The Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, came to the defense of a contract his department had awarded to McKinsey shortly after he was given an apparently similar mandate to KPMG.
The opposition questioned the minister, in a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, about awarding a contract to McKinsey following a report by Radio Canada.
The Department of the Economy awarded McKinsey a contract in July 2021 to review government initiatives to stimulate economic growth in Quebec.
However, Quebec asked KPMG five months ago to “identify targets for post-pandemic recovery efforts.” Both companies submitted bids on the same call for bids for the first study. A few months later, MacKenzie obtained the second mandate by mutual agreement.
In response to a question from the opposition, the minister replied that the government did not grant the same authorization to two different companies. First, they are two completely different tasks. »
KPMG was supposed to be given a mandate to consider reviving some industrial sectors, the minister said. For the second term, the Ministry identified some possible interventions regarding areas of innovation. McKinsey would have been required to “tag” the ministry’s information with the outside company’s knowledge of the international context.
The Minister was also asked if he was satisfied with the KPMG study or if the application to McKinsey reflected dissatisfaction with the first study. He replied, “Look, it gave us some criteria for reviving certain sectors.”
Using outside companies allows the department to validate its teams’ assumptions and obtain additional information, according to Mr. Fitzgibbon. “We wanted to make sure that we don’t make mistakes, because there is a lot of money that we are going to invest in areas of innovation.”
He also defended the decision to award the contract to McKinsey by mutual agreement without entering into an invitation to bid. “We wanted to be efficient and we could do it without a prescription. We followed all the rules.”
The minister said he would not publish the two reports for “two reasons”. Advisers’ opinions are never made public. […]. Secondly, there are certain things in the reports that the government uses in decision-making. In these cases, the reports are not (published). »
In a tense dialogue with the minister, the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon, laments that the secrecy of the studies precludes checking whether they are different, as Mr. Fitzgibbon asserts.
The answer also made the liberal critic of economics, Frédéric Beutschmann, react. He noted that the Legault government had already published public reports from outside companies. “It’s a matter of will. If you want to make it public, you can.”
Mr. Bushmin believes this modus operandi “gives the impression” that the government is choosing to publish public reports that suit it and puts a seal of secrecy on studies that can produce conclusions that would make them less good for journalism.
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