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The Kameralistik (from Latin camera , "rooms, vaults," here as "princely treasure chest."; Cf. eunuch ), also finance accounting or Kameralbuchhaltung , is a method of accounting , which is still in the public and church administration is applied, but increasingly is replaced by other procedures.

Definition of terms

By the cameralism derived name Kameralistik is a designation of the public administration and its affiliated public companies and public utility companies . The cameralists were high officials in the “chamber college” of a (German) prince .

In a broader sense, cameralistics is understood to be the so-called cameral science , i.e. the science of state administration (accounting, finance, economics, administration, law and police science) and economic policy, as it was cultivated into the 20th century.

In a narrower sense, cameralistics is a sub-discipline of cameral science, namely the bookkeeping of cameralists, which is still practiced today.

Conceptual content

The term "cameralistics" is used ambiguously:

Formal aspects

On the one hand, cameralistics refers to the purely formal accounting method, which is characterized by an income surplus calculation and accrual allocation. In contrast to this, in the case of the accounting method , double- entry accounts are posted to two-sided accounts ( debit and credit ).

The accounts used in cameral accounting are not pure income and expense accounts, but rather have been created in a qualified manner. A division into four columns (remainders from the previous year, current debit, actual, new remainders: so-called camera 4-column accounting ) enables not only the presentation of the payments received or payments made in the respective budget year , but also the as yet unpaid income claims or issuing obligations ( receivables and payables ). In addition, the 4-column accounting also allows the inventory of financial assets , tangible assets / financial assets , debts ( cash advances ), reserves and other inventory items. The actual accounting system of the federal government and many federal states, which is also similar, does not adopt this 4-column system.

Material aspects

On the other hand, the term cameralistics is associated with the material content of the budget and accounting system, namely the comparison and evidence of the expenses to be used for the fulfillment of tasks with the necessary income . In this way, it can be demonstrated to what extent the expenditure has been financed through income (proof of the financial coverage success), combined with the presentation of existing advance cover funds for future expenditure ( reserves ) and additional cover charges (debts) in the sense of a cover balance - simplifying - as so-called Denotes money consumption concept . In corporate accounting (commercial), on the other hand, the central accounting objective is to provide evidence of commercial (entrepreneurial) success ( profit / loss ) as the difference between income (resource generation) and expenses (resource consumption) within the framework of the resource consumption concept .

Planning aspects

Furthermore, cameralistics is understood to mean the management (action) of the public sector in accordance with budget plans and compared with the "planning freedom" of private entrepreneurs. However, the budget (supplemented by the medium-term financial and investment planning) is more than just the provision of expenditure and the necessary income. It has the importance of a democratically legitimized task performance program.

This ambiguous content of the term cameralistics and the reluctance to deal in more detail with the peculiarities of cameralistics as an accounting method are the main reasons for the lack of knowledge in practice and public about the functionality and meaningfulness of cameralistics and the discussion of “cameralistics versus double-entry “In the reform of German municipal budget law. The cost and performance accounting is not intrinsically integrated into the system, but an ancillary calculation here as well as in the cameralistics and can be derived from both financial accounting. A plan-based action has nothing to do with the accounting method, and a plan-based approach does not automatically mean that there is little or no flexibility in operational or household management. The instruments of budgeting, coverage and transferability of budget funds available to municipalities are evidence of this. The Doppik is also suitable for the public sector in the non-entrepreneurial area, just as, conversely, cameralistics as a booking method is by no means reserved for public budgets only. The cameralistic booking method can also be used to show income and expenses, to record assets, debts and equity, and to determine and report business success (profit or loss). Examples are the business approach with cost-computing facilities that Betriebskameralistik for municipal enterprises and the financial statements of municipalities in Austria, Switzerland or the United States.


The cameralism is a German variant of mercantilism , the dominant economic policy in the age of absolutism (16th-18th c.), Is known. The primary goal of cameralism was the rebuilding of the country destroyed by the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). With the cameralistics one wanted to influence the economy through state actions in such a way that the prosperity of a nation would be increased. It found its justification in the theoretical conception of camera science (political economy). Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff , and later Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi and Joseph von Sonnenfels, were an important camerawoman at that time . The first chair for camera studies was established in 1727 at the Friedrichs University in Halle .

