InvestigationThe State has entrusted at least 1.1 billion euros of missions to Capgemini in five years. The omnipresence of the cabinet makes cringe within the administration, where voices denounce costly missions, failed projects, opacity and conflicts of interest.
It is a powerful private consulting firm that earns billions of euros through lucrative public assignments. A factory of consultants to which the ministries are outsourcing an increasing number of tasks, to the point of developing a dangerous dependence on its experts. A company that maintains close ties with the state apparatus. It is not a question here of the McKinsey firm, but of Capgemini, a French firm which seems to have a much greater weight than its American colleagues in the conduct of state affairs.
This CAC 40 group has made itself indispensable to many administrations: during the previous five-year period, Capgemini intervened at the Ministry of the Economy, the Armed Forces, Health, Ecology, National Education, interior, foreign affairs, labor, agriculture, culture, but also at Matignon and the Elysée. Earlier this year, the firm won two giant contracts for the Ministry of Justice, totaling 105 million euros. In full fiscal adjustment, he even obtained, in April and June, two contracts with the general direction of public finances.
The firm does not content itself with proposing the creation of IT tools: it also intervenes for reorganizations, strategic advice, “project framework” or the “process reengineering”. In total, more than 250 public contracts have been awarded to it by the State and its operators since 2017, for a total cost of at least 1.1 billion euros, according to calculations by the World based on publicly available data.
Like many consulting firms, Capgemini takes full advantage of a budgetary rule with a barbaric name introduced in 2001, asymmetric fungibility, which prohibits administrations from increasing their personnel expenditure during the year. Faced with the urgency of a mission entrusted by the political power, the State, prevented from recruiting, often has no other choice but to outsource to private service providers – even if the final cost is more high, because consultants are paid an average of 1,500 euros per day in the public sector, compared to 362 euros for a qualified civil servant, according to figures from the Senate inquiry committee which in March sounded the alarm bell on the influence of private practices on the State.
Missions that take place in the shadows
This is what happened in the fall of 2021, when the government decided to release 250 million euros to support local experiments with new teaching methods at school. Responsible for distributing this sum of money in record time, the Caisse des dépôts was forced to temporarily strengthen its education division with Capgemini consultants, for 290,003 euros.
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