In France, as in other developed countries, public investments represent a significant portion of national investments, affecting a wide range of sectors including transport, energy, health, culture, education and justice. These public investments will shape the country for a long time, sometimes for centuries – its growth, the quality of its environment, its ability to face challenges. Since funding is largely derived from precious public resources, decisions about such investments are of high importance. Political decisions to invest must be guided by an objective evaluation of the social value they create for the community.
The Act of 31 December 2012 about Public Finance Planning makes it compulsory for project sponsors to carry out ex-ante socioeconomic evaluation of all public civil investments by the State, its public institutions, public health institutions or health cooperation structures, including all sectors. The decree no.2013-1211 of 23 December 2013 specifies that this obligation concerns projects for which funding provided by the State and its public institutions exceeds 20 million euros. For the largest projects – those for whose funding by the State and its public institutions exceeds 100 million euros – the General secretariat for investment (GSFI) oversees an independent counter-expert assessment of the ex-ante socioeconomic evaluation carried out by the project sponsor.
Socioeconomic evaluation embraces a great diversity of investments, and is based on calculation methods and conventions. Indeed, investments subject to socioeconomic evaluation cover many sectors (transport, energy, health, education, culture, justice, etc.), as well as situations (creation of a new infrastructure, development of new services, implementation of new technologies, modification, optimisation or modernisation of existing infrastructures, etc.). It is essential to use a cross-cutting guide with a presention of methods and indicators to assess a project. While each sector has its own specificities, the methodology used in evaluation is rooted in certain common principles that this guide is designed to present.
This operational guide is intended for departments in charge of projects within different ministries (transport, health, culture, justice, etc.), and public bodies, the State’s public institutions, and health institutions. More generally, this guide is intended for any project sponsor wishing to evaluate the consequences of an investment to better optimise and assess its interest.
This guide presents the guiding principles, concepts, and operational methods used by project sponsors to assess a project. In addition, it can be used to assess programmes composed of several relatively homogeneous and interdependent investment projects. And it enables project sponsors to apply a common analysis framework to all public investments. But it is not meant for the evaluation of more general public policies such as the effectiveness of a regulation, a tax provision, or any public expenditure.
The guide will be accompanied by methodological supplements clarifying technical aspects common to all sectors. Regular updates will be provided by France Stratégie following validation by the Committee of Experts on Methods for Socioeconomic Evaluation of Public Investment.
This guide was drafted jointly by the Directorate-General of the Treasury, the General secretariat for investment and France Stratégie, under the authority of the Committee of Experts on Methods for Socioeconomic Evaluation of Public Investment, chaired by Roger Guesnerie, professor at the Collège de France and Honorary President of the Paris School of Economics.