The federal government spent at least 186.1 million euros on external consultants in the first half of the year. The front runners in terms of investments in external expertise are the Ministry of the Interior with 79.8 million euros and the Ministry of Finance with 48.2 million euros. It is followed by the Ministry of Health with 16.3 million and the Transport Department with 16.0 million. The Ministry of Defense, on the other hand, is the only department that says it has not spent any money on advisers from January to June. The figures come from a response from the Ministry of Finance to a question from left-wing MP Matthias Höhn, received by the German news agency.
The involvement of business advisers and other outside experts by the federal government is highly controversial. Critics consider purchasing expertise too expensive and, given the more than 20,000 employees at the ministries, not absolutely necessary. In addition, it is feared that it will have too much influence on government work.
Proponents, on the other hand, promise added value in very different areas through an external view or deploy experts for special tasks that do not require permanent employees.
It is not possible to compare the new figures with the same period in the previous year, as different criteria were used for the commitment in 2019. This also explains why the Ministry of Defense was the leader in the statistics in the first half of 2019 with expenditure of 154.9 million euros on ‘advisory and support services’, and this year was the only ministry to give 0 euros in the first half of 2019. A spokeswoman for the ministry justified this by saying that this time, according to a definition of the budget committee, only ‘external advisory services’ – so no support services – were provided.
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Left-wing MP Matthias Höhn called the information from the Ministry of Defense “unreliable”. “The federal government is trying to mislead the public by keeping the actual consultancy fees under lock and key,” he said. He also criticized the fact that the expenditure for external expertise was much too high, especially in times of the corona pandemic. “External consultants remain systemically important to the federal government. But while nurses and cashiers received nothing but applause, the government continued to reward outside consultants with princely sums, despite the freeze and the economic crisis. “
Committee of Inquiry for Advisers at the Ministry of Defense
A survey by the Ministry of Finance among ministries in January showed that expenditure on advisory and support services in 2019 was at least 548.5 million euros. However, not all ministries reported the figures for the full year. Only the Ministry of Education has not provided any information for the 2020 half-year statistics.
A parliamentary committee of inquiry has already engaged in the engagement of advisers at the Ministry of Defense under the leadership of the current President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. It was about allegations of improper order placement and favoritism. In their assessment of the committee work, the FDP, Greens and Left concluded that misconduct at the ministry had caused double-digit financial damage. (dpa)