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2017 Annual Report - spring report No. 02 - The Federal Government could save €6.7 million in building a tunnel  

To upgrade federal motorway No. A 8 to six lanes, the Ministry is planning to equip the Frasdorf tunnel with shoulders. However, the shoulders are not needed. A smaller special cross section without shoulders would be sufficient to safely accommodate the traffic. The Ministry could save €6.7 million.

For purposes of noise abatement, the Ministry is planning to build a tunnel with a length of 590 metres. The tunnel is to consist of two tubes with three lanes and one shoulder each. The Ministry justifies the shoulders with the traffic routing during construction: The entire traffic could then be routed in one tube with two running lanes in each direction (4+0 routing). The average traffic load anticipated for 2030 is 65,000 motor vehicles per day. In the Frasdorf tunnel area, the peak loads are expected to total 110,000 motor vehicles per day.

We considered adding the two shoulders to be unnecessary. We recommended that the Ministry build a special cross-section with a carriageway width of 12 metres instead. At times when construction work is underway, the special cross section permits rule-compliant and safe 4+0 traffic routing. Costs could thereby be reduced by at least €6.7 million. In addition to that, we recommended that the Ministry incorporate this special cross section into the nationwide set of regulations.

The Ministry admitted that the special cross section permitted 4+0 traffic routing on building sites. It said it was planning to make the special cross section a nationwide standard for 4+0 traffic routings in tunnels. Nevertheless, the Ministry considers the Frasdorf tunnel a special case and stated that the larger cross section with shoulders was an exception to the rule. The Ministry made reference to the peak traffic load of 110,000 motor vehicles per day during construction. Greater traffic safety could be ensured by having a larger cross section. Furthermore, the Ministry argued that a reduced carriageway width would require changing plans and result in time overruns for approving the planning.

We uphold our opinion that the special cross section is sufficient for the construction of the Frasdorf tunnel. According to the guidance on tunnel construction, a six-lane cross section with shoulders is not expedient. The guidance does not refer to the peak traffic load but the average traffic load. Accordingly, shoulders should be provided only above an average traffic load of 110,000 motor vehicles per day. The special cross section can safely accommodate an average traffic load of 65,000 motor vehicles per day as projected.

Even though the planning approval procedure has reached a far advanced stage, the Ministry should not rule out replanning. Contrary to the Ministry’s original assumption and due to numerous objections, plan approval may likely be delayed until year-end 2018. Against this background, replanning will not result in major time overruns.

 

2017 Annual Report - spring report No. 01 - Waiver of unnecessary upgrading of federal road 303 near Schirnding will save €33 million

The Federal Transport Ministry is planning to have the Schirnding bypass of federal road No. 303 upgraded to four lanes. This is unnecessary. Already now, the road section in question can accommodate much more traffic than projected by the Ministry for the future. The Ministry may save €33 million or more by waiving the upgrading.

The Schirnding bypass is located near the border to the Czech Republic. The Ministry is planning to have it upgraded to four lanes in two stages. We consider this to be unnecessary. The road in place has been designed to safely accommodate three times the traffic load projected for 2030. This construction project does not provide good value for money either. The costs have been estimated incompletely. They could significantly increase in the second project stage for which planning is still underway. This increase is likely in the light of the yet unexplored ground conditions and the restrictions likely to be imposed with regard to nature conservation. We therefore think that the cost estimate needs review.

The Ministry argued that upgrading was not justified by looking solely at the current traffic load, but that federal road No. B 303 was a policy decision. The Ministry referred to a declaration of intent made jointly by the Federal Minister of Transport and the Czech Transport Minister. In this declaration, the Ministers made the point for establishing efficient transport links between the Czech Republic and the European transport network in Germany.

We still hold the view that there is no need for this construction project. There is no justification for its efficiency. The significance of the project in terms of structural policy essentially stems from declarations of intent of the transport ministers. In its present condition, No. B 303 already today effectively links the Czech Republic to the German motorway network. The road can accommodate three times the current traffic load.

We advise the Ministry to abandon the upgrading project.

 

2017 Annual Report - spring report No. 06 - better use budget funds to build more lorry parking lots  

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure needs to ensure that the roadworks administrations of the federal states obtain better value for money in planning parking lots for lorries (trucks) at federal motorways. This will permit building more parking lots with the budget appropriations available.

Parking lots for lorries (trucks) at federal motorways are built as part of upgrading rest areas. These rest areas are planned and built by the roadworks administrations of the federal states on behalf of the Federal Government. The Ministry has issued planning guidance on this matter. This guidance calls for three examination stages. At each stage, the roadworks administrations have to submit documents to the Ministry. The Ministry uses them as basis for approving construction.

The planning guidance calls for an efficiency appraisal only at the last stage. Prior to that, the roadworks administrations chose locations and upgrading options without adequately appraising cost-effectiveness. They regularly did without an efficiency appraisal also at the final examination stage. The Ministry did not object to this practice. It accepted expenditure per lorry parking space that significantly exceeded the average amounts itself had determined.

We do not question the need for additional parking lots for lorries (trucks). However, we note with concern that the Ministry has rest areas planned without seeking to achieve good value for money. The roadworks administrations are required to prove efficiency only after they have already determined key parameters of the rest areas. However, these parameters largely determine to what extent the construction project can be efficient at all.

Efficiency appraisals may ensure that as many parking lots as possible are built with the available budget funds. We expect the Ministry to require justifications of efficiency for all planning stages. On this basis, the Ministry will have to ensure good value for money at all planning stages.

 

2017 Annual Report - spring report No. 05 - Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure claims refunds with a delay of several years

The Ministry needs to assert Federal Government claims against the federal states more effectively.

For the first time in 2008, we asked the City-State of Berlin to refund €2 million to the Federal Government. The City-State had received these funds for nature conservation measures in connection with road construction. It had the task to fully replace green space destroyed by the construction of a motorway. The City-State used the funds for other purposes. We were successful in making the City-State of Berlin refund part of the amount in question. We requested the Ministry to claim the refund of the remaining amount. The Ministry confirmed the merit of the refund claim. Since 2013, it has negotiated unsuccessfully with the City-State about the refund of the remaining €1.2 million.

We hold that the Ministry needs to conclude the negotiations with the City-State. The Ministry needs to ensure that the Federal Government will receive the further refund of €1.2 million. We recommend that the refund claim be set off against other payments by the Federal Government to the City-State of Berlin. Apart from this isolated case, we found weaknesses in the Ministry’s management of refund claims against the federal states.

 

2017 Annual Report - spring report No. 04 - Roadworks: State burdens the federal budget with millions of euros for disposing of cancerogenic bituminous road surfaces

Over the past years, the roadworks administration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia extracted bituminous surfaces from state roads, reprocessed them and built them into federal trunk roads. By doing so, it burdened the federal budget with estimated costs of €7 million for the future disposal of this hazardous waste. The Federal Transport Ministry has the task to stop wasteful spending of federal budget funds.

The roadworks administration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia is responsible for building, maintaining and operating the state roads and the federal trunk roads in its territory. When a road is renewed, material is broken up which partly contains bituminous substances. This pollutes the environment and is also believed to be a cancerogenic substance. Broken-up material is hazardous waste. Pursuant to the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act, the “polluter-pays” principle applies in this case. Accordingly, the Federal Government and the State have to arrange for disposing the waste of their respective roads.

Over the past years, the State’s roadworks administration extracted 145,000 tonnes of bituminous material from state roads, reprocessed it and subsequently built it into federal trunk roads. As the owner of the trunk roads, the Federal Government assumed the responsibility for the future disposal of the bituminous material. We estimate the cost of disposal at about €7 million.

The Federal Transport Ministry must take leadership in arranging for compensation by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in order to avoid an unnecessary financial burden for the federal budget.

 

2017 Annual Report - spring report No. 03 - The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure intends to pay €7.2 million for a new motorway junction rather than charging this cost to municipalities

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure intends to disburse €7.2 million for a motorway junction although two municipalities had committed themselves to shouldering the costs.

The Lower Saxony roadworks administration is planning to build an additional junction for federal motorway A 1. The driver for building this new junction is a trading estate run by a company.

Since 1997, two municipalities sought a change of the development plan to enable them to establish the trading estate. In 2002, they committed themselves to funding all transport infrastructure projects needed to set up the trading estate. In response, the Lower Saxony roadworks administration approved founding the trading estate. The written agreement is also applicable to local government relations to Federal Government.

In April 2013, the roadworks administration submitted to the Ministry an application of a county for the new junction. The application stated that the costs would have to be borne jointly by the Federal Government and the county. The county did not mention the agreement of 2002. The Ministry agreed to cost sharing. The Federal Government was to pay €7.2 million.

We drew attention to the agreement of 2002. We advised the Ministry to approve the additional junction only if the municipalities bear the cost.

 

2017 Annual report No. 16 - Costly upgrading of a crossing of federal road causes additional costs of €10 million to the Federal Government 

Although value for money is not proven, the Federal Transport Ministry insists on expensively upgrading a crossing of federal road B 2 in Weißenburg. This causes excess costs of €10 million to the Federal Government. We had requested the Ministry to study options for optimising the existing crossing in place. That crossing meets all requirements of traffic safety and traffic quality.

The roadworks administration of the Free State of Bavaria intends to expensively upgrade a crossing of federal road B 2 in Weißenburg. To this end, B 2 with two lanes is to be run in a trough beneath a roundabout above. The plan calls for 14 new structures, a groundwater tank and technical service facilities. The construction cost is estimated at €16.6 million.

We held that this solution was clearly too expensive and not cost-effective. We recommended that the Ministry study options for optimising the existing crossing. This may be achieved by widening the crossing roads and by installing a state-of-the-art traffic light system that will safely guide vehicles turning left. This will cost significantly less.

The Federal Transport Ministry has admitted that such optimisation can ensure adequate traffic quality and that costs could be saved. The Ministry estimated the cost of this solution at €3.7 million. Nevertheless, the Ministry continues to pursue the expensive upgrading option. It sought to justify this by the outstanding importance, the high upgrading standard and traffic safety.

We uphold our findings. Optimising the crossing meets all requirements of traffic safety and traffic quality. It avoids additional costs to the Federal Government of more than €10 million. We expect the Ministry to comply with the principles of efficiency and economy in connection with the upgrading of the said crossing. Before deciding, it will have to study the cost-effectiveness of the upgrading options and underpin its decision by proving that it provides good value for money.

 

2017 Annual report No. 21 - €50 million to remedy construction defects not transparently disclosed in the federal budget for 24 years

The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety intends to have construction defects at a Federal Ministry office at Berlin remedied for €50 million by 2024 without transparently disclosing this item in the federal budget. Instead of taking an overall approach to the need for renovation, the Ministry has so far had the defects remedied on a case by case basis. To fund these individual works, the Ministry has drawn on diverse budget titles.

Five years after the move of the government, experts identified serious fire protection shortcomings at the Berlin office of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Since the warranty period had already expired, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety remedied a number of shortcomings at the expense of the Federal Government. In 2017, the Ministry assessed the overall need for renovation to be €50 million. It intended to have the shortcomings remedied by 2024. At first, the Ministry funded the remedial work from its aggregate budget title for “Construction works for accommodating the Federal Government outside the Parliament district at Berlin”. Furthermore, it used funds of the economic stimulus package II. Since the 2011 federal budget, respective funds have also been appropriated from the departmental budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. In line with the principle of reliability and clarity of the budget, however, expenditure on the same purpose is not to be earmarked under diverse budget titles.

The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety limited budget transparency. Furthermore, we doubted the efficiency of remedying shortcomings on a case by case basis over a period of 24 years.

We demand that the Ministry disclose the overall need for renovation and the capital expenditure appraisal. Large-scale construction works should generally be budgeted individually or explanatory notes should be considered as binding in case of aggregate budget titles in order to respect the right of Parliament to control the budget. Therefore, a specific amount needs to be earmarked for construction works. Subsequent expenditure on construction works also needs to be transparently allocated to these works in the federal budget.

 

2017 Annual report No. 15 - Cost-effectiveness of the upgrading of a federal motorway not proven – savings potential of €110 million

The Federal Transport Ministry is planning to upgrade federal motorway A 8 to six lanes between the valley of the river Inn and the border. The construction of this 70 kilometres long motorway section will cost €1.2billion. We do not consider it necessary to have the whole motorway section upgraded to six lanes as long as this is not proven to provide good value for money. The Ministry could save at least €110 million.

The Federal Transport Ministry plans to upgrade federal motorway A 8 to six lanes between the valley of the river Inn and the border. The construction cost totals €1.2 billion. The Ministry found that the cost of upgrading is higher than the benefit and that therefore the project provides poor value for money. Nevertheless, it stuck to its plan.

We noted with concern that the Ministry did not take the differing traffic loads on this motorway section into account. We hold that upgrading to six lanes is necessary only from the valley of the river Inn to Chiemsee. The traffic load on the section between Chiemsee and the border only justifies building four lanes with temporary permission of hard shoulder running for the peak traffic loads. The Ministry could thus reduce construction cost by at least €110 million, thus enhancing cost effectiveness.

The Ministry rejects this solution, invoking statutory provisions for the upgrading to six lanes and disadvantages for traffic safety, if only four lanes were built and temporary hard shoulder running was permitted.

We uphold our opinion that a four-lane construction with temporary permission of hard shoulder running will be an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative for the section between Chiemsee and the border. The statutory provision does not impede a change of plan. The Federal Trunk Road Upgrading Act requires the Ministry to regularly consider the need for adjusting plans. Given especially the poor value for money provided by upgrading to six lanes, the Ministry is needs to exploit all savings potentials.

We therefore expect the Ministry to assess traffic quality including safety aspects and to calculate and prove the cost-effectiveness of this alternative.

 

2016 Annual report Volume II No. 16 - Uniform procedure for the upgrading to federal long-distance roads avoids financial disadvantages for the Federal Government

In response to our recommendation, the Federal Transport Ministry has promulgated uniform requirements applicable nationwide for the upgrading of roads to federal long-distance roads. Financial disadvantages for the Federal Government are thereby avoided and administrative burdens at federal and state level are reduced.

The roadworks administrations of the German states may upgrade roads to federal long-distance roads (federal motorways or federal roads) if they become more significant in terms of traffic. In that case, maintenance of the road is from then on incumbent on the Federal Government. The upgrading requires approval by the Ministry.

We found that the roadworks administrations proceeded differently and often erroneously when upgrading roads. For instance, they either did not notify the Ministry at all or did so only after the upgrading instead of obtaining the Ministry’s approval. They also failed to inform the Ministry about the condition of the roads or the relevant bridges and tunnels. Moreover, they had an insufficient overview of the upgradings because written records were lacking.

