France is modernizing the public sector with design and social innovationPublished 3 June 2014 by Åsa Minoz
In mid-May, the French government launched a new collaboration platform – Re-acteur Public – to modernize the public sector. Design and social innovation are core ingredients.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Stéphane Vincent, head of the organization La 27e Région, which has initiated and is coordinating the initiative developed in collaboration with Marylise Lebranchu, the Minister responsible for the modernization of the public administration. It is a complement to Futurs Public, a government programme on innovation in the public sector which was launched late last year. Re-acteur Public can be viewed as part of a trend in which governments, administrations, regional and local public actors all over the world are exploring new ways to design and implement more citizen-driven politics and activities.
Stéphane Vincent La 27e Region
– Re-acteur Public is both a consortium of stakeholders, and a program that will run until the end of 2017, says Stéphane . The program is implemented in partnership between a consortium of players that are willing to experiment and to accelerate the introduction of new methods of public renewal. There is the state, French regions and departments (subregional administrative level, my note) and La 27e Région. Some regions – Rhône-Alpes, Centre, Brittany, Pays de la Loire – have chosen to take the lead in this co-operation.
Re-acteur Public builds on the insights, networking and practices Stéphane Vincent and his colleagues and partners have built up in collaboration with a number of regions and the State since operations began in 2008. During the first phase, ”Territoires a résidence” tested working at 16 locations across France in areas such as education, health, mobility, democracy , and procurement. In a second phase established internal innovation lab in four regional administrations. These activities have contributed to today ‘s example, so-called design labs or innovation units in a dozen French regions that gradually built up expertise and practice to address the renewal of the public sector with the support of design methods and social innovation . Re – acteur Public has among other things, aims to scale-up methods , processes and approaches that have been developed over six years.
In France, as in Sweden, an ongoing overhaul of the French regions will upset the institutional landscape in the coming years . The 26 current regions, are proposed to be merged into 12.
– But the Re-acteur Public, we focus on what can actually help to change in the daily lives of citizens , says Stéphane. How can we, in addition to these major political and administrative changes, do to greatly improve the concrete in a way that is noticeable in everyday life in France?
The program extends over four years and has four parts:
New basic and further training programs for public officials in innovative ways to develop new public policies will be put in place. Even today there are some programs in place for example in collaboration with the prestigious École Nationale de l’ Administration (ENA) . In collaboration with various higher education and training organizations, this will be scaled up.
An important element is to create a ” community of practice ” for people and organizations in the field of innovation in public organizations to exchange practice and methods of innovation (service design, ethnographic studies , rapid prototyping … ). Under this component will include a working with recurring meeting places and to create a common physical work in Paris.
Future of public administration
The program will work with desirable scenarios for future public administration. In a first step, it will address the topic of evaluation. This implies exploring new ways to evaluate and measure the impact of public policies that are desirable both for officials and citizens.
To create a good basis for sharing knowledge, experience and practice the emphasis is on producing publications, case studies and prototypes. A first publication with the provisional title ” Pour un design de l’ action publique ” (roughly ”For a design of public action”) . It will summarize the experience in France so far of the activities of La 27e Région together with public organizations.
– We have an ambition within Re-acteur Public to utilize and further develop our international networks and want to exchange on how we can learn from others and share our insights, stories, and methods, says Mr Vincent.
La 27e Région attracts attention and participates internationally in several networks around innovation in the public sector. For example, they are part of the European Design Innovation Platform (EDIP) .
I hope and believe that we in Sweden have the potential to take advantage of international lessons and have a strong exchange to create a more innovative public sector. I am convinced that there is every reason to keep track of France and create a French – Swedish exchange in this area.
Re-acteur Public : État et collectivités s’unissent pour mieux innover (SGMAP, 14 maj 2014, in French)
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