Transparency of Public Algorithms (FR0035)
Improving transparency of public algorithms and source codes
Minister of State for the Digital Sector, attached to the Prime Minister
OGP principles with which the commitment is associated:
Access to information, accountability
Algorithms have an ever greater part to play in implementation of public policies – in the fields of education and public finances, for example. Their transparency is of key importance in providing citizens with information on administrative decisions.
The Law for a Digital Republic, enacted on 7 October 2016, introduced two major provisions fostering greater transparency into the Code on Relations between the Public and the Administration. The first extends the principle of information to algorithmic processing: any person who is the subject of an individual administrative decision taken on the basis of an algorithm must be informed of the fact and may demand access to the algorithm’s main operational rules (its contribution, data used, etc.). The second includes source codes in the list of communicable administrative documents.
Furthermore, Article 16 of the same law provides for administrations encouraging use of free software and open formats during development, purchase and use of all or part of such information systems.
Accompanying the opening of public algorithms and source codes
Implementation of these new provisions requires accompaniment of administrations and, more generally, better understanding of the issues, potentialities and risks involved in the use of algorithms in management of public action.
It is for this reason that Etalab has undertaken to develop a methodology in collaboration with administrations for opening algorithms and codes contained in their information systems. Such assistance is already underway with the General Directorate of Public Finance (DGFiP) (opening of the tax calculator’s source code) and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (mission on conditions for opening the Admission Post-Bac system). In addition, the Interministerial Directorate for Information and Communications Systems (DINSIC) has undertaken composition of a guide on how to open administrations’ source codes, starting with a consultation on an initial version of the guide carried out from December 2017 to January 2018 .
The specific issues connected with learning algorithms will also be taken into account in work on use of algorithms in public action.
The road map in detail
Producing 5 public algorithm monographs in order to identify technical, legal and organisational issues. Getting civil society to participate in their study. 2019
Making recommendations to administrations on essential information on public algorithms, in compliance with the principle of algorithmic transparency 1st half 2018
Drafting a guide to opening public source codes for use by administrations 1st half 2018
Organising hackathons based on opening public algorithms 2nd half 2018 – 2nd half 2019
An application case of the opening of models and source codes: OpenFisca
Since 2014, Etalab has been developing and making OpenFisca available to public administrations and civil society. OpenFisca is an open computation engine and API. It makes it possible to model the socio-fiscal system, to simulate the impact of reforms, and to develop citizen-oriented services.
OpenFisca made it possible to build my-aides.gouv.fr, a social assistance simulation platform, thanks to which more than 100,000 simulations are carried out each month.
Today, OpenFisca is used by many actors - parliamentarians, public officials, researchers - to assess the impact of future reforms. For example, in 2018, a team from the working group "Access to rights and services, fight against non-recourse" used OpenFisca to simulate different scenarios for simplifying the calculation of social benefits and their impact on typical family situations.
OpenFisca uses the income tax calculator made available in 2016 by the DGFIP to perform some of these simulations.
OpenFisca illustrates the opportunities created by the openness and sharing of algorithms and source code of the administration.
It enables citizens and public decision-makers to understand, evaluate and improve public decisions in social and fiscal matters.
It also makes it possible to pool calculation models that coexist within multiple administrations, and a fortiori, to improve their quality and reduce their costs.
To further these actions in the area of social and fiscal transparency, the DINSIC commits to:
Encourage the opening of existing models, data and source codes in the socio-fiscal field, in order to accompany administrations in the evaluation of reforms. This work will
be carried out in consultation with the producing administrations (Budget Directorate, Treasury Directorate, Public Finance Directorate, social security bodies, etc.) and may include those involved in the drafting and monitoring of reforms (parliamentary assemblies, Court of Auditors, etc.);
Improve citizens' understanding of social and fiscal rules in order to stimulate the creation of services based on OpenFisca, as is the case of the mes-aides.gouv.fr platform. These services could be developed both by administrations and by civil society;
Develop collaborations with partner countries to support them in their initiatives to open up data and algorithms around socio-fiscal transparency and citizen participation in reforms.
In addition to these crosscutting actions, the following ministries have made commitments of their own:
THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL EDUCATION UNDERTAKES TO
Open various of its algorithms and source codes.
THE NATIONAL AGENCY FOR INFORMATION SYSTEM SECURITY (ANSSI) UNDERTAKES TO
Take part in the composition of a guide to opening public source codes for use by administrations and focusing particularly on questions connected with best development and security practices.
Open the source code for the CLIP secure exploitation system (CLIP OS).
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Transparency of Development Aid
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Expand Open Data
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Improved Data Policies and Administration
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Transparency of Public Algorithms
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State AI Lab
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Public Service Incubators
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Open Etat Forum
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Online Procedures Dashboard
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International Transparency and Citizen Participation
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Private Sector Transparency
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Publish Building Permits in Open Data Format
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Increase Transparency in Public Procurement
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Access to Public Officials Transparency Obligations
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Transparency in Extractive Industries
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Transparency in International Trade Commercial Negotiations
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FR0013, 2015, Open Data
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Diversify Recruitment Within Public Institutions
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Open Data and Climate/Sustainable Development
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Collaborate with Civil Society on Climate and Sustainable Development
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