France joins the Open Gov Partnership to develop its open data strategy

Apr 24, 2014
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Today, Marylise Lebranchu, Minister of Decentralisation and State reform announced at La Conférence de Paris that France is joining the Open Gov Partnership.

France is the 64th country to join the international initiative to promote Open Government

OGP is an “international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens”. Launched in 2011 with 8 countries, France is now the 64th to join. Germany and Japan are still out.

The OGP’s aim is to “promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable.”

From open data to open government, the implication of France’s membership are still to be defined in its Action Plan.

According to the Minister, the aim of this membership is to go from a strategy strictly based on “open data” to a broader strategy of “open government”. This means that France shall not only implement tools and policies to give access and create more usable and comprehensible data, but should also build a real culture of openness, encourage citizen participation to the elaboration of public policies and the use of new technology to modernize public action.

France has already done a lot towards open data. The launch of the platform data.gouv.fr in 2011 has made it a world leader in terms of open government. Coordinated by Etalab, the French mission headed by Henri Verdier, the platform has made public and re-usable over 335 000 data on key public sectors (health, education, legislation…).

Being part of the OGP means agreeing on several commitments throughout the years, undertaken through “Actions Plans” designed in through a multi-stakeholder, open, and participatory process. La Conférence de Paris, hosted at La Cour des Comptes and the Ministry of Economy today and tomorrow, seems to be a good first step to debate and get the focus on open government best practices and new ideas. During the conference, the State Secretary of Higher Education and Scientific Research also announced the launch of its platform (developed by the startup OpenDataSoft). Open data is also awaited to be included in a future broad law on digital issues supposed to be drafted this summer.

There is a lot be done in terms of transparency. Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou, who came to the Conference to present “NosDeputes.fr”, a platform on French deputies, showed how the process of law creation has become more transparent on the Parliament side, yet is remaining dark on the Government’s side. It seems also important that the citizens get a grasp of the Open Government initiative. Indeed, as Marylise Lebranchu pointed out, “99% of French citizens don’t know what the words “open data” mean”.

The actual repercussions of France joining the OGP are still to be defined. At the very least, it means a greater collaboration between countries. Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office in the UK and former Co-President of the OGP declared this morning: “OGP is spreading the word that transparency is the friend of the reformer. It is paving the path to democracy and stability”.