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BAMF funding: 70 million less for asylum IT

Despite the high number of applications: The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is expected to lose three quarters of its budget for IT services in 2024.

You can see the entrance to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Nuremberg

Not well equipped digitally: the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Nuremberg Photo: Daniel Karmann/dpa

BERLIN taz | The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf) is to cut around 70 million euros from IT projects next year. Instead of the financial requirement of 124.8 million reported by the authority, the Federal Ministry of the Interior wants it to only be allowed to spend 37.8 million euros on the relevant areas. This emerges from documents from the Bamf that are available to the taz.

In a letter to the ministry, the authority complains, with a view to the budget adjustment session in the Bundestag taking place this Thursday, that such cuts “would not only jeopardize future viability, but also regular service operations in 2024”. The need for IT services has grown in recent years with the increasing number of applications.

In particular, “mandatory further developments” would have to be canceled and around 350 external employees would have to be laid off in order to implement the savings. These have “sometimes built up many years of expertise in the Bamf’s special systems.”

However, due to increases in the budget in other areas, the authority as a whole is apparently spared from being fleeced: in 2024, according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s budget of September 7th, it should be able to spend around 819 million euros. In the current year there were around 725 million – an increase of almost 13 percent.

Incendiary letter to Faeser

Nevertheless, there is a so-called negative list with 72 IT projects that would probably have to be discontinued if the cuts take effect. This includes IT for the so-called assistance system for hearings and certain applications for the integration of those entitled to asylum. The software necessary for organizing professional language courses would also no longer be developed.

In order to save in other areas too, that’s what you want Bamf apparently restrict the mandatory, general application of language and dialect recognition and the reading of mobile data carriers. The letter is from October. At the beginning of November, Bamf boss Hans-Eckard Sommer also wrote an incendiary letter to Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) and complained about the overload of his authority.

The mood in the Federal Office in Nuremberg is bad, says a taz employee. The cuts in the IT sector are an issue for everyone. “Many people are frustrated because of this,” he says. The IT projects in question are indispensable and needed; deletions from an application have a direct impact on the work area in question. “It boils down to us concentrating on the core business: asylum procedures and integration courses,” says the employee.

The fact that savings are to be made in the IT area in particular is remarkable in view of the recent changes Decisions by the state leaders and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on migration issues. They had agreed that they wanted to significantly speed up the asylum procedures in Germany – i.e. the work of the Bamf.

“The federal and state governments will create the personnel and organizational requirements for this, if they do not already exist,” says the resolution paper. At the federal level, this concerns “the capacities at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees”. The heads of government also asked each other to digitize the authorities.

Lots of incorrect notifications

“If you want quick asylum procedures, you must first and foremost ensure that the quality of Bamf decisions improves,” says left-wing MP Clara-Anne Bünger. One reason why many asylum seekers are stuck in the asylum procedure for many months or even years is the fact that they have to fight for their protection status in court. “The number of incorrect notifications from the Bamf is far too high,” said Bünger.

In order to ensure better asylum decisions, the Bamf needs, in addition to adequate staffing, good preparation of asylum seekers for the hearing so that they can fully present their reasons for asylum. For this purpose, independent asylum advice centers are essential, which were also decided by the Bundestag at the end of 2022. Just provide the federal government The necessary funds are not available here eitherto build an appropriate infrastructure.

“In view of the increasing number of asylum applications, it cannot be the case that savings are also made on IT services,” says Bünger. “This will have a negative impact on the Bamf’s ability to work.”

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