A few weeks ago, as a director of Tech In France, I was invited to a fireside chat with the French “State CIO” (the French acronym is DISINC) Henri Verdier. Pushing aside from the usual controversies on the neutrality of Internet, open season on GAFAs and Safe Harbor/Privacy Shield, an interesting topic that Verdier discussed is the APIfication of public service in France.
Digitalization, with or without simplification?
Like many other developed (and less-developed) countries, France has undertaken a digitalization of its citizen services. And indeed, in the past few years, French citizens have been able to do more and more online: from tax filing to voter’s registration, from fine payment to social housing application, just to name a few. But doing more online also requires creating accounts with a myriad of state and local agencies, scanning and uploading gigabytes of documents and eligibility proofs. In its first incarnation, digitalization certainly saved on queuing and postage, but did little to really simplify life.