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10 March 2011

Users at the centre of public service modernisation (France)

On 9 March (yesterday) the French Governement took stock of progress made in reviewing public policies (Revue Générale des Politiques Publiques RGPP). In its 5th meeing since the project was launched three years ago, the Council for the modernisation of public policies (a body chaired by President Sarkozy himself) reviewed projects under way and vetted another batch of 50 measures aiming at streamlining administrative action, improving public services and enhancing efficiency, bringing the total to 400 measures. Cutting red tape is among the top priorities, to make life easier for citizens and companies, while reducing public spending.
The extension of on-line administrative services is one of the main instruments for delivering the improvements: currently two-thirds of most common procedures (such as registering on polling lists) can be handled from home, a figure that should reach 80% by the end of the year. The most impressive facility is the online submission of the income tax return which is used by 10 million tax-payers. Also 40% of farmers already use the internet to apply for grants.
The policy also highlights the search for "quality of service", including reducing processing time for authorizations or subsidies. Quality will continue to be monitored on a yearly basis by way of a published "barometer" and one-stop-shops will continue to merge ranges of services for specific publics (amalgamation of tax, and employment, offices for instance). Wide-scale re-organisation of central government presence on the ground is also being pursued in the same spirit. A summary in 20 pages gives a view of the scope and variety of the reform.

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