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France Joins Open Government Partnership

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French minister Marylise Lebranchu announced earlier today at the Paris Conference that France is joining the Open Government Partnership. It’s the logical next step following France’s work on open data and open government. In particular, a small entity called Etalab acted like a startup within the French government to release a new version of Data.gouv.fr. Many open data advocates praised France’s work in this area.

What does it actually mean when you join the open government partnership? The French government has 12 months to draft a comprehensive report on what it plans to do to become more open. If you’re interested in government innovation, this initiative is very interesting.

In particular, there are four key areas in the partnership — members need to “promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies to make government more effective and accountable.”

Lebranchu surprised everyone by saying this report will be ready by November, six months before the deadline. But she didn’t share any practical details when it comes to the open data strategy — it’s unclear whether France plans to pursue the current strategy with Etalab and the different ministries or change course.

Launched in 2011, the Open Government Partnership now has 64 members. When you are a member, every citizen can access government data and become more involved. It’s a bottom-up, empowering approach. On the other hand, governments can access and share international data to fight corruption and implement efficient policies.

By joining the partnership, you don’t get any sort of penalty if you don’t comply with the organization’s principles. But it is a voluntary move, and anyone can check whether the government is complying with its initial report. That’s the beauty of open data.