Drawing - French Digital Bill
21 December 2015

Drafting of the Digital Republic bill and Year II of French Tech

Two months after the end of the online consultation on the 'Digital Republic' bill, an initial assessment of this unprecedented method of jointly producing a bill has been published. On 18 December, Axelle Lemaire, Minister of State for the Digital Sector, also brought together the chairmen of the independent administrative authorities and commissions who had submitted opinions on the bill. On the same day she launched the first Open Innovation Forum as part of the start of 'Year II of French Tech'.
Content published under the Government Valls II from 2014 26th August to 2016 11th February
 

Assessing the joint production of the bill

Axelle Lemaire published an initial assessment of the unprecedented method of jointly producing the bill on Friday 18 December, two months after the online consultation on the Digital Republic bill.
 
The assessment was based on three sources of information:
  • data on internet user involvement, published as open data on data.gouv.fr as part of a 'research hackathon' held on 12 December;
  • a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the consultation;
  • a satisfaction survey of 4,500 contributors to the online consultation.
 
What stands out in this assessment is contributors' strong desire to take part in another such consultation in the future: should the Government hold another consultation on a bill, 52% of survey respondents said they would definitely take part, and 45% would consider taking part, depending on the subject. 50% of participants would also like the Government to now organise such a consultation on all bills. The consultation introduced a new way of engaging in the procedure of drafting a bill, with 60% of respondents claiming that they had never read the text of a bill in the past. 71% of them also said that the consultation served to significantly enhance the text produced by the Government.
 
This initial assessment shows that online consultations on bills are a promising way of extending democratic participation. They help to engage citizens in a very new way and also promote greater efficiency when it comes to political decision-making.
 
With France set to chair the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2016, it is preparing the ground now with this unprecedented experiment.
 
The assessment of this initial pioneering experiment also highlights the following potential opportunities for improvement:
  • developing IRL ('in real life') contributory events to coincide with the online consultation,
  • improving coordination within the community of contributors,   
  • making the consultation interface more user-friendly.
 
This information will fuel the Government's thinking on whether to repeat the experiment.
 

Opinions submitted to the Government

On Friday 18 December, Axelle Lemaire brought together the chairmen of the independent administrative authorities and commissions (including CADA (the commission for access to administrative documents), ARCEP (the authority for regulation of the electronic communications and postal sectors), CNIL (the data protection authority), and CNNum (the French digital council)) who had submitted opinions on the Digital Republic bill in Paris. These opinions, along with that of the Council of State, can be found at www.republique-numerique.fr.
 
The Secretary of State praised the quality of the opinions submitted to the Government and the collaboration with the administrative authorities during production of the bill. In particular, she thanked them for their support for the consultative approach taken to drafting it. The consultation was based on methods that could herald a renewal of political practices and "should be extended and perhaps rolled out across the board", according to the opinion submitted by CNNum.
 
Axelle Lemaire sees this dialogue, involving administrative authorities and commissions but also the people via the consultation, as an example of a multi-player form of internet governance in which the Digital Republic bill is the first step. The Secretary of State wishes to continue to work together and to harness collective intelligence in order to produce the bill since the approach lies "at the heart of the digital revolution in society and the economy, and reflects the objectives that the bill sets out to achieve. It will also fuel parliamentary debate in January".
 

Year II of French Tech

Axelle Lemaire also launched the first Open Innovation Forum. Open innovation is an alternative way of perceiving innovation, one which makes organisations and processes more open to both knowledge inflows and outflows. This is a major issue for established companies, large groups, ISEs and SMEs, as it can be transformative for their innovation processes. But open innovation can also drive growth for start-ups.
 
The forum attracted companies of all sizes with the common aim of sharing best practice and promoting open innovation. Companies listed in the CAC 40 index of leading shares, start-ups, SMEs and associations all joined an Open Innovation Alliance designed in partnership with the CentraleSupélec graduate engineering school's Institute of Open Innovation (IOI). This Alliance will help create a community of open innovation players that is based on the principles of trust and respect to promote successful collaboration.
 
It also fires the starting pistol on Year II of French Tech by encouraging traditional companies to embrace the start-ups involved in the French Tech initiative. This encouragement will remain in place throughout 2016 in four key fields, with the prime movers being the open innovation stakeholders themselves. The goals are to:
  • build a partnership based on trust;
  • clarify the means of funding open innovation; 
  • capitalise on past achievements and raise the international profile;
  • cultivate open innovation ecosystems in dedicated spaces. 
 
A second edition of the Open Innovation Forum is set to be held in mid-2016 to put these commitments into practice.


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