McKinsey case: the bitterness of senior officials

That the government uses consulting firms is not a surprise to them. And for good reason, senior civil servants are often the interlocutors of these consultants. But it is not without a certain bitterness that they consider, under cover of the anonymity imposed by their function, this taste for private advice as yet another sign of the mistrust of macronists towards executives. administration.

Since the beginning of the five-year term, they have heard everything: the “caste” enjoying “timeless protection” that Emmanuel Macron described in his book Revolution (XO), in 2016, was accused of being too cautious, too disconnected from the field, too closed in on itself.

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Is this what explains the doubling of consulting expenses between 2018 and 2021, advanced by the senators in their mid-March report? A director of central administration who officiates in a sovereign ministry sees it rather “the accumulation of transformation projects soon aggravated by the crises in a context where the workforce in the central administration does not increase or increases only slightly”. But, he points out, “I never had the feeling that the use of cabinets responded to an ideological approach”.

Others do not have the same point of view, pointing out “a relatively liberal vision of public action”. “There is an ideological biasnotes a magistrate of the Court of Auditors. In principle, the private is better than the public. » The Director General of Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), Martin Hirsch, said during his hearing before the Senate on January 26: ” May be does the public power consider that civil servants and administrations will not be able to cope and that an Anglo-Saxon company, with prestigious clients, will be able to cope better. » Conclusion: “All the trust that can be placed in public actors therefore helps them to deploy their strengths. »

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Emmanuel Macron denies any “scheme” about the consulting firm McKinsey

Vicious circle

The risk, in fact, is the vicious circle. This is true of trust, as Mr. Hirsch says, but also of skills. At Bercy or inside, sighs a director of central administration, we are now cutting in central services “so much the territorial administration has suffered for more than ten years”. So, he said, “to continue to design and launch reforms, we will have to outsource…” And the snake is biting its own tail, warns senior civil servant and co-spokesperson for the Nos services publics collective, Arnaud Bontemps: “We outsource at all levels of the State things that, little by little, we no longer know how to do…”

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