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French government will use AI to modernise public services

By RFI
Europe AFP - TERESA SUAREZ
TUE, 23 APR 2024 LISTEN
AFP - TERESA SUAREZ

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal on Tuesday said that a French-made artificial intelligence (AI) system will be used to simplify administrative procedures moving forward. He also announced the creation of 300 additional France Services centres by 2027.

The French government is pushing forward with efforts to upgrade and simplify access to administrative services, often bogged down by lack of technology or personnel.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal was in the Hauts-de-Seine area northwest of the capital on Tuesday to visit one of the 2,700 France Services centres.

The government has promised it will open around 300 branches of this type of 'one-stop-shop' for public services by 2027, many of them in regional cities.

One of the major changes in public services is access to voting by proxy, or power of attorney.

The government wants people to be able to delegate their voting rights via a fully online process for all future elections, starting this June, Attal's office said on Monday.

Since mid-April, it has been possible, with a new version of the French identity card to give your proxy for the European elections on 9 June online, without having to get validation from a police station or gendarmerie, as was previously the case.

This method will also be available for the next municipal elections in 2026 and the presidential election in 2027, Attal's office indicated.

'Albert' to the rescue

Attal also unveiled an artificial intelligence tool, developed internally, which will help public officials answer frequently-asked questions, and save considerable time.

The French programme, called "Albert" will be used by tax agents for example, to deal with the approximately 16 million queries they receive each year.

Each response will nevertheless be validated or modified if necessary by an agent.

"The analysis of regulations will be automated, responses drastically accelerated and the work of agents made less painful and more interesting," Attal told the press.

Likewise, 4,000 environmental projects submitted each year to regional environmental directorates will now be "pre-instructed by an AI", such as wind farm or urban development projects.

The AI tool will also be used "from the end of the year" to automate the transcription of legal hearings, the filing of complaints or medical reports.

Audit of administrative processes

It will also be used for the detection of forest fires or the HR management of civil servants.

"The boring tasks are for AI, and the link with our fellow citizens will be for public officials," Attal promised.

There are other initiatives afoot to simplify everyday paperwork issues which create headaches for busy families and workers. 

Attal said an audit would be carried out "ministry by ministry, to review all online content and forms" to make administrative language "intelligible, accessible".

In some cases, people won't need to fill out forms at all.

At the start of the school year in September, school grants will be paid automatically to the 1.5 million beneficiaries without them having to fill out any forms.

A plan to help simplify procedures for businesses will be presented to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.

(with newswires)

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