France is the first country to appoint a Chief Data Officer (Administrateur Général des Données, AGD), to ensure open data reaches its full potential in improving government services. On 17 September, France appointed Henri Verdier, director of Etalab, which runs the Inter-ministerial open data portal, data.gouv.fr. Verdier is to coordinate government actions aimed at inventorying, governing, producing, circulating and using government data. With the CDO, France aims to enhance evaluation of government policies, increase government openness and boost research and innovation.
"The use of data is at the heart of the digital revolution", Etalab writes in its announcement. "The wealth of data generated by the state needs data science to allow informed public policies." The team behind the data.gouv.fr portal expects the new position to create new opportunities for open data initiatives.
According to Etalab, the main projects will be to improve the quality of data created by public administrations, produce key data and facilitate its sharing and re-use by administrations, researchers, businesses and citizens.
The CDO will report to the Secretary General for Government Modernization (SGMAP). According to the decree, the CDO can also come up with legislative proposals or suggest changes to rules and legislation.
French IT news site Sillicon reports that the CDO will begin by establishing a roadmap and with building a hub to bring together public administrations, schools and start-ups. The first concrete results are expected to be presented in six months' time. The CDO will also be involved in transposing the European Public Sector Information Directive into national law.