The cameralistic bookkeeping was presented in writing for the first time in 1762 by the Austrian councilor Johann Mathias Puechberg.

Since the 1970s, as part of the neoliberal administrative reform of the New Public Management, cameralistics in various European countries at the state and municipal level through a double budget control and accounting system based on accounting in the private sector and international standards ( International Public Sector Accounting Standards , IPSAS for short) is increasingly being displaced.

Tasks and goals of cameralistics

Cameralistic accounting is used by corporations to systematically record income and expenditure in the budget . Changes in means of payment are differentiated according to their origin and recorded in corresponding categories, so-called budget titles. In this respect, the records in the household fulfill the tasks of documentation and information. At the same time, it also fulfills a measuring and control function by providing the actual data required for comparison with financial planning .

In § 1 of the draft of the Bookkeeping and Accounting Regulations for Federal Assets (VBRO) it says on the objectives: The bookkeeping and accounting for the assets and debts of the federal government have the purpose of the inventory of assets and debts at the beginning of the accounting year, the changes during and the status at the end of the accounting year. The asset account should also show the amount of budget income and expenditure that led to an increase or decrease in assets or debts in the course of the accounting year, and thus show the extent to which a surplus or deficit in the budget account results in a decrease or increase in assets and facing debt.

Principle of cameralistics

The cameralistics is based on the mapping of payment flows , in which cash-relevant income and expenses trigger an entry. There is no business demarcation between income and payment on the one hand and expenditure and payment on the other, which means that the cameralistic features characteristics of the income surplus calculation. There is no accounting for the inventory , the accounting and valuation of assets and debts are omitted. In this respect, the cameralistics stands in contrast to the double , which delimits expenses and payments or income and payments.

In cameralistic bookkeeping, as used by cities, municipalities and rural districts in Germany since 1975, two-sided postings are made via account and contra account, as in the double-entry method. In the actual, the incoming and outgoing payments are recorded, the difference between which results in the liquidity balance. The offsetting entry is made in debit with allocation of the income or expenditure to the corresponding account . Basically, the cash effectiveness principle applies here . Accordingly, in contrast to the double entry, the prerequisite for a booking is a payment flow. Non-cash business transactions in the financial year are not taken into account.

The starting point in cameralistics is the budget , in which income and expenditure are compared for a billing period. In Germany the budget is the totality of the administrative budget and the property budget . Current payments and payments that do not affect assets (e.g. tax and fee income, personnel expenses , allocations to financial equalization systems ) are recorded in the administrative budget . Payments in and out that affect the asset level of the corporation (e.g. purchase or sale of real estate, borrowing, acquisition of fixed assets ) are recorded in the budget of assets .

In the case of municipalities (cities, municipalities, districts), the budget is also the focus. Here the “current income and expenses” are estimated in the administrative budget, the individual investment measures (output) and the input required for the realization of the investments and their financing are estimated in the asset budget.

There is the principle of total coverage , according to which expenses must be offset by income in the same amount. Any difference between income and expenditure in the administrative budget is offset by the allocation to or release of reserves in the asset budget in the corresponding amount. As a result, the sums of income and expenditure are always identical.

Legal basis

Situation in Germany

From the fact that the Basic Law (GG for short) uses the terms “income”, “expenditure” and “budget” (e.g. in Art. 109 , Art. 110 GG), it cannot be inferred that the GG requires cameralistic bookkeeping. The Doppik also provides such payment quantities in the context of the financing invoice. Cameralistics is only anchored in simple federal and state law ( BHO , HGrG , KommHVO). According to Article 114.1 of the Basic Law, the Federal Minister of Finance has to bill the Bundestag and the Bundesrat for all income and expenditures as well as for assets and debts in the course of the financial year to relieve the Federal Government. According to Section 73 (1) of the Federal Budget Code, records must be kept of assets and debts or other evidence must be provided.

Since the state constitutions usually do not provide for an asset accounting, § 35 HGrG stipulates that accounts must be kept of assets and debts or other evidence must be provided. The double entry is expressly provided for in § 7a HGrG. The bookkeeping of assets and debts can be combined with the bookkeeping of income and expenses. More precise regulations can be found in the individual state budget regulations .

