Management
May 7, 2012

Combler l’écart entre l’élaboration et l’application des politiques

La complexité des programmes publics ne date pas d’hier. Nul ne peut nier les efforts qui ont été consacrés à l’élaboration de la Charte des droits et libertés ou à la construction du Pont de la Confédération. Pourtant, le monde d’aujourd’hui nous confronte à des complexités d’un tout autre ordre.

De nos jours, les programmes stratégiques font intervenir de multiples paliers de gouvernement et un nombre incalculable d’intervenants. Les fonctionnaires sont aux prises avec des problèmes comme la crise financière mondiale, le changement climatique, le terrorisme, l’immigration et la surcharge du système de santé. En même temps, la pression médiatique et l’attention portée aux examens de programme les obligent plus que jamais à rendre des comptes.

Ajoutons à cela la hausse des coûts dûs aux échecs dans les programmes, et l’on prend soudainement conscience de la gravité de la situation. Un sondage mené par Deloitte Research auprès de dirigeants du secteur public du Canada et des États-Unis révèle que 65 % des répondants canadiens croient que l’image du gouvernement s’est détérioriée au cours des trente dernières années.

Le plus grand écart semble être celui qui sépare les fonctionnaires qui élaborent les politiques de ceux qui les appliquent. Selon 61 % des répondants canadiens, les personnes chargées d’appliquer les politiques ne participent guère ou pas du tout au processus d’élaboration. À mesure que l’écart continue de grandir, d’autres programmes risquent d’échouer, ce qui accroît la pression exercée sur l’ensemble des paliers du gouvernement.

S’il y a une leçon à tirer de l’état actuel des choses, c’est que l’ancienne façon de faire ne semble plus fonctionner. Pour sortir de ce cercle vicieux, les fonctionnaires ont commencé à chercher des moyens de modifier leurs pratiques traditionnelles.

Souplesse d’application
Pour combler l’écart entre l’élaboration et l’exécution, les dirigeants du secteur public doivent promouvoir une plus grande souplesse dans l’application des politiques. Il n’existe aucune véritable règle à cet égard, mais les quatre stratégies suivantes semblent prometteuses : prendre des risques calculés, utiliser des méthodes à source ouverte, mettre l’accent davantage sur les résultats que sur les projets et développer le leadership.

Prendre des risques calculés
En cette période de transition vers un gouvernement horizontal, il est clair que l’approche du secteur public à l’égard du changement commence à être dépassée. Habituellement, les gouvernements se lancent dans des processus de planification de grande envergure qui comportent des mandats fermes en matière de programmes et se caractérisent par l’incapacité de changer de cap même lorsque le projet est voué à l’échec.

Toutefois, cette mentalité de refus de l’échec pourrait nuire à la capacité des gouvernements d’atteindre leurs objectifs. Pour favoriser l’innovation, il faut évoluer dans une culture où la prise de risques intelligents n’est pas pénalisée – même lorsqu’un échec survient. De nos jours, l’innovation et l’expérimentation sont des facteurs essentiels pour bien appliquer les politiques. Cette approche se caractérise par le lancement de prototypes et de projets pilotes de moindre envergure, une mise en œuvre par étapes et l’intégration des échecs mineurs au processus en vue d’éviter les échecs majeurs à des stades ultérieurs. En permettant aux exécutants de commettre des erreurs tôt dans le processus, les innovateurs sont souvent à même de les détecter et de les corriger avant qu’elles prennent de grandes proportions.

Les gouvernements peuvent prendre des risques calculés semblables en testant les structures de programme potentielles avant de les mettre en œuvre dans la collectivité entière. En ciblant un sous-ensemble d’organismes pionniers, ils peuvent recueillir des commentaires qui leur permettront d’améliorer leurs programmes avant de les mettre en œuvre à grande échelle. Cela contribuera à réduire considérablement l’écart entre l’élaboration et l’application des politiques. En outre, cela permettra aux leaders du secteur public de mettre en place un processus d’amélioration continue du rendement.

Utiliser des méthodes à source ouverte
Pour favoriser la souplesse d’application, les gouvernements doivent également obtenir à l’étape de l’élaboration les points de vue de nombreux intervenants, dont le personnel, les spécialistes externes, les organismes sans but lucratif, les entreprises privées, les étudiants, les citoyens et les autres gouvernements. Ce mode d’élaboration à source ouverte permet tout à la fois de recueillir de nouvelles idées et de favoriser la participation des intervenants.

Pour illustrer cette pratique, prenons l’exemple de la U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). À l’aide de blogues et de wikis en ligne sécurisés, la TSA recueille auprès de ses employés les suggestions d’amélioration des programmes. D’ailleurs, elle a déjà utilisé leurs idées pour rationaliser les zones d’inspection des aéroports et pour améliorer le partage des postes entre les employés. Dans le même ordre d’idées, le U.S. Patent and Trademark Office utilise un système d’examen par les pairs afin d’accélérer l’approbation des demandes de brevet et de réduire les retards administratifs à l’interne.

La portée potentielle des méthodes à source ouverte s’étend de l’élaboration des politiques à leur application. Des organismes aussi variés que la Toronto Transit Commission et la machine électorale d’Obama trouvent des moyens d’exploiter le pouvoir des communautés virtuelles pour atteindre leurs objectifs stratégiques.

Mettre l’accent sur les résultats
Le troisième aspect sur lequel les gouvernements devraient se pencher pour combler l’écart entre l’élaboration et la conception des politiques est le recours aux bureaux de gestion de projet (BGP). Malgré le fait que les BGP participent à 97 % des grands projets de mise en œuvre de politiques, moins de la moitié des répondants du sondage de Deloitte croient que les BGP se sont bien acquittés de leur mission.

Parmi les raisons qui expliquent la mauvaise note obtenue par les BGP, mentionnons : le fait qu’ils mettent l’accent sur le processus plutôt que sur les résultats, leur tendance à faire fi des questions liées à la gestion du changement et des gens,

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