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France

Imrove Public Consultation Mechanisms (FR0044)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: France Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Minister of State for the Digital Sector, attached to the Prime Minister

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Public Action and Accounts, Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation

Policy Areas

E-Government, Open Regulations, Public Participation, Science & Technology

IRM Review

IRM Report: France Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Provide the administrations with the tools to associate citizens to public decision-making
Lead institution(s):
Minister of State for the Digital Sector, attached to the Prime Minister
Other stakeholders:
Ministry of Public Action and Accounts, Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation
Commitment building on: commitment no. 13 “leverage previous consultations & reform participatory mechanisms” and no. 22 “spread public innovation, and develop research on open government” of the NAP for 2015-2017
OGP principles with which the commitment is associated:
Civic participation, Innovation and technology for openness
Challenges
Numerous consultations have been organized in recent years by administrations on important public decisions, major reforms and draft laws: online consultation on the digital in schools (50,000 contributions) and in academies (150 events); online consultation on the draft law for a digital republic (20,000 participants, 8,000 contributions, 150,000 votes) etc. New consultative approaches have been launched: such as Action Publique 2022 (Public Action Programme 2022), Assises de la mobilité (the Mobility encounters), Assises de l'alimentation (the Alimentation encounters), etc.
Among the many forms of participatory approaches (citizen workshop, forum, hackathon, public meeting, etc.), open consultations on the Internet are becoming increasingly important. Such consultations are one of the instruments of public consultation. A consultation can be more or less broad but the tools used on the Internet often allow everyone to participate. This consultation can take several forms: public inquiry by means of a register and an inquiry report, consultation procedures, formal consultation of voters, public meetings or consultations on the Internet, these different participation tools can be combined.
As indicated by the COEPIA in its November 2016 report on open internet consultations organized by administrations, these have 3 functions:
Informative: to enrich the expertise of public decision-makers, but also to better understand the obstacles and points of discord;
Democratic: to allow everyone to participate in these debates and in the elaboration of the public decision. Consultation is a direct relationship between public authorities and citizens;
Process-oriented: to inform the public on an issue and to foster consensus.
However, the report also stresses that these consultations are only useful if they are organized according to certain "basic" rules and that they require a strong involvement of the organizers. Articles L. 131-1 and L. 132-1 of the code of relations between the public and the administration (CRPA) set the following principles: ensuring a certain publicity to the consultation, making public the modalities of the procedure, ensuring the information of the participants, conducting it during at least 15 days and carrying out a synthesis of the observations at the end, which is made public, in order to eventually announce the considered follow-up.
As these practices spread, administrations may be confronted with constraints in terms of timetable and budget, and legitimately question the tools to be used and the good practices to be implemented. Experience sharing and support thus prove to be useful in increasing the impact of these consultations, ensuring their loyalty and transparency, and effectively mobilizing contributors.
Ambitions
Propose resources, tools and methods to facilitate the use of open online consultations and involve users and citizens in public decision-making.
Since 2016, Etalab has brought together civic tech actors, consultation experts and administrations to establish a common set of principles and practices around online public consultations. A platform - currently in beta version on http://www.consultation.etalab.gouv.fr - has thus been developed in a co-construction approach with the ecosystem in order to:
Reference tools that can be used by administrations and provide a number of facilities and guarantees to public actors, particularly in terms of transparency, dialogue between citizens and administrations, and management of personal data;
Share good practices in open online consultation in government, based on respect for the public and the public interest8.
Etalab is committed to continue the development of this platform in conjunction with administrations mastering consultation or that are collaborating civic tech ecosystem stakeholders and solution providers, the research and expert community and civil society.
Etalab is also committed to continuing to develop and test new formats for contributing workshops, forums, hackathons and other innovative formats, and to document them in order to share this experience and know-how with all public stakeholders.
The road map in detail

