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2018 report - Allowances given to former federal presidents, federal chancellors and presidents of Federal Parliament - Part II: Former federal chancellors

Sep 18, 2018

0 Executive summary
We audited the allowances received by former federal chancellors (ret.) from federal budget resources. The Federal Chancellery largely confirmed the facts and figures we stated.

Our key findings are set down below:

The legislator has neither conferred functions nor powers to former federal chancellors. After the end of the term of office, the special constitutional role of a federal chancellor also ceases to exist. Still, a retired federal chancellor is entitled to an “allowance to cover the costs of ongoing public engagements”.

Initially, offices for former federal chancellors were set up "to meet continuing business obligations", "to settle ongoing tasks connected to the former position in public life within a certain time" and "to wind up the federal chancellor’s former business". While time passes after leaving office, there is less of a need for performing functions associated with the former federal chancellor position. It seems that over the course of time, the original grounds for equipping former federal chancellors with offices and staff can no longer be substantiated.

In accordance with Article 6 of the federal financial regulations (the “Federal Budget Code”), federal funds may only be used to perform federal government functions. This statutory provision sets mandatory limits on using federal funding provided to former chancellors’ offices. In any case, managing private affairs of a retired federal chancellor is not covered by the provision. We also hold that such offices are not authorised to support retired federal chancellors in earning additional income. In addition, in our view, federal budget funding may neither directly nor indirectly be used to cover any activities undertaken by former federal chancellors’ spouses. As continuing obligations decline in line with the lapse of time after the end of the office term, the Federal Chancellery must respond to decreasing workload of the offices. We noted with concern that the Federal Chancellery was not fully aware of the work done by the offices and did not secondguess the current standard entitlement to "a full lifetime allowance". If, for example, a former federal chancellor is no longer able to run an office for health reasons, the office needs to be wound up.

Using parliamentary group funds to provide, furnish and maintain offices for federal chancellors after the cessation of parliamentary membership infringes the MPs’ Act and constitutes an improper use of funds. Rather than letting parliamentary groups provide goods and funding to former chancellors, the Parliamentary Administration should directly cover such costs to avoid such infringements once a chancellor’s term of office has expired. Uniform standards should be set for the type and scope of office equipment in compliance with the principles on compliance and value for money as set out in the Federal Budget Code. The need for office space should also be reviewed periodically and adjusted.

The Federal Chancellery reimbursed any travel expenses claimed by former federal chancellors. The scope of the reimbursements was in line with the standards set for acting federal chancellors. The Federal Chancellery also failed to examine the purpose of the respective travel. In our view, eligibility for reimbursement needs to take into account as to whether a former federal chancellor travels on behalf or in the interest of the Federal Republic of Germany, or whether he/she travels for private reasons or to generate additional personal income. Eligibility for reimbursement also needs to take into account the purpose of travel when travel expenses are claimed for staff and chief chauffeurs.

The Federal Chancellery must ensure that file management and storage at the offices complies with applicable regulations. Documents may not be transferred to the private residence of a former federal chancellor. Private documents may not be managed by federal staff on federal premises. Files dating from the active term of office of a federal chancellor must be kept in the Federal Chancellery.

Federal budget funds in the range of millions of euros are spent annually on the physical protection of people and property within the former federal chancellors’ remit. We recommended that the Federal Criminal Police establish and implement a tailored protection programme, scoped in line with the respective level of threat and scoped down over time. The Federal Criminal Police referred to a strategy of 2005. According to our findings, major parts of that strategy had not been implemented until the time of our audit work. We hold that physical protection and safety-related programmes should be regularly reviewed and gradually decreased over time.

The resolution adopted by the parliamentary Budget Committee dated 8 November 2012 provided for first-ever regulations on the allowance of former federal chancellors and presidents. We consider this a good first step but it has addressed only part of the problems we stated in our report. We urgently recommend developing appropriate provisions for the future that are in line with the principles of compliance and value for money.

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