the mix of genres of private consultants advising the government

On February 25, 2020, the Ministry of National Education wrote to the associate director of the consulting firm McKinsey. Subject of the message: postpone the « copy [comité de pilotage] McKinsey » scheduled for the next day so that the minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, “can participate, because that is his wish”. What recklessness! “Let’s not call this instance ‘copil McKinsey’ [mais] “copil DITP Teacher XXI” », rectifies the consultant in return. And to insist: “It is important that this appears in the diaries. »

This exchange of e-mails, revealed by the recent report of the Senate commission of inquiry into the influence of consulting firms, directly contradicts the speech of the government, criticized for its recurrent, even systematic, recourse to experts from the private. Their role is ” very clear “thus assured the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, during his hearing by the senators, in January.

stop at “fantasy of private practices that would pull the strings in the shadows”added Macronist MP Cendra Motin, on March 18, in Opinion. “The criterion for me is that it does not replace things that we know how to do ourselves and that it is done in a transparent and controllable way”added Emmanuel Macron on M6, on March 23.

Documents signed by the State, designed by the consultants

The example of “McKinsey cop” is not, however, an isolated case. The same firm writes in its quote sent to the Ministry of Health in December 2020 that it will intervene in a “confidential” on the vaccination campaign. And the American giant in the sector is far from alone. If he and his competitors have become essential in small and large state projects, their name is very rarely associated with them publicly.

Evidenced by the question of “deliverables”, these files, reports or PowerPoint presentations that materialize the intellectual production of the consultants. In some cases, the intervention of a private company is clearly mentioned. For example, in a 2019 report by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on artificial intelligence, it is specified that the drafting was entrusted to the firm Atawao Consulting.

But, very often, the hand of private companies is invisible. This is the case of the missions entrusted to Capgemini as part of the launch of the Health Data Hub, a large public platform that compiles a large amount of medical data for research purposes. According to our information, the firm co-wrote the project’s prefiguration report with its official signatories in 2018, going so far as to put the finishing touches to it. However, the only explicit mention of the company in this document is that six of its members were interviewed or met by the authors.

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