The collection of consumer satisfaction feedback by government agencies is encouraged as part of broader efforts to improve the quality of government services in France. The General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action, which works under the authority of the Prime Minister, encourages agencies to conduct consumer satisfaction surveys and provides survey kits and step-by-step instructions on how to conduct them. Additionally, the government often works with a private research institute to gauge the satisfaction of French citizens with their government services. While the General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action was created by a decree, there is no legislation or regulation mandating agencies to conduct satisfaction surveys, and individual agencies appear to have broad discretion over whether and in what manner to do so.
I. Policy that Encourages Government Agencies to Conduct Satisfaction Surveys
For several decades, France has sought to improve the quality of government services and interactions between citizens and government agencies. As part of this effort, French government agencies collect customer satisfaction feedback through surveys.
The General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action, which works under the authority of the Prime Minister, issued an Interministerial Action Plan for Service Relations in May 2016. Among several other measures on how to improve government services, this Plan encourages government ministries to conduct customer satisfaction surveys. The previous year, in 2015, the General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action developed a customer satisfaction survey kit, which it put at the disposal of government agencies. This survey kit includes a step-by-step instruction guide on how to conduct a customer satisfaction survey, as well as two customizable questionnaires: a short questionnaire meant for immediately after the customer’s interaction with the government service, and a long questionnaire meant to be filled out later. This kit is principally aimed at conducting external surveys, but can also be adapted to conducting internal surveys of government employees or partners.
Additionally, the government has often worked with a private research institute, the Institut Paul Delouvrier, which has conducted yearly national surveys of public services customers since 2004. These surveys were conducted in collaboration with large French market research firms, either BVA or TNS-Sofres, depending on the year. The General Secretariat for Modernization of Public Action and its predecessor agency, the General Directorate for the Modernization of the State, signed partnership agreements with the Institut Paul Delouvrier in 2009, 2014, and 2016 to conduct and analyze specific opinion surveys. The results and analysis of these surveys are publicly accessible through the website of the Institut Paul Delouvrier.
It is unclear when the practice of conducting consumer satisfaction surveys by or on behalf of government agencies started. It is possible that, aside from the surveys conducted by the Institut Paul Delouvrier on behalf of the government in 2009 and 2014, individual ministries or agencies conducted consumer satisfaction surveys before 2015. This, however, does not appear to have been a common practice, if it took place at all. A 2010 government report about improving the relations between government agencies and their customers discussed the idea of having user surveys after interactions with administrative services. The authors of the report drew inspiration from practices of the private sector as well as from an evaluation system developed by the Italian government, but does not mention any example from French government agencies.
II. Regulatory Framework
There is no legislative mandate or framework for customer surveys by government agencies in France, but there is some regulatory support for it. The above-mentioned General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action and the Interministerial Committee for the Modernization of Public Action that leads it were both created by decrees of the French Prime Minister in October 2012. These decrees define these bodies’ mission in broad terms, such as “to improve the organization and functioning of the State’s public services and establishments.” But these decrees also specify that “the General Secretariat for Modernization of Public Action shall coordinate, encourage and support, at the interministerial level, the work done by government agencies towards evaluating and modernizing government action,” and “shall promote actions in favor of innovation and that allow agencies to better take into account the expectations of customers, agents, and partners of the state, and to improve and evaluate the quality of service.” The General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action was reorganized by a 2015 decree, but its mission remains substantively the same and the provisions cited above are still applicable.
While customer satisfaction surveys are not explicitly mentioned, the surveys would seem like an obvious tool to fulfill the missions of “evaluating” government action and “better tak[ing] into account the expectations of customers.” Ultimately, however, there is no legal mandate for government agencies to use customer satisfaction surveys, and their use has more to do with management policy than any specific legislative or regulatory obligation. Furthermore, it appears clear that government agencies that choose to conduct customer surveys have very broad discretion on how and when to do so, giving them the flexibility to use them in the manner that is best suited to the agency’s specific mission and needs.
