Dtwo ministers considered, during a press conference held on Wednesday March 30, that the use of consulting firms is “usual and useful”. The justification for this practice responds directly to the growing controversy, known as the McKinsey affair, after a Senate report highlighting a “sprawling phenomenon”. According to this report, the ministers’ consulting expenditure increased from 379.1 million euros in 2018 to 893.9 million euros in 2021.
In response to fears of the public authorities’ dependence on certain consulting firms, the Minister for Transformation and the Civil Service, Amélie de Montchalin, recalled: “No consulting firm has decided on a reform and the decision is always up to the state. We have not abdicated our responsibilities. The practice is, according to her, “widespread”, “usual” and “useful” in the “majority of cases”.
Nor is there any interdependence between consulting firms and the State, for the Minister of Public Accounts, Olivier Dussopt, who stated, during the same press conference, that the use of consulting firms represented “0.3% of the total state wage bill”. More specifically, the firm McKinsey, under the spotlight because it is accused of not having paid corporate tax in France between 2011 and 2020, represents 5% of state strategy consulting expenditure, detailed Olivier Dussopt . And the government represents 5% of McKinsey’s turnover, he added.
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“McKinsey’s tax position is protected by tax secrecy”
“McKinsey’s tax situation is protected by tax secrecy, our services have carried out a control operation at the end of 2021,” said Minister Olivier Dussopt, refusing to comment on the outcome or the possible consequences of this control. “There is nothing to hide”, insisted Olivier Dussopt, who hammered that the State had shown “transparency” by answering questions from the Senate commission of inquiry on the growing influence of consulting firms. private.
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“All the rules of public procurement have been respected,” added Amélie de Montchalin. If “the State assumes perfectly to use consulting firms in certain circumstances”, it admits that improvements are necessary, according to the minister. A new doctrine for the use of consultants was defined last January to ensure that the public services did not have the skills in-house before resorting to consulting firms. Amélie de Montchalin wants to “rearm the State to strengthen internal skills” and plans from 2022 to “reduce by at least 15% the use of external consulting services”.
The Senate inquiry committee estimated after the press conference that the government continued to “minimize the influence of consultants”. She underlines that this government communication exercise in the premises of Bercy, “ten days from the first round”, “has not removed all the gray areas”. “The fiasco of McKinsey’s mission on the future of the teaching profession”, “the distribution of contracts during the health crisis” or the use of the McKinsey firm despite doubts about its tax situation are all examples of a “opacity” which reinforces “the climate of mistrust”, deplore the senators of the commission of inquiry in a press release.
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