Berlin – Weeks of waiting for a birth certificate, an appointment to register a passport or the mandatory change of registration when moving. The declared political goal has long been to get an appointment with the citizens’ office within 14 days. The list of annoying inadequacies of the Berlin administration is a long one, so it would not have required a completely botched election with a terrifying number of irregularities. Now there are suggestions as to how things could be better. Again.
It was a remarkable appearance by someone who had apparently disappeared into oblivion for a long time: On Tuesday evening, the former mayor Klaus Wowereit said on RBB television that the city’s administration was “worse off than any district savings bank”. It doesn’t help to pump more money into the system, says Wowereit. The structures would have to be changed.
A spokesman for the interior administration indirectly confirmed how correct this inventory is on Wednesday. According to him, almost 150,000 appointments per month are now being booked in the citizens’ offices. “By September, over 200,000 more appointments were offered than in the comparable period in 2020.” Despite all these efforts, the image of an ineffective and, at best, overburdened administration persists.
Klaus Wowereit gives advice. He could have tackled it himself
Apart from the fact that Klaus Wowereit would have had every chance to change something, at least during his time as Governing Mayor from 2001 to 2014, he certainly struck a nerve. In any case, the governing mayor-designate Franziska Giffey announced structural changes in the Tagesspiegel the next day. Clear responsibilities for districts and head office are needed. In the case of projects of overall urban importance or residential construction projects, “there must be the possibility of penetration”. Among other things, she wants to develop and implement proposals for a more effective administration “very promptly” in a constitutional convention.
The idea for this has haunted political Berlin for a few months. As early as June, the Berliner Zeitung reported that the parties rarely agreed to tackle the problem in principle and wanted to convene a convention in the next legislative period.
Frank Nägele describes Franziska Giffey’s statements in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung as “a gift”. The 57-year-old is State Secretary for Administrative and Infrastructure Modernization in the Senate Chancellery. He was significantly involved in the passages of the SPD election program, from which Giffey drew in the newspaper article. With her inauguration, Nägele hopes, the process could finally get underway.
But with a convention, which may end with a constitutional amendment in two years, it would not be enough, according to Nägele. “People have to realize quickly that we understand,” he says. “We’ll have to show the citizens’ offices that we can do it.” In concrete terms, that means realizing the 14-day goal for an appointment. But there is more to it. So digitization must finally be promoted in the registry offices and the administration must be modernized.
That leaves the theme of the two levels of Berlin, the state and the districts. Nägele speaks of an “organized irresponsibility”. Because of a jumble of competencies, nobody is really responsible for anything. For Nägele it is clear: “We need a culture of responsibility. And for that we need structures. “
For the FDP administration expert Henner Schmidt, “the two-tier approach is actually good because a senate administration cannot, for example, take care of a loose pavement slab in Treptow,” as he says. But the responsibilities are not clearly separated. The result, according to Schmidt: “Unfortunately, both sides, the Senate and the districts, can live comfortably and comfortably with it.”