Legal bases for local budgets are essentially the municipal budget regulations (GemHVO) of the federal states. These can also allow or prescribe the application of the double.

Situation in Switzerland

At the federal level, cameralistics is no longer used in Switzerland. The Financial Budget Act implicitly prescribes the double-entry system. At the cantonal level, the process of revising the cantonal constitutions and the municipal laws is about to be implemented.

The displacement of cameralistics by the industrial accounting system (Doppik), which is common in the private sector , did not arise from a need of the Swiss polities, because, with its primacy of the economy over politics, it is alien to the Swiss political system with direct democracy and municipal freedom. The Doppik was imported from the United States as an important component of the administrative reform model New Public Management , with the economic canton of Zurich playing a pioneering role with its then head of the financial administration, Ernst Buschor . With the help of Doppik, New Public Management is intended to enable the privatization of public administration or parts of it with public-private partnerships , etc. In the course of globalization, public administration was discovered as one of the largest markets that have not yet been privatized. The largest share of public spending flows into areas that have so far been largely market-protected and covered by the public service.

For the Swiss sovereign, the principle associated with cameralistics was more important than the method. It was not based on the highest possible return, but on cost recovery and the common good . The annual income-expenditure account did not allow the representatives of the people to make expenses that were higher than the income of the community. It was not possible, by accounting for national assets, to show a greater equity capital with which one could justify greater expenditure and bank loans. Larger, multi-year expenses or borrowing had to be approved by the people. National wealth was not included in the calculation because it was owned by the people and was therefore not for sale.

The administrative reform could only be enforced against the political parties and the parliaments with the help of the policy of the empty coffers , because they had to fear a loss of power due to the primacy of the economy over politics. The principles of the double policy, which is more and more adapted to international accounting ( IPSAS ), such as fair value, contradict important principles of the Swiss Code of Obligations such as the principle of prudence and the possibility of creating hidden reserves as a precaution for economically worse times. The Swiss cantons are currently in the process of creating the legal basis for international accounting and the possibility of privatization and outsourcing of administration or parts of it by means of municipal law revisions.

Situation in Austria

At the state and municipal level in Austria, camera studies are still common practice. After several financial scandals and uncovered grievances in the federal states, public complaints began in 2012 that there was no double-entry bookkeeping. The Federal Minister of Finance therefore issued the VRV 2015 (Budgeting and Closing Accounts Ordinance). It stipulated the introduction of an integrated income, finance and asset budget for January 1, 2019 and January 1, 2020 (Section 2 VRV 2015). However, the VRV 2015 was amended before its intended application date for federal states and municipalities (Federal Law Gazette II No. 17/2018) and the provisions of the VRV 2015 must be applied for federal states and municipalities at the latest for the 2020 financial year since the amendment (cf. § 40 Paragraph 2 VRV 2015).


The International Federation of Accountants ( IFAC ) differentiates between two types of government accounting (International Public Sector Accounting Standards; IPSAS ): “Financial Reporting Under the Cash Basis of Accounting” and “Financial Reporting Under the Accrual Basis of Accounting” “(Expense and income statement) and publishes various standards accordingly. Both calculations can be carried out using both Doppik and cameralistics.


Compatibility with finance

The Finance (Economics) still is mainly due to the circulation model and therefore thinks in the national accounts in cash flows. This is reflected in the “Law on Statistics on Public Finances and Public Service Staff” (FPStatG). In this respect, cameralistics and national accounts are compatible. Commercial accounting does not meet this criterion.

The cameralistic bookkeeping that is practiced is accompanied by a budget cross-section and a grouping overview. The household cross-section is understood to mean the compilation of income, expenditure and commitment appropriations, classified according to task areas and types. This makes the priorities of government action clear. A grouping plan is the grouping of the budget's income and expenditure by type. The grouping plan enables u. a. the determination of investment and consumption expenditure and the beneficiary social groups. The commercial accounting department has nothing to counter this information. The commercial bookkeeping would have to record this data in an additional invoice.

The camera grouping overview can be compared with a simple cost type and activity type calculation. The cameral invoice cross-section (household cross-section) can be compared with a simple cost center accounting or a simple cost unit time calculation.

