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Promoting a culture of public policy evaluation

Promoting a culture of public policy evaluation

Type of text : Opinion and report
Type of referral : Own initiative
Working group : Delegation for long-range planning and evaluation of public policies

Rapporteur(s) :

CGT Trade Union group
Date adopted : 08/09/2015 | Period : 2010-2015

Evaluation involves performing an assessment of a public initiative in relation to a series of criteria and is intended to simulate, anticipate and measure the direct and indirect effects of public policies. It is also an issue that is attracting increasing levels of interest around the world, with the UN declaring 2015 the International Year of Evaluation.
A key component of democracy

Evaluation is a tool designed to facilitate and improve the decision-making process where policies are concerned. It is also a way of raising awareness among the people of what the public authorities are doing. This being the case, it is vital to restoring people's faith in political action.

The evaluation process will involve a number of players or stakeholders, including political decision-makers, bodies and agents responsible for implementing public policies, the beneficiaries of said policies and evaluators themselves.

Despite this, evaluation is relatively unrecognised and even underused in our country. Furthermore, confusion between the evaluation of public policies, on the one hand, and the monitoring, auditing and reform of the State, on the other, can lead to a certain reluctance among political leaders, services and agents.

The ESEC opinion and the corresponding report seek to explain this issue, review evaluation practices and outline proposals for promoting a culture of public policy evaluation in France.


The three stages for evaluation

Public policies should ideally be evaluated at the following three points:

• prior to a policy being implemented to initially assess its anticipated and potential effects. This is known as an ex ante evaluation;

• throughout the process or in the middle of the anticipated duration of the policy for the purposes of examining the course it is taking.

These are known as mid-term and in itinere evaluations;

• at the end of a public initiative to assess its direct and indirect effects. This is known as an ex post evaluation;


THERE ARE three types of body that may perform the evaluation

• public bodies: ministries and inspection units, the Court of Accounts (Cour des comptes), the Policy Planning Commission

(France Stratégie), the General Secretariat for the Modernisation of Public Action (SGMAP), etc.;

• constitutional chambers:Parliament, the ESEC;

• researchers and academics, private consultancy firms, etc.


This plurality allows for several complementary approaches to be adopted.

Furthermore, employee and employer representative bodies, just like the NGO sector, are committed to evaluating public policies on a regular basis.

Evaluation is becoming increasingly common at regional level as a result of two factors, namely the regionalisation and contractualisation of public action, on the one hand, and obligations regarding the use of European funds, on the other.

There are five issues to be resolved

• the meaning to be attached to the evaluation;

• the frequency and timeliness with which it is performed;

• the relevance of its indicators;

• the objectivity and impartiality of the evaluation process;

• what its conclusions mean in terms of political decision-making.