In late 2019, the European Commission published a report comparing the integration of digital into the governments and administrations of some thirty European countries, and the way that integration has improved the service to users (or failed to do so). Isabela Pardal has examined this ‘benchmark’ with particular reference to the case of Switzerland, which she knows well. As she stresses here, in light of the relatively poor position of that country, technical and financial resources are not sufficient in themselves to guarantee organizational performance, since Switzerland, whose e-government development strategy was launched more than 20 years ago and which has all the necessary resources to fund it, lags behind in Europe in this regard. She highlights a lack of cooperation and synergy at the various different institutional levels, attributable in large part, as she sees it, to paying insufficient regard to the intangible components of the system. For its part, France performs well in terms of e-government, though it could also make great improvements if, as Isabela Pardal recommends for the Swiss Federation, it acted to strengthen synergies at all institutional levels.
Début 2018, le groupe Berger-Levrault a lancé Horizons publics, une revue consacrée à la transformation publique, qui prend le relais des Cahiers de la fonction publique, créés en 1982, avec pour ambition de regarder un peu plus vers l’avenir. Ce bimestriel, destiné en particulier aux acteurs et décideurs publics, entend explorer les nouveaux horizons de l’action publique : présentation d’innovations et d’initiatives originales, en France et à l’étranger, élaboration des politiques publiques, transformation numérique, simplification des ...
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At the end of January, President Emmanuel Macron confirmed his intention to produce framework legislation for reforming the French pensions system. A bill, initially intended for the spring, should be presented late in the year, the aim being to finalize the reform by summer of 2019, at which point all the various schemes should, as far as is possible, be unified. A unification of this kind is a complex and potentially risky undertaking for the executive. Nevertheless, the experience of the Agirc-Arrco supplementary schemes indicates that nothing is impossible when those involved — in particular, the social partners — and the citizens are given responsibility for their management.
The supplementary schemes were faced with increasingly worrying funding problems, particularly after the 2009 crisis, when they were in deficit and forced to draw on their reserves. In 2014 the French Court of Audit keenly urged that such schemes face up to their problems. They subsequently undertook to merge into a single scheme and reform the conditions under which the supplementary pensions were paid, so as not to imperil the overall equilibrium of the system. Pierre Chaperon describes the context in which the merger was decided, the broad terms of the National Interprofessional Agreement under which it was carried out (in October 2015), and the levers used to implement it (combining parametric measurements and systemic thinking). The success of that reorganization no doubt has much to teach us about the reform of the national pensions system that is currently in preparation.
Le regard de Yannick Blanc sur l’État « dans la grande transition » est celui d’un intellectuel et d’un prospectiviste, enrichi par l’expérience de l’administration active. L’auteur l’assume d’emblée avec force : « c’est d’une expérience intime et prolongée de l’impuissance publique qu’est venue l’idée de ce livre ». L’auteur rappelle que le Léviathan de Hobbes (1651) était un corps disloqué qu’il s’agissait de refonder à l’issue de ...
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In 2014 a new stage in decentralization was begun by the French government at the request of the President of the Republic. On 2 July, the National Assembly passed a bill on the “new territorial organization of the Republic”, which had already been approved by the Senate. This is the third strand in current decentralization measures, after the law modernizing territorial public action and strengthening metropolises (January 2014) and the law on the delimitation of regions (January 2015). The territorial reorganization envisaged (particularly the merging of regions) has ruffled a few feathers. However, reading this article republished here in “Futures of Yesteryear”, which reminds us how the current map of the regions was initially devised, it is clear that, though there are some obvious reasons for the current boundaries, there is also –as the architect of those boundaries Serge Antoine thought at the time– scope for development and realignments.
Regularly, and particularly on the occasion of the publication of the PISA reports comparing the skills level of 15-year-olds in the OECD countries, France is subject to criticism, with the level of French school students barely reaching the international mean (and tending, generally, to fall), despite a level of education expenditure that is rather higher than the OECD average. This is because, in France, educational tradition regards learning as an end in itself, and as more important than learning to deal with the concrete needs of everyday life, with which the student will have to cope as an adult.
This situation is not new, as is attested by the article we reprint here from the pen of Marc Bloch. Writing in 1943, he deplores all the failings which the school students that we once were – and those currently studying in French schools – have already experienced: a culture of cramming, an “obsession with exams”, a neglect of critical thinking, a culture of elitism, an inward-looking attitude and a lack of enthusiasm for concrete applications… These are characteristics of the French education system which, as Marc Bloch stresses, count against the country, “seriously” impairing its “international influence”, providing poor preparation for the crucial issues of scientific research and affording poor adaptability to change.
Hence the urgent need for thoroughgoing reform, to offer a “secondary education... that is both open and [aimed at] training elites, irrespective of origin or wealth”, to accord a major role to the observation-based disciplines, to enable young people to acquire a “truthful, comprehensive image of the world”, and to replace the elitist grandes écoles and “rigid faculties” that have ossified around a single specialism with multi-disciplinary groupings. An urgent need that clearly did not convince the decision-makers in charge of French education, since, nearly 70 years later and despite a host of reports making much the same arguments, complaints about the French education system – such as those expressed by Daniel Gouadain in this same issue – have barely changed.