Determination of the national debt limit

The ability to cover debts (assets must be greater than or equal to debts) limits borrowing in the private sector , as otherwise there is a risk of bankruptcy . The commercial bookkeeping and accounting serves to monitor this limit.

In contrast, the limit of the national debt is measured and drawn differently by the Basic Law. The income from loans may not exceed 0.35% in relation to the nominal gross domestic product ; Exceptions are only permissible to avert a disturbance of the macroeconomic equilibrium ( Art. 115.1 sentence 2 GG) or in the event of natural disasters or exceptional emergencies . Cameralistics is more suitable than commercial accounting for monitoring this debt limit . The commercial bookkeeping does not include a presentation of investment expenditure in accordance with Section 10 (3) No. 2 HGrG. The commercial bookkeeping would have to record this data in an additional additional calculation (e.g. financial budget). Long-term financial planning, as provided for in Section 50 (1) HGrG, cannot be achieved by the double.

The municipal debt limit looks different. Municipalities are only allowed to take out loans if they are sustainably able to repay them properly. For this it is necessary that the current expenses can be paid with the current income (see municipal annual financial statement analysis ). In addition, still has so much surplus income left over, that the ordinary repayment of the loans can be disputed. The law on which communal cameralistics is based treats the communes in the same way as the citizens should be treated.

Little manipulability

Regardless of the accounting method (Doppik, Cameralistics, etc.), there is the possibility of manipulating the accounting system by processing business transactions in such a way that they do not appear in the accounting at all or only partially, for example through the use of rent-back sales or public-private Partnerships (PPP) . In contrast to double-entry accounting, the use of the funds can be shown to the financier (and thus ultimately to the taxpayer) in an objectively correct and easily comprehensible manner. Activation options and passivation options as well as valuation and the associated scope for discretion do not have any influence on the accounting, in contrast to the procedure for double-entry accounting. In cameralistics, success (profit or loss) cannot be influenced or manipulated with non-cash, non-cash postings (depreciation, provisions, valuations, etc.). However, the double rate also shows the balance of incoming and outgoing payments (in the balance sheet on the change in liquid funds). The so-called "communal double-entry system", the introduction of which is mandatory for communal budgeting and accounting in most territorial states by 2016 at the latest, also shows incoming and outgoing payments both in the budget ("financial budget") and in the annual accounts ("financial statement") ) out. This information is also "objectively correct and easy to understand".

Ultimately, all essential figures of the municipal cameralistics can be compared with all essential figures of the communal double-ended using the financial accounting of the communal double-entry system. Seen in this way, one could very well live with different accounting systems in the municipalities. However, it is argued that the communal double-entry system is more complex compared to the communal cameralistics.


Economic efficiency of cameralistics

In the field of cameralistics, the finance ministries consider it too time-consuming to present the asset situation in terms of a balance sheet. The valuation of state assets is difficult, since there is usually no market and therefore no market price for many public goods, such as roads, railways, national parks or security forces. In contrast, an assessment would be useful and possible for public buildings.

A double accounting system would only make sense if the solvency of a state was determined on the basis of the net assets from the balance sheet. Since there is a belief that a possible national bankruptcy cannot be measured on the balance sheet, the double-entry method is usually used to produce figures that are not relevant for any decision.

Lack of transparency

Since there is earmarked income and expenditure in public administration, these must be recorded separately. For example, the individual clerk only has knowledge of the financial resources that are available for the current year and usually does not know where the money is coming from. Often times, capital expenditure and ongoing maintenance expenditure are separate. As a result, there is no incentive to invest in order to reduce current expenses. “Saving” often takes place in that residual funds expire at the end of the year; this in turn leads to inconsiderate or unnecessary expenditures being made so that the available funds do not decrease in the next year (so-called December fever ).

According to a study by the University of Hamburg , cameralistics contributes to "reducing the transparency of the municipal financial situation".

Criticism and discussion

Information and documentation function controversial

The tasks of an accounting system with an external target group (i.e. the double financial accounting as well as the cameral budget accounting) can be broken down under the terms:

  • Documentation: all business transactions that change the asset or debt situation of the organization
  • Information: outsiders about such changes

sum up.

