Improving public-sector performance in the long run is a key concern for the French government.
Public policy evaluation as part of government modernisation
In December 2012 the Prime minister instigated ex post evaluation of all public policies. By September 2016, 80 evaluations had been completed, enabling savings amounting to 7.1 billion EUR.
Four guidelines for evaluation of French public policy
- Decision support
Firmly focused on action, this evaluation is designed to provide support for policy decisions. Taking key issues identified during the analysis phase, an evaluation is intended to offer scenarios for change/reform to improve the aspect of government being evaluated.
- Involvement and transparency
Users and beneficiaries in France are consulted, particularly regarding their expectations of the policy being evaluated. The main public-sector players concerned (central government, local authorities, social services, agencies, etc.) are involved in this process in order to build up a collective view of the issues, objectives, outcomes and implementation procedures for each policy. This approach fosters transparency: evaluation reports are made public and citizens are kept informed of the process.
- Multicriteria analysis
Public policy is analysed using the standard evaluation criteria listed below as well as the broad guidelines for government modernisation (simplification, innovation, digital technology, open data, etc.).
Evaluations are governed by a method hinged on participatory governance and a specific working procedure for commissioning authorities, evaluators and stakeholders. The Secretariat-General for Government Modernisation (SGMAP) has made a number of documents on methodology available to evaluation staff.
How is public policy evaluated?
A public policy evaluation as part of French government modernisation is based on:
- Comprehensive study of the available literature and work already done;
- Analysis (statistics, econometrics, data science, cost, impact, multiplier effects, etc.), survey techniques (interviews, field visits, etc.) and consultation (questionnaires, polls, focus groups, etc.).
Each public policy is studied using a set of standard evaluation criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, consistency, utility and relevance.
The evaluation method has three phases:
- Operating environment: defining the evaluation questions, specifying the context, etc.
- Analysis: conducting investigations, answering evaluation questions
- Scenarios: describing scenarios for change, providing information on these scenarios, etc.
Who does what?
The minister(s) responsible for the relevant policy acts as the contracting authority, defining the strategic framework for the work commissioned and chairing the evaluation committee. This committee brings together the main players concerned by the public policy being evaluated.
Project management is left to an evaluation team, generally consisting of inspectorate staff but sometimes also includes qualified individuals, researchers, experts and outside providers. This team carries out the work objectively and independently within the allotted time frame and writes the evaluation report(s).
The Secretariat-General for Government Modernisation (SGMAP) manages and coordinates all the evaluations: a methodology adviser for each evaluation provides advice and support to the contracting authority. As well as methodology support, he or she may offer technical assistance – and even solutions and resources – for stakeholder consultation (questionnaires, polls, qualitative surveys, focus groups, etc.) and drafting of the evaluation. Once the evaluation has been completed, the SGMAP will, if necessary, continue to provide the commissioning authority with support for implementing the scenarios (formal action plan, change management).