Between January and June 2019, the German Defense Ministry and its affiliated institutions spent €155 million ($174 million) on external consultants and support services.
The figures were revealed in response to a parliamentary request by the opposition Left part, obtained by several local media outlets Thursday.
In comparison, the 13 other German ministries had paid a combined €178 million for external services, the government admitted. The scale ranged from €48 million spent by the Transport Ministry down to a mere €293,000 outlaid by the Education Ministry.
Under its former head Ursula von der Leyen — now designated president of the European Commission — the ministry has long faced scrutiny over equipment deficiencies and why it resorts to consultancy despite having a staff of over 20,000.
Bulk spent on subordinate BWI
The main explanation for the high expenditure is the challenge posed by digitalization. That’s according to Thomas Silberhorn, the parliamentary state secretary to the Defense Ministry and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc.
He said the sum included €109 million spent on the German military’s IT service provider, the BWI.
The government-owned company was formed in 2007 and provides logistical and administrative computer services nationwide exclusively for the Bundeswehr at 1,200 locations, including a NATO mission in Kosovo.
Scandal, says inquiry committee member
Opposition Left parliamentarian Matthias Höhn described the expenditure total as “disgraceful.”
“[Former Defense Minister] von der Leyen turned the Bundeswehr into an El Dorado for external consultants,” Höhn told Germany’s DPA news agency.
“Now it’s a question as to whether [new Defense Minister] Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will send the gold-diggers home,” Höhn postulated.
DPA said in July — at Höhn’s request — the Finance Ministry provided consultancy data from other ministries. Initially, there was no reply from the Defense Ministry.