France: An International Perspective on the General Review of Public Policies provides an in-depth look at a programme that seeks to improve public services for users, rationalise expenditure and modernise management of the central government’s human resources. Aimed principally at central government, the approach involves a series of structural reforms such as mergers of support services, reforms to internal governance and management of the civil service, and improvements to the quality of services delivered, particularly through e-government. Reducing government spending is also a key focus.
The publication analyses the programme’s results so far by comparing them to the review’s original objectives. Drawing lessons on budget savings and attempts to foment a culture of innovation and improve their delivery of services, the report finds that the French general public policy review has enhanced central government organisation and operations. Improvements have been achieved in administrative reorganisation by merging, transferring or changing the missions of government departments, for instance. The programme has also helped bolster interconnectedness and information exchange among ministries.
Nevertheless, room for improvement remains. Efforts to pool support functions, for instance, have not gone far enough, and the publication provides a number of recommendations for further action.
The case studies drawn from the French experience could prove useful to all OECD countries looking to improve governance and the performance of public administrations. Likewise, they could assist local authorities keen to innovate and provide better services at a lower cost.
©OECD Observer No 293 Q4 November 2012