Over the past two years, France has been a leading country when it comes to open data and open government — and it is paying off. Only one year after joining the Open Government Partnership, France has just been elected to head the Partnership starting in October 2016.
I’ve been regularly covering France’s effort in this area as I think it’s an interesting take on open government. There are many other interesting projects coming out of Etalab. The team first relaunched Data.gouv.fr, France’s open data portal. This project showcases how data can be useful to modernize the French Government and State. It was also a great story as Etalab acts as a small startup within the government, tirelessly iterating on its projects.
The team also launched OpenFisca, an open-source tax simulator so that you can see how tax reforms affect French people. This is the kind of tools that can be useful for everyone — ministers, journalists and citizens. More recently, OpenStreetMap, La Poste, the IGN and Etalab partnered to launch an open database of addresses. This can be very useful for firemen, ambulances, telecommunication companies and more. For example, they can look up and reference any address without relying on Google Maps and other proprietary alternatives — and it’s very accurate.
Finally, France nominated its first Chief Data Officer, proving that open data and open government strategies are becoming more and more important within the French Government. All these small achievements are probably the main reason why France will head the Open Government Partnership next year.
The Open Government Partnership was created in 2011, and 65 countries now take part in this international community, with a few countries also participating in the head committee. Mexico is currently heading the Partnership, with South Africa to follow.
There are four key goals behind this institution: public transparency, a bottom-up approach to public policies with citizens helping the Government, regular reports from public institutions, and the promotion and use of tech to achieve these goals.
By adhering to the Open Government Partnership, member countries show that they are willing to progress when it comes to these for areas. Countries also share takeaways from their open government initiatives with other members, which isn’t surprising given that the Partnership is all about promoting open strategies.
Heading the Partnership means that France will be the representative country of the Open Government Partnership, which is a highly diplomatic task. France will push open government principles both behind the scene and in front of the media.
When you look back a couple of centuries, article 15 of France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen still rings true today. “The society has the right of requesting account from any public agent of its administration,” it says. In light of today’s news, if France wants to stay true to its founding stories, promoting open government seems unmissable.