As a consequence, the Ministry was often unable to take balanced decisions about upgradings because they lacked information about the condition of the road and thus the financial impact on the federal treasury. Where the roadworks administration upgraded roads unlawfully without the ministry’s approval, the Ministry was either unable to assert objections at all or to do so only with a higher administrative burden. Due to lacking records, it was impossible to retrace the upgrading procedures in the roadworks administrations.

The Ministry has taken up our recommendations and promulgated uniform nationwide requirements to be met by the roadworks administrations. It demanded that the roadworks administrations seek its prior approval before upgrading roads, to provide it with all information about the conditions of the roads in question needed for decision-making and to document the upgrading procedures. These requirements enhance legal certainty, avoid financial disadvantages for the Federal Government and reduce administrative burdens at both federal government and state level.

 

2016 Annual report Volume II No. 21 - The Federal Government receives refund of €0.8 million charged for the construction of bicycle lanes on bridges

Following our demand, the Federal Government was refunded €0.8 million which had been charged for the construction of bicycle lanes on bridges. The roadworks administration of the State of Schleswig-Holstein financed the bicycle lanes from federal funds although the State and the county were liable to bear the costs by virtue of the applicable legal provisions.

The roadworks administration of the State of Schleswig-Holstein had three bridges built with bicycle lanes across federal motorway A 20 between Lübeck and Bad Segeberg. The State and the county had commissioned the bicycle lanes to be built.

We audited the planning and construction of this section of federal motorway A 20. We pointed out that there were no bicycle lanes before and after these bridges and that none had been planned either. Thus, the State and the county were liable to bear the costs. The bicycle lanes required an extension of the width of the bridges. This caused additional costs of €0.8 million, which the roadworks administration financed from federal funds.

We highlighted that contrary to regulations in place federal funds had been disbursed to bear these additional costs. In fact, the State and the county were liable to bear these costs. We therefore asked the roadworks administration to refund the additional costs to the Federal Government. In response, €0.8 million were refunded to the Federal Government.

 

2016 Annual report Volume II No. 20 - Roadworks costs apportioned inadequately – State of Saxony-Anhalt refunds €1 million to the Federal Government

Following our demand, the roadworks administration of the State of Saxony-Anhalt refunded €1 million to the Federal Government. It had paid this amount to several testing laboratories for the inspection of road surfaces. Although the State was liable to bear the costs, the roadworks administration spent federal funds on this.

The structure and condition of the road surfaces need to be inspected before, during and after building work on federal long-distance roads. This is to ascertain e.g. the extent of damage to the road. Whether the Federal Government or the respective state is liable to bear the costs differs according to the stage of the work. For instance, the states have to fund the inspections during the preparatory stage of the work, while the Federal Government pays for inspections during construction.

We found that the roadworks administration of the State of Saxony-Anhalt had erroneously paid a total amount of €1 million from federal budget funds.

We asked the roadworks administration to refund this amount to the Federal Government. Since one reason for the faulty apportionment of costs was an erroneous regulation of the State, we also asked the roadworks administration to amend the relevant regulation.

The roadworks administration acknowledged our findings. It repaid €1 million to the Federal Government and amended its regulation.

 

2016 Annual report Volume II No. 19 - State of North Rhine-Westphalia refunds €2.3 million in maintenance and operating costs to the Federal Government

Following our demand to this effect, the roadworks administration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia repaid €2.3 million to the Federal Government. Since the 1970’s, the State’s roadworks administration charged the Federal Government the costs of the maintenance and operation of a valley bridge, although the funding responsibility did not lie with the Federal Government.

In the 1970’s, the roadworks administration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia built state road no. 693 between Delstern, part of the City of Hagen, and the Hagen-Süd junction of federal motorway A 45. This required the construction of a bridge across a valley. According to the planning confirmation for the construction of the state road, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia is owner of the valley bridge and responsible for its maintenance. Contrary to the terms of the planning confirmation, the roadworks administration recorded the Federal Government as the party liable to pay maintenance costs. As a result, the Federal Government has borne the costs of maintaining and operating the valley bridge since 1976.

We found that the recording by the roadworks administration of the Federal Government as the party liable for maintenance costs had shortcomings. The State of North Rhine-Westphalia is the party liable to pay the repair and maintenance costs for the bridge. Following our demand, the roadworks administration refunded the €2.3 million incorrectly charged to the Federal Government.

 

2016 Annual report Volume II No. 18 - North Rhine-Westphalian roadworks administration refunds €2.5 million to the Federal Government  

Following our audit, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia repaid €2.5 million to the Federal Government. It had charged the Federal Government expenditure on former federal roads and on the rehabilitation of state roads including civil engineering structures on these roads, although such constructions did not qualify for reimbursement.

We audited construction expenditure for federal long-distance roads at a branch of the North Rhine-Westphalian roadworks administration. We found several cases in which the branch had charged the Federal Government excess expenditure in the total amount of €2.5 million. The Federal Government thus funded work for the drainage of former federal roads in inner cities and for the rehabilitation of state roads and civil engineering structures such as bridges on these roads. Moreover, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia had charged the Federal Government expenditure on construction supervision and administrative costs.

We noted that the Federal Government had borne these expenditures. According to applicable legal provisions, the state or municipality had to bear these costs. We urged the branch to refund those expenditures to the Federal Government.

As a result, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia repaid more than €2.5 million to the Federal Government.

 

2016 Annual report Volume II No. 26 - The Federal Ministry intends to improve implementation planning for federal construction projects

As part of its action programme “Federal building reform”, the Ministry intends to increase the staffing and professional capacities of the Federal Building Administration. These are important steps to improve the quality of implementation planning and ultimately the value for money obtained from federal building works. This intended action of the Ministry also concurs with recommendations we have made. We noted inadequate implementation plans for federal building projects because they increased the risk of cost overruns.

We found that architectural planning for federal building construction was often faulty. As a result, contracts for building work were often awarded without competitive tendering or on the basis of incomplete specifications. It then became necessary to complement such plans while building work was already going on. This implies the risk of cost and time overruns.

We attributed these shortcomings above all to inadequate performance by the commissioned private-sector architects and engineers. The Federal Building Administration checked their performance at best on the basis of samples because it lacked qualified staff.

The Ministry acknowledged that staffing was inadequate and that that had an adverse effect on the quality of implementation planning. The Ministry had attributed the current situation to the Federal Government’s retreat to the mere role of a contracting authority and building owner during the 1980s and 1990s. As part of its action programme “Federal building reform”, the Ministry intends to improve the staffing of the Federal Building Administration.

 

2016 Annual report Volume II No. 17 - Costs for adaptive traffic control systems reduced by €56.4 million

In response to our respective audits, the Bavarian roadworks administration did not construct an adaptive traffic control system on Federal Motorway A 6 near Nuremberg. Moreover, it intends to downsize an adaptive traffic control system on Federal Motorway A 73 near Erlangen. This will reduce construction costs by a total amount of €56.4 million.

Federal Motorway A 6 from Lichtenau to Roth
In 2012, the Bavarian roadworks administration planned a system temporarily permitting hard shoulder running. The system was to cost €53 million. Its purpose was to increase the traffic capacity of the 28 km long section of Federal Motorway A 6 between the junctions Lichtenau and Roth near Nuremberg.

We noted with concern that the roadworks administration had failed to justify the cost-effectiveness of the planned system. We recommended that a new traffic study be made and the upgrading to six lanes of Federal Motorway A 6 be assessed.

The Ministry used its leadership to prevent the construction on Federal Motorway A 6 of the system temporarily permitting hard shoulder running. This will save €53 million. At present, the Bavarian roadworks administration is planning the upgrading to six lanes of Motorway A 6.

Federal Motorway A 73 from Baiersdorf-Nord to Erlangen-Nord
The roadworks administration planned an active traffic management system temporarily permitting hard shoulder running between the junctions Erlangen-Nord and Forchheim. The total cost of the system was to be €11 million.

We found several planning errors, as a result of which we questioned the construction of the system on the motorway section between the junctions Baiersdorf-Nord and Forchheim.

The Federal Transport Ministry reviewed the plans and approved them with the appropriate modifications. Savings of €3.4 million will thereby be achieved.

Our audits generated savings on adaptive traffic control systems in the total amount of €56.4 million.

 

2016 Annual report Volume I No. 46 - Savings potential of €2 million not used in connection with a construction project

The Federal Ministry of Defence could have saved at least €2 million on the construction of a new lecture hall and office building. It approved the building of a façade with oversized glass panes and unnecessary balconies. The Ministry’s decision was based on an inadequate efficiency appraisal. This construction project must therefore not serve as a reference for future office and training buildings of the Ministry.

The Ministry intends to erect office buildings and training facilities with total capital expenditure of €700 million. Concerning one of these new buildings erected at a cost of €48 million, we objected to the planned façade on account of its large windows that cannot be opened and surrounding balconies as being inefficient. The Ministry should reduce the size of the glass panes and install more windows that can be opened. This would permit the cleaning of the windows from inside and the balconies would be dispensable.

In response to our criticism, the Ministry changed the plan, providing for smaller glass panes. Nevertheless, it did not renounce the balconies, invoking an ex-ante efficiency appraisal, which, however, estimated the costs inaccurately or incompletely.

We rejected the efficiency appraisal as inadequate and therefore not robust. By renouncing the balconies, the Ministry could have saved at least €2 million. Therefore, this construction project must not serve as a reference for the construction of future office buildings and training facilities. We expect the Ministry to make use of all potentials for economical and efficient planning and execution of the construction work.

 

2016 Annual report Volume I No. 43 - Delays and reconstruction of a federal road to be downgraded unduly burden the federal budget with €3.4 million  

The State of Saxony-Anhalt belatedly downgraded a federal road to state road, thereby unduly burdening the federal budget with expenditure of €1.7 million. Also, the State unduly apportioned to the Federal Government further costs of €1.7 million for the reconstruction and expansion of the road.

Two sections of the new federal road (B) 6n in Saxony-Anhalt replace the old federal road B 6 with the cross-town link through Wernigerode. They were opened to traffic in 2002-2003. The Federal Government and the State had agreed to downgrade the cross-town link to a state road at the beginning of the subsequent year. This was in line with legal requirements. As a consequence, the maintenance of the road would have been incumbent on the State rather than the Federal Government.

The State downgraded the road as late as in 2011, i.e. seven years later. We estimated that the Federal Government had to pay at least €1.7 million in maintenance costs in the period 2004-2011. We demanded that the Federal Government reclaim this amount from the State.

In addition, the State apportioned to the Federal Government further costs of €1.7 million for the expansion of the cross-town link. The State built such amenities as a roundabout and a cycling lane. We hold that the State was entitled to make up for omitted maintenance work at the Federal Government’s expense. However, this does include reconstruction and expansion. We demanded that the Federal Government also reclaim these €1.7 million from the State.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure acknowledged the facts described above. It did not comment on the demand for repayment of the amounts in question. We affirm our view that the Federal Ministry has to reclaim €3.4 million from the State.

 

2016 Annual report Volume I No. 42 - Lack of information about heavy-duty transports on federal long-distance roads – number of closed bridges increases  

Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure does not know which routes are particularly affected by heavy-duty transports, since it has not obtained comprehensive information about the number of heavy-duty transports requiring permission, their total weights, weights per axle and routes used. In contravention of agreements with the federal states, the latter do not report to the Federal Government the heavy-duty transports permitted. Hence, the Federal Ministry is not able to purposefully allocate the budget funds necessary especially for overloaded bridges.

For years, the number of heavy-duty transports – mainly those with total weights in excess of 40 tons – has strongly increased for years. Above all, it causes stress and damage to bridges. In the past years, it was therefore increasingly necessary to partly or wholly close routes to heavy-duty transports.

Heavy-duty transports on public roads with weights of more than 40 tons require a permit from the federal state in question. The state checks whether the roads chosen and the bridges on it are sufficiently resilient and safe. To perform such checks, the states have since 2006 used an IT system developed jointly with the Federal Government. The Federal Ministry had agreed with the states that the latter were to inform it by means of that IT system about the permits granted and about the date about total weights, weights per axle and route. For that purpose, the IT system was to be developed further. However, the Federal Ministry has so far not asked the states to communicate these data. Furthermore, the Federal Government and the states have not yet developed the system with all the intended modules.

We demanded that the Federal Ministry induce the states to record the data on heavy-duty transports in a uniform way and report them to it. To do so, the IT system with all the modules should be developed further. This would enable the Federal Ministry to align its budget planning so as to allow for the special strain to which roads and bridges on the principal routes are exposed. If all states communicate their data, the Federal Ministry can also take heavy-duty transports across state boundaries into account.

 

2016 Annual report Volume I No. 40 - Avoid public relations work without a concept  

Without proven need, the Federal Transport Ministry appropriated funds of half a million euros for public relations activities accompanying building work undertaken by a Waterway Construction Authority. The Ministry thereby accepted an unnecessary burden on the federal budget.

A Waterway Construction Authority awarded a contract worth €0.5 million to an advertising agency for public relations activities to accompany three building projects. The agency had proposed activities that would have cost €6.5 million. The Authority requested budget funds of €1.4 million but the Ministry appropriated only €0.5 million, arguing that that was the usual amount spent on similar projects. The Authority had not identified the information needs of the affected population. Neither the Authority nor the Ministry indicated technical criteria on which they based their choice of public relations activities from among those proposed by the agency. The Ministry described the action of the Authority as a “pilot measure”.

The Ministry should not have appropriated the funds. It justified its action by the need to involve the public in large-scale projects at an early stage. However, in order to avoid unnecessary budget expenditure, the Authority should first have identified the concrete information needs of the public in order to determine the need for action because the purpose of early involvement of citizens is to build confidence between the people affected and the public administration. To achieve this, it is necessary to ascertain the concerns of those affected.

In the specific case, we asked the Ministry first to arrange for the identification of the information needs of the affected population and then to decide the extent to which public relations work is needed. In similar future cases, the Ministry should appropriate funds for public relations activities only if the legitimate information needs of the people affected by the project in question have been identified and the choice of public relations activities to be undertaken has been made on the basis of the information needs identified. Where external support is commissioned, the Ministry should prove the need thereof.

 

2015 Annual report – spring report No. 05 - Joint expenditure on routine road maintenance calculated inaccurately: Federal Government must claim a refund of €4.8 million

The Brandenburg State road works administration incorrectly charged the Federal Government administrative expenditure in connection with routine road maintenance in the amount of at least €4.8 million. The Federal Transport Ministry concurs with our opinion that the Brandenburg road works administration has to refund this amount. However, it has so far failed to take any effective steps to assert the Federal Government’s claim.

The road works administrations of the German states administer the federal roads on behalf of the Federal Government. The expenditure on routine maintenance of federal, state and county roads (basic network) is divided into direct and joint expenditure. Joint expenditure includes all routine road maintenance expenses that cannot directly be apportioned to any authority responsible for road construction and maintenance. The road works administration apportions the joint expenditure to the Federal Government, the state and the counties. Pursuant to Article 104a, paragraph 5 of the German Constitution, the states have to bear all administrative expenditure incurred by their authorities.

