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France

Open Calculation Models and Simulators (FR0019)

Overview

At-a-Glance

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

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of State for State Reform and Simplification attached to the Prime Minister

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Open Data

IRM Review

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

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

STAKES Open data policies are supplemented by the opening of rules, algorithms and models that accompany it and support public decision-making. These algorithms and models are a powerful means of promoting independent points of view. When they are open (open source) and can be used through APIs, they also constitute a precious resource for developing numerous applications.

CONTEXT & AIM Public officials routinely use numerous models to calculate social benefits, taxes, pensions, economic growth, etc. Some of these are made available to citizens for calculations on eligibility for benefits or evaluations of forthcoming contributions. Too often, these models coexist within administrations, without being shared. The use of open models, for which the code is accessible, reusable, applicable and can be improved by a community as well as by the administrations themselves, can break down barriers within the administration and contribute to a process of cooperation and open innovation. In 2014, the Secretariat-General for Government Modernization and France Stratégie developed and made available to the community the OpenFisca platform, an open search engine and an open API allowing micro-simulation of the French tax and social benefit system. This is the first entirely-open model developed by the administration: it encodes, in a tool accessible to everyone, the principles of open government, since it serves:
• Transparency: each citizen can see the rules and parameters of the legislation, the distribution that she receives and the breakdown of her contribution to the system
• The stimulation of diverse points of view and the efficiency in public decision-making, because administrations, researchers and journalists, among others, can simulate the impact of reforms
• Government modernization, because the tool could be adapted to themed simulators, to facilitate the action of the administrations themselves. For instance, the portal https://mes-aides.gouv.fr/ was built from OpenFisca and provides a simulator on welfare and social benefits, which is particularly useful in ensuring all citizens can claim the benefits they are entitled to.

ROADMAP
• Extend the opening of models to other areas of public action
- Continue to work with the different administrations to support them in opening their calculation and simulation models
• Produce simulators from existing open models
- Leverage the OpenFisca platform to extend it to other areas of legislation and propose adaptations of simulators useful to citizens, economic players and public players. For example, simulation model for energy costs, extension of local taxation, pension calculations, etc.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

16. Open Calculation Models and Simulators

Commitment Text:

PROMOTE THE OPENING OF CALCULATION MODELS AND SIMULATORS

ROADMAP

§ Extend the opening of models to other areas of public action

Continue to work with the different administrations to support them in opening their calculation and simulation models  

§ Produce simulators from existing open models

Leverage the OpenFisca platform to extend it to other areas of legislation and propose adaptations of simulators useful to citizens, economic players and public players. For example, simulation model for energy costs, extension of local taxation, pension calculations, etc.

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 Institution: Ministry of State for State Reform and Simplification attached to the Prime Minister

Supporting Institution(s): N/A

Start Date:Not Specified

End Date:Not Specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment sought to open and develop calculation models currently used by many public services in open source, under a free license. The objective was to increase use of the models by different administrations, and ultimately develop simulation tools or platforms in different areas like social or education affairs. In the social field, this commitment aimed to continue the development and replication of OpenFisca, an open simulation of the socio-fiscal system, and build simulation tools or platforms.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

This commitment was substantially implemented by the midterm. Several new simulators were made available in open format, including the source code for the tax calculator of the Direction générale des finances publiques (DGFiP). The midterm IRM report also indicates that the source code for the Post-Bac Admission (PBA) platform, notably the algorithm that assigns prospective students to universities, of the National Education Ministry was expected to be opened during the second year of implementation.

OpenFisca was extended to other areas of legislation. Several versions and reuses of OpenFisca have emerged including: the mes-aides.gouv.fr platform, which calculates individuals' social benefits and provides information on how to access these benefits; a hiring cost simulator (http://embauche.sgmap.fr/) that allows companies to estimate the cost of hiring and the employee's net salary; the effective tax rate, which allows individuals to visualise the evolution of the effective tax rate according to salary and capital; and an alimony comparator for divorced couples. For more information, please see the IRM midterm report.[Note132: Independent Reporting Mechanism, France Rapport D'ètape (OGP, 2017), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/France_Progress-Report_2015-2017.pdf.]

End of Term: Substantial

The completion of this commitment is considered substantial, mostly due to the extension of OpenFisca and the publication of new codes. During the second year of implementation, the Department of public finances (Direction générale des Finances publiques) published the source code for the calculation of household income taxes for the years 2010 to 2015, in addition to the already-published code for 2014.[Note133: Etalab, Ouverture du code du calcul de l'impôt sur le revenu, années 2010 à 2015 (Etalab, Sept. 2017), https://www.etalab.gouv.fr/ouverture-du-code-du-calcul-de-limpot-sur-le-revenu (accessed 1 Nov. 2017).]

