How France has made up for much of its delay in e-government

Published on 13 Jan. 2022 to 19: Updated 09 Jan. 2022 to 30: 09

This was one of Emmanuel Macron’s campaign promises in 2017, a more digital state. Five years later, the results can be described as honorable. This project is one of those that has not been stopped by the global epidemic. It is even quite the opposite: the Covid has made it possible to accelerate.

Three months before the end of Emmanuel Macron’s mandate, the government is increasing its outings to praise the modernization course of administration. By February, the Minister of Transformation and the Public Service, Amélie de Montchalin, should in particular present the results of the last part of the Observatory of the quality of online procedures.

“Three quarters of the relations between the French and public institutions are done via digital technology”, she recalled in November. In 2017, Emmanuel Macron wanted to see 100 % of procedures accessible online. Even if it was quickly agreed to focus on the 250 the most common procedures (VAT declaration, grant application, etc.), the administration should have almost reached its objective this winter.

A lever for public service

Crucial in responding to issues of quality and transparency of public service as well as to issues of technological sovereignty, the digital transformation of the State is however far from complete. And it has been articulated in recent years with the concern not to exclude those who want or cannot communicate electronically, in particular via the development of France services locations, at 19 minutes of each of the French.

But progress is notable. “Digital during this five-year period has been the subject of a particular ambition that we had not seen in the past, it was perceived as a lever to improve public service”, notes Nadi Bou Hanna, the director interministerial digital who is leaving his post this week.

Progress in the European ranking

Progress French is measured in numbers. In addition to the digitization of online procedures, the explosion in the number of FranceConnect accounts – the unique identifier that allows you to connect to government and local authority sites – is a good indicator: 33 million French people, i.e. nearly one in two, use it today.

In the European Commission’s ranking on the digitization of public services, France has gone from 19e at the 16e place, still far behind Estonia, Denmark and even Spain, but ahead of Germany and above the European average.

Internally, the State’s IT services have made their technical and organizational change. The interministerial digital department (Dinum) has put forward its specialized task forces (open source, data, cloud, etc.) to better advising the ministries, not without confusing certain agents. Over the period, the Dinum saw its workforce grow by 50 % while 500 million euros from the France Relance plan are devoted to the digital transformation of the State.

Continue the opening of data But the reorganization also generated savings. “The action plan implemented by Dinum, in liaison with all the ministries carrying out major projects, made it possible to reduce in December 2021 the drift rate of these projects at ,5% on the budget component, and 15, 4% on the calendar component. This represents nearly 250 million euros in expenditure avoided compared to the situation that prevailed “, writes Nadi Bou Hanna in a note of departure to his hierarchy that “Les Echos” consulted.

His successor will find new files on his desk. European champion of open data, France can still greatly improve to make accessible to researchers and entrepreneurs the mass of information contained in the ministries.

It is also a question of making this data useful . Visiting the IGN in September, Amélie de Montchalin questioned the authors of a national soil quality map to find out if they could measure the evolution of artificialization of soils that a law wants to limit.

On other subjects, the strategy is not clear. The administration has just changed its doctrine regarding remote computing (cloud). And the prospects of providing French people with an online identity as secure as their official papers or to vote the French of mainland France by electronic means are the subject of endless debate.