We found that the road works administration has incorrectly apportioned the joint expenditure by including administrative expenses in the joint expenditure. This increased the latter and the Brandenburg State road works administration effectively charged the Federal Government administrative expenses that are to be borne by the State. We identified a refund claim of the Federal Government against the State of more than €4.8 million for the period of seven years.

We urged the Ministry to assert this claim against the road works administration and recover the said amount. More than two years ago, the Ministry told us that the refund claim was justified. However, it did not take any steps to do so.

We expect the Ministry at last to press its claim against the road works administration. Furthermore, the Ministry has to ensure that the road works administration will in future correctly apportion the cost of routine road maintenance.

 

2015 Annual report – spring report No. 04 - Overloaded heavy goods vehicles endanger traffic safety and cause damage worth hundreds of millions of euros each year

Overloaded heavy goods vehicles (HGV) endanger traffic safety, impair competition and cause considerable damage to the pavement. If the Federal Transport Ministry took effective action against overloading, annual savings in the range of hundreds of millions of euros on the maintenance of federal long-distance roads could be achieved.

The damage caused to the pavement by an axle of a HGV carrying a weight of 10 tons is 10,000 times higher than that of the axle of a car carrying a weight of 1 ton. Overloaded or incorrectly loaded HGVs cause disproportionately high maintenance costs since the load on the pavement increases disproportionately with the axle load. Since 1997, the Federal Highway Research Institute has been commissioned by the Federal Transport Ministry to build a network of 80 weigh stations along the federal motorways. The measuring data are also to be used by the Federal Office for Goods Transport for carrying out overload checks of HGV.

With the assistance of our Hamburg and Berlin field offices, we found that the Ministry has not built up the network of weigh stations as intended. Only 41 weigh stations are in place which, moreover, are extremely prone to malfunction. In addition, the Federal Office for Goods Transport had only three usable weigh stations. As early as in 2003, the Federal Highway Research Institute had found that the annual cost of maintaining the pavements of federal long-distance roads could be reduced considerably if overloading were largely avoided. This would result in annual savings in the range of hundreds of millions of euros.

We criticised the inadequate checks of HGVs due to the slow build-up of the network of weigh stations prone to malfunction and the few functioning checkpoints. We expect the Ministry to step up its efforts and to arrange for additional serviceable axle load weigh stations and checkpoints without delay.

 

2016 Report - Planning a new Fehmarn Sound Bridge

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure intends to decommission the existing Fehmarn Sound bridge and build a new bridge. The German SAI found major shortcomings in the relevant capital expenditure appraisal. The bridge is in a bad condition, also because the German Railways company has for many years neglected its duty of proper maintenance. As a result, the Public Accounts Committee demanded that the Ministry ensure the safe and smooth operation of the bridge until the structures designed to replace the former bridge are completed. As to the capital expenditure appraisal, the Committee wants the Ministry to include the option of retrofitting the existing bridge.

 

2015 Annual report No. 48 - Armed Forces plan new construction for a workshop not utilised to full capacity  

The Armed Forces run an under-utilised carpentry shop in their Naval Arsenal. This workshop was not utilised to full capacity in the past. The Armed Forces intend to build new premises for this carpentry and other workshops.

In its Naval Arsenal, the Armed Forces repair naval vessels. For this purpose, several workshops are run in the Naval Arsenal including a carpentry shop. The Armed Forces are planning to build new premises for the workshops.

The carpentry was not used to full capacity, although it had been given additional tasks. For instance, the carpenters made representative objects of daily use and souvenirs. Moreover, they assisted e.g. the large maritime event “Weekend on the Jade Bay” or did maintenance work on the premises.

The price of objects made in the carpentry was more costly than similar products available in free marketplace. For instance, the carpenters made rope ladders at a cost of €7,000. In the market, rope ladders were available for €300. Souvenir coins were offered in the market at a price of €4 each. Manufacture in the naval arsenal cost €172. In our opinion, the manufacture at a cost of €8,000 of a mount for a bell of a ship to be decommissioned is unnecessary. Moreover, the expensive design of the articles of daily use was not needed in many cases.

We asked the Armed Forces to check the following before having new workshops built:

  • to what extent the Armed Forces need carpentry services for the repair of their naval vessels;
  • how the naval arsenal can satisfy its needs for carpentry work and
  • whether running an own carpentry is efficient.

We also recommended that largely representative items of equipment not be produced or produced at less cost.

Since further workshops are to be accommodated in new buildings, we hold that it is necessary to assess beforehand whether they are actually needed and whether they can be run efficiently.

 

2015 Annual report No. 45 - Savings of more than €3.8 million by replanning bridges  

Following our demands and those of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Road Works Authority of the State of Lower Saxony changed its plans for federal motorway A 39. An underpass will not be built and two bridges will have a smaller size. This will generate savings of more than €3.8 million for the Federal Government.

The Road Works Authority of Lower Saxony planned several bridges and passageways for a new section of federal motorway A 39. For cyclists, it intended to have an underpass built under the motorway in little distance from a bridge with a cycle lane. A bridge for an unpaved farm truck was to become about 10 metres wide. A valley bridge 230 metres long was to overpass a small body of water. The Road Works Administration submitted these plans to the Ministry for approval.

We audited the plans assisted by our Hamburg field office. We showed that the additional underpass for cyclists was unnecessary and that, moreover, the planned bridges were oversized. For one of the bridges, the Ministry had come to the same conclusion.

The Road Works Administration followed our demands and those of the Ministry. It has meanwhile changed its plans. The changes of the construction plans will generate federal budget savings of more than €3.8 million.

 

2015 Annual report No. 44 - Savings of €3.7 million: junction Edisonstrasse in Kiel is not built  

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure did not contribute €3.7 million towards the building of the junction Edisonstrasse in Kiel. Following our advice, the Ministry found that this access point to federal motorway A 21 was not necessary. The City of Kiel that had desired this junction eventually also waived its construction.

The Road Works Authority of the State of Schleswig-Holstein is planning the upgrading of federal road B 404 to become federal motorway A 21. It had the junction Wellseedamm built on the outskirts of Kiel. For the next section of the motorway, it planned a further junction Edisonstrasse. The distance between the two junctions was to be about 400 metres.

With the support of our Hamburg field office, we alerted the Ministry to methodological errors in the studies that evaluated the two junction projects. The studies could not substantiate the need for the Edisonstrasse junction. The Road Works Administration eventually found that the existing junction Wellseedamm can be easily upgraded. It would then be able to accommodate the transport of the planned junction Edisonstrasse.

In response, we informed the Ministry that federal funding for the junction Edisonstrasse was no longer needed.

The Ministry followed our recommendation. This saves the Federal Government building costs of €3.7 million. The City of Kiel, which originally had desired the junction, also chose not to build it.

 

2015 Annual Report No. 43 - Road works authorities repay €1.5 million to the Federal Government  

The States of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein charged the Federal Government excessive expenditure for the routine maintenance of federal long-distance roads. Following our audit, the two states repaid a total amount of €1.5 million to the Federal Government.

The road works authorities of the German states administer the federal long-distance roads on behalf of the Federal Government. The maintenance depots are responsible for the maintenance of federal roads, state and local roads. The respective expenditure is divided into direct costs and overhead costs. Depending on which authority is responsible for road works and maintenance, the costs have to be borne by the Federal Government, the regional or local government respectively.

The overhead costs cannot be directly allocated to any of the authorities.

responsible for road works and maintenance and is apportioned according to working hours. To do so, the authorities annually calculate the total of all paid working hours performed for maintenance of the three classes of roads mentioned. Then they identify the numbers of paid working hours attributable to the maintenance of federal roads, state roads and county roads. The ratio between the working hours performed and the total of all working hours determines the share of each authority responsible of road works and maintenance in the overhead costs.

Direct expenditure is divided into expenditure to be allocated either to exclusively the Federal Government or to the regional or local governments. Damages payable as a result of accidents of road maintenance vehicles on federal roads have to be borne by the states as direct expenditure. The same applies to accidents on federal motorways.

We found that the working hours apportioned by the Road Works Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia also included paid working hours performed on federal motorways. However, these are not part of the paid working hours apportionable to overhead expenditure. The Road Works Authority of the State of Schleswig-Holstein charged the Federal Government damages arising from accidents with road maintenance vehicles rather than apportioning such damages to the State. Therefore, the Federal Government paid excessive amounts for routine maintenance in both these cases.

We therefore demanded that the States of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein repay the expenditure inappropriately charged to the Federal Government. In response, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein repaid €1.1 million and €0.4 million respectively to the Federal Government.

 

2015 Annual report No. 42 - Decision not to build a tunnel saves €20  million  

The Bavarian Road Works Authority will choose not to construct a tunnel. The purpose of the tunnel was to replace a level crossing with barrier or gate in St. Georgen where only four trains a day were run. In response to our recommendation, the Federal Government had saved €20 million.

The Bavarian Road Works Authority planned an underpass in St. Georgen in 2006, thereby removing a level crossing with barrier or gate at federal road B 304. At that time, only four trains a day were run on this railway line. We recommended reconstruction of the level crossing amounting to €4.3 million. The Road Works Authority promised to take the recommendations into account in the further planning.

In 2012, we noted that the Road Works Authority did not comply with its promise. Instead of an underpass, it now planned a 390 metres tunnel under the railway line for €20 million. The reason for the tunnel was the railway line operator’s intention to increase the number of train runs under certain financial conditions in the medium term. There were no specific plans or written agreements.

We were of the opinion that the level crossing was still safe and adequate when there are still only four trains a day. We did therefore not see sufficient benefit that would justify the tunnel’s high costs. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has taken up our recommendation to renounce the tunnel’s construction. It promised to defer the planning until a decision is made about increasing the number of train runs. Thus, the Federal Government currency saves €20 million.

 

2015 Annual report No. 41 - The Road Works Authority improved surveying

Following our recommendation, the Road Works Authority of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia has taken organisational measures to improve the verification of surveys. This is to identify surveying errors at an early stage and to avoid additional costs.

We audited the upgrading of federal motorway A 2 between Kamen and Hamm from four to six lanes. The Road Works Authority of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia is in charge of this project. The survey division of the Road Works Authority had furnished contractors with faulty survey data. The errors also remained undetected on occasion of a first control survey. As a result, a bridge was erected at a location other than planned and this section of motorway A 2 was built with a 0.45 m deviation. The reason for this was that the Road Works Authority had taken insufficient regard to the relevant directives. In order to make the shifted section fit with the motorway outside the deviating section, 600 metres of the motorway had to be adapted. This caused additional costs of €0.6 million to be borne by the Federal Government.

The Road Works Authority followed our recommendations. It promised that it would change the organizational procedures and remind all staff of the cross-check principle. In future, it intends to annually train staff for compliance with the respective regulations and to post relevant information on its intranet. Furthermore it pledged to furnish site supervisors or survey records in order to be able to check the location of structures.

 

2015 Annual report No. 40 - Federal Government saves up to €8 million for road works by means of cost sharing  

Following our advice, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and the constituent states have changed plans and shared the costs with third parties. Thus, the Federal Government will save up to €8 million.

Assisted by our field offices in Frankfurt on the Main and Stuttgart we found deficiencies in the planned construction projects at federal long-distance roads. The Bavarian Road Works Authority planned higher development standards for crossings in the by-pass of federal road B304 Altenmarkt without adequately examining less costly options. It failed to consider all cost-effective options in the construction of a new crossing of federal road 14 in Ansbach. The Road Works Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia planned three bridges and a municipal road broader than necessary in upgrading the federal road B224 into federal motorway A52. Furthermore, it provides for unnecessary noise abatement measures. Moreover, it accepted demands of a third party to build bridges with larger spans than required without sharing the costs with the third party.

We recommended to examine cost-effective alternatives, to reduce the scope of new constructions and upgradings to a minimum and to share the costs of bridges with the third party. 

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and the road works authorities followed our recommendations and changed their plans accordingly. Compared to the previous plans, the Federal Government will save up to €8 million.

 

2015 Annual report No. 37 - Federal Ministry continues to decide about construction projects without updated investment appraisals  

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure continued new construction and upgrading projects on federal waterways without having updated the respective investment appraisals in line with essentially changed framework conditions. Thus, it contravened budgetary law and disregarded a PAC resolution.

In 2012, the PAC demanded that the Ministry reassess the efficiency of construction projects in cases where the underlying conditions had changed substantially. Any decision the Ministry takes about continuing projects must be contingent upon the result of the investment appraisal. The Committee’s resolution was based on a Bundesrechnungshof report about the construction of a ship lift. The Ministry had continued the project although efficiency was at risk.

In 2014, the Ministry approved additional findings for an upgrading project in a multi-million euro amount. It substantiated the project’s efficiency only by a vague assessment as to how the cost-benefit ratio calculated eleven years earlier might have changed. In response to our criticism, the Ministry announced its intention to reassess the cost-benefit ratio.

Subsequent proofs of efficiency do not meet the requirements of budgetary law. Rather than that, the requirement to update investment appraisals is to provide the Ministry with the relevant information on efficiency at the time when the decision is made.

In our future audits, we shall focus on the question as to whether the Ministry complies with the resolution of the Public Accounts Committee.

 

2014 Annual report – spring report No. 03 - No need for second bridge across the river Rhine near Karlsruhe

The Federal Transport Ministry is planning to build a second bridge across the Rhine near the Maxau Bridge. This is to reduce the traffic load on the existing bridge. However, the existing bridge has sufficient capacity and a second bridge would even aggravate the congestion. The traffic situation could be improved if a bottleneck ahead of Karlsruhe were eliminated.

Federal road B 10 connects the cities of Wörth and Karlsruhe via the Maxau Bridge. In the morning rush hour, congestions occur on federal road B 10 at the outskirts of Karlsruhe. Therefore, the Federal Transport Ministry is planning to have a second bridge built across the Rhine, arguing that the Maxau Bridge across the Rhine is overcrowded. It estimates the building costs at a total of €106.3 million.

In the course of our audit, we found that the Maxau Bridge across the Rhine has the capacity to accommodate both current and the future traffic load projected for the years up to 2025. The tailback to the bridge is attributable to the overcrowding of the street network of the City of Karlsruhe. The bottleneck is the so-called Knielingen ‘gatekeeper’, where the road narrows from three to two lanes. Eliminating this bottleneck would significantly reduce congestions during the morning rush hour. The roadwork administration responsible is already planning a redesign. Building a second bridge without eliminating the bottleneck would even significantly deteriorate the situation due to the additional traffic.

Given that the planned second bridge across the Rhine will have little relevance for long-distance transport, we have considerable doubts about whether the Federal Government may fund the construction on the bridge.

