The French Government, often considered reluctant to innovation, recently announced the creation of a new job role within the French administration: the Chief Data Officer (CDO). As part of its policy to modernise the State and public administration, the Government has decided to bet it all on open data, as it will provide real strategic value for tomorrow’s economy. Or at least that’s how the Secretary of State in charge of Digital, Axelle Lemaire, explained it, as she set out the need for a French CDO.
This news is quite surprising as it puts France at the top of the list of innovating countries when it comes to going digital. Indeed, the CDO function is not even common in the private sector! It confirms that France is convinced by the potential of data management and the benefits associated with it. With Gartner forecasting that, by 2017, 25 percent of large companies will have a CDO, does this make France an early adopter? As the first European country to hire a CDO and manage data at the State level, I think we can say France is on the right path!
France’s CDO will have multiple responsibilities including having the authority to collect administrative data. Although this is likely to be a long and difficult task, by collecting this data and making it available on the data.gouv portal, they’ll be fulfilling the objective of “sharing, improving and using public data”. The key advantage of having a CDO at this level is that the decision-making process will be centralised so a lot more efficient. Public services are one of crown jewels of France, however citizens are requesting more efficiency from the State, as well as a more relevant ways to use taxes. According to the Government, improved data collection and sharing will help craft more appropriate public services.
Developed in partnership with the open data community, the data.gouv platform allows people to download/upload data, but also to provide information on data utilisation and reutilisation. In addition to the data being collected from public institutions and administration, all general interest data – such as those from OpenStreetMap, a French openly licensed map of the world – can also be uploaded and accessed through the portal. This initiative of opening data is also a good way of putting citizens at the centre of Government decision making, as well as a huge opportunity to create value added services and, in turn, new business.
Is France taking its revenge of being categorised as part of “old Europe” as it hires the first ever European “State CDO”? We can’t be 100 percent sure, but it certainly seems to be the case…!