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Maryvonne Le Brignonen: “My projects for the National Institute of Public Service”

The cross : What senior civil servants does France need?

Maryvonne Le Brignonen : Men and women of action, open to Europe and the world, eager to serve their fellow citizens. Trained in a school of excellence, they must have a global vision of the challenges of the 21st century but also have “the spirit of the last mile” : it is not enough to draft a law or a decree, it is also necessary to make public policies perceptible to all, by reflecting on the implementation and effects of each measure. Senior government executives must also have a scientific culture.

→ ANALYSIS. Goodbye ENA, hello Public Service Institute

Why ?

MLB: To bridge the gap, specific to France, between universities and Grandes Ecoles, which have much to contribute. We will recruit a body of permanent teachers. We will also offer our voluntary students – perhaps 10% of a promotion – the opportunity to undertake, during their schooling at the INSP, a doctoral course which they will complete later, in conjunction with a university. This will facilitate careers in European or international institutions, where holding a doctorate is often a prerequisite.

This could also lead us to increase the number of places (from 4 to 6 out of a promotion of around 80 students) in the competition route reserved for doctors. If we must provide our students with a scientific culture, it is also so that future senior government managers can interact with the research community, as was necessary during the Covid crisis.

Among the reasons for the “abolition” of the ENA or rather its transformation into an INSP, there is the low social mix. How to cure it ?

MLB: The change of name reflects an adaptation of the school to today’s world, with recruitment more in the image of what our country is, at its service. This diversification notably involves the proliferation of Talent preparatory classes. There are now 74 of them, which prepare scholarship students for competitions for the senior civil service.

Via a scholarship, accommodation, a computer provided to them, also via close tutoring, we give these deserving young people all the tools to succeed in our Talents competition (6 places). Experienced since last year, it is based on the same tests as the external competition, with almost similar eligibility and admission bars. This shows that it too is a competition of excellence.

Doesn’t the weight of general culture in the competition hamper social openness?

MLB : Contemporary questions have long since replaced general knowledge in the competition. This dissertation test deserves to be kept, because it attests to a personal capacity for composition and structuring of thought. But it will evolve: we could define one or two themes per year, with a list of works. Candidates could explore these topics in greater depth, drawing on personal examples, or even using the “I”. Enough to fight the standardized character of the copies and bring out a singular vision of the problem, a personality.

→ PORTRAIT. Maryvonne Le Brignonen, a finance specialist at the head of the new ENA

Moreover, with regard to the oral tests, we are also moving towards the presence of a psychologist during the interview with the jury, an interview whose duration will be extended. The collective test will also evolve towards more interaction between candidates, in order to help us recruit people who are action-oriented.

Your school is now starting its training together with 15 other establishments preparing for the senior civil service. How?

MLB : This common core, piloted by the INSP, aims to create a culture shared by all senior managers in the public service, who are called upon to work together. With priority themes (ecological emergency, digital transition, the fight against inequality and poverty, the relationship to science, the values ​​of the Republic), to which it will certainly be necessary to add those of sovereignty and security.

Distance education takes the form of five pre-recorded 20-hour modules. It will be supplemented this year by a field phase, in the areas where students from different schools will be on internship. They will meet to work on common themes and meet great witnesses.

A way to connect future senior civil servants to the field?

MLB : Yes, our training must make our students more operational, thanks to a skills-based approach and scenarios. Similarly, inspection, judgment or control positions will only be accessible after a first experience in operational positions, in central or local administration, with a mission, a team to be supervised, the possibility of assessing the effectiveness of its decisions.

→ REREAD. ENA, prefects: why the government is reforming the senior administration

Should the output classification be removed?

MLB: As direct access to major bodies is removed (General Inspectorate of Finance, Council of State, Court of Auditors), the exit classification is devitalized, stripped of its dramatic character. Work is underway to find out if it should be maintained. One thing is certain: almost all the students will join the new interministerial corps of state administrators.

It is up to us to support them throughout their education so that the choice of position is the result of a real professional project rather than the result of a note on a theoretical exercise. Everyone will have their own coach from the first day of school. We will also rely on a pool of business referents, future employers who will accompany each promotion.

How will we now integrate large bodies?

MLB: One can start working at the Council of State or at the Court of Auditors at the earliest two years after leaving school, after having been selected by a commission made up of members of these institutions and qualified personalities. It is only after having worked there for three years that one will be able, on the decision of an integration commission, again mixing members and qualified personalities, to integrate these bodies.


The INSP replaced the ENA

The National Institute of Public Service, created on 1er January 2022, wants to be the“school of excellence for future state administrators”.

It took over from the National School of Administration (ENA), whose “removal” had been announced by Emmanuel Macron in April 2019, in the midst of the crisis of yellow vests.

The INSP retains the premises of the ENA, with a head office located in Strasbourg and a branch in Paris.

The new establishment must put more emphasis on continuing education senior executives and government officials.

It is also responsible for establishing partnerships with major foreign universities.


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