French Customs rewards its officers’ innovative practices

25 June 2024
By French Customs

In mid-October 2023, French Customs launched a competition for its 16,546 officers. The aim was to provide a platform for competitors to showcase their implemented or developing innovative practices – in the form of working methods, processes or equipment – to their peers.

Under the competition rules, the practices put forward were required to:

  • be operational currently or be rolled out presently;
  • introduce an innovative feature;
  • bring about a significant improvement to Customs missions or to the day-to-day operations of Customs departments (managerial or organizational practices, equipment or IT operations);
  • be straightforward or easy to roll out across the territory;
  • have the potential for use by other equivalent services.

The submission of competition entries was governed by an open procedure so as to encourage the greatest possible number of entries. All staff were invited to enter, irrespective of their department or place of work.

The 15 innovative practices shortlisted for the 2023 Jules Verne Innovation Prize were announced on Friday 24 November, following their approval by a review panel and subsequently by a selection panel chaired by the incumbent Director General.

Commenting on the initiative, the Director General[1] stated: “I firmly believe that many innovative practices have been implemented on the ground, and I feel that it is vital to establish a vehicle for highlighting and sharing these initiatives and for them to inject a positive dynamic into all Customs services.”

The review panel, chaired by the Deputy Director General of Customs and comprising representatives of the General Directorate and the Amiens Regional Directorate, had their work cut out for them, examining no fewer than 70 projects submitted for this inaugural award.

© French Customs
© French Customs

On 7 December, the 15 teams shortlisted for the final were brought together at the Quai de l’Innovation conference centre in Amiens to present their respective innovative practices not only to the 170-strong audience at the awards ceremony but also to the morning’s round-table discussions on the subject of innovation, which sparked fruitful discussions between Customs staff and external partners.

The Regional Director of Amiens gave his opening address before giving the floor to the Hauts‑de‑France Interregional Director. Rounding off this opening section, the Prefect of the Somme département and the President of Amiens Métropole urban community underlined the importance of the contribution by Customs to supporting businesses and combating trafficking. They were unanimous in commending the spirit of innovation recognized in the awarding of the Jules Verne Prize.

© French Customs
© French Customs

Midway through the day, the three winners of the inaugural Jules Verne Prize for Customs Innovation were each awarded a 2023 Customs Innovation Prize trophy by the Director General.

The prize-winning projects, which sought significantly to improve Customs missions or streamline Customs services, stood apart from other entries because of their ingenuity. In line with the applied selection criteria, they were also characterized by their simplicity, meaning that they might be rolled out or implemented in future in other equivalent services.

© French Customs
© French Customs

The winning entries were:

  • a hook for a machine gun: presented by officers from the surveillance division, this tool makes cleaning the weapon easier, which is an essential procedure for maintaining its operational serviceability;
  • a collaborative application: presented by officers working in an IT and logistics hub, it facilitates the streamlining of accounts management;
  • two IT projects to assist express freight management, presented by a Customs office at Paris‑Charles de Gaulle Airport (Roissy CDG).

Buoyed by this inaugural success, organizers are already planning the 2024 Jules Verne Customs Innovation Prize!

[1] French Customs has had a new Director General in place since 4 April 2024.

Looking back at the Jules Verne Customs Innovation Prize