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Bringing the French Cour des Comptes Closer to Citizens

Rapprocher la Cour des Comptes aux Citoyens

Antoine Pavamani|

In its 2021-2023 OGP action plan, the French government committed the Cour des Comptes (Court of Accounts) to further mobilize citizen expertise in the service of the Court’s missions.

In the French system, the Cour des Comptes ensures transparency in public spending and verifies that resources are used efficiently and responsibly for the benefit of society. In 2022, the Cour des Comptes launched its citizen participation platform, allowing citizens and associations to submit proposals for audits on which the public wishes to see the magistrates work.

In the words of the President of the Cour des Comptes, Pierre Moscovici, the initiative aims to “respond to the kind of lethargy, indifference, or democratic revolt that seems to sometimes grip our country.” Through citizen participation, the Cour des Comptes and its magistrates are confronted with different perspectives and enhance the visibility of their work, which already has a significant resonance in the French public debate.

The 2023 citizen platform campaign introduced two innovations:

  • It expanded access to the platform to 15 to 18-year-olds.
  • Citizens can also submit themes for local audits by involving the regional and territorial chambers of accounts.

What are five lessons we learned from the participation platform?

  1. The popularity of the campaign: The 2023 campaign nearly doubled all its indicators compared to the previous one. With nearly 20,000 new registrations, it demonstrates a growing interest from the public. The number of proposals also increased by 86%, from 333 to 622 contributions.
  2. The success of local themes: 30% of contributions were about local issues. Thus, the fourth most popular theme concerns household waste in the Dordogne department with 1,653 supporters.
  3. Association mobilization: Associations played a significant role on the platform, confirming a trend observed in the previous campaign. They have established communication channels, and continued to exert significant influence, catalyzing important membership movements. For example, the National Federation of Hunters, the L214 animal defense association, sparked some of the most popular themes.
  4. Youth mobilization: Despite efforts to involve schools through collaboration with the priority education convention of Sciences Po Paris, realizing youth engagement proved to be complex. A Twitch stream hosted by the journalist Hugo Couturier was an encouraging first step, involving more than 10 establishments in live discussions. This awareness-raising work will continue in the long term. Although a sponsored campaign reached its audience, the platform experienced a 30% reduction in connections via social networks compared to the last edition. This decline is explained by increasingly strong barriers preventing users from clicking on external links from social networks (Instagram, X, and Facebook).
  5. The relevance of the tool: The Cour des Comptes chose to use Decidim, an open-source tool. The flexibility of the site allows for submitting ideas, supporting proposals, and actively participating. This feature, combined with the strong growth in interactions, highlights the validity of this participatory democracy experience to establish a constructive dialogue between the public and the Cour des Comptes. However, the Cour des Comptes aims to improve the user experience, especially in registration and navigation on the campaign site. For this purpose, an explanatory video has been posted online and has met with promising success.

The list of themes selected by the chambers of the Cour des Comptes and the regional chambers will be published in mid-January. In 2022, six themes had been selected from citizen proposals. This number is expected to be significantly higher this year. Several criteria are taken into account for selection: popularity (number of supporters received), novelty, added value provided by a report, and auditability.

The second citizen participation campaign of the Cour des Comptes resulted in a significant increase in the number of registered individuals, diversification of proposals, and ongoing association mobilization. Aiming for 50,000 participants for the next campaign, the Cour des Comptes seeks to mobilize participation and continue to increase representation of citizens’ aspirations.

Comments (2)

Edison Estrela Reply

Muy buena noticia, lamentablemente en América Latina la distancia entre el organismo de control y la sociedad es cada vez más grande, como que los funcionarios son especiales no de la sociedad. El acceso a la información en complejo y cada vez menos oportuna la revisión que suele hacerse a los últimos 5 años de operación. Increíble, verdad?
La auditoría es al último ejercicio, quizá 2, pero 5 es inaudito. Aspectos técnicos no considerados como el tema del análisis de riesgo y la importancia relativa. No es un cumplimiento legal y una acción técnica justificada.

Didier HADDAD Reply

Le nombre croissant de participants, démontre que l’implication citoyenne dans la chose publique est forte.
Une expérience à rendre systémique.

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