While France devotes more than 6% of its GDP to education expenditure (in 2009), international comparisons suggest that the French education system is not necessarily performing commensurately with that level of investment. This is because the educational model first established in France in the late nineteenth century and which has continued in being since then, is perhaps no longer suited to the demands of the twenty-first century.
As Daniel Gouadain shows here, Republican elitism, based on the principle of equality of opportunity for all, does not achieve equality or homogeneity of results at the end of schooling. On the contrary, as currently conceived, the French system is unable to give all French schoolchildren the means to acquire the “common core of knowledge and skills” of which decision-makers so often speak. And though it is difficult to imagine radical reform in the short term, given the many players involved and the past heritage that weighs on the French education system, gradual measures aimed at reorganizing schools to meet today’s social and educational challenges – not to speak of those of tomorrow – are undoubtedly possible.
Gouadain outlines a few such measures here, stressing particularly the importance of secondary education and teacher recruitment, highlighting particularly the need for genuine mixed ability teaching in French classrooms to escape the vicious circle in which a small elite receives a very good education, while the level of the great majority stagnates or declines. To achieve this, it is going to be necessary to take the risk of introducing freedom into the French education system, while being careful not to sacrifice the other educational ideals on the altar of market forces.
In late 2010, the French parliament passed a new law reforming territorial organization, following an (umpteenth) government-sponsored debate. The implementation of this reform is to be staggered up to late 2014. Given the time that will elapse before it is fully implemented, it is not yet possible to assess its effects concretely, but it is improbable, judging from this article, that it will produce a genuine simplification of the territorial organization of France, even though such a simplification is regularly advocated and clearly very necessary. Hence the importance of continued foresight thinking on the subject.
This is what Martin Vanier and Pierre-Jean Lorens propose here, on the basis of what they call “the inter-territorial hypothesis”, which consists in thinking not in terms of institutional and decisional levels or fields of jurisdiction, but in terms of active links that can be established between all the existing levels of territorial authority and jurisdiction. The point is to attempt to determine the system which might, over a period of one or two decades, link together all French levels of authority. To do so, the authors present the results of thinking and studies to which they have contributed in recent years, and the four scenarios that have come out of their exploratory territorial foresight study, entitled: “the Metropolises, New Territorial Powers”, “the Regions, Major Implementers of Inter-territoriality”, “Low Intensity Inter-territoriality” and “Networks, Masters of Territories”. So many lines of thinking that will, without doubt, fuel future debates on a recurrent and crucial subject, both nationally and from a European perspective.
Le risque santé se caractérise, traditionnellement, aux États-Unis par la prédominance des assurances privées via l’emploi. Il contient tout de même également un système de prise en charge subsidiaire par des programmes publics. Un problème au fond de tous les débats contemporains réside dans le fait que les dépenses publiques s’accroissent plus rapidement que les dépenses privées. De récentes prévisions laissent entrevoir un dépassement des secondes par les premières à l’horizon 2014. À cette date, les États-Unis ...
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Face à l’urgence de réformer le système des retraites, Jacques Bichot tient un discours clair et de bon sens : l’Occident « se la coule douce » depuis la fin des Trente Glorieuses, mais il a « mangé son pain blanc ». Pour conserver un niveau de vie acceptable, il va devoir trouver un système adapté à la nouvelle réalité économique, qui revalorise le travail et rende les citoyens libres et responsables de leur sort. Jacques Bichot estime que ce nouveau système pourrait ...
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Déroulement de la réunion : • 14h-16h : Tour de table et échanges autour des centres d’intérêt des membres • 16h-18h : Exposé du professeur Gérard Marcou sur la réforme des collectivités territoriales en France
S’adressant aux membres partenaires de Futuribles International, Gérard MARCOU a souhaité présenter la question de la réforme territoriale de 2010 sous un angle prospectif. Il a donc appuyé son analyse prospective sur une rétrospective du système d’administration territoriale français. Il souhaite, plutôt que d’analyser la réforme en cours, proposer un cadre d’analyse permettant d’en apprécier le sens, les chances de succès et d’envisager des scénarios d’évolution possibles. Lui-même n’a d’ailleurs pas ...
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Avant 1982, la France était un exemple (presque) parfait d’État unitaire centralisé, les gouvernements locaux ne jouant qu’un rôle limité. Les deux vagues de décentralisation liées aux lois de 1982 et de 2003 ont donné davantage de poids aux structures locales (régions, départements, communes), sans pour autant transformer le pays en archétype d’État décentralisé, le pouvoir central conservant une place et un poids fort importants au niveau local. Il est aujourd’hui très largement admis que l ...
