Performance assessment has recently been applied to water utilities in France. Performance indicators (PIs) were initially developed as an aid to the control of public service delegation by local authorities. After a long process, a group of PIs was integrated into mandatory annual reports on service quality and price, in order to better inform utility users and reinforce the regulation of the sector by local public authorities. As water utilities in France are highly fragmented, this development in isolation may have only limited effects. The additional comparison of performance is likely to improve service quality and efficiency and keep prices affordable. The French national agency for water (ONEMA) – created in 2006 – is in charge of building the monitoring system of water utility performance. This paper presents the objectives of this monitoring system, the methodology used to create it and its shortcomings. Due to the large number of utilities, the data collection process faces difficulties. Some conclusions are drawn on how to obtain stronger involvement of local authorities.
Keywords: benchmarking, classification, performance monitoring system, typology