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French senators highlight ‘explosive’ use of consulting under Macron – POLITICO

PARIS – The government of Emmanuel Macron and other public authorities have signed contracts worth at least 2.4 billion euros with consulting firms since 2018, to deal with problems from the deployment of a coronavirus vaccine. to digital transformation, according to a new report from the French Senate.

Lawmakers from France’s top body will present their findings on Thursday following a four-month parliamentary investigation into lucrative contracts with McKinsey, Accenture, BCG and others similar thing.

The cost of consulting ministries has more than doubled since Macron began his French presidency, with a sharp acceleration in 2021 (up 45% year-on-year) due to the pandemic, according to a report from investigative committee – composed of a group of senators and led by the opposition.

The senators also accused McKinsey of lying about his tax situation during congressional hearings and said they had filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. Despite winning lucrative contracts with the French government for many years, McKinsey “has not paid corporate taxes in France for at least 10 years,” Senator Éliane Assassi said at a news conference. “One of [McKinsey’s] the directors swore…that McKinsey paid taxes in France, so we checked [requesting data] from the Ministry of Finance. The results are clear. ”

The committee’s findings, based on data obtained from the government’s budget, indicate an “explosion” in the reception of consulting services by the public sector. Using consultants has become “a reflex” and consulting firms have “participated in most of the major reforms” in France, such as the pension reform plan, housing subsidy reform and some other aspects of the reform. edge of the recovery plan, the report is 350 pages long.

Leading consultative organizations have also been tapped to come up with European benchmarks ahead of France’s presidency of the EU Council on issues such as e-health and new industrial projects.

The Senate’s conclusion came the same day the French president presented his platform for re-election, a month before the presidential election in April.

A year after POLITICO’s report on the use of consultative measures during the pandemic in France sparked a nationwide debate, the opposition is still using the issue to attack Macron’s tenure, argues that the level of spending on consultations shows how hollow the French public sector is. .

Public Action Minister Amélie de Montchalin, who is overseeing policies on the use of consultations, did not respond to a request for comment.

A ‘ton of flour’

The Senate Investigative Committee, which denounced “obscurity” and lack of accountability in the use of consulting firms, presented a detailed analysis of consulting spending, which it said represented represents “a ton of dough” – a direct reference to a 2018 video by Macron criticizing social care as “costing a ton of flour”, which became the focus of the Yellow Vest protests .

While de Montchalin told the inquest this early year The Senate Committee concluded to the contrary that the costs of consulting organizations were stable.

According to data obtained from the budget ministry, spending on consulting by French ministries amounts to 893.9 million euros in 2021, compared with 379.1 million euros in 2018. The total includes strategic consulting. strategy and management as well as more specialized consulting such as HR and IT services.

Although it is difficult to compare Macron’s consulting costs with those of his predecessors because of the lack of reporting in previous periods, the data revealed by the European Federation of Management Consulting Associations and mentioned in the report shows that the use of consultative measures was more limited under Macron’s predecessor François Hollande but to a similar extent under Nicolas Sarkozy.

McKinsey was shot

The consulting activities in France were highlighted during the country’s slow rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in January 2021. At that time, France lagged behind the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain in categorization. dispensing injections – a problem in a country that prides itself on the excellence of its public services, especially in health.

When McKinsey and others came to the rescue, opposition politicians said the government could no longer fulfill its mission. They specifically criticize the use of a paid company US$573 million settlement in the US for claims of its role in opioid crisisand have faced corruption Scandal.

The government says the use of counseling makes sense in a crisis situation.

News of McKinsey’s involvement in the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine, first reported by POLITICO, has made French MPs from both the opposition and the ruling party more interested in using his advice. public area.

The Senate Investigative Committee has gone the farthest in its work, leveraging its judicial power to seize nearly 7,000 documents from departments and also directly from consulting firms.

The senators’ reports included secret slides from McKinsey and emails with senior government officials. In the documents, the consulting organization – the most targeted target in the report even though it accounts for only 1% of government spending in the sector – promised key officials it would stay ” behind the scene”.

It shows McKinsey organized an event for the Elysée pro bono, which it used to make a commercial pitch to another public administration – giving the latter the opportunity to participate in the Elysée public event. .

The report also provides insight into France’s priorities in the EU through a number of commissioned benchmark studies from consulting firms.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was paid €196,200 to analyze “E-health maturity of European Union countries, as part of France’s EU presidency.” The consulting firm Roland Berger submitted €149,201 work on “The cost of waste collection at the European level.” For his part, McKinsey conducted a study on “the time it takes to process industrial projects in Europe, especially in Germany, Poland and Sweden” in the amount of €403,548.

The government has also paid at least 1.6 million euros in consulting fees to McKinsey and Roland Berger to implement their flagship pension reform, which has been postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.

France is by no means the only country turning to the private sector to help run public affairs, and many European countries rely heavily on consulting organizations to outsource public functions, according to data. Data from the European Federation of Management Consultants Associations.

While acknowledging that consultants can be useful or indispensable due to a lack of skills or resources in public administrations, the French Senate also promotes the idea that the consulting sector is adopting a strategic approach. influence strategy before the government, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest. as well as simple cost effectiveness.

In Germany, the government’s use of consultations caused a full-blown scandal that forced Commission Chairwoman Ursula von der Leyen to admit “mistakes” when she was the country’s defense minister. Great Britain also commit to reduce costs for outside consultants.

The French government announced that it was adopting the advisory diet in January. Lawmakers, who say the move comes too late, are proposing tougher measures and are drafting a new bill to do so.

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Fry Electronics Team

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