Skip Navigation
France

Improve 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, Public Participation, Regulatory Governance, Science & Technology

IRM Review

IRM Report: France Transitional Results Report 2018-2020, France Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: No IRM Data

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

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.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

15. Provide the administrations with the tools to associate citizens to public decisionmaking

Completion: Substantial

Etalab created the platform consultation.etalab.gouv.fr in 2016, which became https://participation-citoyenne.gouv.fr/ after it was transferred to the Interministerial Directorate for Public Transformation. The platform offers seven different methods through which public officials can organize a public consultation (citizen workshops, participatory workshops, citizen conferences, online consultations, participatory budgeting etc.), as well as several guides explaining the various steps of organizing a public consultation and a list of service providers. The government self-assessment indicates that 61 agencies have used this service, 65 platforms have been tested and 19 consultations have actually been conducted. [xlix] Government agencies organized a number of hackathons and six Open d’Etat Forums, as documented in previous commitment assessments in this report. The vagueness of the commitment makes it hard to assess whether all the milestones have been completed.

[xlix] Direction interministérielle de la transformation publique. Pour une action publique transparente et collaborative. December 2020, https://www.modernisation.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/ogp_rapport_autoevalution_com.pdf (accessed on 20 January 2021)

Commitments

Open Government Partnership