I never had an opportunity before to mention France in this blog, but I just read about an intriguing initiative that puts France back on the map of government innovation after many years focused on modernization and more traditional EU-like e-government initiatives.
They’ve decided to crowdsource the vision of government in 2020 to small teams students in a competition. Participants can submit a high level idea by January 17, after which about 10 to 20 proposals will be selected to participate in a second phase with a more detailed version of their project. Final winners will be selected by mid March among three to five finalists.
This is a nice idea, since – unlike other crowdsourcing initiatives that are so popular these days – it focuses on a specific demographics. Unfortunately French, like most Europeans, cannot go all the way through with innovation. Therefore rules include the following:
- Each submission is required to be “format A4, type .doc or .odt, 2 cm margin, font Arial size 12, simple spacing”, maximum two pages in the first phase and ten in the second phase.
- The second submission can have an attachment, format pdf, maximum 3 Mb
- All submissions have to be in French
- The jury will be chaired by the Minister for Budget, Public Service and State Reform, plus at least five qualified members that he chooses
I am sure most students will smile at these rules. Some of them will ask themselves “Why can’t I submit a multimedia application?”, “Why can’t we build a web site?”, and probably some of potential authors will just be put off by these 20th (or even 19th) century rules.
On the other hand, this also shows how difficult for governments is to “let it go”, to really engage people throughout a process, to accept the benefits and risks of crowdsourcing.
It also proves, once again, how far behind Europe is on all this. But – for sure – French are much better off than some of their colleagues elsewhere: at least they are trying something new , while – say – Italians are still stuck with certified email boxes and electronic identity cards.