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Germany

Refugee language programs 'wasteful,' say German auditors

In an internal government showdown, the German National Audit Office has accused the Federal Labor Agency of wasting money. The labor office countered the critique, saying it was based on an impossibly short timeframe.

The German National Audit Office's (BRH) critical audit report described extensive shortfalls in both the execution and the financial management of entry level German courses provided to refugees since the end of 2015, a highpoint of the refugee crisis.

German radio broadcaster NDR reported details of the review on Tuesday.

The auditors criticized the Labor agency (BA) for insufficient monitoring, poor learning materials and error-ridden invoices.

On NDR's "Info" programBRH president Kay Scheller upbraided the labor agency for their "problematic" lack of specifications when it came to monitoring.

"Without them, their non-fulfillment cannot be retrospectively criticized," Scheller pointed out.

Deutschland Migranten Integration Deutsch-Kurse (picture-alliance/dpa/W. Grubitzsch)

The Labor agency tried to attract the maximum number of educational providers

Too short to handle

The BA defended itself against the BRH's criticism, arguing in its response to an NDR statement request that any shortcomings were due to the short, two-month notice the agency had received before the start deadline.

"In order to attract the largest number of educational providers possible, firm specifications relating to content, method, implementation, and teaching qualification requirements were forgone."

Millions of euros 'missed the mark'

In particular, the BRH accused the BA of poorly managing the up to 400 million euros provided for the courses. According to NDR, the audit document alleged "that a large part of the implemented funds de-facto missed the mark."

The BRH also found inconsistencies in financial accounts. Both grants and invoices were duplicated, the BRH report detailed, though the labor agency reclaimed the doubled funds in certain cases.

Deutschland junge Flüchtlinge - Integration (Getty Images/S. Gallup)

The audit stated children's courses were counted in calculations, despite not meeting the outlined course aims

Babies as course participants

A further criticism related to how the BA tallied total course participants. Though the provision of entry-level German language courses was aimed at providing "active labor market support," the BA counted language courses for children up to 13 years of age.

These courses did not have the goal of "conveying the German language to infants and children," the BA stated in their report.

cmb/rc (AFP, epd, KNA)

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