Open Data Asset and Interest Declarations
The High Authority for Transparency in Public Life commits to improving access to public information on elected representatives and public officials by publishing this data under an open data format (OGP 21).
This commitment is specific because it focuses on a concrete and sufficiently narrow anti-corruption mechanism: access to public information on elected representatives and public officials. However, it is unclear from the wording of the commitment what kind of information is meant here. This commitment is related to OGP commitment 21, on providing access to data on elected representatives and public officials (“Improving access to public information on elected representatives and public officials” in the French OGP Action Plan 2018-2020). Further research into the action plan shows that the information mentioned in this commitment relates to asset and interest declarations by public officials.
 OGP, France National Action Plan 2018-2020, p.58, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/France-Action-Plan-2018-2020-English.pdf
The commitment is measurable because it identifies “publishing this data under an open data format” as a clear, measurable action and deliverable. Looking further into the OGP Action Plan, it becomes clear that this specifically relates to “publishing” asset and interest declarations of public officials in CSV format. The availability of the registry in CSV format can easily be checked on the HATPV website, as can the data visualisation effort.
The mandatory assets and interests declaration for elected representatives and public officials was introduced with the foundation of the HATVP in the 2013 Transparency of Public Life Act, complemented by the Law for Confidence in Political Life in 2017. The registry was initiated following the Cahuzac scandal, named after a former Minister of the Budget at the Ministry of the Economy who concealed millions of euros from French tax authorities.
The content of the declarations of assets and interests made public on the High Authority’s website is published as open data in XML format. Declarations and assessments published on the website are also available in CSV format.
In December 2021, the Minister for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises resigned following his condemnation by the courts for incomplete declaration, after a referral by the HATVP.
This commitment is therefore considered fulfilled.
|Challenges to effective commitment implementation|
|One crucial challenge is the lack of human resources at the HATVP to carry out a high number of compliance checks. There are few cases where the declaration of assets and liabilities was referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for substantial omission, such as that of Jean-Paul Delevoye, High Commissioner for Pension Reform, who failed to declare other remunerated mandates.
There is a lack of rigour in updating the declarations of interests, especially for members of parliament (MPs) who maintain a professional side-activity, leading to risks of conflict of interests. Public officials must update their declaration when there is substantial change in their interests, but they do not always comply with this obligation.
|Opportunities to accelerate commitment implementation|
|The high number of declarations means the role of journalists is crucial for investigations. For example, their work has revealed that Alexis Kohler, Secretary-General of the Élysée, hid his relationship with his family’s business group, the Mediterranean Shipping Company.
The HATVP is planning to make this register more engaging and announced in an interview for this report that new data visualisation tools are being built.
 LAW No. 2013-907 of 11 October 2013 relating to the transparency of public life (1), https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/JORFTEXT000028056315/.
 Organic LAW No. 2017-1338 of 15 September 2017 on trust in political life (1), https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/JORFTEXT000035567936/
 Mediapart, Cahuzac case: investigation completed, https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/091214/affaire-cahuzac-enquete-terminee
 HATVP, The directory, https://www.hatvp.fr/le-repertoire/
 Le Monde, Sentenced for incomplete declaration of his assets, Minister Alain Griset resigns, https://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2021/12/08/le-ministre-alain-griset-condamne-pour-non-declaration-de-patrimoine_6105183_823448.html
 Le Monde, The serial omissions of Jean-Paul Delevoye on his declaration of interests, https://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2019/12/14/declaration-d-interets-les-oublis-en-serie-du-haut-commissaire-aux-retraites-jean-paul-delevoye_6022841_823448.html
 Mediapart, The phantom declaration of interests of No. 2 of the Elysée Palace Alexis Kohler, https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/160918/la-declaration-d-interets-fantome-du-n-2-de-l-elysee-alexis-kohler
 Interview with the HATVP, November 2021.