Based on current knowledge, we hold that the construction of a second bridge across the Rhine is neither needed nor efficient.

 

2014 Annual report – spring report No. 02 - Non-compliance with cost-sharing agreement for adaptive traffic control systems: refund claims of €9 million

The States of Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Württemberg did not comply with the provisions of the cost-sharing agreement relating to adaptive traffic control systems. For years, they paid the personnel costs for the monitoring of the technical installations and for traffic regulation from federal funds, although they should have paid these costs from their own budgets.

Adaptive traffic control systems capture, transmit and process traffic-related data. They serve to facilitate the traffic flow and to enhance traffic safety. On federal long-distance roads they perform both state and federal functions. In 1984, the Federal Government and the states agreed on a simple cost-sharing rule: The Federal Government bears all expenditure for the manufacture, extension, maintenance and operation of the systems, while the states pay the personnel costs only for operators in the traffic control centres.

We objected to the practice followed for years by the States of Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Württemberg of paying the personnel costs from federal funds. We urged the Federal Ministry to demand the refund of these expenditures retrospectively for a decade. According to our estimate, the amount to be refunded totals €9 million.

The Federal Ministry asked the two States to refund the personnel costs. However they refused to do so.

We expect the Federal Government to enforce its refund claims by deducting the amounts from payments it owes to the States. One viable option is to deduct the refund claims from payments the States receive for design work and construction supervision. The Federal Ministry must make sure that, in future, the states pay the personnel costs for operators from their own budget.

 

2014 Annual report – spring report No. 04 - Modification of a federal road is more expedient and cost-effective than building a new one

The Federal Transport Ministry has the federal road B 96n built on the Baltic Sea Island of Rügen. This segment costs as much as was originally budgeted for the entire project. It should therefore abandon the further project and instead modify the existing road. Such modification would cost much less and could be completed earlier.

The new federal road B 96n on the Island of Rügen is to have three lanes and to run largely parallel to the existing federal road B 96. The project is divided into two segments. The southern segment was to be completed in 2013, the northern segment in 2015. However, the southern segment is still under construction at this time. The Federal Ministry and the commissioned roadwork administration modified planning of that segment. Initially, B 96n was to cross over a railway line via a bridge whose cost has been estimated at €3 million. Instead, an underpass is now being built at cost of €22 million. The Federal Ministry and the roadwork administration made this change in response to concerns relating to nature conservation law. Their objective was to secure in advance legal certainty as to the admissibility of the new construction. In our opinion, the Federal Ministry and roadwork administration have not plausibly justified the change. The sole objective of minimising risk was not sufficient to justify this costly decision.

The altered plan increases the cost of the first segment to €80 million, the amount originally budgeted for both segments together. Now the funds for the new construction of the second segment whose cost has been estimated at €44 million are lacking. Therefore, the Federal Transport Ministry has postponed launching the construction to 2020. Until the second segment has been completed, the first segment practically does not add any value in traffic terms.

In light of the likely transport trend on Rügen, we think that the new construction of the second segment does not make sense. To improve the traffic flow, it would be sufficient upgrade parts of the old road. This would cost only a fraction of the estimated €44 million and impact less on the environment. Given the budget constraints, this would also increase the chances of early completion. Thus, the input of budget funds into the southern segment would generate its full benefit earlier.

 

2014 Annual report No. 79 - Successful cooperation in the audit of motorway construction with the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic

The German SAI and its Slovak counterpart coordinated their audits of two motorways. This enabled them to make concordant recommendations to their national road construction administrations. For instance, we had the opportunity to draw the attention of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to the high prices of composite bridges.

The Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic and the German SAI separately audited sections of the motorways D 1 and A 73 according to a predetermined common audit framework. They analysed the data gathered in the respective countries and compared them. Analysis showed that, in Slovakia, road construction was 10 per cent less expensive than in Germany, although the motorways in Slovakia are broader and of more elaborate design. This was attributable mainly to the difference in labour costs. In Germany, the bridges cost even one third more than in Slovakia. Apart from differences in labour costs, a major factor was design. In particular, composite bridges that were only built in Germany are more expensive.

The German SAI and its Slovak counterpart communicated their respective audit findings to the responsible national authorities independently of each other. Furthermore, they concordantly recommended that the national construction administrations

  • standardise bridge designs and
  • have composite bridges built only where concrete bridges are not suitable.

This international comparison of costs will be helpful for the further work of the German and Slovak SAIs. Their cooperation also follows the goal of sharing experience formulated by the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions. In October 2012, they issued a joint report on how they proceeded in this audit exercise.

 

2014 Annual report No. 78 - Successful cooperation with the Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic in the audit of public contract awards for construction work and in the field of corruption prevention

The German SAI and its Czech counterpart conducted parallel audits in their respective countries of the compliance with EU procurement law and corruption prevention in connection with contract awards for construction work. Among other findings, the comparison revealed that the time-tested principles applicable in Germany of giving precedence to public invitations to tender and the award of contracts by lots are advantageous. The two SAIs summarised their studies in a joint report, which attracted much interest in the Czech Republic and in the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).

In the years 2011-2013, the German SAI and its Czech counterpart carried out parallel audits of public construction projects in their respective countries. The audit findings thus generated showed that both countries had not only implemented the provisions of European law in their national legislation but also complied with them in their building contract awards.

The comparison of the legal bases on corruption prevention and procurement mechanisms prescribed by law showed that, in Germany, the applicable provisions are more comprehensive and more detailed than in the Czech Republic. The Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic is generally positive especially concerning the principles time-tested in Germany of giving precedence to public invitations to tender and the award of contracts by lots. However, both SAIs feel that the construction administrations of their respective countries should step up their efforts in the field of corruption prevention.

The Secretary General of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) prized the joint report (cf. www.bundesrechnungshof.de) as a good example of successful bilateral cooperation. He advocated the international dissemination of the report and its communication to INTOSAI’s specialised bodies, e.g. the INTOSAI Working Group on the Fight Against Corruption and Money Laundering.

 

2014 Annual report No. 71 - Improved procurement procedures for residential properties’ maintenance

In its new guideline, the Institute for Federal Real Estate defined the building contracts’ procurement consistently and more clearly. It specifies the documentation and control requirements which ensure transparency and efficiency in the building maintenance. Thus, the Institute for Federal Real Estate follows our recommendation.

The Institute for Federal Real Estate has to observe the Federal Budget Code and the public procurement law when managing its properties. We reviewed the Institute’s building maintenance measures for residential properties, including work to maintain the value of the property and repair work. We found that the Institute infringes central requirements of the budget management and contract awarding in many cases. Thus, there were no efficiency analyses or they were not adequately documented. The Institute awarded construction work without a formal procedure (single tendering) although the value threshold was exceeded. Furthermore, fewer tenders were obtained than required. In almost any cases, single tendering procedures were not adequately documented. The Institute did not provide a central working aid.

We pointed out that efficiency had to be proven for building maintenance measures and demanded that the staff’s compliance with the regulations be ensured for building contracts’ single tendering. Regular procurement documentation, in particular, reduces the scope for manipulation and prevents corruption at the same time.

The Institute took up the recommendations and revised their internal regulations. Accordingly, it intends to review the measure’s efficiency before awarding the contract in future. Furthermore, it implemented a central guideline which maps the entire process for building maintenance measures and thus supports the responsible entities.

These steps ensure a consistent and clearer definition of the building contracts’ procurement. Particularly the documentation and control requirements ensure transparency and contribute to an efficient building maintenance.

 

2014 Annual report No. 65 - Grant recipient returns €0.3 million euros to Federal Government

Following the German SAI’s indication of non-compliance with grant terms and conditions the recipient of a grant awarded for the construction of a residential school for apprentices returned €310,000 to Federal Government.

Federal Government may withdraw a grant, if, for example, the grant recipient does not comply with grant terms and conditions or misuses grant funds.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research promotes inter-company vocational training centres. The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training implements funding programmes on behalf of the Federal Ministry.

A grant recipient claimed a grant to partly cover construction costs of a residential school. The school building also includes a caretaker’s flat. The Federal Institute set out in the grant terms and conditions that the grant recipient shall comply with the regulations on contract awards for public works. The Federal Institute further stipulated that the grant recipient shall use the funds in accordance with grant terms and conditions and to what amount costs for project control services are eligible for grant funding.

The German SAI found that the grant recipient did not fully comply with the regulations on contract awards for public works. Moreover, it occurred in three cases that the grant recipient claimed payment of costs for project control services totalling an amount three times higher than the amount acceptable to Federal Government. And, the German SAI found that the grant recipient did not use all areas of the building in accordance with the grant terms and conditions: The caretaker’s flat stood empty for several years.

The German SAI alerted the Federal Institute to the non-compliance of the statutory provisions governing public grants. The German SAI recommended that the Federal Institute examines whether the grant must be claimed back in whole or in part. The Federal Institute followed the German SAI’s recommendations and reduced the awarded grant amount. The grant recipient returned €310,000 to Federal Government.

 

2014 Annual report No. 64 - Energy efficiency of premises of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science will be enhanced

In order to be able to efficiently operate the technical facilities of its premises, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science pledges to update inventory documents of its premises on a regular basis and to establish a full energy monitoring system. This will allow the Max Planck Society to identify savings potentials and to optimise energy consumption. Moreover, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research pledges to issue a regulation reducing the use of large glass panes, and thus energy consumption, when constructing new buildings for Max Planck Society. In implementing these measures, the Federal Ministry and the Max Planck Society follow the German SAI’s recommendations on enhancing energy efficiency of buildings.

Grants to the Max Planck Society are awarded by both Federal Government and federal states.

The Max Planck Society has its own construction department. This department, that is responsible for planning the construction, conversion and expansion of buildings, may rely on freelancers.

Assisted by the regional audit office in Berlin, the German SAI examined five existing institutes and the construction plans of eight new institutes in terms of energy efficiency. The German SAI found that inventory documents are incomplete and that energy consumption has not been fully measured and assessed. Hence, an energy efficient operation is possible only to a certain extent. Furthermore, the German SAI found that the cooling concept employed for glazed entrance halls of existing institutions is energy intensive and partly ineffective. As construction plans for new institutes show, entrance halls will still have large glass facades although the disadvantages of such a construction are well documented.

The German SAI requested the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to ensure that inventory documents are updated regularly and that energy consumption is fully measured and assessed. The German SAI also required the Federal Ministry to issue a regulation limiting the construction of glass facades in entrance halls.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research follows the German SAI’s recommendations. The Max Planck Society pledges to regularly update inventory documents and to fully measure and assess energy consumption in the future. Moreover, the Federal Ministry pledges to reduce the use of glass panes to a meaningful level.

 

2014 Annual report No. 58 - Reimbursement claim calculated too high: State of Thuringia refunds building grants of €650,000 to the Federal Government

Following our recommendation, the Building Ministry demanded the refund of cost reimbursements of €650,000 from the State of Thuringia. As we suggested, the Ministry also intends to promptly clarify open questions with the States of Brandenburg, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt concerning the cost reimbursement for decontamination and explosive ordnance disposal.

The Federal Government may enter into administrative agreements with the German states about the transfer of building construction tasks to the states. This also includes decontamination and explosive ordnance disposal.

The Federal Government made excess payments of €650,000 to the State of Thuringia as compensation for decontamination and explosive ordnance disposal carried out by the State. After we identified the excess payment, the Federal Government claimed the refund of the excessive reimbursement. The State of Thuringia acknowledged the claim and refunded the money to the Federal Government.

The Building Ministry also intends to follow our recommendation to improve the examination of the states’ invoices. Furthermore, it intends to promptly clarify, with the States of Brandenburg, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, the open questions concerning the reimbursement of costs of decontamination and explosive ordnance disposal.

 

2014 Annual report No. 57 - Better use will in future be made of the expertise of the construction administration also with relation to public-private partnerships

In response to our recommendation, the Building Ministry will urge the other federal ministries to involve the construction administration also in connection with construction projects of recipients of federal grants carried out under public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements. This serves to make better use of the expertise of the construction administration also for such PPP projects.

Where grants towards a construction project exceed certain thresholds, it is obligatory to involve the technically responsible construction administration. One of the tasks of that administration is to advise the grantee when the latter prepares application and design documents for its construction project. In that context, the grantee also has to review alternative options to identify the option to procure floor space that provides best value for money, e.g. build, rent premises or procure premises via PPP.

A grantee that receives institutional funding mostly from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research intends to erect an event centre. He opted for a new building to be erected under PPP arrangements without proper study of all options for meeting its space needs. The construction administration was not involved, although it would have had to be involved in view of the estimated costs of the building to be erected. The reason given by the Education and Research Ministry was that, under PPP, the contracting entity will not be the grantee but the potential private investor and that, therefore, involvement of the construction administration could be dispensed with.

We recommended that the Building Ministry clarify the role of the construction administration in connection with PPP projects of recipients of federal grants because the construction administration must also be involved in PPP projects of grantees receiving institutional funding. The Federal Government funds such building projects indirectly. The professional expertise of the construction administration is to support cost-effective building work. Following our recommendations, the Education and Research Ministry has involved the construction administration in the project.

Following our recommendation, the Building Ministry will inform the other federal ministries of this in writing.

 

2014 Annual report No. 56 - Prevention of corruption in federal building projects in the State of Saxony is improved

Following our recommendation, the Saxon Ministry of Finance has taken steps to further improve the prevention of corruption in the procurement of building services for federal construction projects in Saxony. This will further impede manipulations in the awarding of building contracts.

We found that the regulations on preventing corruption in the awarding of building contracts for federal construction projects in Saxony were largely complied with. However, omissions and infringements were found in a number of contract-awarding procedures. For instance, possibilities for manipulations were not precluded or the cross-check principle was not complied with.

These omissions were attributable mostly to inadequate knowledge of the regulations on corruption prevention, mistakes in implementing these regulations or organisational deficiencies. In addition, some of the regulations on the prevention of corruption are inadequately harmonised and can be misunderstood.

The Saxon Finance Ministry has acknowledged the audit findings and emphasized the importance of the regulations on corruption prevention. It took up our proposals and will improve corruption prevention measures. The Federal Ministry will consider a harmonization of the concepts used in the federal building regulations.

We consider the measures thus announced as an important step towards improving the prevention of corruption in the awarding of building contracts and towards eliminating uncertainties in the application of the relevant regulations.

 

2014 Annual report No. 46 - Road construction administration refunds €1.9 million to the Federal Government

The State of Brandenburg charged the Federal Government excessive expenditure on the routine maintenance of federal roads. Following our audit, the State of Brandenburg refunded €1.9 million to the Federal Government.