The existing camera statistics only perform both tasks to a limited extent. The cash effectiveness principle prevents the entry of anticipatory items , i.e. expenses or income incurred in the budget year for which cash flows only take place in subsequent years. Examples to be mentioned here are pension obligations for which legal claims to future payments already exist. In double-entry, the expense from obligations incurred is recorded with an effect on income and shown on the liabilities side of the balance sheet, whereas the cameralistic does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about such items.


Since the cameralistics existing in its current form is an inventory management i. If you only take on the documentation of assets and debts to a limited extent today (financial assets and financial debts; no tangible assets and no administrative assets), you cannot perform important, legally prescribed tasks due to the system.

  • Section 73 (1) BHO stipulates that records must be kept of assets and debts or other evidence must be provided. The Federal Ministry of Finance regulates the details. The cameralistics complies with the regulations of the Federal Ministry.
  • Section 1 of the Bookkeeping and Accounting Regulations (see above) also describes, among other things, a. the aim of "demonstrating the status of assets and debts at the beginning of the accounting year, changes during and the status at the end of the accounting year". Cameralistics meets this requirement by integrating the budget and financial asset and financial debt calculation. The Ministry of Finance does not want more at the moment.
  • The Basic Law, federal laws and every state budget require that the public administration act economically. If required, the cameralistics provides all the data against which the profitability of the organization can be measured.

Since the finance ministry is currently responsible for monitoring the determination of expenditure decided by politicians, a large number of asset or debt-changing events are completely ignored. This can lead to misconduct (civil servants cause fewer payments than employees), which will have a negative impact on our public budget for many years to come.

The municipal cameralistics enables the municipalities to record their entire wealth. For this purpose, the asset bookkeeping would have to be extended to the entire assets of the municipalities and not just to the cost accounting institutions, as is required by law.


The commercial bookkeeping and the accompanying legal provisions (here especially the HGB) have proven themselves in the private sector for many years. The German Commercial Code (HGB) has a particular focus on nominal capital preservation (acquisition value principle) and thus investor protection. Whether this objective is appropriate for a state has not yet been discussed in the context of the Doppik. In view of the extensive infrastructure, the target concept of maintaining the substance (replacement value principle) would also be conceivable for the state.

It is often argued that a trade balance is easier to read than a cameralistic conclusion. However, this is more likely to be a matter of taste.

The municipal cameralistics has proven itself since 1975. The focus of cameral law, on which cameralistic bookkeeping is based, is the constant fulfillment of tasks. In order for this to remain possible, the municipality must not become insolvent. That is why there is a clearly defined debt brake. The federal government and the federal states have only had this for a few years, many EU countries have not yet. This debt brake (the technical term for this is called mandatory allocation) means that the legal supervisory authority may only approve further loans to the municipalities if sustainable economic activity is ensured.

Control target proof of use

While in the commercial bookkeeping (double) expenses and income are recorded and at the same time the assets are determined in order to make gains and losses visible, the camera bookkeeping is primarily intended to prove the execution of the budget with regard to the coverage of the expenses. The focus here is therefore exclusively on the cash flows as the evidence .

In the case of municipal cameralistics, this is different in contrast to federal and state cameralistics. Here, in the administrative budget, the expenses and income are shown in the target (colloquially one uses the terms expenditure and income), in the actual, however, the payment flows.

It is well known that politics ( legislative ) as well as administration ( executive ) at all levels of federal organization do not know any liability and not even proof of compliance , not to mention considerations of economic efficiency .

When volunteer citizens take up their office as municipal councilors, they take an oath that they will act for the good of their citizens. This also means that they use the available resources responsibly.

New control model versus cameralistics

In the laws of several German federal states (e.g. municipal budget regulation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia), the introduction of the new control model is being pushed as an administrative reform . In North Rhine-Westphalia the project is called z. B. “ New Municipal Financial Management ” (NKF). The starting point is the following deficits that legislators believe they recognize in traditional management based on income and expenditure:

  • strict separation of technical and resource responsibility,
  • Control primarily via the resources made available,
  • associated lack of result orientation,
  • unclear delimitation of responsibility between politics and administration,
  • no complete mapping of the resource volume and consumption,
  • no complete overview of assets and debts,
  • no complete determination of product-related costs.

