State authority

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Administrative structure

In Germany, state authorities are the authorities established by a state .

Hierarchy and structure

The state authorities are organized hierarchically :

  • The highest state authorities are authorities to which no other authority is superordinate, but which have a further subordinate administrative structure. They are responsible nationwide. The highest state authorities are usually the state ministries and state chancelleries , the audit office , the state parliament and the state constitutional court , insofar as they act as authorities.
  • Higher state authorities are state- wide competent authorities that are directly subordinate to a supreme state authority and usually do not have their own subordinate administrative structure. You are always responsible for the entire state. Examples of higher regional authorities are the state offices for the protection of the constitution and the state statistical offices, and in some countries also the state criminal investigation offices . In Schleswig-Holstein , the State Office for Foreigners Affairs Schleswig-Holstein is the higher regional authority.
  • State funds authorities are directly subordinate to a supreme state authority and have their own administrative substructure. They are mostly responsible for the region, e.g. B. at the government district level. State funds authorities are the regional councils (Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse), the district governments (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and governments (Bayern).
  • Lower state authorities are either subordinate to the middle state authorities (three-tier administrative structure) or are directly subordinate to a supreme (Schleswig-Holstein also an upper) state authority (two-tier administrative structure). You are responsible locally. Lower state authorities are z. B. District offices or district police authorities .

In the course of the streamlining of the administrative structures, however, a clear structure with a clear ranking is increasingly being refrained from. In the Hessian police organization law, in addition to the Hessian Ministry of the Interior as the highest police authority, there are only seven area-specific police headquarters, each of which is responsible for larger parts of the state territory and is therefore neither clearly state central nor clearly state sub-authorities (Section 91 HSOG, Section 5 HSOG-DVO). For lower state authorities they are sometimes too big, for medium-sized state authorities too small (e.g. police headquarters in Frankfurt am Main ) and in all cases without their own administrative framework; the former police stations and police stations in the counties have merged into them. There are also four centrally responsible police authorities, u. a. the Hessian State Criminal Police Office , which are structurally higher state authorities due to their nationwide responsibility, but are no longer designated as such. With the exception of the Ministry of the Interior, the legislature has dispensed with any ranking by the police authorities.

The principle that higher regional authorities do not have their own funds is increasingly being broken. Some federal states have an authority directly subordinate to the ministerial level (in Thuringia, for example, the Thuringian State Administration Office , in Saxony the State Directorate Saxony , in Saxony-Anhalt the State Administration Office Saxony-Anhalt , in Berlin the State Administration Office Berlin ). Although these authorities are responsible nationwide and thus have the rank of higher regional authorities, they are subordinate to authorities at district, city and municipal level.

The entirety of the state authorities is referred to as the direct state administration . In addition, the indirect state administration occurs through the authorities of other, especially local, bodies. In the assigned sphere of activity , tasks of the state are also carried out by these authorities. In Brandenburg , the 26 water maintenance associations in the legal form of the water and soil association also belong to the indirect state administration.

Management levels

In federal states with a two-tier administrative structure - such as Schleswig-Holstein , Brandenburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania - the highest state authorities generally exercise supervision over both the higher state authorities and the lower state authorities. Exceptions are possible under state law (e.g. in Schleswig-Holstein).

In Germany, the traditional three-tier administrative structure is on the decline, as the structural reforms carried out in Lower Saxony , Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt in recent years show.

Discussions and criticism

The outdated, traditional structure of the state administrations in Germany is increasingly criticized:

  • The terms “highest state authorities”, “state higher authorities” and “lower state authorities” seem misleading. It is not characteristic of lower state authorities that they are “below”, but that they are only responsible for part of the state (locally). It is imprecise to combine the traditional term "state funds authority" with regional responsibility, because some states - such as Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia - actually have a center authority that is responsible for the entire state area (see State Administration Office Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia State Administration Office ).
  • The demarcation between state authorities, institutions and state companies is no longer in keeping with the times, since institutions and state companies are also assigned sovereign tasks . Regularly - such as B. in Brandenburg - they only differ in the way they are set up or how they are budgeted.
  • At the European level, the term "agency" has become common. What is meant is an independent administrative body who largely designs its internal structure itself and acts for the top level on the basis of an agreement.



In Baden-Württemberg, a distinction is only made between the highest state authorities, higher administrative authorities, lower administrative authorities, higher regional authorities and higher and lower special authorities. While the above applies to the highest state authorities and higher regional authorities, the higher administrative authorities (the regional councils) are not middle authorities in the true sense. In some cases they act like lower state authorities (e.g. in the right of residence), in others like a higher state authority (e.g. regional council Tübingen in genetic engineering safety law or RP Karlsruhe in matters of the water police). In most cases, however, they perform the tasks of an intermediate authority. The lower administrative authorities are the district offices and the city administrations of city districts, in certain cases also the city administrations of large district cities and the administrative communities of several municipalities (e.g. building law). Lower special authorities are authorities that are only responsible for a narrowly defined administrative area. Since the administrative reform of 2005, these are only police departments and police headquarters, tax offices and state school offices (until 2009 only in the city districts), the lower administrative authorities are responsible for all other areas. The higher special authorities perform tasks instead of a regional council. There is only the Oberfinanzdirektion and, since January 1, 2009, the State Office for Geoinformation and Rural Development as a higher special authority. Before the administrative reform, there were still state police departments, high school offices and forestry departments as higher special authorities, but these were incorporated into the regional councils.


The amendment to the Bavarian Administrative Procedures Act of 23 July 1985 ( Lex Schuierer ) of the Bavarian state parliament introduced its own name right for the head of the supervisory authorities one it in any other country Administrative Procedure Act is.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Law on the Organization of the State Administration
  2. Tobias Bach, Julia Fleischer, Thurid Hustedt: Organization and control of central government authorities: Agencies in a Western European comparison . 2009.