The road construction administrations of the German States manage federal long-distance roads on behalf of the Federal Government. The relevant staff of the road construction administration carry out the routine maintenance work on all federal, state and district roads within the state concerned. Routine maintenance especially comprises the inspection, maintenance and servicing of the roads. The respective authority responsible for road construction and maintenance has to bear the resulting costs. In the case of federal roads, funding is incumbent on the Federal Government. Where state roads are concerned, the respective state has to bear the costs. For the entire routine maintenance of federal, state and district roads, the road construction administrations annually establish a standard hourly wage rate. They have to calculate the percentages on the basis of the routine maintenance working hours for each road. The standard hourly wage rate is the basis for apportioning the expenditure to be charged to the individual authorities responsible for road construction and maintenance.

We found that the apportionment of hours worked as established by the Brandenburg road construction administration in the years 2006-2012 also included working hours not pertaining to routine road maintenance. The road construction administration did not notice this when establishing its annual charges to the Federal Government. Therefore, the Federal Government paid too much for the routine maintenance of federal roads in the State of Brandenburg.

We objected to this. In response, the State of Brandenburg recalculated the portion of routine maintenance costs to be borne by the Federal Government in line with our recommendations. As a result, it refunded €1.9 million to the Federal Government.

 

2014 Annual Report No. 45 - Commissions and costs of building control unduly financed from federal funds: road construction administration refunds € 760,000

The road construction administration of the State of Baden-Württemberg unduly used federal funds of €760,000. It used these funds to finance commissions for the acquisition of land for federal long-distance roads and expenditure on building control. By our remonstrations, we achieved the refund of this amount by the road construction administration to the Federal Government.

The road construction administration of the State of Baden-Württemberg has federal long-distance roads built on behalf of the Federal Government. To do so, it manages federal funds.

The road construction administration commissioned a service provider to buy land for several federal road construction projects. It paid the €400,000 in commissions due to the service provider from federal funds.

In connection with the upgrading of an existing federal road, the road construction administration purchased a residential property adjacent to the new carriageway. It intended to accommodate its building control staff in that property during the road works. It also funded the purchase price of €360,000 from federal resources.

We pointed out that financing these two amounts were unduly financed from federal resources. We achieved that the road construction administration refunded the unduly used federal resources of €760,000 to the Federal Government.

 

2014 Annual report No. 44 - Uniform retention of accounting records pertaining to the construction of federal long-distance roads

The road construction administrations of the German States build and manage federal long-distance roads on behalf of the Federal Government. So far, the retention of the pertaining accounting records is governed by the respective regulations of each state. Following our recommendation, the Federal Finance Ministry has addressed this issue. In future, the Federal Transport Ministry will make sure that the states will uniformly apply the provisions of the Federal Budget Code on the retention of documents. This is to increase legal certainty and to avoid extra administrative burdens for the road construction administrations.

The road construction administrations of the German States build and manage federal long-distance roads on behalf of the Federal Government. To do so, they manage federal funds and are required to retain the pertaining accounting records. Different regulations apply to such retention.

The Federal Budget Code requires that all entities that manage federal funds comply with the federal regulations on retention of documents. Conversely, the Federal Transport Ministry advised the road construction administrations that the regulations of the respective state apply.

We have drawn the attention of the Federal Transport Ministry and the Federal Finance Ministry to the disadvantages of inconsistent regulations on the retention of the accounting documents. The Federal Finance Ministry took up our recommendation. It asked the Federal Transport Ministry to make sure that the states will in future comply with the provisions on retention laid down in the Federal Budget Code. This can avoid extra administrative burdens on the road construction administrations and increase legal certainty.

 

2014 Annual report No. 43 - Optimised planning of a bypass generates savings of up to €1.4 million

The Federal Transport Ministry demanded that the road construction administration of the Free State of Bavaria change its plan for the construction of the Dinkelsbühl bypass. By renouncing the bridge and reducing the size of the planned wildlife overpass, the Federal Government will save up to €1.4 million. The Federal Transport Ministry has thus followed our recommendations.

The Federal Government commissioned the road construction administration of the Free State of Bavaria to plan the new construction of the Dinkelsbühl bypass. Seven bridges were planned for this section of federal road B 25 which was 3.4 km long. One bridge was to reroute an existing road via the new bypass. In addition, a wildlife overpass was to enable bats to cross the new bypass without danger. The road construction administration did not consider more cost-effective alternative options.

We pointed out options for reducing the costs of the construction of the new bypass. Apart from an at-grade intersection as an alternative to the bridge, one option was to downsize the wildlife overpass. These measures can enhance cost-effectiveness and permit compliance with environmental standards.

The Federal Transport Ministry followed our recommendation. It promised to have the road construction administration revise the plan for the bypass. This will generate savings of up to €1.4 million for the Federal Government.

 

2014 Annual report No. 32 - No additional office space for accommodating IT equipment

Following a recommendation of the German SAI, the German Federal Insurance Office modified the office space standards applicable to social insurance bodies. By modifying these standards, the Office gave up the outdated practice of granting additional office space to accommodate IT equipment. This is to prevent social insurance bodies from building and maintaining office premises that are larger than, for example, those of federal government agencies.

Social insurance bodies are required to spend budgetary funds in an efficient and economical manner. If they purchase real estate or construct/convert buildings at costs exceeding certain thresholds they are required to seek the relevant oversight body’s permission. In cooperation with regional oversight bodies, the German Federal Insurance Office developed a guide issued in 1985 which laid down applicable standards. In particular, this guide encompasses details on office space requirements.

The German SAI audited the office space required by a social insurance bodies that intended to build a new office block. We found that the required space exceeded by more than one third the space stipulated by the office space standards for federal government departments. The social insurance bodies based its calculation on the guide. According to the guide, IT workplaces were to be provided with additional space. The office space standards of federal government departments do not provide for such a rule.

The German SAI alerted the German Federal Insurance Office to this outdated practice. Additional space for IT workplaces is today no longer required.

Following the German SAI’s recommendation, the German Federal Insurance Office deleted the relevant passage in the guide that “needed revision anyway”. This step will prevent social insurance bodies from building and maintaining office premises exceeding those of federal government departments.

 

2014 Annual report No. 49 - €11.2 million of unnecessary expenditure on an engine testing facility avoided

The Navy plans to erect an engine-testing facility that can operate under all weather conditions for eight long-range maritime patrol aircraft. Neither the necessity nor the cost-effectiveness of the testing facility has been proven. Moreover, the planned testing facility involves considerable constructional and financial risks.

In 2004, the Armed Forces had purchased eight P-3C ORION long-range maritime patrol aircraft plus a test facility for their engines from the Royal Dutch Navy. The aircraft were in poor technical condition. This required considerable repair work. In 2008, it was found that the components of the test facility stored at the Nordholz Naval Air Base were not in serviceable condition. In response, the Armed Forces planned to procure a new testing facility. It commissioned the building administration with planning the construction of a testing facility that can be operated in all weather conditions, to be used only by the Navy for testing the engines of the P-3C ORION aircraft.

By means of the testing facility, the Navy intends to enhance the operative readiness of the eight long-range maritime patrol aircraft. The building administration found out that, despite having larger numbers of such aircraft, other nations did not have a testing facility meeting the requirements formulated by the German Navy. The building administration consulted experts to identify the ideal structure of the facility and to ensure noise abatement. The functioning of the testing facility is to be demonstrated only after it has become operative. The building administration did not exclude the possibility that subsequent improvement work would be necessary.

As a result of our audit, we criticised that the Armed Forces did not respond to the considerable constructional and financial risks by reviewing the requirements of the testing facility and reassessing the project. We expressed doubts as to whether having the testing facility in place would significantly improve the operative availability of the aircraft because problems in this respect were not caused by the exchange of engines but rather by the poor technical condition of the aircraft and the resulting necessity to carry out lengthy repairs.

We have urged the Defence Ministry not to have the all-weather-capable testing facility erected as long as the constructional and financial risks involved and the cost-effectiveness of the facility remain unclear.

 

2014 Annual report No. 42 - Unnecessary adaptive traffic control system built on motorway A 14: State of Saxony-Anhalt refunds €700,000 to the Government

The State of Saxony-Anhalt had an unnecessary system for temporary hard shoulder running on federal motorway A 14 built at the expense of and without the consent of the Federal Government. Construction costs totalled €700,000.

In order to increase the traffic capacity of Federal Motorway A 14, the road construction administration of the State of Saxony-Anhalt planned a system for temporary hard shoulder running between the Schönebeck and Magdeburg-Reform junctions. The Federal Transport Ministry considered this system as unnecessary. Therefore, it did not approve the preliminary plan of the road construction administration and prohibited that the State’s transport ministry further pursue the planning and construction of the system.

Nevertheless, the State’s transport ministry ordered its road construction administration to have the system for temporary hard shoulder running built. The road construction administration financed the costs of €700,000 from federal funds. The Federal Transport Ministry was not informed of the construction of the system.

We asked the Federal Transport Ministry to recover the federal funds of €700,000 unduly used by the State. Meanwhile, the State of Saxony-Anhalt has refunded this amount to the Federal Government.

 

2014 Annual report No. 40 - Federal Government may save €10 million by not having a tunnel built

The road construction administrations of the States of Brandenburg and Berlin are planning a tunnel for mostly urbanistic reasons. The protection of local residents can be achieved without building a tunnel. The Federal Government may save €10 million by not having the tunnel built.

The tunnel is to be 150 metres long and is to be part of the planned Ahrensfelde bypass of federal road B 158. In the tunnel area, the route is to run closely past multi-storey residential houses. In the first planning stage, the Brandenburg road construction administration studied several options but discarded the tunnel option for financial and other reasons. However, the road construction administration eventually continued to plan for the tunnel option. The Federal Transport Ministry approved this plan. The tunnel is to reduce the partition of the neighbourhood which could result from the erection of noise abatement walls. However, the tunnel is not to be level with the adjacent ground but to stick out up to four metres. The road construction administration forecast that the proportion of trucks in the total traffic load would be 7 per cent in 2025. However, it calculated the noise abatement need on the basis of a standard proportion of 20 per cent laid down in relevant guidance. We objected to this. In response, the Federal Transport Ministry asked the road construction administration to recalculate the noise abatement need. Apart from that, the Ministry stated that the planned tunnel would vitiate the neighbourhood less than other solutions and therefore was advantageous.

We consider a ground-level option with noise abatement walls as sufficient. It would meet the legal requirements for noise abatement. After recalculation of the noise abatement need, the administration can reduce the vitiation of the residential neighbourhood concerned by using transparent noise abatement walls. The Federal Government may thus save €8 million in construction costs and another €2 million in maintenance costs.

 

2013 Annual report – spring report No. 06 - Expensive planning of the construction of a bridge of Federal Motorway A 20 across the river Oste

The Federal Transport Ministry intends to have an unnecessarily high bridge near Bremervörde for the Federal Motorway A 20 to cross the river Oste. A bridge nearly 1 metre lower would be sufficient.

The planned bridge is in the 6th building section of A 20 and nearly 280 metres long. The road works administration estimates the construction costs at €11.4 million, while we estimate that these costs will amount to at least €13.9 million. The planned air draught is 5.45 metres above the medium high-water level. The road works administration thinks that the height of the bridge is necessary to enable working boats to pass under it for purposes of river and dike maintenance and to preserve ecological passability under the bridge structure.

In our opinion, a height of 4.50 metres will be sufficient for permitting maintenance work to be performed with the usual heavy equipment, the more so since the water level drops by 1.30 metres at low tide. The requirements imposed by the applicable “Memorandum for the installation of wildlife crossings for ensuring the connectivity of habitats near roads” would be completely complied with. Finally, this would also be sufficient for river transport, since only sports and recreational vessels and not cargo vessels can navigate there.

We demanded that the Federal Transport Ministry correct the height of the bridge over the river Oste. We expect that this will generate savings of about €1 million. Moreover, the consumed area would be about 900 square metres less. The planning modification would mitigate the impact on the landscape and the ecologically sensitive river meadows of the Oste.

 

2013 Annual report – spring report No. 05 - Federal Government should no longer use cancer-causing materials for road construction

Roads partly contain cancerogenous binders whose ingredients include tar or pitch. These materials are reused when repairing roads. This is inexpedient both in terms of ecology and economy. Rather than that, it would be possible to incinerate the cancer-causing materials nearly without any residues (thermic process).

Reuse does not only keep the substances considered as hazardous wastes in circulation. Their total quantity built into roads is already about 1,000 million tons. The contaminated quantity increases by more than 30 per cent with every instance of reuse whenever the old pavement gets mixed with uncontaminated layers.

In addition, some states built their cancerogenous waste into federal roads. This will result in future burdens on the federal budget, since the federal government is responsible for the later reprocessing or disposal. At this time, such burdens already total about €1.1 million. The Federal Transport Ministry has so far not taken adequate remedial action. For instance, the Ministry failed to demand the timely and complete submission of data about the quantities of hazardous waste used in road upgrading and maintenance.

At present, there is the risk that the quantity of contaminated wastes will increase continuously, imposing ever higher burdens on future federal budgets. We therefore consider it appropriate that the Federal Transport Ministry intends to stop reusing cancerogenous wastes. We demanded that the Ministry exercise its technical oversight over the states’ road construction administrations with the necessary vigour in order to counteract or compensate for shifts of financial burdens from the states to the Federal Government.

 

2013 Annual report – spring report No. 01 - Decommissioning of air-raid shelters lack a structured approach

The Federal Interior Ministry is arranging for decommissioning, dismantling or selling all 1,300 public air-raid shelters. In order to carry out the pertinent transactions efficiently in terms of nature, scope and timing, it must obtain a complete overview of the condition, legal status and costs for the maintenance and dismantling of all public air-raid shelters.

The Federal Government maintains public shelters in order to protect the population in a state of defence or tension. Up to the 1990’s, the Federal Government spent €1.1 billion on the construction of public air-raid shelters. Additional expenditure of €100 million was incurred for the furnishing and technical installations and another €100 million for maintenance. In 2007, the Ministry decided to decommission the public air-raid shelters. This includes measures such as dismantling or selling the shelters and decommissioning wells and technical installations. The Ministry justified its decision by arguing that, given the damage and very short warning time to be expected in case of a military attack, the public shelters cannot afford protection. Up to now, the Ministry has not yet informed Parliament about the consequences and costs of its decision.

According to estimates made in 2008, the Federal Government will have to spend up to €60 million for dismantling the shelters. The Ministry has not obtained an overview of the conditions and legal status of the public shelters. It has not developed an overall decommissioning strategy. For instance, no regulations have been developed as to which costs the Federal Government will have to bear when shelters or wells are dismantled. In practice, this has already resulted in large differences of the dismantling costs of similar structures.

We criticised the failure to inform Parliament. We have asked the Ministry to obtain a complete overview of the condition and legal status of the shelters. On this basis, it should plan the decommissioning operations in terms of type, scope and timing and should estimate the costs.

The Ministry announced that it would inform Parliament about the decommissioning during the 2014 budget deliberations. It rejected compiling a full inventory for basing plans on a sound legal footing and for cost estimates of the proposed project.