Prepared by Nicolas Boring
Foreign Law Specialist
 L’administration au service de ses usagers [Administration in the Service of its Customers], Vie-Publique.fr (French government website) (July 23, 2013), http://www.vie-publique.fr/chronologie/chronos-thematiques/ administration-au-service-ses-usagers.html, archived at https://perma.cc/MS2V-JWYB.
 Secrétariat général pour la modernisation de l’action publique [General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action], Pour des services publics attentionnés à l’ère du numérique: Plan d’action interministériel de la relation de services 2016-2017 [For Attentive Public Services in the Information Age: 2016–2017 Interministerial Action Plan for Service Relations] (May 2016), http://www.modernisation.gouv.fr/ sites/default/files/fichiers-attaches/plan-action-interministeriel_relation-de-service_2016-2017.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/4RH2-E9HY.
 Id. at 8, 22, 27.
 La qualité des services publics s’améliore: Satisfaction des usagers: un kit d’étude clés en main pour les administrations [The Quality of Government Services is Improving: A Turnkey Survey Kit for Government Agencies], Secrétariat général pour la modernisation de l’action publique (Sept. 21, 2016), http://www.modernisation.gouv.fr/la-qualite-des-services-publics-sameliore/par-la-consultation-et-lecoute/kit-satisfaction-des-usagers, archived athttps://perma.cc/F8HS-PN65.
 Secrétariat général pour la modernisation de l’action publique, Une approche renouvelée des études de satisfaction: Guide pratique pour réaliser son étude de satisfaction pas à pas [A Renewed Approach to Satisfaction Surveys: A Practical Guide to Conduct a Satisfaction Survey Step-by-Step], http://www.modernisation.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/guide_partie_ pratique.pdf (last visited Oct. 20, 2017), archived athttps://perma.cc/79JT-DHWN.
 La qualité des services publics s’améliore, supra note 4.
 Le Baromètre [The Surveys], Institut Paul Delouvrier [Paul Delouvrier Institute], http://www.delouvrier. org/?q=travaux/barometre (last visited Oct. 20, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/H3PB-EEGA.
 Amélioration de la relation numérique à l’usager [Improving the Computer-based Relationship with Customers]: Rapport issu des travaux du groupe “Experts Numériques” remis à ministre du Budget Éric Woerth et secrétaire d’État chargée de la Prospective et du Développement de l’économie numérique Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet [Report from the “Digitial Experts” Group to Budget Minister Eric Woerth and State Secretary in Charge of the Development of Information Economy Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet] (Feb. 12, 2010), http://www.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/var/storage/rapports-publics/ 104000078.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/RU5U-LQHP.
 Id. at 36.
 Décret n° 2012-1199 du 30 octobre 2012 portant création du comité interministériel pour la modernisation de l’action publique [Decree No. 2012-1199 of 30 October 2012 Creating the Interministerial Committee for the Modernization of Public Action], https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT0000 26557721&fastPos=1&fastReqId=599483720&categorieLien=id&oldAction=rechTexte, archived at https://perma.cc/H4T6-65DU; Décret n° 2012-1198 du 30 octobre 2012 portant création du secrétariat général pour la modernisation de l’action publique [Decree No. 2012-1198 of 30 October 2012 Creating a General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action], https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT 000026557680&fastPos=6&fastReqId=1989000718&categorieLien=id&oldAction=rechTexte, archived at https://perma.cc/PW4A-BAFZ.
 Décret n° 2012-1199 du 30 octobre 2012, art. 1 (all translations by author).
 Décret n° 2012-1198 du 30 octobre 2012, arts. 2 & 3.
 Décret n° 2015-1165 du 21 septembre 2015 relatif au secrétariat général pour la modernisation de l’action publique [Decree No. 2015-1165 of 21 September 2015 Regarding the General Secretariat for the Modernization of Public Action], https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000031194412&categorie Lien=id, archived athttps://perma.cc/PA99-V5YN.
Last Updated: 12/28/2017