At the end of July, the Ministry of Culture received the draft report of the Court of Auditors on the conservation and restoration of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. His responses are appended to today’s final report (pages 167-169).
The Court’s report makes five recommendations.
Three of them (relating to the establishment of cost accounting, the proofing of movable objects, and the reflection to be undertaken on the future management of the cathedral) correspond to actions already underway or planned.
As regards the need to identify the causes of the fire that occurred on 15 April 2019 and, if so, the malfunctions that they would reveal, The Ministry of Culture was a civil party to the legal proceedings initiated in the first days after the fire. The ongoing police investigation shall implement more extensive means of investigation, both within and outside the administration, than those that an administrative inspection could undertake in order to establish possible personal liabilities or breaches, whatever their authors. That is why the department did not consider it appropriate to launch an administrative investigation into the matter.
Moreover, the Court’s recommendation states that, in the absence of an administrative investigation into the circumstances surrounding the April 15, 2019 fire, the Ministry of Culture must “to identify the lessons to be learned operationally in all aspects of this disaster”. However, the department immediately drew the conclusions of the Notre-Dame tragedy at the national level by launching a security audit in all cathedrals. Over the next two years, more than 160 million euros will be spent on the latter, in order to carry out restoration work, but also to secure these buildings – based on the security audits mentioned. This investment is unprecedented.
In addition, the financing of the operation of the public contracting institution created to conduct the Notre-Dame construction siteDame by the public subscription is justified by the indissociable link between a dedicated and effective project management and the successful completion of a project of such vast scope. The steering of the work, the award of contracts, the monitoring of the good progress of each of the many operations that make up it, provided by very diverse service providers, are essential to the successful completion of the work and to the maintenance of deadlines in accordance with donor intentions.
Likewise, the good information of the latter, especially with a view to the fulfilment of their promises, but also of the public, on the progress of the site requires that expenses - moreover minimal - are allocated to the communication.
This allocation of a marginal part of the national subscription to the financing of the public institution in charge of the project was clearly indicated by the Minister of Culture during the debates on the law voted on 29 July 2019. The latter had in fact declared that "The funds from the national subscription will also be used to finance its [the] operation [of the public institution]." (sitting of 10 July 2019, new reading of the Senate).
At the same time, it was decided that the Ministry of Culture would pay the rent for the premises of the public establishment.
The fire at Notre-Dame de Paris sparked an unprecedented wave of generosity to save one of the most iconic monuments in our history. The Ministry of Culture is fully aware of the responsibility it now has to ensure, in complete transparency, the optimal use of the funds raised for the restoration of the cathedral as soon as possible.