ENA was created just after the end of the Second World War by executive order (Ordonnance) of the provisional government of the French Republic, then led by General de Gaulle.
This ordonnance, dated October 9, 1945 was prepared by a temporary task force on administrative reform, led by Michel Debré, then a member of the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court). Its intent was to "fully overhaul France’s administrative machinery," essentially by broadening access to recruitment for the highest executive levels of the non-technical civil service through a common entrance examination.
ENA has continued to update its structures and educational program with the aim of remaining faithful to the principles that guided its foundation in 1945.
The most recent major steps
- In 1982, ENA created a continuing education department.
- In 1990, a third entrance examination open to employees of the private sector expanded the school’s recruitment base.
- In 2002, ENA merged with the Institut International d’Administration Publique (IIAP – a school for reserved for civil servants from abroad), which marked a further major opening to the world.
- In 2004, the entrance examination was opened to citizens of other nations of the European Union.
- In 2005, the Center for European Studies (Centre des études européennes de Strasbourg - CEES) became part of ENA, becoming in effect its pan-European arm.
- In 2005, the academic program, previously divided between Paris and Strasbourg, was definitively concentrated in the Alsatian capital. The school’s headquarters were transferred from Paris to Strasbourg in 1991.
- In 2009 : creation in Paris of a preparatory class for ENA's external entrance examination for young people from modest backgrounds; student training over 24 months (instead of 27); modernisation to reflect a more professional approach to training.
The Committee for the History of ENA
A Committee for the History of ENA was created in 1999. A direct part of the Office of the Director of the school, this committee draws on the testimony of former students, members of the school’s administration, teachers, and members of examination boards, as well as many others who have taken part in the school’s operations.
The real memory of the school, the Committee on History is led by its Secretary-General, Robert Chelle. It regularly publishes the results of research and studies in a periodical, Cahiers pour l’Histoire de l’ENA, which includes special issues on featured themes or subjects. Certain documents essential for close knowledge of the school are also made available: courses, lectures, student work (reports on professional training experiences or seminars), directors’ reports, reports of the chairpersons of examination panels, and others.
René Cassin et l'Ecole nationale d'administration [ENA] / Comité d'histoire de l'Ecole nationale d'administration. Paris : La Documentation française, 2004. - 122 p. ; 24 cm.
René Cassin fut vice-président du Conseil d'Etat, président du conseil d'administration de l'ENA (1945-1960).
Contains: Actes de l'hommage au président René Cassin (17 mars 2003, Ecole nationale 'administration). Témoignages sur René Cassin. Allocutions et textes inédits de René Cassin, président du conseil d'administration de l'ENA)