Chapter

Senior Officials in the German Federal Administration: Institutional Change and Positional Differentiation

Klaus H. Goetz

in Bureaucratic Elites in Western European States

Published in print December 1999 | ISBN: 9780198294467
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600067 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198294468.003.0008
 Senior Officials in the German Federal Administration: Institutional Change and Positional Differentiation

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This account of institutional change and positional differentiation of senior officials in Germany's Federal administration is presented in five sections. Section I, ‘Senior Officials and the Reassertion of Political Authority’, is introductory and discusses the causes and implications of change in the organization and in the political and administrative roles of the senior civil service; changes identified include party politicization, parliamentarization and federalization of the national policy process, modernization initiatives, European integration, and unification. Section II gives a brief survey of the Federal senior ministerial personnel (looking at pay grade and rank, and centrality), and section III considers paths to the top, paying particular attention to the procedures for recruitment and promotion and the consequences of weak formal structures for personnel planning and development. Following on from the definition of political craft as a defining attribute of effective top officials, section IV highlights the central position of political coordination units as training grounds in the Federal administration and comments on the informal positional differentiation that they encourage. The discussion concludes in section V with an assessment of the implications of the partition of the ministerial bureaucracy between Bonn and Berlin.

Keywords: administrative roles; Berlin; Bonn; centrality; change; European integration; Federal administration; federalization; Germany; modernization; national policy process; parliamentarization; partition of ministerial bureaucracy; party politicization; pay grade; political authority; political coordination units; political roles; promotion; rank; recruitment; senior civil service; senior ministerial personnel; senior officials; unification

Chapter.  12800 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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