“Data as essential infrastructure”: France’s Chief Data Officer report on data governance

The decree of 16 September 2014 creates, under the Prime minister’s authority, a Chief Data Officer (CDO). The CDO coordinates the administrations action with regards to the inventory, governance, production, circulation and data use. The Chief Data Officer also deliver to the Prime Minister a public report on the inventory, governance, production, circulation and use of data by administrations.

The French Government has conceived a data policy focused on three main objectives: to provide high-quality data, particularly through the public data service; to enable the flow of data by applying the “access by default” principle to all communicable data and through the development of APIs and data platforms that promote the exchange of data between administrations and with the civil society; and lastly to exploit the data in order to improve the efficiency of public initiatives.

Data is currently at the centre of both public action and economic activity and it must be seen as an essential infrastructure to the functioning of the economy, just as the transport and telecommunications networks. The Government must be the catalyst, encouraging the rest of society.

This report is divided into three parts:

  • a review of France’s data policy, detailing the actions undertaken to adapt the legal framework (from reactive disclosure to active open by default) and to design and operate a series of tools and platforms to facilitate the flow of data,
  • an international benchmark of several European initiatives to build a data infrastructure (including UK Registers, Denmark Grunddata, Estonia X-Road and the French Public Data Service initiatives),
  • a road map highlighting the key challenges and actions to implement France’s data policy.