"Insufficient": Federal Chancellery
Photo: Christoph Soeder / dpa
What the federal cabinet did last November can safely be described as an emergency brake.
It fundamentally reorganized the modernization of the data centers and computer workstations of all around 180 federal authorities and the vast majority of federal ministries, which began in 2015, as it got completely out of hand in terms of time and costs.
The first cost estimates for the ten-year update of the federal IT were still under one billion euros.
In the meantime, those responsible then considered 3.4 billion euros to be necessary.
The "overall project management" in the Federal Ministry of the Interior by Horst Seehofer (CSU) was dissolved and large parts of the project were transferred to the Federal Ministry of Finance by Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD).
Even the Federal Chancellery got involved in crisis management in order to avoid a complete failure as far as possible.
After all, the credibility of billion-dollar programs such as the "AI strategy" and the numerous other new digitization projects of the federal government could suffer if it does not even succeed in bringing one's own systems into shape.
A cabinet decision from the beginning of November 2019 made the Chancellery responsible for "controlling" the crisis project.
The Federal Audit Office has now examined how this reorganization can be initiated and how the Chancellery fulfills its supervision.
His confidential report to the Budget Committee dated September 25 is available to SPIEGEL.
The assessment of the auditors is clear: Even the new responsibilities have not had the desired effect so far, but rather further delays.
The result is that some authorities now have to purchase new equipment because they can no longer wait for something to happen with the so-called "IT consolidation" and therefore want to spend additional three-digit million sums "to ensure continuous operation to ensure ".
The "deficits" identified in the reorganization were also significant because the effects of the Corona crisis would add further challenges, according to the 42-page paper.
The examiners with the new supervisory staff set up in April in the Chancellery are particularly harsh in the court.
Take security as an example: from the outset, better protection of the sensitive government IT was one of the main arguments for standardizing and modernizing the systems.
But even five years after the start of the project, there is no common security guideline.
The Court of Auditors had already reprimanded this in November 2019 - and set those responsible a deadline of June this year.
It was also not adhered to, as the examiners are now complaining, just as little as an announced submission date in September.
According to the report, the new project supervisors in the Chancellery are only "insufficiently performing" their role.
Overall, they would "not do justice" to their role of monitoring project progress.
The Court of Auditors considers further delays in terms of security guidelines, despite the Corona crisis, "unacceptable".
In a statement on the criticism of the examiners, the Interior Ministry now promises a "coordinated version" in the fourth quarter of the year, it will be "drawn up with the highest priority".
365 million "to ensure operation"
As the report shows, the crisis project has meanwhile had bizarre consequences.
Because the move to the modern communal data centers of the federal government is "not foreseeable", the Ministry of the Interior - which is itself responsible for the delays - is now demanding additional IT funds for two of its authorities for the years 2021 to 2024.
Accordingly, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the Federal Police have "additional needs" totaling 365 million euros in order to "stabilize their IT operations and ensure continuous operation".
Some of these millions are necessary for "interim solutions".
This means that the two authorities apparently urgently need an update before the actual update due to the chaos.
According to the examiners, further adversity threatens from the consequences of the corona crisis.
In its economic and future package, the federal government provided large digitization projects such as the planned online administrative services for citizens with additional billions and in some cases brought them forward.
This will foreseeably lead to personnel bottlenecks, since the same employees would also have to plan and implement the modernization of the federal IT, according to the report.
This is all the more true as many of the positions planned for these tasks are still vacant according to the paper.
So far, the Ministry of the Interior has only been able to fill 41 of the 138.5 positions for its remaining areas of responsibility.
A third of them were also "mainly concerned with the corona crisis".
The examiners complain that the ministry cannot do its job in this way.
A reply from the Ministry of the Interior said that job advertisements were currently running and that the newcomers were planned to be on board by early 2021;
however, the bottlenecks led to delays.
Failure as a possible scenario
Overall, the situation around the federal IT crisis area continues to be disastrous.
The reorganization has so far not brought about a breakthrough, only further delays.
Since it was decided, not even a new plan has been finalized in which order the authorities should be further modernized.
Changes that were already in progress in 18 authorities have even been stopped in the meantime.
In the most recent "progress reports" on the mega-project, an overall failure is also mentioned as a possible scenario in the long series of "risks" - should the authorities disregard this lead and not pull along sufficiently.
When asked, the Greens MPs Sven-Christian Kindler and Tobias Linder criticize the “salami tactics of the federal government”, which comes out year after year with new additional costs: “Federal Minister of the Interior Seehofer and Federal Minister of Finance Scholz must finally present the costs of IT consolidation transparently and open the maps If the whole project is even more expensive than the 3.4 billion euros that the federal government has planned so far, then the Bundestag must know. "
Kindler and Linder could not understand the additional costs that the Ministry of the Interior has reported for its two authorities.
"Just because the order of the consolidation of the authorities changes, the costs cannot increase by hundreds of millions of euros. Purchasing is not more expensive because the goods are put on the tape in a different order," said the Green MPs.
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