In October 2017, the OpenFisca platform contained simulators on social assistance (mes-aides.gouv.fr), on hiring costs, effective tax rates, on the dependent spouse allowance reform, and on capital and labour tax rates. In the summer of 2016, the National Statistics Institute and the Ministry of Social Affairs published the source code for their microsimulation model Ines, which calculates social contributions and social assistance programmes.[Note134: NextImpact, Le modèle de simulation Ines, de l'INSEE et la DREES, passe en open source (NextImpact, Jun. 2016), https://www.nextinpact.com/news/100233-le-modele-simulation-ines-l-insee-et-drees-passe-en-open-source.html (accessed 1 Nov. 2017).] The simulator code is available through a platform managed by the association Adullact, which requires the creation of an account.[Note135: Available here: https://adullact.net/projects/ines-libre.] A journalist tried to access the source code and notes the response time from the platform administrator could be rather slow.[Note136: NextImpact, Le modèle de simulation Ines, de l'INSEE et la DREES, passe en open source (NextImpact, Jun. 2016), https://www.nextinpact.com/news/100233-le-modele-simulation-ines-l-insee-et-drees-passe-en-open-source.htm (accessed 1 Nov. 2017).]

The issue of opaque models and algorithms gained notoriety in the second year of implementation when the Admission Post-Bac (APB) platform failed to find suitable university placements for thousands of students.[Note137: Camille Stromboni, “APB 2017 : plus de 65 000 jeunes toujours sans affectation dans l'enseignement supérieur” (Le Monde, 22 Jul. 2017), http://www.lemonde.fr/bac-lycee/article/2017/07/22/apb-2017-22-891-candidats-sont-d-ores-et-deja-inscrits-en-procedure-complementaire_5163736_4401499.html?xtmc=admission_post_bac&xtcr=66 (accessed 17 Dec. 2017).] The Minister in charge, Ms. Frédérique Vidal announced that the APB platform would be replaced by a new platform backed by an ethics committee.[Note138: Séverin Graveleau, “La CNIL remet en cause le fonctionnement de la plate-forme APB” (Le Monde, 29 Sept. 2017), http://www.lemonde.fr/campus/article/2017/09/29/la-cnil-remet-en-cause-le-fonctionnement-de-la-plate-forme-apb_5193207_4401467.html#sjzCyY5TsG0kiX6c.99 (accessed 5 Oct. 2017).] The previous Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research had commissioned Etalab to make recommendations on how to open the source code and data of the APB platform. Etalab published a report in April 2017 of their findings, including the need to publish the source code in an open format and develop future versions in a collaborative manner.[Note139: Etatlab, Rapport de la mission Etalab sur les conditions d'ouverture du système Admission Post-Bac (Etalab, 2017), https://www.data.gouv.fr/s/resources/rapport-sur-les-conditions-douverture-du-systeme-admission-post-bac/20170421-101632/20170420_Rapport-Etalab-missionAPB-VF.pdf (accessed 1 Nov. 2017).] The APB platform was abandoned in October 2017 and will be replaced by a new platform called Parcoursup.[Note140: Ministère de l'éducation nationale, Plateforme d'admission dans l'enseignement supérieur : nouvelle formule, nouveau nom (2017), http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid122995/plateforme-d-admission-dans-l-enseignement-superieur-nouvelle-formule-nouveau-nom.html (accessed 17 Dec. 2017).] The IRM researcher could not find sufficient information to gauge if Etalab's recommendations were considered in developing the new platform.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Prior to this commitment, only limited information was provided regarding the source codes of public services, calculations and simulations. The opacity and complexity of the procedure related to social benefits resulted in people not using these rights. As the midterm assessment reports, there was traffic to the simulators developed under this commitment – an average 300,000 visits per day in July 2016 on mes-aides.gouv.fr, suggesting that these simulators meet a real demand. However, given the few source codes and simulation models that have been opened, this commitment remains limited in scope and scale. As such, it marginally opened government with respect to access to information.

Carried Forward?

This commitment was carried over to the next action plan. In the new action plan, the commitment focusses on evaluating existing algorithms in collaboration with civil society; on providing recommendations to public administrations on the use of algorithms; on developing a guide on open source code; and on organising hackathons on the opening of algorithms.


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