Reform Participatory Mechanisms (FR0016)
Action Plan: France, First Action Plan, 2015-17
Action Plan Cycle: 2015
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 AreasPublic Participation
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".
• 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
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”
o Carry out trials, with pilot ministries, of this mechanism, which is more flexible and agile than conventional consultation formats
o Present, to partner administrations, the charter establishing the main principles of 'Citizens' Workshops' and their implementation protocol
o 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
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.
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.
This commitment was not carried over 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