Auditors say Macron govt must rein in ‘inappropriate’ hiring of consultancies after outcry

The French government must further curb the sometimes “inappropriate” hiring of consultants, the court of audit said on Monday, in response to public outcry over issues that stymied President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election bid last year.


In its first report, compiled at the request of ordinary citizens, the court said hiring consultants had become “the easy option” for public servants facing tight budgets and time constraints.

Their involvement touched “the heart of the government’s mission” and “intervened in the decision-making process,” the auditors wrote.

The report found that state spending on consulting tripled to almost 234 million euros ($257 million) between 2017, when Macron was first elected, and 2021.

If IT consulting work is included, this figure rises to 890 million euros.

A Senate report containing similar findings, released in March 2022, confirmed suspicions that the president and his ministers were too close to heavyweights such as the US’s McKinsey, whose name became Macron’s in the run-up to the April vote. ​​Frequently asked.

The issue was one of six raised by the Court of Audit at the time based on public consultation.

But the court stressed that spending on advice accounted for just 0.04% of state spending last year.

“In principle, there is no objection to externalizing parts of the tasks of civil servants,” the auditors said.

Nonetheless, the status of consultation should be “more appropriate and better controlled among the different tools that governments use to carry out their tasks”.

The court called on the government to make “final changes” to a January 2022 circular aimed at restricting counseling services, which was issued “under the pressure of events”.

The decision has already reduced consultant spending, which the state aims to spend 35% less this year than in 2021.

The auditors also said the state should bring some capacity back into the civil service and call on its own employees “wherever possible”.

French senators have passed a bill to tighten controls on hiring outside firms, although it has yet to be debated by MPs.


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