Court of Auditors report: Where the Hamburg administration needs to get better

The Court of Auditors has set out on more than 200 pages where the Senate and the authorities have miscalculated. The most important criticisms at a glance

Criticism of the Senate and the authorities exercises the Hamburger Landsrechnungshof in Hanseatic restraint. The more than 200-page annual report, however, contains numerous fields in which the city's highest-ranking auditors urge the Senate to improve.

The new accounting system still contains too many errors.

Actually, it is the job of the Court of Auditors to uphold the city, that it has properly dealt with their finances. However, the highest auditors in the city are again only under reserve. The reason is the new accounting system of the administration. Already more than ten years ago, the city started as one of the first federal states to change the administration to an up-to-date, commercial accounting system. The conversion has been completed for three years - but the inspectors still complain about many mistakes and construction sites. Some data would still have to be linked by hand. Overall, however, the auditors assuage that the consolidated financial statements present a "true picture of the net assets, financial position and results of operations". For the now audited year 2017, this meant: The city has made a loss of three billion euros.

The city does not have a sufficient overview of the condition of their possessions.

One of the main reasons for the introduction of the new accounting system was that, with the help of commercial bookkeeping, the city can also map the wear and tear of its possessions and thus get a more realistic picture of the development of assets. This is intended to make the renovation of the public infrastructure visible. For this reason, for example, renovated roads are being written off and losing value each year. But here too the Court of Auditors sees many shortcomings. As for the state of parks or playgrounds, the administration is very poorly known. In addition, the administration often marks newly built roads or tunnels years later than finished. The traffic on the bypass in Finkenwerder has been in circulation for years, but it is still characterized as a "plant under construction". In a review of the largest measures, the Court of Auditors found that this was distorted for many of the project's fees and, as a result, the financial position of the city. The Senate, however, has decided to solve these problems.

The citizenship was passed over in decisions.

One of the tasks of the Court of Auditors is to examine whether the Senate has bypassed citizenship in important decisions. Here, the auditors list two cases for the year 2017: The Senate, for example, may only release money in emergencies, that is, in unforeseen and unavoidable events, and then has to ask the citizenship afterwards. In mid -2018, the Senate released an emergency grant of € 63 million to offset a loss of the Port Authority HPA. This loss was announced in 2016 by the municipal subsidiary. In the second case, in August 2018, the citizenry authorized money to buy five fire-fighting vehicles under the cover over highway 7. At that time, however, some of the vehicles had already been purchased without the Senate informing the citizenry.

The system of urban subsidiaries is too intransparent.

For many years the Court of Auditors has been concerned about the increasing number of municipal investment companies. At the end of 2017, the city counted 370 companies as part of its consolidated financial statements, the number of newcomers, as well as the balance sheet total and the number of employees. The number of employees in the fully consolidated subsidiary of the city now exceeds that of the administration significantly.

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Data protection

The risks associated with these investments are shown in the Court of Auditors report at a subsidiary of Hochbahn. DerHochbahn owns the majority of the agilis railway company, which offers local traffic in Regensburg via its own investment company. The society is highly deficient. A loan of 24.9 million euros, which had granted her daughter's Hochbahn, could not repay them. However, in order for these losses not to be visible in the annual results of the Hochbahn and Hamburger Beteiligungsgesellschaft, the Hochbahn chose a booking trick and made the necessary funds available to its investment company as equity capital. Although this is legally permissible, the auditors of the Court of Auditors, but everything else is transparent.

Urban organizations have wasted money.

It is also the duty of the Court of Auditors to dispose of money wastage. The most absurd case in the current report: The HafenCity University had concluded a lease agreement for fully automatic coffee machines for five and a half years. Unfortunately, the university had previously neither determined the need nor examined the economics. Result: The minimum order quantity of 480 cups per working day was not reached. In order to reduce the losses from the current operation, the university finally terminated the contracts and returned the coffee machines. Total loss: 260,000 euros.

This is an article from the Hamburg department of the ZEIT. Here you will find more news from and about Hamburg.