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Visualisation of the FFO project with Tech4Germany

Visualisation of the FFO project with Tech4Germany, © Auswärtiges Amt

22.10.2019 - Article

Six digitalisation projects, ten weeks: over the past few weeks, young university graduates with technical and digital expertise have been working together with federal authorities to implement digital projects. They presented their results to a wide audience on 21 October.

The six projects implemented by Tech4Germany together with authorities this year were presented at the Federal Foreign Office on 21 October. State Secretary Antje Leendertse emphasised the importance of the digital transformation for an authority working at the international level and thanked the Fellows for their commitment, their desire to shape the future and their enthusiasm.

Significant improvements in a short space of time

State Secretary Leendertse speaks at the closing ceremony for the projects with Tech4Germany
State Secretary Leendertse speaks at the closing ceremony for the projects with Tech4Germany© Auswärtiges Amt

The projects cover a wide range of fields. For example, a new concept for processing electronic invoices reduced the processing time from 28 to five minutes per invoice. Another project developed a concept for a comprehensive information page on vocational training, which also tailors information on possible sources of funding to the users. In the space of just a few weeks, solutions were developed that would facilitate much more efficient work in administrations or offer the public easier access to information.

Rotation portal: a project at the Federal Foreign Office

A project was implemented together with the Federal Foreign Office that sought to improve the organisation of the approximately 2000 transfers taking place each year. During the transfer process, employees are faced with a large number of questions. What schools are there? What rules apply to the employment of spouses? And what vaccinations does the family dog need?

In addition, every move involves a great deal of paperwork – from questionnaires and explanations to applications to be submitted to various authorities. In practice, all of this quickly adds up to a 200-page relocation file and many hours of work. In the project, a uniform portal was created that facilitates a simpler overview as well as centralised access to all necessary forms. Two thousand employees will appreciate this each year!

What is the rationale behind such periodic transfers?

Pin board full of post-its for brainstorming for the FFO project with Tech4Germany
Brainstorming for the FFO project with Tech4Germany© Auswärtiges Amt

In view of the time and effort involved, the question often arises as to why rotation is necessary. There are a large number of reasons why diplomats periodically change posts, however.

Diplomats are expected to gather expertise not only in one country, but across many countries and different cultures as solutions to conflicts and global issues often require more than one country to be taken into account. The diplomats also return to Germany for a period of several years on a regular basis, during which time they can contribute their experience gained abroad at the Head Office of the Federal Foreign Office and take current impressions from Germany with them on their next transfer abroad to represent Germany in the respective host country.

In addition, periodic transfers also help to avoid potential corruption. Last but not least, conditions at the missions abroad vary widely and rotation helps to redress the balance in this regard. Everyone takes up a more challenging post or sometimes a pleasanter one. The diplomatic services of the majority of countries are geared to the principle of rotation for the same reasons.

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