In order to cope with the corona pandemic, the federal government has so far paid at least 33 million euros in fees for consultants. This emerges from the answer to a request from the left faction that Personal-Financial.com has received. In addition, the federal government has commissioned other services for which the invoices are still outstanding: According to the Ministry of Health, the total contract volume is EUR 41.5 million. The ministry admitted that not all orders were recorded.
In fact, some major orders that have become public show that total federal spending on so-called advisory and support services in the Corona crisis is likely to be even greater than stated. As early as April, the Ministry of Health called on the testing and consulting company EY without a tender to get the chaotic purchasing of protective masks under control. A fee of around 10 million euros was incurred for this up to autumn. In November, EY received the follow-up order until autumn 2021. This involved an advertised volume of EUR 18 million plus VAT.
In addition, since the beginning of the pandemic, EY has also received further orders from the Ministry of Health and Economics. This means that the largest share of the federal government’s corona consulting expenditure goes to a company that is currently being criticized in the Wirecard scandal because of its role as auditor.
Another major order for several service providers was awarded to the Federal Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF), which is supposed to support troubled large companies in the crisis with guarantees or equity. As can be seen from an award notice, the fund has a fee of EUR 26.5 million plus VAT, from which it can pay specialists with industry expertise in specific cases. The advisors are supposed to support the WSF in analyzing the respective crisis groups that submit requests for assistance to the fund. To this end, the federal government has signed contracts with more than one and a half dozen leading investment banks and consulting firms. Here, too, EY is represented with a partial order. So far, however, the WSF has only negotiated and concluded specific aid packages with companies in a few cases.
Left parliamentary group deputy Fabio De Masi expressed criticism of the federal government’s advisory tasks. “The federal government has not covered itself with glory with its advisory army,” he told Personal-Financial.com. This applies above all to the hands-on commissioning of EY in order to eliminate the chaos caused by the federal government itself with the protective masks. In view of the lack of a general overview of all consultancy assignments, De Masi demanded: “The federal government must urgently ensure transparency here.”
IT problems after an order worth millions
According to the Federal Government, the order volume of EUR 41.5 million mentioned in its answer to the left-wing parliamentary group also disregarded a specific order for an IT solution with which the corona aid payments for companies are to be managed. According to an award notice, the IT service provider Init was awarded the contract for EUR 9.5 million plus VAT by the Federal Ministry of Economics in July. The contract includes both the development and later operation of an IT system with which the payments are to be processed.
As the federal government recently admitted at the request of the FDP parliamentary group, the software was not yet ready for use until the end – which is why the long-term aid for companies that had to close their shops in November cannot yet flow normally. The sluggish payment of the November aid is not only “threatening the existence and annoying for those affected,” said the chairwoman of the Bundestag finance committee, Katja Hessel (FDP) Personal-Financial.com. The IT problems would also “slowly become an embarrassment, because they fit seamlessly into a long series of digitization flops by the federal government”. Hessel pointed out that there was hardly any progress in IT for the recording of tamper-proof cash registers and the digital accounting of sales tax.
The article appears in Personal-Financial.com 1/2021. interested in Personal-Financial.com? Here is the Subscription shopwhere you can order the print edition. Our digital edition is available at iTunes and GooglePlay