Defenders of cameralistics cite:

  • The use of the double does not necessarily change the control. In Austria, the double-entry system has been practiced for over 30 years and decisions are nevertheless made according to household numbers. The cameralistics also does not prevent the control with regard to the output. So is z. B. in the Budget Principles Act stipulates that income, expenditure and commitment appropriations can be estimated within the framework of a system of decentralized responsibility of an organizational unit. Financial responsibility is transferred to the organizational units that have technical and technical responsibility on the basis of budget authorization. Suitable information and control instruments are required, which in particular ensure that the respective available issue volume is not exceeded. The type and scope of the services to be provided must be determined by law or the budget (cf. § 6a HGrG). Politicians, however, often refuse to set goals because failure can then easily be proven (cf. e.g. Federal Chancellor Schröder with regard to unemployment or Federal Chancellor Kohl with regard to the blossoming landscapes in the east). These interests also prevail in the administration. In this respect, output-oriented approaches fail not because of accounting, but because of politics. This does not want to be curtailed in its ability to take risks, run up debts and liquidate state property in the short term.
  • In the case of the municipalities, on the basis of municipal cameralistics, a large number of goals (outputs) can be directly identified from the budget. The estimation of the corresponding approaches (input) is usually preceded by a struggle in the municipal council that lasts for weeks, sometimes months, and in individual cases for years. Should the village community center be built in the S. district? If so, when? If so, what input do you provide, what can the project cost?
  • The following quote may help illuminate: “The starting point is the consideration that public administrations can only allow themselves a certain degree of conflict. In this sense, the publicly desired introduction of methods leads to defusing or even ending the publicly conducted, possibly politicized debate about the inefficiency of public administration. It is not recognized that the application is just a ticket. If difficulties arise, methodological difficulties that take the place of the original political difficulties are discussed below. You completely forget that the methods of handling political; So content-related problems were introduced. ”The discussion about the method becomes a ritual .
  • In cameralistic bookkeeping, an excessive commitment of the administration to too detailed planning and the associated lack of flexibility is criticized. However, this criticism can be countered by Parliament's budgetary rights . In addition, it can be assumed that administrations have a more complex target concept than private companies, which can essentially concentrate on making profits. In this respect, it is to be feared that double-entry accounting, which is essentially geared towards the goal of profit and the secondary conditions of "liquidity" and "ability to cover debts", restricts politics and administration too much.
  • The municipalities have made further developments in recent years. In this way, it is possible to carry over funds that have not been used into the coming year by creating household leftovers. The much-cited “December fever” can be counteracted in this way.
  • A cost accounting (cost type, cost center and cost accounting) can be added to both cameralistics and commercial accounting. A performance calculation is usually not possible because there are usually no sales. Therefore, the question arises: Is ongoing cost accounting necessary or is a case-related consideration, which is customary in cameralistics, sufficient (decision-related profitability analysis + success control)? Since administrations are usually more static than private companies, a cost calculation is only responsible in the exceptional case of fee calculation.
  • The municipal cameralistics automatically provides a grouping overview and an invoice cross-section. The grouping overview represents a simple cost type and performance calculation. The invoice cross-section corresponds to a simple cost center accounting or a simple cost unit time calculation from which a cost unit unit account or a fee calculation can be created.
  • The cameralistics is designed for a complete recording of income, expenditure, assets and debts. Nevertheless, the finance ministers have made exceptions in the asset and debt account. These enable politics and administration to hide transactions with financial effects from citizens (e.g. pension burdens, sales of receivables with losses, property sales with losses, liability for loans). Exceptions are also possible with the double.
  • The problem of pension burdens does not usually arise in the municipalities. Most municipalities have taken out a "kind of" insurance with the municipal supply association. You pay an annual contribution. In return, the supply association takes over the settlement of the pension payments. The problem of “shadow households” (participation in special-purpose associations or inter-communal commercial areas) is also known on the basis of communal cameralistics. Here, the crucial figures such as the debts in the core budget should at least be shown in a comprehensible manner.

