[Open-Legislation] [PMO Network] A minister says NosDéputés.fr has a dangerous effect on the French Parliament

Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou b.ooghe at gmail.com
Tue Sep 11 16:39:22 UTC 2012

Hi Josh,

Yes we know this is a possible effect that was observed in diverse
cases already. Although, our data indicates it is not (at least not
significantly) the case here in France, and we like to think this is
because we explicitly made the choice not to propose a global palmares
of the MPs. They can compare to one another indicators by indicators
but we consider that our role is not to classify MPs but to give out
raw figures to let anyone (media, individual or else) propose their
own ranking using the indicators they like with the importance of
their own choice. Not proposing such palmares makes it a lot more
complicated for MPs to "cheat" as it was suggested, as opposite for
example to the Italian example where MPs did "hack" into the indexing

The only change we could meseare is an increase of attendance in
"commission" meetings. But this change is due to a constitutionnal
reform increasing the importance of the comittee debates and adding
financial sanctions on specific cases of absentees. We just
participated through targeted reports to make the financial sanctions
applied since the parliament voted the rule but never sanctionned any
MP before we provided the missing transparency on this matter.

But of course, if the data were to prove such changes and bad impact
we would think it further through!

Benjamin for Regards Citoyens

On Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 1:45 AM, Josh Tauberer <tauberer at govtrack.us> wrote:
> On 09/10/2012 05:26 AM, Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou wrote:
>> - MPs would have started to speak saying repeated things within
>> comittee reunions just to appear on our website and therefore would
>> pollute the debates and make them slower.
> Hi, Benjamin.
> There is some evidence that this, as well as the opposite of this, has
> happened elsewhere.  A 2006 article in the Times of London claimed that
> British MPs had been participating in more debates and offering more
> questions for question time in an attempt to influence the metrics on
> TheyWorkForYou. Malesky, Schuler, and Tran (2011) found that Vietnamese
> politicians whose activities were being quantified asked fewer questions in
> their equivalent of question time. (Full citations here:
> http://opengovdata.io/2012-02/page/6-1/unintended-consequences-and-the-limits-transparency)
> So even if it hasn't happened yet in your case, it very well could.
> This issue is something the opengov community hasn't tackled very well yet.
> While there have been discussions of purported cases where transparency
> caused harm, the discussions have revolved so far around whether there was
> actual harm and whether transparency was responsible. But let's assume
> there's some actual harm. Could that ever mean we shouldn't shine light on
> particular public records?
> A serious question for you: If you found that NosDéputés.fr did in fact
> lower the quality of debate, would that change how you present the
> information?
> - Josh Tauberer (@JoshData)
> http://razor.occams.info
> On 09/10/2012 05:26 AM, Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>> We've been quite busy the last two weeks : in addition to helping on
>> the declaration's translation, we've been dealing with some public
>> criticisms that came from the french minister in charge of the
>> relationships between the executive and the parliament. We believe
>> these critics are totally unjustified.
>> First during a political meeting debating methods to revalorise the
>> parliament
>> <http://lelab.europe1.fr/t/la-froide-colere-du-ministre-vidalies-contre-les-effets-pervers-du-net-4446>
>> and then in an interview to a news website
>> <http://www.pcinpact.com/news/73356-nosdeputes-alain-vidalies-souhaite-pole-reflexion-sur-transparence.htm>,
>> Alain Vidalies basically said two things:
>> - our numeric criteria being uncomparable (which we claim as well by
>> refusing from the start to establish a mixed combination with some
>> kind of palmares) would be misused in palmares made by local press.
>> - MPs would have started to speak saying repeated things within
>> comittee reunions just to appear on our website and therefore would
>> pollute the debates and make them slower.
>> We've looked through both our press reviews and actual data and could
>> not verify any of this. We've actually demonstrated the opposite
>> showing that the recent debates were in fact shorter than they used to
>> be in the previous years, the only real bump observable being a few
>> months before the creation of our website and therefore linked to
>> institutionnal reforms rather than us.
>> More details in french are in our answer to the interview we've published
>> here:
>> http://www.regardscitoyens.org/nosdeputes-fr-%C2%AB-dangereux-%C2%BB-vraiment-nos-reponses-au-ministre-des-relations-avec-le-parlement/
>> We've met with the minister and his office since then and it sounds
>> like we all would like the relations to be more constructive and that
>> we could maybe work together on some colloquium with the institutions
>> to discuss improvements on the measurement of parliament activity
>> early next year. It is just too bad they did not realize this before
>> our open legislative data event in Paris last July... ;)
>> We'll publish another blog article in french reporting on our meeting
>> with the minister this afternoon.
>> Best,
>> Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou for Regards Citoyens
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