Thuringia’s Court of Auditors criticizes the Ramelow government

Thuringia’s Court of Auditors criticizes the Ramelow government

In usually get Germanys audit offices attention once a year when they publish their reports on particularly bizarre cases of wasted taxpayers’ money. In Thuringia, where politically many things are different than in the rest of the republic, a special report by the financial auditors has been attracting attention since Tuesday.

Stephen Locke

Correspondent for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.

During an examination of the “staffing in the management areas of the highest state authorities”, the auditors found violations that they classify as “systematic and serious”. These are not isolated cases. “Regardless of the constitutional requirement and the clear legal form, the state government has not enforced the performance principle.” This has sown doubts about the integrity of the administration as a prerequisite for trust in the functioning of the state. The impression is created that selecting the best is “dispensable or can be replaced by a political attitude”.

Specifically, the authority checked the files of 64 state employees, including eight state secretaries, who were hired by the red-red-green government in Erfurt between 2014 and 2020. The aim of the investigation was to check whether the state government had acted economically and sparingly in its selection of personnel, according to the report. The Court of Auditors therefore checked whether action was taken in accordance with the principle of selecting the best according to Article 22, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law and whether the civil service and career requirements for the respective appointments were met.

Political views matter

The results are devastating for the state government. For example, there were no job advertisements for 34 hires and the selection of the best was not comprehensible due to a lack of documentation. In eleven cases, applicants were hired without the qualifications required for the salary group. In addition, for numerous appointments “apparently only the political intentions of the applicants were decisive”, which can also be seen from the fact that the people hired always belonged to the party of the respective head of the authority. In only five cases was the appointment based on the suitability of the applicants.

However, political views are among the non-performance criteria and – if they are used as the sole yardstick for the selection – violate the principle of the best selection, according to the examiners. They also criticize the fact that management staff are not hired for a limited period, i.e. for the duration of the legislative period, but in most cases continue to be employed in the specialist departments of the ministries. This happens even if the officials were expressly selected because of their special position of trust in the incumbent minister. A total of 23 employees were even hired immediately for an unlimited period and without being advertised.

The criticism of the Court of Auditors had already triggered considerable outrage in the state government. State Chancellor Benjamin Hoff (left) explained that there were different opinions between the auditors and the state government, for example on the question of the extent to which a state secretary should also be selected based on political trust. The state government therefore vehemently rejects violations of the principle of selecting the best.

For example, it is not a violation of the law if an employee is initially hired without an advertisement and then given a permanent contract or transferred to a specialist department without an advertisement. In addition, the mere fact of a special relationship of trust with the respective minister cannot be used to conclude that the people are not qualified for their positions.

The opposition in the Erfurt state parliament sharply criticized the behavior of the coalition of Left, SPD and Greens, which has been working as a minority government since 2020. “The moral house of cards from Red-Red-Green is collapsing,” said parliamentary group manager Andreas Bühl (CDU) and demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Left). “Anyone who sets such high standards for others should not duck their own misconduct, as Mr. Ramelow and his head of state chancellery have been doing for months.” The test report is not a trifle. Rather, the taxpayers had been saddled with “damage in the millions”.

The AfD parliamentary group called for “political and criminal consequences” for those responsible, while the FDP group in the Thuringian state parliament wants to set up a committee of inquiry to work up the “red-red-green nepotism”.

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