Waste from budgeting

Another problem is that the cameralistic bookkeeping seems to be strictly fixed to a certain economic period (usually the budget year), although this is not the case (see transferability according to § 19 BHO, cover eligibility according to § 20 BHO, flexible budget management and commitment authorizations according to § 16 BHO ).

The cameralistic practice offers no incentive for economical management:

  • Saved funds do not increase the financial balance of the acting organizational unit, but expire - if there is no transferability - at the end of the budget year.
  • An unused budget usually leads to the budget of the following year being reduced accordingly by the organizational unit involved.

In order to avoid this effect, the acting organizational unit would make more expenditures that are not demand-oriented, but only serve the goal of fully exhausting the available funds (so-called “ December fever” or budget waste, also known as the Santa Claus blanket). Another reason for the “December fever” is that the administration always has to keep a reserve for the unforeseen. She does this by initially only dealing with urgent expenses. The important - but not urgent - expenditures would not be made until the end of the year. In addition, there are increased expenses in the second half of the year due to the time-consuming procurement procedures required by EU law.

However, these phenomena can also be found in the application of the double-entry method if the budgeting, which is indispensable for a public institution, has been introduced. Countermeasure: Zero-Base Budgeting .

Difficulty converting to double

While the changeover at the municipal and state level is now making progress, the federal government has decided against changing over to double. Instead, the concept of extended cameralistics is pursued here, in which the basic features of double-entry bookkeeping are partially adopted into the cameralistics.

The introduction of the double- entry method - as well as the implementation of the statutory asset accounting for the federal government in the context of cameralistics - requires, among other things, a complete assessment of assets and liabilities, which represents an immense effort for the federal ministries and federal authorities. The benefit, on the other hand, is greater transparency of the asset and earnings position, especially with regard to the absolute implicit debt and its change within a period.

A further requirement for a changeover to Doppik is the conversion of budget items and budget titles to cost center accounting and cost unit accounting (an extended part of the Doppik in order to be able to clearly identify the originator of costs and income generating departments).

The introduction of the Doppik in these areas not only requires corresponding changes in the law, but also a complete redefinition of business processes and corresponding employee training. The changeover effort for the federal states and municipalities is significant. If camera and double bookkeeping have to be kept in parallel (e.g. affects Bavarian municipalities), there are additional significant expenses in connection with the conversion of the corresponding ERP systems .

After years of practical experience are available in the meantime, a study by Sielof, Gläser and Maier comes to the conclusion that the municipal double-entry system did not meet the expectations placed in it.

In contrast, the state of Hesse adjusted its sustainability strategy accordingly after the preparation of the opening balance sheet in 2009 resulted in a deficit of EUR 58 billion.

Fair financial equalization

In the medium term, commercial bookkeeping will lead to more fairness in state and municipal financial equalization . There would also be more evidence than today for the use of household security concepts. In all these cases, the beneficiaries could then disclose their entire finances with the help of the commercial accounting.

This advantage of commercial bookkeeping could also be achieved by means of cameralistics if both the federal government and the federal states were to carry out asset-debt accounting, as provided for in the Budgetary Principles Act.

Current situation

Since the end of the 20th century, states and municipalities have been abolishing cameralistic bookkeeping in favor of commercial bookkeeping. The new control model is being used more and more.

The first German municipality to change its municipal accounting system as part of an exception and experimentation clause under state law is the northern Baden city of Wiesloch . The conversion efforts are now becoming more concrete nationwide, so that the sole application of cameralistics in Germany, at least at the municipal and state level, will probably be a thing of the past in a few years. Nevertheless, there is not a single municipality in which the new control model actually works. As a rule, decisions are made according to traditional budgetary law criteria.

In addition, state operations are increasingly being set up at the state level, which are run according to commercial principles and must prepare annual financial statements in accordance with the rules of the Commercial Code. The associated cost accounting increases the economic competence of the administration. At the same time, parliament and ministerial administration are losing influence. This harbors the risk that these institutions can no longer live up to their political responsibility, since the chain of legitimacy between people - parliament - administration, as set out in Article 20 of the Basic Law, is broken.


