La 27e Région: A Lab for Transforming Public Policies

La 27e Région is an innovation lab dedicated to transforming the public sector in France through citizen-centric design. Based in Paris, La 27e Région was first developed in 2008 in partnership with the Next Generation Internet Foundation (FING) and with support from the Associations of Regions in France (ARF). It has been an independent nonprofit association since 2012. Its mission, according to founder and executive director Stephan Vincent, is to "make changes happen within governments in a more citizen-centered way." To do so, La 27e Région collaborates with cities and local governments across France on experiments and projects, all while sharing their outcomes through public reports.

NGOsource's Role

La 27e Région initially went through the equivalency determination (ED) process with NGOsource in the summer of 2016, when one of NGOsource's grantmaker members requested its ED certificate. Since then, the initial grantmaking foundation has renewed this ED once a year and provided consistent funding to La 27e Région.

Organizations like La 27e Région benefit from the credibility that NGOsource's legal analysis provides. In speaking about the impact of the ED process, Vincent notes that although the organization "already had some support from French public institutions and European Union, being recognized worldwide by the philanthropic movement through [the ED process] gave [them] more ability to negotiate with [their] partners and to generate more impact afterwards. Thanks to this partnership, no less than ten major French cities like Paris or Strasbourg are now collectively engaged in [their] innovation programs." Vincent adds that "in short, being identified through ED gives us more legitimacy and opportunities to build solid partnerships and to convince our local partners to run large-scale projects, with higher impact in the long term."

NGOsource's efficient ED process allows La 27e Région and similar organizations to focus their time and energy on their programs, enabling them to achieve greater impact.

ED in Action

How to maintain and develop small railway stations in rural areas? La 27e Région uses "rapid prototyping" as a way to test new services for travelers.

The funding that La 27e Région received as a result of the ED process has allowed the organization to carry out a wide range of projects, including its ongoing The Transfo (PDF) project. Through this program, started in 2011, the organization partners with local governments and public departments to establish their own innovation lab. The 2016–2020 edition of this program, still underway, is working with 10 municipalities with the intention of creating greater community engagement in local politics.

Looking forward, La 27e Région is just starting a five-year-long project with l'Ile de France, France's biggest regional government, which encompasses Paris, its suburbs, and over 12 million residents. The aim of this project is to rethink the future of housing and to develop ways of making housing development projects more citizen-centric. This will involve citizen participation through experimentation in pilot projects across the region. Through this project, La 27e Région hopes to close "the loop between civil servants, politicians and citizens," making for a democratic process. 

Making public procurement more sustainable: a group of public buyers and their suppliers debate and explore new potential management practices.

La 27e Région is working towards a lofty goal of transforming local governments. But by using practical methods and experimental projects, it has built tangible change for the common good. The funding that La 27e Région received as a result of the ED process will continue to facilitate this work. NGOsource remains inspired by the hard work of associations that we have certified around the world to bring innovative solutions to the communities they serve.

We thank Stéphane Vincent for his contributions to this article.

Top photo: Who said civil servants are not makers? Here they learn how to build recycled furniture and adopt eco-friendly practices.

Photos used with permission from La 27e Région © 2020.