Sunday, June 3, 2018

More on BamF

ARD, public German TV, Channel One, came out with a short piece over the BamF 'scandal' (the immigration agency for the German government).

What they want to hype is that Chancellor Merkel was informed by the boss of the agency (Weise) back in the spring of 2017.  The basis of this story revolves around the Ministry of the Interior doing some type of review and not able to notice any flaws in the procedures, the computer department, or the structure of the agency itself.

Oddly, Weise has had private chats with Chancellor Merkel (back in 2012) talking over the grievances in the BamF and the process.  ARD writes this part into the story but you have no idea what the grievances are.....just that employees are complaining.  What makes this a bit strange is that it's way before the crisis starts (summer to fall of 2013 is the real start-up of the migration crisis of Germany).  So why the complaining in 2012?  Unknown.

Then ARD lays down this quote by Weise from 2017: "It can not be explained how, in the light of this state of affairs, it could be assumed that the BAMF would even be able to accomplish the considerable increase in number of refugees."

After looking over the story, my humble belief is that 700-odd member BamF agency was already on shaky ground in 2012....having problems (which aren't specified).  It sounds like the computer era wasn't working as people conceived.....that attitude problems existed within the core leadership....and it didn't matter who they brought in to manage the system....they were just bound to inherit a big mess.

But here's the thing....Weiss was telling Merkel that they were screwed up.  What happened after that?  The only two things that are in the public view was the beef-up of additional personnel in 2016 (something that the core element of BamF didn't want), and outside consulting groups brought in to resolve what was screwed up (another item that the core element of BamF didn't want). 

Could this bring down Merkel?  No. As of yet, no arrests have occurred and no real charges have been laid out.  Scandal-wise?  On a scale of one to ten.....this is marginally a '2' at this point.

As for BamF?  Well....operationally, they look like they've got a serious problem with attitudes and it's questionable if they can do their jobs with the expectations set upon them.

I am reminded of a personal story that I viewed in Kaiserslautern in the 1990s.  I had to deal at some point with the license tag office in town (a shop of maybe 15 personnel).  As of 2003, they were still doing the license business with typewriters and mostly personnel who were 40 to 55 years old.  On the five-odd occasions that I had to visit....I would suggest that it was a very unfriendly environment and built along the lines of business operations of the 1960s.

At some point along 2008, I had to return and do business with them again.  With the exception of one single employee.....the entire staff was gone.  Here were mostly young Germans between the ages of 18 to 24.  They had computers and printers.  They were happy and cheerful.  The one single person leftover from the previous team?  The payments clerk.  The room had a new paint job and the lighting was enhanced.  I asked the young gal handling my paperwork (which she accomplished in three minutes flat....rather than the fifteen minutes that I expected the previous guy to accomplish)....where were the previous team?

She grinned and responded that the Kaiserslautern office had fought off automation (computers) for a decade, and was finally ordered to accept it.  The authority came to find that virtually none of the old team was capable of getting in-tuned with computers, so they were farmed out to other jobs that would use them....but mostly in a non-computer capacity.  I sat amazed looking at the flow of people into the business front of the tag shop. 

In the old days, the shop could handle a max of 20 customers in a single hour.  These younger folks, with the automation....were easily handling fifty customers in an hour.  You could walk in at 2 PM and expect to wait no more than ten minutes (with the old team, you'd be talking about 60 to 80 minutes of waiting).

I would take a guess that in the 2005 to 2010 era....when the hardware and software arrived at BamF....various people fought the effort and bad attitudes developed.  It'll be curious how the opposition parties want to conduct some review and if they suggest to rebuild the BamF from scratch.

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