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There has for many years been talk of developing a “one-stop shop” for social policy provision. Unlike Canada or Australia, France still has no institution of this kind, where the full range of the citizen’s social welfare issues can be dealt with (employment, retirement, child benefit, disablement etc.). In the countries that have introduced such a system, the innovation has significantly increased the efficiency of welfare provision and provided users with a better service by simplifying procedures.
Drawing mainly on the Canadian example, Julien Damon underlines the advantages of the integrated service point and describes the technical and political stages involved in its implementation, before considering the possibility of transposing such an organizational form to France. His article is based on work carried out at Futuribles as part of the study of innovative social policies completed in autumn 2009.
Le gouvernement des États-Unis travaille à une réforme pour sauver le système d’assurance maladie d’une faillite annoncée. Le rapport annuel des trustees (administrateurs) sur l’état de Medicare rappelle la profondeur des problèmes et la proximité des échéances. Cette note revient sur le fonctionnement de Medicare et présente certaines voies de réforme envisagées aux États-Unis pour permettre au dispositif de se maintenir à flot sans nécessairement être totalement refondu.
We print here an extract, ahead of publication, from the new book by Edgard Pisani, Vive la révolte! (Hurray for Revolt), which is due out in early November of 2006 (Paris: Seuil). The extract is from a chapter entitled "Aims and method: starting from needs". According to the author's own terms, "whether as witnesses or active participants, we are living through a fascinating, demanding and dangerous period. One story is over, another seems to be beginning but we are having trouble following what it's about and meanwhile the clumsiness and the impotence of politics stirs up in each one of us feelings of disquiet and revolt."
Edgard Pisani starts from this observation, on which he enlarges in the first part of the book, and argues that politics as we see it in France today cannot play the rôle expected of it, that "central and local government have been subjected to over-eager treatment, which was not based on a clear diagnosis nor guided by a clear vision". He makes a plea in the book for the rehabilitation of politics - a return to politics in its noblest form.
In particular, in the chapter we reprint here, he insists on the need for "systemic reform" and he sets out the goals and the methods this requires.
For several years now, the question of state reform has frequently been under discussion in France, where no government of any political party has been able to make real progress in this regard, as the mounting public deficit shows. Yet the topic is also in the news in countries that some commentators hold up as models, such as the United States.
As Thierry Vircoulon argues here, from a reading of two books on ways of reforming the US Federal administration recently published on the other side of the Atlantic (Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2003, and High-Performance Government. Structure, Leadership, Incentives. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2005), the problem of how to reorganize what the Federal administration does, and how the many public agencies deliver their services, has been under examination for some years now in the US. The debate about methods of public management, finding ways of improving performance using criteria normally applied in the private sector, benchmarking, etc., is sometimes very similar to the discussion of these subjects in France. It has been given a further boost since 9/11 since the concern with security implies certain changes and a renewed reliance on the state.
Throughout the industrialized world, reform of the system of public administration is on the agenda: in both Australia and New Zealand, in both the United States and Canada, in both Britain and Sweden. In all these countries there are problems relating to the tasks assigned to the state, the efficiency of the state, of the extent and the results of its interventions. In a good number of the countries mentioned, thorough reforms are in fact under way. The example of the United Kingdom is especially interesting because the reforms have been a major element in the programmes of successive Prime Ministers: Margaret Thatcher, John Major and, since 1997, Tony Blair. Each of them in turn has helped to bring about radical administrative reforms over the course of the last 20 years or more.
This article concentrates mainly on analysing the reform of the public administration launched by the Blair government in 1998, in particular with regard to improving the process of drawing up and implementing public policies.
A reform of the public service is one of the major challenges facing France at the beginning of the 21st century if the country is to rid itself of its excessive bureaucracy, centralism and corporatism.
Bernard Brunhes examines what has been done in other European countries, in particular Britain and Sweden where effective reforms have been launched, and identifies several factors needed for success. He argues that these countries started from a simple idea: "a public service is a service to the public"; this focuses on the relationship with the consumer-citizen and client rather than with the user of public services. In the light of the successful experiences abroad, he says, there needs to be a change of approach in France, with above all an emphasis on devolution and decentralization. Today, as the process of providing services becomes increasingly complex, decisions must be taken as close as possible to the point of delivery.
In addition to these two main approaches, reforming a public service also involves communication. This means communicating via the hierarchy -the driving force for all change- but also via the unions and not in spite of them. As for direct communication, both internal and external, it must be able to transmit messages, register what people want and not err in favour of prudence out of fear of annoying civil servants.
Above and beyond these recommendations, the changes in the way political/administrative arrangements operate in the European Union calls for a new style of public governance. Among the reforms that would be desirable, Bernard Brunhes stresses the importance of increasing, on the one hand, the partnerships between public authorities and private entrepreneurs and, on the other, the interactions among the various actors concerned since he is sure that the public administration can no longer take decisions alone and must no longer govern alone. It is also important to draw up, collectively and democratically, new rules of the game and, finally, to foster the role of the voluntary sector in order to cope with the demands of the consumer society and sustainable development.