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Publié le
Mercredi 19 Février 2020
The aim of impact assessment is to evaluate, using statistical methods, the specific effects of a public policy compared with its stated objectives. Developed in the United States beginning in the 1960s, it emerged in Europe at the end of the 1990s, animated by a desire to streamline public action, and to make the political decision-making process more transparent.
Vingt ans d’évaluations d’impact en France et à l’étranger - Analyse comparée des pratiques dans six pays

While France is currently experiencing, with some delay, a boom in impact assessments, France Stratégie has identified good practices in five countries regarded as the most advanced in this field: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany [1]. Using interviews, institutional reports, and academic articles, three key factors favouring the production and use of assessments in decision-making are analysed: the existence of formal mechanisms promoting impact assessments; the degree of dissemination and influence of these assessments on the public as well as on decision-makers ; and finally, the openness of the administrative environment to economic researchers.

The comparison of France with five among the most advanced countries shows that no "turnkey" model exists to promote impact assessment. In recent years, each country has developed its own model of "evidence-based public policy" founded on its own levers for action, chiefly academic vitality, political impetus, and access to administrative data. With the opening up of the administrative environment to research actors in the United States, the training of public officials in the methodology of impact assessment in the United Kingdom, and the role of executive agencies for the evaluation of public policies in Sweden, it is clear that deferential determinants of success prevail in each country.

Far from arguing for the importation of a single institutional model, the good practices identified abroad highlight a set of approaches for consideration and experimentation to sustain the momentum of impact assessment in France. These focus on three major issues: the need for a better link between the demand for and production of impact assessments; the definition of common principles guaranteeing, in particular, the independence, credibility and transparency of assessments; and the sharing of issues, practices and results of impact assessment within an alliance bringing together the widest possible community of interested actors.

Several good practices could inspire the dissemination and the use of impact assessment in France:

  • In the United States, the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program promotes career mobility between the public administrations and the research community;
  • The methodological guides on impact assessment published by the British Treasury, and widely used, guarantee a common framework;
  • In Canada, the Accredited Appraiser designation recognizes evaluation competencies and ensures a common ethical standard;
  • The What Works Centres and Clearinghouses in English-speaking countries centralise the results of evaluations to classify public systems according to their effectiveness and to make them accessible to the greatest number of people;
  • In the United Kingdom, since 2015, the What Works Team has been encouraging government departments to publish Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) for researchers, which indicate areas where there is a need for scientific evidence.

[1] This note provides a summary of the working paper entitled "Vingt ans d’évaluations d’impact en France et à l’étranger. Analyse comparée des pratiques dans six pays", also available on the France Stratégie website. This document itself brings together the key lessons learned from monographs on public policy evaluation in six countries: Germany, Canada, United States, France, United Kingdom, Sweden.

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Adam Baïz
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Anciens auteurs de France Stratégie
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Anciens auteurs de France Stratégie
Rozenn Desplatz
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Anciens auteurs de France Stratégie
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Anciens auteurs de France Stratégie
Pierre-Henri Bono
Clément Lacouette-Fougère