To the cameralistics:

  • Rudolf Johns: Cameralistics. Basics of a commercial invoice in camera style . Wiesbaden 1951.
  • Ludwig Mülhaupt: Theory and Practice of Public Accounting in the Federal Republic of Germany . Baden-Baden 1987.
  • Ernst Walb: The income statement of private and public companies . Berlin and Vienna 1926.
  • Ernst Walb: Basic information on new publications on camera accounting . In: Journal for commercial research . 28th year, 1934.
  • Werner Thieme : Commercial bookkeeping in public administration? In: DÖV 2008, pp. 433–441.
  • Walter Lutz: If it didn't exist, it would have to be invented! A comparison of Doppik and Cameralistics - from the point of view of a local council . mb Verlag, Rheinfelden 2008, ISBN 978-3-940411-09-9
  • Walter Lutz: The new municipal accounting does not keep what it promises! mb Verlag, Rheinfelden 2009, ISBN 978-3-940411-13-6
  • Walter Lutz, Hagen Treber: Reform ruin of communal Doppik. mbVerlag, Rheinfelden 2010, ISBN 978-3-940411-18-1 .
  • Klaus von Wysocki : Cameralistic accounting. Poeschel, Stuttgart 1965.
  • Dr. Roland Vogel: New municipal budget law: Many are already taking part - who else knows? In: die Gemeinde - BWGZ 21 (2009), p. 1062 ff.
  • Walter Lutz: Reform ruin communal double-entry - why the new communal financial system has to fail . In: die Gemeinde - BWGZ 21 (2009) p. 1065 ff.
  • Dr. Horst Baier: Project controlling for the Doppik introduction in Salzgitter . In: KGST Info 11/2005
  • Hagen Treber: Doppik - more frustration than pleasure . In: KKZ 6/2009 p. 131 ff
  • Hagen Treber: Double: complex, expensive, useless . In: KKZ 9/2009 p. 201 ff.
  • Dr. Werner Thieme: The public administration . In: DÖV issue 11, June 2008

To switch to double:

  • Joseph Lichtnegel: Systematic representation of the principles in the new Austrian civil cassa, accounting and control system. Manz, Vienna 1868.
  • Joseph Lichtnegel: History of the development of the Austrian accounting and control system. Gutenberg, Graz 1872.
  • Walter Waldschmidt: Commercial bookkeeping in state and municipal companies . Berlin 1908.
  • Klaus B. Gablenz: Double assessment is easy to understand . Jüngling gbb, 2nd edition 2011.
  • Uwe Laib: Accounting system in the context of the communal double-entry system . Jüngling gbb, 2007, ISBN 978-3-937358-15-4
  • Klaus D. Sielof, Ruprecht Gläser, Friederike Maier: Kommunale Doppik - an evaluation , ISBN 978-3-7322-0748-0
  • Alessandro Pelizzari: The Economization of the Political. New Public Management and the neoliberal attack on public services , Konstanz 2001. ISBN 3-89669-998-9

Web links

Wiktionary: Kameralistik  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Johann Matthias Puechberg: Introduction to an improved Kameral accounting footer , applied to the administration of a Kameral rule. 1762 ( digitized version of the ÖNB Vienna ). Quoted in: Reinbert Schauer: Accounting in public administrations . 2007, Verlag Linde, Vienna, p. 19.
  2. ^ Bertelsmann Stiftung : Manifesto on public budgeting and accounting in Germany. More transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in politics and administration through a uniform double budget and accounting system , Berlin 2009 [1] (PDF; 1.1 MB)
  3. ^ Robert F. Heller: Budget principles for the federal, state and local governments , 2010, p. 164
  4. ^ A b Alessandro Pelizzari: Financial Policy and Sociopolitical Counter-Reforms in the Canton of Zurich. In: The economization of the political. New Public Management and the Neoliberal Attack on Public Services. Constance 2001, ISBN 3-89669-998-9 .
  5. ^ Federal Agency for Civic Education: December Fever
  6. GFDK Gesellschaft für Digitale Kaufberatung mbH: - The December Fever
  7. University of Hamburg: The new municipal budget and accounting system (double)
  8. ^ Günter E. Braun, Aim in Public Administration and Private Operation , p. 328.
  9. Klaus D. Sielof, Ruprecht glasses, Friederike Maier: Municipal Doppik - a Evaluierung- , ISBN 978-3-7322-0748-0