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Tech & Science network strategy 2030: government plans 6 billion IT project - but with what money?

19:55  25 october  2020
19:55  25 october  2020 Source:   wiwo.de

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The federal government plans to spend around six billion euros on its network strategy. But where the money will come from is unclear. The Greens fear “sleight of hand” - and the Court of Auditors is also criticizing it.

Olaf Scholz und Horst Seehofer müssten als zuständige Minister dafür sorgen, dass die Wirtschaftlichkeit des Netzstrategie-Projektes sauber dargestellt wird. © imago images Olaf Scholz and Horst Seehofer, as responsible ministers, would have to ensure that the profitability of the network strategy project is clearly presented.

When the MPs return to the Bundestag this Monday after a two-week autumn break, a lot will be said about the rising number of corona infections. But parallel to the acute crisis management, this last week of October also deals with another important topic: money. Because the budget consultations have to be completed by the end of November. The draft provides for expenditures of 413.4 billion euros for 2021 - but so far one of the federal government's most important IT projects is missing: the 2030 network strategy Federal Ministry of the Interior already showed at the end of 2019. But now the budget has not been planned, nor is it clear how economical the project is at all. This raises questions with both the opposition and the Federal Audit Office.

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network strategy is one of the largest construction sites

The network strategy is one of the largest construction sites in the grand coalition. Roughly speaking, it is about the digitization of the federal government. Several IT projects are currently running in parallel under this roof - and are interrelated. Structures that have hitherto existed side by side are being brought together as “federal networks” so that the federal authorities can, for example, better exchange data with one another.

Instead of using external service providers, the state wants to operate it itself, which is intended to strengthen the security of the network infrastructure and IT systems. Cyber ​​attacks on the administration are thus to be prevented and data security to be increased.

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The network strategy 2030 also provides for improving digital communication between the federal, state and local governments. This in turn is crucial if the Union and SPD want to offer the 575 most important administrative services for citizens and companies completely digitally by 2022 within the framework of the Online Access Act (OZG).

How economical is the project anyway?

The goals of the network strategy are therefore not politically controversial. However, there is now criticism of the estimated costs of around six billion euros. The Greens are not convinced by the Ministry of Interior's economic study. Sven-Christian Kindler, budget spokesman for the Greens parliamentary group, criticizes the study does not provide any information about whether the project is economical or not: “Even the tenfold costs with this method would have meant that the federal government would have classified the project as economical. “

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The investment costs of the project would usually have to be compared at least with theoretical values. Such calculations, however, are missing in the more than 100-page long document that is available to WirtschaftsWoche. The budget committee could therefore not judge, so Kindler further, whether the funds would be used sensibly and whether an investment in the billions is really worthwhile. “The whole thing works like sleight of hand.”

Where does the money come from?

In addition, Kindler wonders where the nearly six billion euros should actually come from. The budget for 2021 has not yet provided any funds, although the project is then already running. “The finance ministers and the interior ministers have been hushing themselves up to now in conspicuous silence,” criticized Kindler's parliamentary group colleague Tobias Lindner, security spokesman for the Greens. Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Horst Seehofer (CSU) would have to ensure that the profitability of the project is clearly presented and that the financing is secured.

This is what the Federal Audit Office is now also demanding. The auditors fear that without sufficient funding for the network strategy, the success of other important digitization projects of the federal government would also be jeopardized.

Seehofer's Ministry of the Interior, in turn, responded to the criticism of the Court of Auditors with several promises: They want to further specify the need for funds and include them in the budget for 2022 next year. For 2021 it will be examined how planned measures can be implemented with existing resources.

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