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Emmanuel Macron minimizes the use of private consulting firms

He “assume”, but at the same time seeks to evade the subject; Emmanuel Macron was questioned on Thursday March 17 about his government’s recurring use of private consulting firms to carry out its reforms. This expenditure has increased sharply during the five-year term, to exceed one billion euros in 2021, according to the report of a Senate commission of inquiry devoted to this question.

This is almost three times more than in 2018, at the start of the five-year term, note the senators, who are worried about seeing the bill soar year after year. However, the outgoing head of state, candidate for a second term, claimed that the sums spent have already decreased.

What he said

During her press conference, Pauline de Saint-Rémy, journalist at Politicochallenged the presidential candidate on the considerable increase in the use of private consulting firms during his five-year term: “Is this something you take on? » Emmanuel Macron then put the phenomenon into perspective:

“There was an increase in the phases of crisis, I believe that is what the Senate describes, but there is also a drop then of more than 15% over the year which followed under this five-year period, this which also shows a cooling or normalizing procedure. (…) So I assume it and I think it’s not inevitable to increase. »

WHY THIS IS MISLEADING

Emmanuel Macron’s argument is based on two points:

  • The rise in consultancy spending during his tenure would be primarily linked to the health crisis;
  • These expenses have already been brought under control, with a drop of more than 15% “over the following year”.

But both are wrong.

First, the upsurge in the use of consultants predates the pandemic. Based on state accounting data, the senatorial commission of inquiry assessed that they had already increased by 40% between 2018 and 2019, even before the start of the health crisis.

Then, we cannot say that these expenses have already fallen during the mandate of Emmanuel Macron. They have so far increased, year after year, from 2018 to 2021. The 15% drop mentioned by the candidate is, in fact, a government directive for 2022.

2021, five-year spending record

Indeed, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, had signed, on January 19, a circular governing the use of the services of consulting firms – a probable anticipation of the executive when this vitriolic report was about to be published. The text sets the objective of reducing “at least 15%” compared to 2021 the “intellectual services engaged in strategy and organization”.

Contrary to what Emmanuel Macron asserts, this reduction in spending is therefore not yet effective and is not even certain for the year 2022, because the circular is not binding. We will have to wait until the end of the budget year to check whether the framework set by the Prime Minister has been respected or not. Not to mention that the circular excludes from the calculation consulting expenses related to IT projects, which represent about half of the total.

The choice to take as a reference the year 2021, record of the expenses of the quinquennium, is also not very ambitious: a reduction of 15% would bring the cost for the State to around 380 million euros in 2022, which would be still much higher to that of 2020 (348 million) and especially 2018 (227 million).

“Consultocracy”: a five-year period of advice

Invisible, but omnipresent, what is the real influence of private consultants in the conduct of state affairs? This is the question posed by the Senate Committee on the influence of consulting firms on public policy, which issued its report on March 17. In parallel, The world conducted its own investigation, based on testimonies, open sources and requests for access to documents, to try to measure the impact of these firms on Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term.

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