Federal Court of Audit: German government wastes millions on office rents

Federal Court of Audit: German government wastes millions on office rents

Unnecessary expenditure in the millions: The federal government has so far failed to adapt its office space to flexible working methods. This conclusion was reached by the German Federal Audit Office in a report from April 2023. According to the experts, the long-outdated regulations for office buildings no longer take modern working methods into account and urgently need to be updated. The savings potential is enormous: By giving up 20 % of their office space, civilian federal authorities could save at least 300 million euros a year in cold rent.

Outdated guidelines

When designing office space for new buildings and occupying space in existing buildings, the federal administration has so far mainly relied on tried and tested guidelines. Entitled as “Maximum space for offices of federal authorities”, these guidelines have remained virtually unchanged since the 1950s.

In its regular audits, the Bundesrechnungshof shows that the federal authorities consistently use every last square centimetre of the specified maximum areas in new buildings. Added tot hat: When using existing buildings, they often interpret these guidelines as a minimum requirement for the space needed.

Flexible models are necessary

From the employees’ point of view, the approach also misses the current zeitgeist: Modern concepts, such as the desk-sharing model or working from home, have long been standard on the labor market. According to the finance committee, these could be implemented relatively quickly and, above all, cost-effectively in the existing buildings. Furthermore, a significant reduce of the time employees spend in the office is expected – as well as the space required. Unused existing properties could then be sold and third-party rents reduced.

Positive impact on climate protection

The experts agree: A reduction in office space would not only have financial benefits. By reducing the emission of climate-damaging gases and minimizing the need for energy-efficient refurbishment and new buildings, the government could also make a quick contribution to protecting the climate. As a reminder: According to the climate protection program, the federal government wants to make its administration climate-neutral by 2030. But those responsible are avoiding the issue.


Although the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) supports the approach of the Bundesrechnungshof, it is hesitant to implement it. “The Bundesrechnungshof recommends the immediate introduction of modern requirements for needs-based office space planning,” the experts state. Above all, these should take modern forms of work into account. In addition, a program should help to oblige the authorities to reduce their office space. The experience of the European Commission and the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg could serve as a guide here.

Support through technical innovations

Modern IT solutions are available to the federal authorities in order to implement space reduction efficiently and in line with requirements: ReCoTech’s software enables algorithm-based area planning in office buildings and thus includes intelligent space utilization – even with the same number of employees. Analyses allow work processes to be optimized and the potential for energy savings to be exploited in a targeted manner.

The ReCoTech app also offers the option of booking workstations. The smart application can thus completely map an authority and also provides valuable insights into operational and administrative processes.

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