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Openness and platform state through State Startups

Openness and platform state through State Startups

Presentation of the French government Digital Services Incubator at the 9th European Quality Conference, organised under Malta’s presidency. The central theme was “Joining forces and breaking silos towards a better performing, transparent and inclusive public administration.”

Matti Schneider

May 15, 2017

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  1. Openness and platform state through State Startups France Matti Schneider

    May 15th, 2017 1 Thanks for joining! I will present one way in which the French government tackles topics such as open data, open government, digital transformation and makes them into an opportunity… and how you can do the very same thing in your own administration!
  2. Prime minister services ~800 agents SGMAP ~240 agents DIAT ~120

    agents DINSIC ~120 agents beta.gouv.fr ~10 agents Étalab ~10 agents PMR ~10 agents 100% contacts ~10 agents Futurs publics ~10 agents Local labs ~10 agents … … 2 - la direction interministérielle pour l’accompagnement des transformations publiques (DIAT) ; - la direction interministérielle du numérique et du système d'information et de communication de l'Etat (DINSIC) - 100% contacts: introductions to user-centered design. - Futurs publics: join all actors of modernisation in administration. National and local get-togethers. - Local labs: 12 local labs for 13 regions in France. Akin to Laboratorio de Gobierno (CL) and Policy Lab (UK). - PMR: risk management, allowed to suspend and audit any IT project above 9M€. - Étalab: open data. - I will focus on beta.gouv.fr, the French digital services incubator. Our aim is to deliver digital public services through State Startups.
  3. beta.gouv.fr ~10 agents 3 The count of civil servants is

    not the proper way to assess our headcount. We bring and mix talents also thanks to a mix of engagement routes. What’s important is that we work in the heart of the State.
  4. beta.gouv.fr ~10 agents 4 Our aim is to spread the

    culture of digital innovation throughout the administration. We do this through State Startups.
  5. Team interdisciplinary autonomous 2–4 people Mission one friction 6 months

    < 200k€ 5 State Startups What’s a “State Startup”, beyond “an oxymoron”? No capital investment, no separate juridical entity: a match between a team and a mission. The very first State Startup was the new French OpenData portal data.gouv.fr, June 2013. Now over 25. I won’t present the whole portfolio today, but only a few select examples. We will discuss the extent of the initiative tomorrow morning in the in-depth workshop.
  6. Team interdisciplinary autonomous 2–4 people Mission one friction 6 months

    < 200k€ 6 State Startup D E M O Interactive demonstration: data.gouv.fr offers not only a catalog of open datasets, but is actually a full-fledged social network allowing reusers to connect with producers of open data, thus providing feedback loops and improving the quality of the data as well as the interest of the producers in the process.
  7. M E S - A I D E S .

    G O U V. F R O N L I N E C O M P U TAT I O N O F F R E N C H S O C I A L B E N E F I T S 7 Here is another example: a web application that helps citizens know which benefits they are eligible to. The base friction is that of “non-recours” to social benefits. That is, not claiming benefits people have a right to! In 2008, 80% of people eligible to financial help for health insurance (“ACS”) did not ask for it. 68% of low- income workers who were eligible to a complement of revenue did not ask for it. After several months of research, the answer was to consolidate all forms in a single claim file. However, many administrations are involved in giving the benefits. And each of them has different rules for giving them! So the final paper form ended up with a dozen sheets and thus a terrible user experience. That’s when we started incubating a State Startup.
  8. 11 First version was in construction under six months, introduced

    by the President of Republic. Then, “consolidation”. We scale the service iteratively by increasing audience, scope, partners…
  9. 12 We started with 7 benefits, with some specific situations

    unhandled (~70 tests). We now have 25, always more precise (600+ tests). How do we scale? Strategy is delivery! Make public early, collect feedback, iterate, be open. I can detail this more later if you’re interested. We use the same approach for very different topics. The very same open computation engine powers a service targeting companies.
  10. 13 embauche.beta.gouv.fr Here, we created an embeddable widget that computes

    the cost of hiring an employee, with all taxes and refunds included. You can see that this widget is very simple.
  11. 14 It is so it can be embedded in any

    layout and made available to employers in their ecosystem. We want to solve a friction, not to create new official portals with partial information.
  12. 15 Here is the widget embedded in the website of

    a private startup that helps SMEs make their business plan. We produced the first public version of this tool under 6 months and one full-time person. Now in more than 8 different partner websites.
  13. 16 Free & Open-Source software github.com/sgmap/cout-embauche Open Source What’s important

    to understand is that this tool can be used for free by any entity (administration, association, commercial…). We create a digital common that makes law computable. However, distributing for free doesn’t mean “without any counterpart”. We replace the monetary counterpart by a contribution counterpart: every improvement that is made by a user must be offered back to the community. We then merge those we find useful for all. This is how we intend to scale the development of the more exotic rules.
  14. 17 Open Source Open Data Source API Open s So,

    the creation of shiny services drives administrations to understand the value of opening up. We are the first reusers, the first consumers of some internal data, that we get access to in order to solve a known problem, and we use this opportunity to apply best engineering practices, which mean… opening APIs. API stands for…
  15. 18 Source A P I pplication rogramming nterface Open Source

    Open Data Open Lets machines access information automatically. Allows for interconnection of systems that were not designed to interconnect in the first place.
  16. 19 Source A P I pplication rogramming nterface Open Source

    Open Data Open D E M O Demonstration of api.gouv.fr and how any administration or private entity can access geographical information through unified, simple services. By making public services reply to queries and take actions through APIs, we are making the State a platform. Example case: obtaining the name of regions straight from a register queriable over the internet, all the way from discovering the register to obtaining the information. Explanation of the aggregated data sources that span across several agencies. By making public services reply to queries and take actions through APIs, we are making the State a platform.
  17. State Startups 1. Start with a friction. 2. Learn, make,

    repeat. 3. Are built together. 4. Take advantage of uncertainty. 20 Friction / Iteration / Collaboration / Agility. Nothing magical, only a different approach to risk management. The administration is usually focused on reducing uncertainty. We accept uncertainty and use it to, somehow paradoxically, reduce risk. There’s an increased risk of execution, but you will know it much earlier, and thus decrease the risk of delivering something no one really cares about, or delivering something that made sense two years ago but is already obsolete. So, we accept the risk of failure. At small scales, iterations may fail. But startups themselves may “fail”. However, we mitigate failure through openness. And here is the second half of the strategy.
  18. On a conceptual scale, this is obviously very similar to

    UK’s GDS initiative, even though in the last months it did lose momentum. I know for sure that modernisation initiatives are present in most member states. Estonia is already strongly digital and doesn't need such initiatives. Italy has created an agency, Agid, which could apply these practices. Lithuania is getting to it. I’m happy to say that applying these principles allows for highly spreadable and reusable innovation. The engine of data.gouv.fr now powers data.public.lu, the OpenData portal of Luxembourg. OpenFisca, the computing engine that powers Mes Aides and the Hiring Cost widget, can be used by any state. Tunisia and Sénégal already started modelling their tax and benefit system, and we have been contacted last month by the City of Barcelona, Catalunya, who wants to offer a social benefits estimator. If your State has a central modernisation or digitalisation agency, it is the perfect place to start applying these principles to foster innovation and deliver high quality services on a small budget. If not, then it could be an opportunity: this can be tried in any agency, on any administrative level.