Note110: CNDP. Liste nationale de garants. Available at https://www.debatpublic.fr/garants/ (accessed 13 April 2018).] The CNDP also developed a number of innovative tools to generate public debates, such as the DP-Bus or itinerant debates on trains.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

Civic Participation: Marginal

The Director of Legal and Administrative Information (DILA) launched vie-publique.fr in 2012 to collect and display notices of public consultations and the CNDP has published a list of public consultations predating this national action plan. The innovation proposed by this commitment, standardising DebatesCore for all online consultations, was not implemented and there was no significant change in the level of centralisation and accessibility of information regarding public consultations. Etalab, however, created a platform of tools developed by non-government stakeholders to encourage government agencies to voluntarily increase access to information. As implemented, the activities did not actually change government practice as agencies are not required to use the platform tools. Therefore, there was no change in the status quo and this commitment did not open government with respect to access to information.

With respect to civic participation, steps were taken to develop new channels for public participation in policymaking through citizen workshops. SGMAP partnered with CNDP in 2016 to encourage civic participation and the Ministry of Health held a pilot consultation in 2016. As noted in the midterm assessment, it is essential to publish the consultation process, consider the public input, explain when suggestions are not adopted, and discuss the role of the administration in the discussed topic. The report produced by the participants in the pilot project signalled that such follow up does not happen and that they remain unaware of how their contributions were used. SGMAP commissioned an independent evaluation of its pilot workshop in addition to the evaluation provided by the participating citizens.[Note111: SGMAP official, personal communication with IRM researcher, 3 Nov. 2017.]

The Ministry of Ecology did publish a charter on the participation of the public, which addresses participation beyond citizen workshops and is a collection of good practices rather than a mandatory document. As such, this commitment marginally opened government regarding civic participation, since it introduced new government practices that have yet to be institutionalised. Stakeholders note that there is now a movement toward more public consultations as in the case of the Digital Republic Bill and the French National Food Conference.[Note112: Information available here: https://www.egalimentation.gouv.fr/.] Consultations are not yet centralised and ministries and administrations each create their own consultation platforms. There is also an accessibility issue for online consultations and the risk that it excludes certain groups. A stakeholder mentioned the public-private cooperative Mednum,[Note113: Information available here: https://lamednum.coop/.] which could train groups to use digital tools and enliven consultations.[Note114: Member of Open Source Politics, personal communication with IRM researcher, 1 Nov. 2017.] The government should identify the best methods for advertising public consultations and making them accessible as there does not seem to be a clear strategy at the time of this report.

Carried Forward?

This commitment was not carried over to the next action plan.


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