Sort by *
A tool in need of consolidation
2020-2022 activity
Communication to the Senate Finance Committee
December 2023
Created on 1 January 2020, the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT) is a
public body that aims to facilitate projects led by local authorities, by deploying State schemes
to promote territorial cohesion and by facilitating access to technical support for small local
A merger of the main government bodies working in this field had been envisaged
Eventually, it was decided to create a network of these bodies, with the merger being limited
to the General Commission for Territorial Equality (CGET), the Digital Agency and the national
public body for the development and restructuring of commercial and artisanal spaces
(EPARECA). Although the benefits of bringing together just three bodies, each working in very
specific areas, have yet to be demonstrated,
it’s not advisable
to question this scope. The
structure now requires stability if it is to operate under the right conditions.
The definition of the agency’s programme, led by the Interministerial
Directorate for
Government Transformation (DITP), was largely entrusted to a consultancy firm. It was set up
under challenging conditions, hampered by the health crisis that occurred less than three
months after its creation, which delayed its structuring and the deployment of its activities.
The policies pursued by the ANCT are extremely varied. They cover the management of
policy towards disadvantaged urban areas, State measures to support medium-sized towns,
small towns, rural areas and mountain
, the roll-out of very high-speed broadband,
digital access, policies for access to public services and support for the creation of
tiers lieux
ANCT is also the coordinating authority for the management of European funds, a remit that
in France is usually the responsibility of a central administration. Since its creation, the agency
has continued or ensured the deployment of a large number of national programmes and
schemes, which have been praised by local elected representatives, and which are the
hallmarks of its action in the field.
However, the conduct of its missions is constrained and weakened by difficulties,
particularly internal, which are highlighted in this report.
The many policies that the ANCT promotes require active support for local authorities,
which cannot be provided by its departments alone, which have limited staff and are mostly
located in Paris. Its presence in the territories is ensured by the departmental prefects,
designated as its territorial delegates by Article 4 of law no. 2019-753 of 22 July 2019 creating
the ANCT. However, their involvement varies greatly from one
to another, which
can lead to differences in treatment between territories. In
fact, no specific resources have
been earmarked to support them in this task, apart from the eight
mission leaders
chargés de missions territoriaux
). Although there are plans to double their number, they
alone will not be sufficient to guarantee the deployment of the “custom
” technical
support promised when the ANCT was created.
The diversity of the missions carried out makes the management of the ANCT
complex. Its departments are organised into different divisions, each responsible for one
or more policies, working independently and often in direct and exclusive liaison with each
ministerial office. To date, these conditions have not encouraged the necessary promotion
of a common ANCT culture or the standardisation of working methods and management
The partners defined by the law are the Banque des territoires, the Environment and Energy
Management Agency (ADEME), the National Urban Renewal Agency (ANRU), the National Housing
Agency (ANAH) and the Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, the Environment, Mobility and
Development (CEREMA).
rules, both of which have been identified as priorities by both ANCT and the Directorate
General for Local Authorities. Management shortcomings persist in all support functions.
They demonstrate the need to strengthen the link between the General Secretariat and
the business divisions by providing the ANCT with appropriate management tools.
Human resources management has to deal with a large number of departures and
difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. HR tools are unreliable. The ANCT plans to
remedy this within 18 months. It is equally slow in setting up an institutionalised
management dialogue. Similarly, IT system management is lacking in terms of strategic
guidance, formalisation of procedures and security.
From a financial point of view, the ANCT’s specific budget (€117 million in
appropriations paid in 2022) does not reflect the full financial amounts of the schemes in
which it is involved, which total several billion euros, without a precise and exhaustive
inventory being available. This lack of clarity reflects the complexity and diversity of the
financial arrangements for national territorial cohesion schemes. In carrying out its
missions, the ANCT or its supervisory bodies should be able to report on the financial flows
of the programmes it manages, even if they do not pass through its budget and are not
provided in the cross-
disciplinary “territorial development” policy document.
More specifically, the ANCT’s own budget comprises two resource categories.
The first is overall revenue, amounting to €84.5 million in 2022. This includes the
million subsidy for publi
c service expenditure, €20 million of which is for the agency’s
technical support funding. These overall revenues are supplemented at the end of the
year, as required, by transfer agreements or additional subsidies paid from programmes
112 and 147 of the State budget. This addition at the end of the financial year renders the
notion of a forward budget meaningless and compromises the development of a financial
strategy or the definition of a multi-year outlook.