With a view to the assessment of the changed security situation, the budget funds spent on building the shelters and the considerable costs of their decommissioning, we consider Parliament needs to be involved. Furthermore, the Ministry will have to show how the shelters can be commissioned in an expedient and cost-effective way.

 

2013 Annual report No. 46 - Administrative costs overcharged: Federal Government claims refund

Following our recommendation, the Federal Building Ministry has claimed the refund of overcharged administrative costs in the amount of €0.6 million from the Free State of Saxony. Moreover, the Ministry intends to take up our suggestion that, for the sake of legal clarity, the Federal Government should agree with the states that, in connection with building work carried out by the states on behalf of the Federal Government, neither party shall invoke a statute of limitation in connection with compensation for administrative expenses.

The Federal Government paid €0.6 million too much in compensation for the performance of federal building tasks by that state. When we discovered the excess payment in the course of our audit, the Federal Government set off its claim to a refund from the state against compensation claims of the state. The state objected to the setting off because it was of the opinion that the federal claim was forfeited due to a statute of limitation. The Federal Building Ministry rejected the argument that the claim was statute-barred. The Ministry was of the opinion that the statute of limitation laid down in the Civil Code was not applicable arguing that the relation between the two parties of the agreement was not that of separate legal entities.

The Federal Building Ministry insists on setting off the refund claim. It also has taken up our suggestion to negotiate with the states, for the sake of legal clarity, about a mutual raver of the statute of limitation.

 

2013 Annual report No. 45 - Overloaded road transport of building materials

In respect to our recommendation, the Federal Transport Ministry induced the road construction administrations of the states to step up its monitoring of compliance with weight limits for transport vehicles on building sites of federal long-distance roads. This will avoid unnecessary costs of repairing to federal long-distance roads damaged as a result of overloading of vehicles. We had repeatedly pointed out the adverse effects of overloaded vehicles transporting building materials.

The building materials needed on road construction sites are usually transported by simple lorries/trucks or tractor-trailers. The maximum permissible gross laden weight of such vehicles may not exceed 40 (metric) tons.

During our audits, we found that the gross weight of transport vehicles on building sites of the road construction administrations often exceeded the permissible maximum. Individual delivery and weight notes indicated gross weights of up to 58 tons. We pointed out that overloaded transports cause considerable damage to roads and bridges. We recommended that the road construction administrations take stricter action against overloaded transports of building material.

The Federal Transport Ministry followed our recommendations and issued guidance to the states’ road construction administrations, urging them to clarify by appropriate provisions in the building contracts that transport vehicles may not exceed the permissible maximum weight and that overloading will be reported as an administrative offence which carries a penalty.

 

2013 Annual report No. 44 - Optimised construction of the Kramer Tunnel: millions saved and safety risks reduced

In response to our recommendation, the Federal Transport Ministry and the road construction administration of the Free State of Bavaria had initially built only the rescue tunnel for the Kramer Tunnel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The knowledge thereby generated about the difficult geological and hydrological conditions of the Kramer Massif is now used to determine the method of construction of the main tunnel. Thus, costs of several millions of euros will be saved and safety risks will be reduced.

On behalf of the Transport Ministry, the road construction administration of the Free State of Bavaria is planning the Garmisch-Partenkirchen bypass, which will be routed west of the town through a tunnel underneath the Kramer Massif at a length of 3.6 km. The Kramer Tunnel is to consist of a single-tube main tunnel and a rescue tunnel passable for vehicles. The road construction administration planned to invite tenders jointly for both tunnels. It intended to start with the construction of the rescue tunnel. Work on the main tunnel was to start as early as four months after that.

We audited the construction project with the assistance of our Stuttgart field office. We found that, owing to inaccessibility of the Massif, the road construction administration did not know the geological and hydrological conditions for the whole length of the tunnel. We considered it likely that geological fault zones, loose stone layers or ground water would impair the works and endanger the workers. The road construction administration would have neither been able to take regard to such factors when inviting tenders for the main tunnel nor when deciding about the construction method.

We urged the Transport Ministry first to invite tenders only for the construction of the rescue tunnel. The road construction administration was to use the knowledge gained about geological and hydrological conditions to determine the method of construction of the main tunnel and to make a detailed estimate of the building costs.

The Transport Ministry and the road construction administration complied with our demand. This resulted in cost savings in the range of millions of euros and a reduction of the safety risk.

 

2013 Annual report No. 43 - Follow-up audit of the structural conversion of a crossing leads to reimbursement

Our follow-up audit led to the refund to the Federal Government of €420,000 by the road construction administration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The said administration had failed to timely and completely claim financial contributions from the State and the municipality concerned towards the costs of the structural conversion of a crossing.

The road construction administration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia had a crossing of federal road B 239 in the town of Detmold converted at a cost of €800,000. The crossing links a state road and a municipal road with the federal road. The apportionment of the conversion costs is governed by the Federal Trunk Roads Act. Already in 2008, we alerted the road construction administration to deficiencies in the apportionment of the costs. We had found that, contrary to the Federal Trunk Roads Act, the road construction administration had not charged parts of the costs to the municipality and the State. At that time, the road construction administration had promised to do so retroactively.

With the support of our Stuttgart field office, we conducted a follow-up audit in 2011 to ascertain whether the road construction administration had done as promised. We found that the road construction administration had neither apportioned costs for a traffic light system nor value-added tax. Moreover, it delayed claiming the financial contribution from the municipality by more than one year. We urged the road construction administration to correct the erroneous apportionment and to refund the amounts unduly charged to the Federal Government.

The road construction administration complied with our demand and refunded €420,000 to the Federal Government.

 

2013 Annual report No. 42 - No construction of an unnecessary traffic control system at a cost of €4 million

 In response to our recommendation, the road construction administration of the State of Schleswig-Holstein waived the construction of an unnecessary adaptive traffic control system on federal motorway A 1 near Lübeck, which was to cost €4 million.

In the Lübeck area, federal motorway A 1 has six lanes. The Schleswig-Holstein road construction administration planned the construction of an adaptive traffic control system with a length of 11.2 km on this motorway section. It estimated the construction tests at €2.3 million. Adaptive traffic control systems are to safely control the flow of traffic in line with the current traffic load.

Our Stuttgart field office supported us when we examined the planning of the adaptive traffic control system in 2012. We found that the Schleswig-Holstein road construction administration had not taken into account construction costs of €1.7 million. In addition, the road construction administration had based its investment appraisal on obsolete data about accidents and congestions on the motorway section concerned.

Following our advice, the road construction administration re-examined its estimates and came to the conclusion that an adaptive traffic control system on A 1 in the Lübeck area is unnecessary because it did not improve the traffic flow.

 

2013 Annual report No. 41 - Misuse of federal budget funds for state road upgrade: Brandenburg reimburses more than €3 million to Federal Government

In response to our advice, the Brandenburg road works administration has reimbursed an amount of more than €3 million to the Federal Government. Brandenburg commissioned a widening programme for a road that it had downgraded from federal to state level before.

In the year 2000, the Federal Highway Research Institute (Institute) included a section of the federal trunk road no. B 115 into a research project in the field of road safety. The planning for the necessary construction of fast lanes and the road surface dressing was done by the Land of Brandenburg. It was not finalised before 2003.

In the same year, the Federal Ministry of Transport agreed with the road works administration on downgrading the respective section of the B 115 to state level as it was no longer used by long-distance traffic. As from 2004, the responsibility for road construction and maintenance and all related tasks were delegated to the Land.

In 2004 and 2005, the road works administration had the road widening programme carried out as planned and charged the related expenditure totalling €3.26 million to the Federal Government. The administration assumed that construction costs for the research project were still borne by the Federal Government even if it did no longer fund construction and maintenance.

We criticised that the administration had used federal budget funds to widen a road that had been downgraded to state level. The widening programme was not necessary for federal mission performance. In response to our advice on this topic, the road works administration reimbursed the construction costs amounting to €3.26 million to the Federal Government in 2012.

 

2013 Annual report No. 40 - Insufficient assessment of the need for emergency lanes

The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development and the road works administration of the Land Schleswig-Holstein plan to widen federal trunk road no. B 207 to four lanes and provide emergency lanes. We hold that traffic forecasts do not indicate any need for this type of motorway-like upgrade. By reducing the project scope, the Federal Government could save €22 million. In our opinion, the Ministry and the road works administration should reassess the actual need for emergency lanes.

On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, the road works administration of Schleswig-Holstein plans to widen federal trunk road no. B 207 to four lanes and provide emergency lanes. The section on the Fehmarn Sound Bridge connecting the island of Fehmarn with the mainland will remain a two-lane road. Costs for the upgrade are estimated at €90 million, of which €22 million will go into the construction of emergency lanes.

The road works administration considers emergency lanes to be necessary due to the crucial importance of the B 207. Once upgraded to four lanes, the B 207 is supposed to close the gap between the federal motorway A 1 and the planned tunnel link to Denmark across the Fehmarn Belt. Moreover, the administration argued that emergency lanes were necessary for reasons of road safety. Some sections of the four-lane motorway A 1 do not have emergency lanes. While the tunnel will be constructed with four lanes plus emergency lanes, there are no emergency lanes on the connecting roads to the Danish hinterland.

As forecasts predict light traffic for the B 207, we see no need for this type of motorway-like upgrade. Emergency lay-bys are sufficient to meet road safety requirements. The administration's plans do not give due consideration to the fact that, for the time being, the B 207 will only have two lanes on the Fehmarn Sound Bridge. Furthermore, the planning insufficiently assesses economic and environmental impacts arising from the construction of emergency lanes.

We recommended that the administration abandon emergency lanes project and build lay-bys instead. This would generate federal savings of €22 million. In our opinion, the Ministry and the road works administration should reassess the actual need for emergency lanes.

 

2013 Annual report No. 39 - Proposed noise protection wall virtually ineffective

A road works authority plans to build a noise protection wall worth €900,000 which would be nearly ineffective. We demanded that the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development ensure that federal budget funds earmarked for noise protection are used effectively and efficiently.

In the Bavarian municipality of Diedorf, the road works authority intends to build a noise protection wall for residents living near a new federal trunk road to be constructed. While the wall would protect residents from road noise, it would not block out the much louder train noise coming from an adjacent railway line.

The road works authority tried in vain to develop a noise abatement plan in cooperation with the federally owned Deutsche Bahn AG to adequately protect residents from train noise. Deutsche Bahn gave noise protection investment at other locations higher priority.

We advised the Ministry that the proposed noise protection wall was inefficient as its enormous costs were not matched by any appropriate benefit. We expect the wall to be constructed at a site where it will yield maximum benefit for residents and protect them from both road and railway noise. The Ministry should take leadership to help ensure that the Deutsche Bahn AG build the wall between the railway line and the residential buildings.

 

2013 Annual report No. 19 - Federal Police renounces the unnecessary construction of office and laboratory premises

In response to our recommendation, the Federal Police renounced a construction project for new office and laboratory premises for its research and test centre in Lübeck. Instead, it accommodated the staff concerned in an existing federal property. This will save €700,000 in federal expenditures.

The Federal Police built up a central research and test laboratory for command, control and operational equipment. This included devices for detecting objects and dangerous substances such as explosives. Such equipment is used e.g. for security checks at airports. The research and test laboratory evaluates and accepts these items. The Federal Police intended to build new office and laboratory premises for the staff at a planned expenditure of €700,000.

We found that the Federal Police had not conducted an investment appraisal for this construction project. In particular, it had failed to consider other options for accommodation, although federal premises on the same property were unoccupied.

We recommended that the Federal Police use the existing premises to accommodate staff. The Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Police followed our recommendation, permanently accommodating the staff concerned in another building available.

 

2013 Special report –public work contracts and corruption prevention

The Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic (NKÚ) and the Supreme Audit Institution of the Federal Republic of Germany (BRH) have conducted parallel audits of EU-wide awarding of public works contracts and corruption prevention in their respective countries.

In this context, the working groups of the two SAIs compared the legal frameworks and administrative regulations in the Czech Republic and in Germany and the results of their parallel audits which they conducted specifically in the fields of building construction and road construction. The key findings were:

2.1
The EU Directives on the awarding of public works contracts have been transposed into national law both in the Czech Republic and in Germany (items 1 and 3.1).

2.2
Corruption prevention is not only the purpose of the EU Directives but also of the national procurement rules of both countries, which partly differ as to their points of emphasis and degree of detail.

2.3
In both countries, an essential requirement to be met by the tender documents is that they have to include all information needed for appropriately drawing up bids. The specifications must be neutral and not include any requirements that restrict competition.

The tender documents in Germany largely complied with these requirements. In the Czech Republic the problem of determining the subject of the contract largely exists.

In Germany, public works are to be divided into lots whenever possible in order to promote competition. According to the BRH’s findings, this requirement was largely met in Germany. The NKÚ’s audits showed that awarding large volumes of public road works without division into lots or division in only very large lots may impair competition and result in a restriction to only a few large companies.

These restrictions of market potential may result in major cost increases and bear the risk of undue price negotiations and collusion. Legal provisions of both countries enable, under certain conditions, the contracting authorities to award contracts of additional or modified construction works if the need for this arises after concluding the contract (item 4.1).

2.4
The respective requirements for determining the type of award were largely complied with in both countries.

According to the provisions of the Czech Republic, the contracting authorities may freely choose between open and restricted procedures. In contrast, the relevant German provisions in procurement and budgetary law stipulate the precedence of the open procedure both for EU-wide tenders and for national tenders known as public invitations to tender. This enables more enterprise to submit bids. This reduces the risk of corruption, makes price-fixing by collusion of bidders difficult and produces the best results in terms of value for money.

In the case of major work projects whose estimated total value reached or exceeded a threshold set by the EU, the contracting authorities audited always applied Europe-wide tendering procedures. When determining the type of award procedure, the correct estimation of the contract value is of essential importance. In Germany, databases for objective setting estimated public works prices are used, especially in the area of building construction. The data is based on evaluations of construction projects already completed. In the Czech Republic, the databases are used only in the area of road construction, but they are not efficient tool as yet (item 4.2).

2.5
Where contracts for work projects are to be awarded by EU-wide tendering procedures, prior information and contract notices have to be published.

This is to strengthen competition by allowing interested enterprises to prepare at an early stage for submitting bids. As a rule, the construction authorities audited complied with this requirement. In isolated cases, errors in the information released, incorrect application of provisions and/or a lack of controls may have impaired competition (item 4.3).

2.6
The selection of bidders for participation in restricted award procedures is particularly vulnerable to manipulation. Under EU law, the number of bidders invited must be sufficiently high to guarantee genuine competition.

The selection criteria must be objective, non-discriminatory and must be published in advance. In addition to EU requirements, the contracting authorities in both countries are to alternate as frequently as possible among the enterprises to be invited when selecting participants. In Germany, there are partly very detailed requirements to counteract the risk of manipulation. In some cases, the audited bodies did not take regard to the requirements. In the Czech Republic, the selection decisions made were not always plausible (item 4.4).

