“Futurs Publics”: innovative modernization of Public action

Maxime BarbierMaxime Barbier has been heading Public Innovation Project since 2012, within SGMAP (Secretariat-General for Government Modernisation), a service of the French Prime Minister. Mixing innovation skills with a compelling experience in transforming complex organizations, he has extended the development of ‘Futurs Publics‘, the innovation lab of the French government. He shares with us some lessons from this outstanding experience.

Nicolas: What is the goal of the “Futurs Publics” program?

Maxime: Innovation is essential to modernize government. To encourage it, the French Government has implemented the program “Futurs Publics“, lead by SGMAP (Secretariat-General for Government Modernisation). The first role is to experiment and test, in a “laboratory mode“, new solutions in public services. The second role is to develop within the administration an ecosystem in favor of innovation, and open the administrations to new partners (start up, researchers, social entrepreneurs, schools & universities…).

Futurs Publics

What achievement makes you particularly proud?

Maxime: Since the creation of “Futurs Publics”, in December 2013, a series of projects have been launched, such as :

  • Simplify requests for social aids: the goal was to change radically how to apply the various social benefits, starting from the personal situation of each user, while fighting against the non-use. The first result is www.mes-aides.gouv.fr which lets simulate for the main social benefits to which you are entitled, in one only questionnaire;
  • Trialling more personalized applications for disability benefits and drastically improving service efficiency;
  • Rethinking and reorganizing public services in rural areas to improve co-operation and accessibility;
  • Using digital technologies for teaching and learning in schools.


Have you adopted specific innovation methodologies and partnerships?

Maxime: Selected projects – limited number – benefit from “Futurs Publics” support, in two forms:
– project management in laboratory mode by SGMAP, which will bring human and external expertise to the administration;
– financial support to projects developed by the ministries, as part of a public investment program.

In our Lab, “Futurs Publics” mobilizes design thinking approaches: starting from the situation of the user, distinguishing typologies / persona, experimenting with solutions, measuring results and iterating. Rapid prototyping and leading projects in start-up mode (6-8 months maximum) are used to verify or invalidate certain concepts at lower cost. The mobilization of expertise such as service design and rapid prototyping of new digital services can quickly get items that can be field-tested.

To power the ecosystem, stimulating innovation and taking initiatives, “Futurs Publics” mobilizes and organizes various communities and partnerships:
– “Public Reactor” is a consortium of public and associative actors, launched in May 2014 to facilitate cooperation between the state and local authorities on the subject of public innovation. Several actions are conducted on the fields of training, on the design of new public management practices, networking of actors in the public innovation and the publication and dissemination of innovative achievements. (Editors’ note: it’s a program described in 27ème Région catalogue).
– A public innovation community of practice provides a space for exchanges between innovation professionals from different ministries.
– Practitioners and researchers seminars can create the encounter and dialogue between public officials and researchers.
– Meeting days between public and start-ups, social entrepreneurs and innovators allow us to imagine new forms of cooperation.

reacteur public

Do you develop specific participative approach for innovation?  

Maxime: Innovation prizes promote the initiatives taken by the agents themselves. We have develop this kind of approach in 6 ministries. It’s an important way of recognition.

Public officials in direct contact with the users are more likely to suggest improvement and simplification tracks. That’s why we have also developed consultation approaches. The approach “Innovating and simplify with public officials” raised at the national level and in the territories, current good practice and new ideas of state agents. The agents have contributed around three themes: delivering better service for users, improving the internal functioning, and simplifying regulations.

The process has raised over 3000 contributions for deciding the implementation of 50 simplification projects.

An area of ​​crowdsourcing ideas, the ”Faire Simple” website (“Make it simple”), invites users and staff from sharing their ideas to streamline administrative processes. This platform is composed of three areas:

1) All of your ideas: a space where everyone can offer their ideas to simplify procedures and public services in general. Everyone can also support an idea or comment online.

2) The “Making of solutions”: A space where public service employees and users meet and create whole new possibilities, new solutions to simplify life and approaches.

3) Measures taken: A space of promotion and monitoring to allow everyone to discover the results of the exchanges and dialogue.


How are you organized?

“Futurs Publics” is run by a 4 persons core team. This team has different skills : project management, innovation management, ethnography, digital. We can rely on a community gathering hundred practitioners in public administrations. They relay the innovation development policy.

One of the goal is to connect and build cooperation between, the different public labs in France at a national and local levels.

You have organized the first French public innovation week in 2014. What were the goal and the results ?

From 12 to 16 November 2014 was held the first “Public innovation week” to reveal the movement for public sector innovation. Agents and citizens have discovered which is more innovative in terms of public services. Public innovation federated 30 departments and 15 operators and regions. In total, more than 50 events were organized throughout the country.

In Paris, nearly 3 500 visitors gathered in the “City of Public innovation” to discover, 50 innovations and attend 20 conferences and a dozen of participative workshops.

semaine inno publique

The next “public innovation week” will take place from 12 to 18 October 2015. You are all most welcome!

logo sip

Last question is a little riddle: what is the OPSI?

Maxime: At the international level, we think that the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation has an important role to play, by inspiring the public sector, connecting actors and promoting innovation.

The Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) is an online platform, which is open to the public. It provides a unique collection of innovations from a wide range of sectors across the world to inspire innovators in other countries

With its online collaborative functions it’s providing governments and staff to co-operate in a different way.

The project of the Observatory has been led by a Task Force of OECD countries, chaired by Canada and France.

OECD Showcasejpg


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s