Apply the recipes of digital entrepreneurs to the service of the administration. This is the mantra of “state start-ups”, a major program of digital public services developed in a few months with reduced staff, as young graduates could do. The new roadmap of the interministerial digital department (Dinum), published on March 9, devotes this “successful experience”, which gave birth to the Simplified Procedures platform, the My company toolbox and the Pass culture site. In ten years, we read, state start-ups have proven that the public sphere can develop “innovative digital services by going beyond traditional modes of administrative organization”.
But this proliferation of public incubators has been accompanied by abuses, with systematic use of service providers and significant conflicts of interest, reveals a survey by the Monde. The case of the entrepreneur Pierre Pezziardi raises particular questions: the inspiration for the project in its infancy, he was then one of the main beneficiaries of the related public contracts, using his interpersonal skills and playing on a certain vagueness as to his real attributions.
The story begins in 2013 at Etalab, the department responsible for the public data policy of the French government. Its director at the time, Henri Verdier, called on the multi-card entrepreneur Pierre Pezziardi to overhaul his data.gouv.fr portal. The IT specialist manages the project as he would have done in the private sector, successfully, and an invoice “divided by twenty” compared to previous providers.
An “entrepreneur in residence”
The duo then decides to replicate the method elsewhere. State start-ups were born. In 2015, Henri Verdier took over as head of Dinum, then called Dinsic, and launched the beta.gouv.fr incubator. The principle is simple: a public official proposes to tackle a specific problem of the administration. If his file is chosen, this “intrapreneur” is given a budget, a coach and one or more IT developers, with six months to prove the usefulness and viability of his project. From a dozen projects in 2015, State start-ups are spreading: there are 173 in operation in 2022.
Pierre Pezziardi presented himself for years as an “entrepreneur in residence”, without mentioning the fact that he was a service provider outside the administration in the context of state start-ups. YOUTUBE.COM / BLENDWEBMIX
On his website, Pierre Pezziardi writes that he “created and animated the sector of start-up of State » from 2013 to 2019. During all these years, he presents himself as “entrepreneur in residence” in the state apparatus. From conferences to interviews, he defends his cause with passion and a touch of provocation vis-à-vis the administrations, deemed too rigid. What he does not say clearly, on the other hand, is that he intervenes in state start-ups as a consultant, with his personal company, Informatique Conviviale Conseil, which has largely benefited financially from the expansion of the project. Assure him that he doesn’t see the problem: “I just wasn’t going to call my status back every time”he explains to Monde.
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