‘Ditch Bonn,’ agency tells Defence Ministry

As politicians debate Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s plans to streamline the Bundeswehr, a new paper from the Federal Labour Agency (BA) has made the controversial suggestion to move his ministry from Bonn to Berlin.

'Ditch Bonn,' agency tells Defence Ministry
'Hmmm.' Guttenberg dons his thinking cap. Photo: DPA

Currently 3,200 officers, bureaucrats and officials work for the Defence Ministry, with around 2,700 in Bonn, according to a report in daily Financial Times Deutschland on Thursday.

While most of Germany’s government offices moved from the Rhineland city to Berlin following reunification in 1999, the bulk of the Defence Ministry stayed behind, along with six other agencies.

“Critics repeatedly complain of inefficient decision-making structure and the expensive commute between the cities,” the paper said, adding that previous attempts to centralise the ministries in Berlin have failed due to the “strong Bonn lobby.”

The new BA paper seen by the Financial Times Deutschland, ahead of its scheduled release this autumn, addresses what the paper called a “delicate topic of conflict,” suggesting that the ministry cut staff to 1,350 and bring them to the country’s capital.

Should Guttenberg choose this route, he would be met with stiff resistance from some cabinet colleagues, and laws would need to be rewritten. But the move would also serve as an example for the relocation of the other ministries, the paper said.

According to the paper, the BA recommendation is the result of a request by Guttenberg in April for the agency to review how the ministry could be more efficiently organised.

Guttenberg has since announced his plans for a major military overhaul, including cutting one-third of Bundeswehr forces, scrapping compulsory military service by 2011.

The Local/ka

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