Mckinsey for Dummies….

Viewpoint. The former Secretary of State for the Budget, Christian Eckert, asks questions and, in so doing, sheds light on the use of consulting firms by the Macronie, in particular McKinsey.

Christian Eckert, former Secretary of State for the Budget (DR)

By Christian Eckert

The Senate report on the use of consulting firms by the State raises a certain number of questions that many public actors – in particular President himself – mix up and mix up over and over again, in order to make people forget that there is at the very least reason to be indignant, if not to sanction.

Three main and distinct questions arise:

1-Is there any serious reason for the State to call upon consulting firms?

My answer is a conditional yes: Clearly, for some very technical missions (in particular those related to digital and IT, or even to the management of exceptional events…), the administration does not have civil servants with the training and capacity to accomplish them. Recruiting them seems inappropriate since these are sometimes rare and specialized missions that are rarely reproducible.

However, two strict conditions must be respected:

  • First, it is necessary to verify that the administration does not have the means to do it alone (the example of the report on the evolution of the professions in the National Education system calls for this…). The many commissions, the numerous inspectors general, the independent authorities, and even the Court of Auditors produce a quantity of reports that can enlighten governments.
  • These missions cannot deal with subjects that are essentially reserved for the State: in 2018, for example, the explanatory memorandum of the mobility law was outsourced by the Minister of Transport to “Dentons” (a multinational law firm). This prelude to the law nevertheless guides the debates and has an important legal interest. It is formally prohibited.

Emmanuel Macron is going too fast when he simply says:

We are not going to hire civil servants for life when it is sometimes benefits to learn, to train our civil servants or to do things that we want to import and that are done elsewhere.”

2- Did McKinsey have a special relationship with Emmanuel Macron or the Macronie, and did this have serious consequences?

Obviously, the evidence of the closeness between the Macronie and the consulting firms (in particular McKinsey) is innumerable. Names and pedigrees are everywhere. But everyone is free to choose his friends and the scandal is not really there:

What is also clearly established and confirmed in several reputedly serious newspapers is that many McKinsey consultants worked “pro bono” (understand for free) for candidate Macron in 2017 or for President Macron after 2017. What to expect from them is a return of elevators during the (very) numerous calls for tenders where transparency and the notion of best bidders are reserved for experts… Free services upstream can lead to expensive contracts downstream.

Moreover, consultants who have become members of firms and members of firms who have become consultants are legion, increasing the feeling of conflicts of interest in this world where the mixture of particular interests seems to dominate the search for the general interest.

To this question, the outgoing President and his associates have no answer. Having been around them a bit, I even believe that by dint of intermingling at all levels, they no longer even realize that conflicts of interest exist.

3-Is the tax situation of this firm (and others) ethical and legal ?

To defend itself, the executive branch boasts of having pleaded for the minimum taxation of multinationals and claims victory even though nothing has been finalized. Again, this is beside the point:

The facts reveal that McKinsey, contrary to its statements, does not seem to have paid taxes in France for a long time. This is probably due to classic tax optimization through unjustified transfers to Delaware… Have there been any controls, when and if they were successful? The law in this area is complex and the procedures last for years. Legally, I will refrain from commenting, but let’s admit that ethics are at stake… As a massive supplier to the French State, this company transfers its profits to a “compliant” State to avoid financing, even if only a little, the hand that feeds it.

Besides the fact that the answers given to our questions are far from the subject, this case illustrates the behavior of the new world that is being imposed on us: not trusting our state administration, delegating it, whatever the cost, to private firms that are grateful to the political leaders and contemptuous of the state that supports them. And often, for services whose quality is a thousand times lower than the price!