Since the late 80s, GEPSA has continually built on its expertise in providing services for sensitive sites: today, it is a leader in its field
GEPSA now operates 60 sites in France and Italy.
In 1986, Minister of Justice Albin Chalandon leads an ambitious program to build 13,000 new prison places, breaking new ground with a system that draws the public and private sectors together: delegated management.
This new contracting system allows the Ministry of Justice to focus on its sovereign missions (administration of establishments, registry and security) while handing the management of these new sites over to the private sector.
Multi-utility company Lyonnaise des Eaux, at the time engaged in a vast program of diversification across French communities, jumps on the opportunity and creates a subsidiary to address this specific market: GEPSA.
GEPSA is founded
The French government launches the first public tender for management services (catering, laundry, cleaning, maintenance, onsite medical care) to be provided at 21 new correctional facilities, in 4 different areas, for a duration of 10 years.
GEPSA wins the bids for 5 of these facilities, 3 in the Nord area (Bapaume, Longuenesse, Maubeuge) and 2 in Ile de France (Villepinte and Osny).
GEPSA starts operations by recruiting personnel from the judiciary or from the defense sector, and also leans on skill sets developed at Elyo, a subsidiary of the same Group that specializes in providing services to businesses. This combination of market and technical expertise is what consitutes GEPSA’s greatest strength, guaranteeing a high quality of service to clients.
The delegated management market is born
Over the period 2002-2009, thanks to experience gained in the 90s, GEPSA wins bids for the delegated management of numerous sites: 15 correctional facilities in 2002, 10 in 2008.
This time, the scope of activities excludes the medical service, which now comes under the remit of the Ministry of Health once again. This latest wave of success, in 2008, allows GEPSA to experiment with a new type of contracting system: Public-Private Partnerships, which are associated with performance indicators. On a broader scale, this is a period during which GEPSA generalises its original organizational model, placing a full-time Site Manager at each of the clients’ premises. The Site Manager, whose job is to direct Facility Management services, acts as the client’s dedicated contact person for all the services entrusted to GEPSA, whether these are subcontracted or performed by the company itself. The Site Manager coordinates and steers operations according to the client’s specifications, respecting the budget and the fixed performance indicators.
Beyond its purely contractual duties and its growth, GEPSA supports the penitentiary administration in the decision-making process: together, client and partner decide to join the EQUAL European program to fight against discrimination and inequality in the job market and in access to vocational training. GEPSA employs 6 Professional Project Tutors, placing them in the Seysses, Villefranche and Varenne le Grand facilities, and in 3 sites in the Ile de France Region.
Between 2004 and 2008, these tutors steered an average of 400 detainees per year, obtaining a “positive pathway” rate of around 80 % (sentencing adjustments with access to employment or training). Over the years that follow, GEPSA expands its range of services for end-users by developing a program of internal training, together with vocational guidance and labour market integration courses tailored to the specific needs of detainees.
This is also the period during which GEPSA diversifies:
The Ministry of Defense: GEPSA is put in charge of maintenance services at Satory military base
Ministry of Interior: GEPSA provides cleaning, catering and hotel services (supply and laundry of hotel linen and hygiene kits) for 6 administrative detention centers in France in late 2007, with a GEPSA Site manager in each of them
In Italy: in 2008, Cofely Italy enlists GEPSA’s expertise to analyze and approach Italy’s equivalent market to that of France’s administrative detention centres. This collaboration proves fruitful over the following years.
A recognized model
Over this period, GEPSA continues to grow, consolidating its position as leader in the field. Its expertise in the management of sensitive sites gains ever more recognition and the company expands its geographical presence to the French overseas territories (Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana) and takes charge of maintenance services at Europe’s biggest prison, Fleury-Mérogis.
GEPSA also continues operations in Italy, creating a new branch in 2012 while simultaneously entering the multi-technological and multi-service management market, with the launch of these new services at a centre for asylum seekers in Castel Novo di Porto. On the heels of this success follow many others: GEPSA wins the management contracts for administrative detention centres in Ponte Galeria (Rome) and Turin, as well as for an emergency shelter in Milan.
In 2015, GEPSA creates a subsidiary to respond to the penitentiary administration’s need to transfer skills to the regions in order to provide vocational training within correctional facilities. GEPSA Institut is founded specifically for this purpose: to train detainees and integrate them into the job market they are generally so far away from. With the creation of this subsidiary, GEPSA enhances its consistency as a service provider for correctional facilities by offering a full range of resident services.
Between 2015 and 2017, responding to renewed calls for bids for delegated management for a total of 58 sites, GEPSA confirms its position as a recognized leader in the field (service provision for sensitive sites): the company retains the management of 13 establishments and wins contracts for another 17, mostly in southern France.
These new performance-based markets, driven by performance-obligation indicators specific to each service, raise the bar with stricter demands on performance. GEPSA thus establishes itself across all of France and increases its capacity to deal with local and specific issues in sensitive environments.
Consolidation and leadership