2.7
In both countries, the contracting authorities have to ensure, during the tender stage, that all enterprises interested in submitting a tender receive identical information. To avoid collusion that would restrict competition, any contacts among these enterprises and professionals that were involved in drawing up the specifications have to be prevented to the greatest extent possible. The corresponding provisions in Germany are more extensive than those in the Czech Republic. However, the audited construction administrations in Germany did not comply with requirements in some cases (item 4.5).

2.8
In both countries, the opening of the bids must comply with the cross-check and transparency principles. The requirements for the marking, documentation, preservation and secrecy of the bids are to restrict the scope for manipulation and are particularly detailed in Germany. The audits in both countries revealed only few deficiencies (item 4.6).

2.9
Examination and evaluation of the bids are regulated in both countries by requirements for structural organization and procedures. The respective German rules are more comprehensive but were not always, complied with by the audited contracting authorities. For instance, contracting authorities passed bids on to third parties for examination without first inspecting them and without adequately documenting any conspicuous feature. The bids were thus inadequately protected against subsequent manipulations (item 4.7).

2.10
On completion of EU-wide contract award procedures, the participating enterprises are to be informed about the intended contract award before the latter is finalised. This legal protection rule also is designed to prevent corruptive action. The law of the Czech Republic provides for judicial review of contract award procedures also for national tenders. Only in few cases, the notification of the enterprises was not appropriately ensured (item 4.8).

2.11
The documentation of the contract award procedures by the audited construction authorities in the two countries was not always complete or plausible. In the case of some procedures, the transparency requirement, which applies throughout the EU, had not been adequately observed in the contract award memos. Moreover, some of the deficiencies found diminished the corruption prevention effect of the documentation. The contracting authorities of both countries largely complied with their reporting duties (item 4.9).

 

2012 Annual report – spring report No. 05 - Waiver of a planned tunnel for a federal road would permit savings of at least €12.7 million

In our opinion, the construction of a tunnel by which the federal road B 304 is to cross below a municipal road near Reitmehring is unnecessary. The crossing of the two roads can be designed so as to achieve traffic safety and effectiveness, if the crossing area is flattened and provided with a lane for turning traffic and a traffic light. If this option is adopted, the Federal Government will save at least €12.7 million.

Federal road B 304 runs parallel to the federal motorway A 8 between Munich and Salzburg and connects regional centres such as Ebersberg, Wasserburg and Traunstein. Near Reitmehring, a village belongs to Wasserburg, B 304 crosses a municipal road. In 2004, the Bavaria State construction administration planned to make the crossing saver and increase its capacity for traffic. To do so, the area of the crossing was to be flattened and the crossing was to be provided with lanes for turning traffic and with traffic lights. Moreover, the plan called for a flyover by which B 304 was to cross the nearby railway line. These measures were to cost €8 million.

For reasons connected with urban development, the Town of Wasserburg objected to this plan. In response, the road construction administration waived this option and instead planned for a tunnel with a length of 130 metres by means of which B 304 was to cross below the municipal road. According to the Federal Transport Ministry, this variant would cost €20.7 million plus €0.1 million annually for operating and maintaining the tunnel. The Ministry approved this plan 2012 on grounds that this crossing was an accident black spot. Moreover, it was argued that B 304 connected the metropolitan area of Munich with supra-regional centre Salzburg and took evasion traffic as long as motorway A 8 was not upgraded to six lanes.

In our opinion, building a tunnel is unnecessary. The accident statistics do not show that the crossing is an accident black spot. B 304 connects regional centres and not metropolitan areas or supra-regional centres. The assumption of evasion traffic is not substantiated and is irrelevant for the upgrading of the federal road. Even as late as in 2008, the road construction administration had crossing with traffic lights built on B 304 at the Ebersberg bypass. We therefore asked the Federal Transport Ministry to withdraw its approval of the tunnel construction. The Federal Government would thus save at least €12.7 million. If the Town of Wasserburg and the State of Bavaria insists on the previous plan for reasons of urban development, they will have to bear the additional costs of construction and maintenance.

 

2012 Annual report – spring report No. 03 - Costly building erected without adequate prior organisational study

The German Statutory Accident Insurance, the umbrella association of occupational accident insurance funds enlarges its headquarters premises in Berlin at a cost of €48.5 million. The planned floor space in the new office building exceeds the umbrella association’s needs by 2,700 square metres. It intends to let this excess floor space rather than use it itself. The umbrella organisation should speedily consider options for using the new building in order to optimise its premises and staff resources at all of its three locations..

In May 2011, the umbrella association decided to acquire a property in the Berlin government district and to erect a new office building. When estimating its floor space needs and the sizes of the offices, it exceeded the relevant standards set for federal departments and agencies (by 700 square metres). Furthermore, it planned for reserve floor space for relocating organisational units from other locations (2,000 square metres). Apart from the office space in the new building, planning is allowed for a conference centre with a floor space of 1,500 square metres, the need for which was not adequately substantiated at planning stage.

We pointed out that no valid organisational study of all locations was made before launching the project. Moreover, the umbrella organisation limited the scope for the selection of suitable properties by its generous floor space planning and the demand for the large conference centre. Now that the decision to erect the building has been made and work actually started, the association should speedily analyse its organisation at all of its locations, optimise floor space and staff resources at its other locations in St. Augustin and Munich and explore and make use of savings potentials.

 

2013 Good Practice Note 05/01 – Steering of road construction programmes

Principles

(1) Road construction programmes should include projects only where the programme goals can be achieved within the scheduled programme duration. To this end, suitable indicators need to be defined to verify target achievement of the projects.

(2) The budget funds earmarked for programme projects must be used exclusively for these projects. Continuous monitoring of construction costs is absolutely needed. In case of cost changes, appropriate action needs to be taken to ensure that programme goals are achieved.

(3) After programme conclusion, road construction programmes should be evaluated to provide evidence of the successful use of budget funds.

Background

In the years 2008-2010, the German SAI audited several road construction programmes. For these programmes, extra budget funds were appropriated on top of the normal road construction budget in order to start new building projects.

(1) The selection of projects was neither transparent nor were construction periods aligned with scheduled programme duration. The programme goals did not significantly differ from the general goals which the authorities responsible for road construction defined under their general requirements planning. It was therefore no surprise that there was no justification for including or not a project in a programme. The allocation of project funds also lacked transparency. This was facilitated by extensive eligibility for cover to use the appropriated funds for other new construction projects than the intended ones (‘virement’). The German SAI therefore recommended that projects likely not to achieve programme goals be excluded already at the programme planning stage. In particular, we consider projects as suitable for inclusion in programmes, if they do not require lengthy preparation and can be implemented in a short term.

(2) The audit revealed that, at the end of the programme period, at least 40 per cent of the appropriated funds had not been used for programme projects. A major reason for this was that the funds were made available without regard to the construction progress. Increased construction costs were tolerated and financed from the regular road construction budget. Road works administrations did not use the option of cancelling projects in order to keep spending within budget. As a result of all this, the completion of projects scheduled in road construction  programmes  will  have  to  be  funded  from  future  general  road  construction budgets. The German SAI suggested that project control arrangements be implemented to ensure full availability of programme funds for projects during the entire programme period.

(3) Up to now, the road works administrations have treated road construction programmes as if they meant an increase of the general road construction budget. Programme projects were not given any priority over other new general construction projects. The German SAI therefore considers it necessary to make a substantive distinction between road construction programmes and the general day-to-day road construction tasks. Only then do they acquire the priority intended by setting up the programmes. To achieve programme goals, it is necessary to steer programmes. The Parliament (as budget legislator) needs to be informed about any problems in project run and programme progress. Doing so should be mandatory, since it is the Parliament that decides about future programmes.

Notes

In its meeting of 25 February 2011, the Parliament (Public Accounts Committee – PAC) endorsed the 2010 annual report item “Targets not met, cost and time overruns in road construction programmes”. The above guidelines present the Parliament’s resolution in a generalised form. Implementation of the resolution in the Federal Transport Ministry is still pending because no new programmes have been set up since then. The annual report item was based on audits of the Anti-Congestion Programme, of the Gap-Closing Programme and of the Economic Stimulus Programme.

 

2012 Annual report No. 82 - Economic stimulus programme: Construction projects often do not meet actual needs and are carried out inefficiently

Government stimulus programmes aiming at supporting construction projects are hardly suitable for swiftly boosting the building sector as such projects require extensive planning. Due to tight deadlines, construction projects involve the risk that bodies responsible are not able to prove the need for implementing such projects in a proper and timely manner and to reasonably appraise the projects’ efficiency. Moreover, it could not be ensured that a 2009-2011 economic stimulus programme led to the maximum benefit for Government as expected by Parliament.

We are of the opinion that the economic impact of spending the funds was only modest because such funds had not been spent quickly enough and had also been used to finance non-additional measures.

Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development ignored the objective of achieving the maximum benefit for a given level of expenditure. The Ministry argued that it was not able to pursue this objective due to a lack of time and methods. As a consistent, effective and continuous energy management had not yet been in place, the Ministry did not have the required data. As a result, it will be (nearly) impossible to provide evidence for a permanent relief of the federal budget that is attributable to the programme. Similar difficulties will arise in proving a permanent reduction in costs caused by climate change and carbon dioxide emissions.

The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development acknowledged shortcomings in implementing this economic stimulus programme, pointing out, however, that its decisions were based on expediency particularly in order to ensure that the programme’s funds were fully spent. Due to extremely tight deadlines, the Ministry had to tighten existing procedures and to make them more flexible. Therefore, the efficiency of measures could only be appraised at a later stage of construction planning and the need for such measures could, to some extent, only be proven upon completion.

The comments of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development support our findings.

 

2012 Annual report No. 56 - City-State of Bremen repays €0.5 million to the Federal Government for building construction projects

The Federal Government paid too much to the City-State of Bremen for construction projects. Following our recommendation, the Federal Building Ministry demanded a refund from the City-State. As a result, €0.5 million were returned to the federal budget.

As a remuneration for federal building projects, the Federal Government made unjustified payments of about €0.5 million to the City-State of Bremen during the years 2002-2006.

The City-State had set up a federal building division for the execution of construction projects within the remit of the Federal Government. According to an agreement with the City-State, the Federal Government was to assume the resulting personnel costs. However, less staff was employed within the division than had been stipulated in the agreement.

Based on our audit findings, the excess payments were returned to the federal budget.

 

2012 Annual report No. 55 - Rules adopted to accelerate federal construction projects and those eligible for grants are effective only to a limited extent

The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development temporarily introduced simplified administrative procedures in order to accelerate the federal building construction projects and those eligible for grants. However, this measure only had a positive effect on some projects. In the case of construction projects eligible for grants, the quality of reference documentation was adversely impacted by the fact that building authorities had not been involved.

Therefore, a permanently increased cost limit is unlikely to lead to accelerating construction projects in the long run. Furthermore, the significantly lower quality of reference documentation is not acceptable as this will probably cause a considerable increase in expenditure on public construction projects.

Under the “Pact for Employment and Stability in Germany to Safeguard Jobs, Strengthen the Forces for Growth and Modernise the Country” the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development was required to simplify the implementation of federal building construction projects and those eligible for grants, ensuring that funds were targeted effectively as quickly as possible. This step aimed at both construction projects for which Federal Government provided additional funding and all other construction projects. To comply with the requirements, the Ministry increased the cost limit, beyond which construction projects have to be approved by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development or the Federal Ministry of Defence, from €1 million to €5 million. It also allowed construction projects eligible for grants receiving federal and state grants of up to €5 million in aggregate to be implemented without involving building authorities provided that the beneficiaries had sufficient expertise to carry out such projects.

We found that approved reference documentation often did not meet the minimum requirements for appropriately assessing construction costs. The documentation did not include, for example, statements on the intended use and expected costs of use, space requirement plans or capital expenditure appraisals. In addition to that, the quality of reference documentation relative to construction projects eligible for grants was adversely impacted since they lacked review by building authorities. Theprocedural changes often even caused delays in implementing federal construction projects. Where the approval process for reference documentation had been speeded up successfully this was, in our opinion, attributable to

  • the tight time frame set to spend the additional funds,
  • the temporary nature of the procedural simplification and
  • the concentration of all efforts on handling such cases.

We recommended that, in the case of federal construction projects totalling between €1 million and €5 million, the bodies responsible should not so often refrain from having the reference documentation reviewed and approved by the highest technical authority.

The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development will take into account our findings and recommendations when deciding on a permanently increased cost limit applicable to federal construction projects and those eligible for grants.

 

2012 Annual report No. 54 - Ecological model project “Federal Environmental Office Dessau”: Operation of premises is not exemplary

The operating costs of the new building for the Federal Environmental Office at Dessau are significantly above the planned target and above the average of conventional buildings. The Federal Building Ministry has neither appropriately planned this ecological model project nor analysed its results. It has thus been unable to judge the success of energy monitoring and to use the knowledge generated by the model project for other federal building projects.

The Federal Building Ministry had the new building for the Federal Environmental Office at Dessau planned as an ecological model project. Therefore, it had installed innovative technological devices such as a geothermal heat exchanger and a refrigerating machine fuelled by solar energy. The Ministry intended to ensure the accomplishment of the energetic targets for building operation by means of an energy monitoring system for recording processes and metered values.

Our audit revealed that the funding of the energy monitoring system was not secured until two years after the commencement of construction. It was therefore necessary to convert and enhance measuring devices that were already installed but did not meet the requirements of energy monitoring.

Moreover, the Federal Building Ministry failed to analyse the results and effectiveness of the energy monitoring system.

We further found that the average annual operating costs of the building are about 50 per cent higher than those of conventional office buildings and the planned costs. We attributed this above all to the high costs of maintenance of the expensive technological devices which were not actually set off by significantly lower heating, electricity and water supply costs than those of conventional office buildings. It is obvious that lower operating costs cannot be achieved in this way.

With respect to comparable projects, we recommended that the Ministry take steps to ensure funding and continuous planning and execution right from the start. Concerning energy monitoring, the Ministry should perform the effectiveness evaluation prescribed by budgetary law in order to be able to assess whether the project provided good value for money.

We also asked the Ministry to analyse the technological design of the office building in terms of the installation of innovative engineering products and of the reduction of operating costs. The Ministry must ensure that the lessons learnt from this project will be applied to the planning of federal buildings.

 

2012 Annual report No. 53 - €8.8 million refund for route inspections at federal long-distance roads

The Hessian road construction administration wrongly charged the federal budget for the costs of route inspections at federal long-distance roads. The accumulated refund claim for nine years totals €8.8 million. In response to our advice, the Federal Transport Ministry claimed this refund from the road construction administration.