Improve and enrich the platform
consultation.etalab.gouv.fr (offer of tools, good practices) in order to cover a plurality of needs and enable administrations to be more and more autonomous in the organisation of consultations S1 2018
Develop a single platform for online public consultations S2 2019
Continue organizing open events (hackathon, datacamp, barcamp, forum, open ministry...) with administrations and ecosystem stakeholders document these events and share feedback with all public stakeholders S1 et S2 2018

In addition to these cross-cutting actions, the following ministries have made specific commitments:
THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC ACTION AND ACCOUNTS UNDERTAKES TO
Support the major public transformation and reform projects in their citizen participation initiatives.
THE MINISTRY OF HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH AND INNOVATION UNDERTAKES TO
Set up a crowdsourcing service that will allow the identification and improve the visibility of innovative initiatives that have positive results within the institutions where they are implemented in order to encourage local initiatives and develop direct contacts between field actors (use of the OGPToolbox developed by Etalab, 2018).

IRM Midterm Status Summary

15. Provide the administrations with the tools to associate citizens to public decision-making

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

Propose resources, tools and methods to facilitate the use of open online consultations and involve users and citizens in public decision-making.

Since 2016, Etalab has brought together civic tech actors, consultation experts and administrations to establish a common set of principles and practices around online public consultations. A platform - currently in beta version on http://www.consultation.etalab.gouv.fr - has thus been developed in a co-construction approach with the ecosystem in order to:

  • Reference tools that can be used by administrations and provide a number of facilities and guarantees to public actors, particularly in terms of transparency, dialogue between citizens and administrations, and management of personal data;
  • Share good practices in open online consultation in government, based on respect for the public and the public interest.

Etalab is committed to continue the development of this platform in conjunction with administrations mastering consultation or that are collaborating civic tech ecosystem stakeholders and solution providers, the research and expert community and civil society.

Etalab is also committed to continuing to develop and test new formats for contributing workshops, forums, hackathons and other innovative formats, and to document them in order to share this experience and know-how with all public stakeholders. [59]

Milestones

15.1 Improve and enrich the platform consultation.etalab.gouv.fr (offer of tools, good practices) in order to cover a plurality of needs and enable administrations to be more and more autonomous in the organisation of consultations

15.2 Develop a single platform for online public consultations

15.3 Continue organizing open events (hackathon, datacamp, barcamp, forum, open ministry...) with administrations and ecosystem stakeholders document these events and share feedback with all public stakeholders

Start Date: 2018

End Date: 2019

Context and Objectives

The government aims to improve its ability to consult citizens and involve them in public decision making. A report from the Conseil d’Orientation de l’Edition Publique et de l’Information Administrative provided several recommendations on how to make public online consultation efficient. This commitment aims to integrate those recommendations into the development of new tools for government agencies to involve citizens in their work. The platform, consultation.etalab.gouv.fr, was created in 2016. It is based on the work done for the OGP Toolbox that was presented at the OGP Summit in Paris and work done with civic technology companies (“civic techs”).

The platform already offers various tools to facilitate consultations (e.g., comment boxes, debate platforms, participatory budgeting, co-drafting of texts, voting, and surveys). All public consultations must follow the principles listed in Articles L. 131-1 and L.132-1 of the Code on Relations between the Public and the Administration. [60] (That is, they must guarantee a certain publicity, share details about the procedure, keep participants informed, etc.) Since the platform was launched, Etalab has received about 70 solicitations concerning 25 different consultations. It has also created 35 prototype consultations and hosted eight consultations on the platform. [61]

Online platforms lie at the heart of this commitment. Firstly, the commitment aims to improve the platform that was launched during the last action plan’s implementation period (consultation.etalab.gouv.fr). Secondly, it requires the development of a platform through which all public consultations could be accessed. Lastly, it plans to organize hackathons and bar camps - user-generated conferences primarily focused around technology – to involve experts, officials, and users in the improvement of the platforms.

The commitment, if implemented, could provide a new means for citizens to participate in public decision making. Thus, the IRM researcher considers the commitment to be relevant to the OGP value of civic participation. The commitment is also relevant to technology and innovation. It requires the improvement and enrichment of the consultation.etalab.gouv.fr platform and the organization of bar camps and hackathons to foster innovation.