There are also the revenues earmarked for spe
cific schemes, amounting to €36.4
million in 2022.
For this same reference year, the agency’s total resources amounted to €121 million,
compared with the actual spend of €117 million.
In addition, new missions are regularly entrusted to the agency, without the
corresponding budgetary or human resources being systematically allocated. As a result, the
ANCT did not equip itself with the budgetary and accounting monitoring and analysis tools that
would enable it to accurately determine the expenditure and revenue for each of its missions.
Outstanding payments and the use of earmarked funds should be systematically monitored
and reporte
d to the Agency’s Board of Directors.
There are no concerns regarding its short-term financial sustainability. However, given
the cash flow generated in its first year of operation, the ANCT has little structural room for
manoeuvre, which confirms the need for a more precise analysis of its financial position than
is currently available.
The real estate activities taken over from EPARECA (national public body for the
development and restructuring of commercial and artisanal spaces) benefit from the expertise
acquired by the teams of this entity, which offers solutions to commercial regeneration needs
for which there is no private or semi-public alternative. This activity, which is similar to
commercial property development and investment, explains why ANCT is a public body with
hybrid status. However, the ANCT should be able to accurately determine the results of this
activity for each of its operations, the economic equilibrium of which should be assessed from
a multi-year perspective. To this end, they should be identified in a separate budget.
The ANCT has inherited very different types of mission from the bodies of which it was
formed. Synergies have yet to be created between policy towards disadvantaged urban areas,
digital deployment, commercial centre development, rural area and mountain region policies.
One of the new initiatives introduced by the ANCT, widely promoted in its
communications, was the provision of “
custom made
” technical support solutions to meet the
needs of elected representatives. This is embodied in a specific budget that initially amounted
to €10 million, and was increased to €20 million in 2021, included in the subsidy for public
service expenditure. This budget actually covers all the agency’s technical sup
expenditure, including its role in supporting the leaders of the ‘Small Towns of Tomorrow’
initiative and expenditure on support for other national schemes. The specifically “customised”
component amounts to only around €6 million a year. Elected repr
esentatives are still not very
familiar with this provision. Its use is largely based on the involvement of decentralised State
departments in the scheme.
The creation of the ANCT was intended to mark a renewal of the State’s action for small
and medium-sized towns and rural areas. Its added value was to lie in a new approach to State
intervention in schemes such as the ‘Action: Heart of the City’, ‘Small Towns of Tomorrow’ and
Maisons France Service
initiatives. The framework established by these programmes and the
support offered are intended to encourage the development of community or regional projects,
around which funding from the State or partner agencies is coordinated. The initial results
obtained and the favourable response from the elected representatives concerned bear
witness to the value of this approach, which should however be confirmed by an evaluation of
these programmes.
Despite the short implementation period and the difficulties faced by the ANCT, the
method of co-construction within a simplified contractual framework has met with the support
of local authorities, even if many improvements remain to be made.
Faced with these real expectations, the ANCT, which embodies a new approach to
collaboration between local authorities and the State, must now focus its efforts on
consolidating its internal operations and the management of the resources allocated to it, on
strengthening its partnerships, and on deepening its links with its regional representatives and
the territories in which it operates.
Specify the scope of intervention of the departmental prefect, territorial representative of the
ANCT, and the resources available for carrying out this role (
Develop reliable tools for monitoring employment and the payroll, and draw up a joint human
resources strategy (
Improve accounting management tools in order to have precise information on the use of
earmarked funding and the cost of the various schemes to enable multi-year monitoring of
commitments (
Specify the expenses covered by the subsidy for public service expenditure and adjust the
framework to include transfer agreements. Evaluate the human and financial resources
required to carry out each new task entrusted to the ANCT (
ministry of the interior and overseas
territories, ministry of the economy, finance and industrial and digital sovereignty
Isolate expenditure and revenue from commercial property activities in a separate budget
ministry of the interior and overseas territories, ministry of the economy, finance and industrial
and digital sovereignty, ANCT
Define the IT strategy by drawing up key IT system documents by the end of 2024, and by
exhaustive mapping of resources with a view to streamlining resources and increasing control
of IT tools (
Ensure that IT system resilience is effectively implemented (
Adapt the cross-
disciplinary “regional development” policy document to reflect the resources
allocated to each of the national programmes run by the ANCT (
ministry of the interior and
overseas territories, ministry of the economy, finance and industrial and digital sovereignty
Public policy recommendations
Management recommendations