While their bill is still not on the agenda of the Assembly, elected officials want to go through the 2023 budget to force the executive to be transparent in its use of consulting firms.
They don’t intend to give up. A week after the announcement of the opening of two judicial inquiries by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), relating in particular to the “conditions of intervention of consulting firms in electoral campaigns from 2017 and 2022“, the senators return to the charge.
Several of them intend to table and then have an amendment adopted during the examination of the 2023 budget to force the executive to publish more information on the use of these private structures. An approach which also comes a few days after Bruno Le Maire recognized “abuse” on the use of firms, such as McKinsey or Capgemini. “We had probably gotten too used to saying “the administration is not able to do this work, we will outsource and ask consulting firms“”, recognized the boss of Bercy at the end of November.
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In its current wording, the 2023 draft budget already provides, in its article 40 decies, for the publication of a “report on the use by the State of consultancy services provided by legal entities governed by private law or natural persons practicing on an individual basisover the past two years. But the drafting is considered largely insufficient by the senators: it only covers two years and excludes a number of benefits, by imposing numerous restrictions linked to the “secrecy of national defence, of the conduct of France’s foreign policy, of State security […] and business secrecy“, for example. It also excludes marketsthat the Minister concerned deems necessary not to disseminate within the framework of the protection of the scientific and technical heritage of the Nation“. In addition, purchase orders are not published and certain administrative and public authorities are not concerned. “It would thus be much more difficult to reconstitute the overall bill for consulting services“, annoy the elected officials of the upper house.
The amendment to the 2023 finance bill, brought by Senators Arnaud Bazin (LR) and Éliane Assassi (CRCE), therefore aims to “establish true transparency on advisory servicessums up the subject of the text. Already at the origin of the sulphurous report last March on the use of consulting firms, the two elected officials want a document including “the list of consulting services provided over the past five years, for a feebe published by the public authorities. A way to enhance transparency, they believe, on a subject that continues to spark controversy.
Towards a review of the bill in 2023?
This new initiative may come as a surprise, given that a bill aimed at better regulating the use of consulting firms has already been adopted unanimously by the Senate in mid-October. However, one of its articles proposes to create a document annexed to the budget listing, each year, “consultancy services ordered by beneficiary administrations over the last five years“. But since then, the executive has not included this text on the agenda of the National Assembly, and its examination has therefore not advanced, regret the senators. In addition, the amendments proposed by Minister Stanislas Guérini during the examination of the text in the Senate demonstrated the will of the executive “to weaken, if not to devitalize our proposal», Regrets Arnaud Bazin.
The elected officials therefore wish to maintain the pressure on the executive, and twist its arm so that it quickly registers their text on the menu of the deputies. The amendment to the 2023 budget, which incorporates the wording of the “transpartisan text adopted by the Senate on October 18“, will also allow everyone to get out of the woods, explains Senator LR: the various political groups, including the presidential majority, will have to position themselves on it, and the executive will have to choose whether or not to keep it in the final version of the text if that -it passes thanks to the use of 49-3.
In addition, if the executive claims to want to be transparent, the data recently published by the government in a yellow budget appended to the 2023 budget does not satisfy the senators. This document indeed excludes “on the one hand the services provided by public bodies, including in particular institutions under the supervision of the State, and on the other hand the services of external consultants in the IT field“, which weigh heavily in the total. A way to lighten the final bill. “It’s very partial, incomplete, there’s nothing about IT consulting“, sighs Arnaud Bazin. “It’s been several months that we don’t let go“Recalls the elected LR, who hopes to see the Senate’s transpartisan bill be examined by the National Assembly”during the first half of 2023“.