As written, the commitment is specific enough to be verified. However, the text lacks specificity. It does not provide sufficient details about the activities that will lead to the enrichment and improvement of the consultation.etalab.gouv.fr platform. It also does not give any information about the platform on which the consultations should be centralized or about the purpose of the hackathons, bar camps, and forums.

The IRM researcher deems this initiative to have a minor potential effect. The commitment does not commit authorities to any actual public consultations. The centralization of public consultations could, however, facilitate citizens’ access to these processes.

Next steps

The IRM researcher suggests the government consider the following in the implementation of this commitment:

  • Ensure that public consultations are a requirement for relevant public processes, such as the drafting of laws and regulations.
[59] For a Transparent and Collaborative Government: France National Action Plan 2018–2020, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/France-Action-Plan-2018-2020-English.pdf (accessed on 10 January 2019).
[61] Etalab official, email communication with IRM researcher, 26 February 2019.

Commitments

  1. Transparency of Public Services

    FR0030, 2018, E-Government

  2. Transparency of Public Procurement

    FR0031, 2018, Access to Information

  3. Transparency of Development Aid

    FR0032, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Expand Open Data

    FR0033, 2018, Access to Information

  5. Improved Data Policies and Administration

    FR0034, 2018, Access to Information

  6. Transparency of Public Algorithms

    FR0035, 2018, E-Government

  7. Open Data at Sub-National Level

    FR0036, 2018, Access to Information

  8. State AI Lab

    FR0037, 2018, Automated Decision-Making

  9. Administrative Capacity-Building

    FR0038, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Public Service Incubators

    FR0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Streamline Data Flows

    FR0040, 2018, Access to Information

  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, Access to Information

  18. Open Science

    FR0047, 2018, Access to Information

  19. Citizen Involvement in Cour Des Comptes

    FR0048, 2018, Access to Information

  20. Transparency of Interest Representatives

    FR0049, 2018, Access to Information

  21. Access to Information on Public Officials

    FR0050, 2018, Access to Information

  22. Open Regional and Local Authorities' Data

    FR0001, 2015, Access to Information

  23. Publish Municipal Council Decisions and Reports Online

    FR0002, 2015, E-Government

  24. Publish Building Permits in Open Data Format

    FR0003, 2015, Access to Information

  25. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Public Procurement

    FR0004, 2015, Access to Information

  26. Improve Transparency in International Development Aid

    FR0005, 2015, Access to Information

  27. Open Access to Public Policy Evaluations

    FR0006, 2015, E-Government

  28. Involve Citizens in Cour Des Comptes Work

    FR0007, 2015, Access to Information

  29. Access to Public Officials Transparency Obligations

    FR0008, 2015, Access to Information

  30. Starred commitment Beneficial Ownership

    FR0009, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  31. Transparency in Extractive Industries

    FR0010, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  32. Transparency in International Trade Commercial Negotiations

    FR0011, 2015, Access to Information

  33. Fix My Neighborhood

    FR0012, 2015, E-Government

  34. Digital Fix-It

    FR0013, 2015, Access to Information

  35. Co-Produce Data Infrastructure with Civil Society

    FR0014, 2015, Access to Information

  36. Starred commitment Open Legal Resources

    FR0015, 2015, Access to Information

  37. Reform Participatory Mechanisms

    FR0016, 2015, Open Regulations

  38. Mediation and Justice

    FR0017, 2015, Access to Justice

  39. Starred commitment Open and Circulate Data

    FR0018, 2015, Access to Information

  40. Open Calculation Models and Simulators

    FR0019, 2015, Access to Information

  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, Anti-Corruption

  48. Civil Society & Transparency in COP21 Conference Planning

    FR0027, 2015, Environment and Climate

  49. Open Data and Climate/Sustainable Development

    FR0028, 2015, Access to Information

  50. Collaborate with Civil Society on Climate and Sustainable Development

    FR0029, 2015, Environment and Climate

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