In a new UN report ranking the world’s e-governments, France has (surprisingly?) come out on the top in Europe, and fourth in the world, on its government access and services online.
On a global scale, it only trailed South Korea, Australia and Singapore.
The “E-government Survey 2014” hailed France’s online services development, specifically pointing to the ease and speed with which citizens can now surf and find what they’re looking. It also patted France on the back for the quality of its services and for successfully encouraging its citizens to interact with the government online.
The study said much of the French improvement – having climbed to a world No. 4 from a previous place 6th – is thanks to a 2012 policy change to invest smarter in information and communication technology.
And apparently, the report says, it's only going to get better: "A leader in the field, France has also committed to further expanding online public service delivery while containing costs by reviewing free alternatives to commercial ICT infrastructure and applications."
The country's multi-layered adminstration has long been criticised as overlapping and slow. Many foreigners also complain of excessive red tape and paper work in the French public service. But, according to the report, France’s efforts to cut through that has now paid off.
Some of the new measures to reduce red tape include extending the life of ID cards (from 10 to 15 years), moving driver’s licence penalty points online, digitalising restaurant tickets as well as moving some business administrative procedures online.
France is in the process of reducing the number of regions it has in an effort to streamline bureaucracy and save money. However, some critics have pointed out this project misses the point.
"The real issue is local governments. We have had the same municipal map since the 18th century. Napoleon managed to eliminate the villages with fewer than 300 inhabitants, we went from 44,000 to 38,000," Sorbonne Professor and public administration expert Gerard Marcou told The Local previously. "The place where we could really save some money is by concentrating these small towns."
By : Louise Nordstrom