The road construction administrations of the German states operate and maintain federal motorways and federal roads (federal long-distance roads) on behalf of the Federal Government. In performing these functions, they carry out route inspections especially to identify damage and obstacles. The costs of route inspections are borne by the states, while the Federal Government funds the costs of maintenance and repair.

We found that the road construction administration of the State of Hessen did not carry out road inspections separately but usually together with maintenance work. It funded both the costs of route inspection and route maintenance from federal resources.

We objected to this practice. A distinction must be drawn between route inspection and route maintenance. The Federal Government can only be charged for the maintenance work actually performed. According to our calculations, the road construction administration thus inappropriately charged the Federal Government €8.8 million in the years 2003-2011.

With reference to our audit findings, the Federal Transport Ministry has claimed a refund of €8.8 million from the road construction administration within a specified deadline. The Ministry reserved the right to set off its refund claim against reimbursement claims of the road construction administration. Moreover, the Ministry demanded that the road construction administration ensure, retroactively from 1 January 2012, that the Federal Government is neither charged the personnel costs for route inspection nor the related material costs.

 

2012 Annual report No. 52 - Changed plans for federal long-distance roads generate savings of €14 million

In numerous cases, we drew the attention of the Federal Transport Ministry and the road construction administrations of the German states to costly plans for federal long-distance roads. In response, these authorities modify the plans. They thus saved federal funds of €14 million in the years 2008-2011.

We audited numerous construction projects at federal long-distance roads at the planning stage. We found

  • that some works were unnecessary, e.g. the relocation of a road and
  • that the road construction administrations had not considered cost-effective alternative options, e.g. had planned bridges for junctions, although rotaries without bridges would have been sufficient.


We pointed out savings potentials to enable the road construction administrations to avoid unnecessary expenditure on road construction projects already during the planning stage. We hold that it is an essential task of the administrations to ensure, already at the planning stage, that construction projects will be limited to what is necessary and that savings potentials are exploited. The Federal Transport Ministry has to monitor the planning activities of the road construction administrations for compliance with these objectives and avoidance of extravagant construction standards.

Based on our recommendations, the Federal Transport Ministry and the states’ road construction administrations revised, complemented or adjusted their plans. They gave up their original plans and opted for cost-effective alternatives. They thus generated savings for the Federal Government in an aggregate amount of €14 million in the period 2008-2011. We expect the Federal Transport Ministry and the states’ road construction administrations to better align their planning procedures and building standards to take into account performance criteria.

 

2012 Annual report No. 51 -Planning of a bypass optimised: €2.5 million saved by fewer bridges

In response to our recommendation, the Federal Transport Ministry required the road construction administration to modify its plans for a bypass. As a result, federal funds in the amount of at least €2.5 million will be saved.

The Bavarian road construction administration is planning to build the Stadtsteinach Bypass of federal road B 303. Originally, it provided for a total of 13 bridges to overpass and underpass farm roads, country lanes and water bodies on a road section of six kilometres.

We audited this planning and one of our objections was that the road construction administration did not use all saving potentials.

We advised the Federal Transport Ministry that planning can be optimised. Six of the 13 bridges could be dispensed with by relocating road crossings or replacing them by rotaries and by bringing farm roads together or connecting them at the same level. This may generate savings of up to €3.4 million.

The Federal Transport Ministry implemented our recommendation. It asked the Bavarian road construction administration to revise the planning of the bypass. As a result, four bridges will be dispensed with. This will lead to savings of €2.5 million. Moreover, the road construction administration is to consider the need for two further bridges. The result of the review is still pending. We will check whether the result is technically appropriate.

 

2012 Annual report No. 50 - Upgrading of a state road wrongly financed from federal funds: road construction administration refunds €1.2 million

The North Rhine-Westphalia road construction administration upgraded state road L 288 near Lohmar in connection with the reconditioning of the crossing with federal road B 484. It used federal funds to pay construction costs of €1.2 million for the upgrading of L 288. We objected to this funding mode. There is no legal basis that would require the Federal Government to pay for this work. The road construction administration repaid this amount to the Federal Government.

The road construction administration of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia reconditioned the Lohmar bypass of federal road B 484. In the course of this construction project, it adapted the crossing of federal road B 484 with federal road B 507 and state road L 288 to the new bypass. In connection with this work, the road construction administration upgraded state road L 288 on a length of 1 km at a cost of €1.2 million. It increased the number of lanes from two to three, rehabilitated a bridge, and built a noise abatement wall and a concrete guide wall.

We objected to the charging of the costs of upgrading state road L 288 to the Federal Government. While the latter must take up a share of the costs to the extent that they have been incurred on the crossing or its immediate vicinity, the upgrading work on state road L 288 does not belong to this area.

We demanded that the road construction administration refund the costs for upgrading state road L 288 to the Federal Government. The road construction administration did so and repaid €1.2 million to the Federal Government.

 

2012 Annual report No. 49 - Simplified construction method of evacuation tunnel saves at least €25 million

Following our recommendation, the Federal Transport Ministry will change the regulations for the construction of road tunnels. As a consequence, the method of building evacuation tunnels will be significantly simplified. This can generate savings of at least €25 million for the construction of the evacuation tunnels currently planned.

The technical regulations for civil engineering works prescribe the standard method for building road tunnels and thus also evacuation tunnels. This method consists of two steps. The first is to cover the stone surface laid bare during the excavation with shotcrete as a first safety device (exterior shell). After that, the evacuation tunnel is finally secured by in-situ reinforced concrete (interior shell).

In 2004, the Federal Highway Research Institute studied various options for building evacuation tunnels. It found that the interior shells of the evacuation tunnels are built from shotcrete and that this can be a cost-effective alternative. However, the Federal Transport Ministry did not act on the results of the Institute’s research.

We pointed out that the Federal Transport Ministry did not respond to the Institute’s research findings by adjusting the existing technical regulations. Only in a few cases did the road construction administrations plan or build evacuation tunnels according to the technically simpler construction method with an interior shell of shotcrete. In our opinion, this construction method has no adverse effects on the safety and

functionality of the tunnels. Based on a conservative estimate, we assume that the construction costs for the 13 evacuation tunnels audited would be lower by more than €25 million, if the interior shells of only half of these tunnels had been built from shotcrete.

We asked the Federal Transport Ministry to prescribe the technically simpler and more cost-effective construction method for evacuation tunnels as standard construction method.

The Federal Transport Ministry has concurred with our opinion. It is now revising the technical regulations. Geological conditions permitting, both the exterior and interior shells of the evacuation tunnels are to be built from shotcrete.

 

2012 Annual report No. 48 - Mistakes in cost allocation for the construction or reconditioning of crossings between railway lines and roads

The road construction administrations of the German states inaccurately accounted for projects involving the construction or reconditioning of crossings between railway lines and roads to the disadvantage of the Federal Government. Based on our findings, the states repaid €3.4 million of federal funds which the Federal Government had paid too much. In exercising its technical oversight, the Federal Transport Ministry must make greater efforts to ensure that construction projects will in future be accurately accounted for.

The Federal Government takes up a share of the costs for the reconditioning, dismantling or new construction of a crossing between railway lines and roads. Each year, it spends about €90 million for this purpose.

We found that the road construction administrations frequently made errors in cost allocation, calculating the Federal Government’s share in the costs inaccurately. Thus they inappropriately charged the Federal Government more than €4.4 million. Based on our findings, they have refunded more than €3.4 million to the Federal Government and are considering further refunds.

We recommended that the Federal Transport Ministry simplify the compact rules for cost allocation and cost accounting. Furthermore, we demanded that the Ministry monitor the states’ road construction administrations more closely in exercising its powers of technical oversight. The Ministry is of the opinion that an adjustment of internal administrative regulations would require amendments of several Acts of Parliament.

We uphold our opinion that a simplification of the complex rules is desirable. As long as this is not done, we think it imperative that the Ministry step up its technical oversight over the states’ road construction administrations. It should urge the road construction administrations to accurately account for construction projects in connection with rail-road crossings. Furthermore, we recommend that the Ministry inform the states’ road construction administrations about the lessons that can be learnt from our audit findings so that these take corrective action and do not repeat errors.

 

2012 Annual report No. 47 - Short deadlines for road construction render extra remunerations for speeding up work unnecessary

The Federal Transport Ministry could avoid extra remunerations for speeding up work in the annual amount of €5 million. To do so, road construction administrations should accurately determine the time needed for work on the federal motorways and to stipulate short deadlines for completion of the work.

For some years, the Federal Transport Ministry has pursued the objective of reducing congestions caused by road works on federal motorways. Therefore, the road construction administrations pay additional remunerations for completing work earlier than stipulated in the contracts. These extra remunerations are to be paid to the contractors for modifying construction processes or for additional shifts worked. According to Part A of the Contracting Regulations for Public Works, extra remunerations for speeding up work are admissible only where completion prior to the contractual deadlines results in considerable advantages.

In recent years, the road construction administration paid bonuses for speeding up work in annual amounts of €5 million on average. They set generous completion deadlines. In many cases, the building contractors therefore did not need to reschedule their work nor have additional shifts worked in order to complete construction projects earlier. The considerable advantage called for by German Code for Awarding Public Services Contracts as a prerequisite for speedy work bonuses is thus not attributable to such bonuses.

The road construction administrations should accurately schedule building times and set the strictest possible deadlines. Construction work could thus be sped up without paying bonuses for speedy completion which are not compatible with purpose and intent of the relevant provisions of procurement law.

To encourage speedy work by contractors, the road construction administrations should set tight deadlines for completion. If this were done, the companies would have to allow for the required larger input of resources already when drafting their bids. At the same time, construction work would be subject to competition and the road construction administrations could obtain more favourable prices in most cases.

 

2012 Annual report No. 44 - Federal Maritime and Hydrographical Agency waives lengthening of a pier

In deviation from original planning, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographical Agency dispensed with the lengthening of a pier for one of its ships. Thus, it has saved at least €1.7 million in response to our recommendation.

The Agency planned to re-station one of its ships at the port of construction of the Hamburg Waterways and Shipping Office at Wesel. To do so, it intended to have the existing pier at that location lengthened by 80 metres and estimated the cost of doing so at €1.7 million. It failed to take follow-up costs for continuous dredging work in the port into account. Moreover, the Agency did not adequately consider alternatives. For instance, it failed to examine ways of optimising the existing pier in Wesel for its purposes.

We urged the Agency to once more assessing the cost-effectiveness of the proposed lengthening of the pier, analysing all relevant alternative options in a way that is open as to the outcome. The Agency has taken up our demand and will use the existing pier also for its ship in agreement with the Hamburg Waterways and Shipping Office.

We expect the Agency in future to carry out the necessary investment appraisals of its own accord and with the required care.

 

2012 Annual report No. 11 - Costs increases for an African Union building stopped

The Federal Foreign Office has an office building for the African Union planned and erected in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the expense of Germany. In response to our findings, the Office improved project management and controlling and thus was able to avoid further cost increases.

Even before construction started in early 2011, total expenditures increased from €20 to nearly €27 million. This was attributable to inadequate planning within the Office’s remit and to subsequent modification requested by the African Union.

The Office commissioned Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GIZ, international development corporation owned by the Federal Government, to manage the construction project. GIZ had little experience with comparable construction projects abroad for the benefit of third parties. Cost increases were caused by such factors as the need to import more building materials from Germany than originally proposed, e.g. ecological building materials and energy-efficient technologies. Further expenditure increases were due to additional requests of the African Union for more office space, elevators and an elevating truck for the cleaning of the glass roof. The Office had not agreed an expenditure ceiling with the African Union.

We asked the Office to ensure adequate cost control in order to avoid further expenditure increases and to accede to modification requests of the African Union only if the resulting extra costs are compensated by savings elsewhere.

Since the start of construction work, the Office and GIZ have been able to avoid further increases of expenditure. They agreed with the African Union on savings on such items as furniture. The Office promised that, in future, it would fund construction projects for foreign partners only if it was able to ensure appropriate implementation in terms of cost effectiveness and architectural expertise. Moreover, it pledged to agree cost ceilings in order to avoid cost increases.

 

2011 Annual report – spring report No. 04 - Omitting construction of a motorway junction may save €2.7 million

The Federal Transport Ministry may save €2.7 million if it renounces one junction for the proposed Federal Motorway A 14. Another junction which is only 2.7 km away and provides sufficient access to and from the area and links the motorway with the network of lesser roads where the volume of traffic is low.

On behalf of the Federal Transport Ministry, the road construction administration of the State of Saxony-Anhalt is planning a section of Federal Motorway A 14 between Magdeburg and Schwerin. Current planning provides for two junctions at Seehausen and Vielbaum, which would be only 2.7 km distant from each other. The Federal Transport Ministry and the road construction administration consider the Vielbaum junction necessary for connecting A 14 to subordinate roads. They argue that omitting this junction would require the users to make detours which in term would imply a negative environmental impact.

We hold that there is no need for the Vielbaum junction, since the Seehausen junction is close by and provides sufficient access to and from the area. Low traffic volumes forecast for the roads leading to the Vielbaum junction also suggest that this junction is not needed.

The additional cost of €2.7 million for building the Vielbaum junction cannot be justified, since the shortening of the distance to be travelled could bring about only a small reduction of the costs incurred by road users and of the adverse environmental impact. At the same time, regard should be taken to the fact that renouncing the Vielbaum junction will also have a positive environmental impact. The land take for road construction and the surface sealed would be smaller and less resources would be consumed.

We uphold our view that there is no need for the Vielbaum junction. The Federal Transport Ministry should therefore abandon the plan of building this junction.

 

2011 Annual report – spring report No. 03 - Potential savings of up to €25 million for the upgrading of Federal Motorway A 7

The proposed implementation as PPP project will delay the start of construction work for upgrading Federal Motorway A 7. The sections of motorway which are to be upgraded are in poor condition. They have to be maintained until work can start. The Federal Government could save maintenance costs up to €25 million, if it had these sections of motorway upgraded by means of a conventional contract.

The Federal Transport Ministry is planning to upgrade a total of 42.2 km of Federal Motorway A 7 in Lower Saxony to six lanes in four stages under a PPP arrangement. A final and definite planning approval for the second construction stage was effective in October 2010.

We found that the upgrading work will be delayed, if it is carried out under a PPP arrangement. Experience has shown that, due to their scope and complexity, PPP projects require contract-award procedures that may take about two years. Starting the contract-award procedure before all planning approvals are final and definite would be unreasonable. Concerning the last stage of the road works, such approval will not come forth before December 2014. Thus, the construction work under the PPP project cannot be expected to begin before December 2016.

The concrete lanes of the sections of motorway to be upgraded are in poor condition and need to be maintained at high cost. To upgrade these sections of motorway, it will be necessary to remove the concrete slabs already repaired. €25 million out of the estimated total maintenance costs of €60 million could be saved, if work on the construction stages were carried out consecutively under a conventional contract as soon as the respective planning approval has been obtained.

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