Scientific services of the German Bundestag

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The Scientific Services of the German Bundestag ( WD ) are an institution that aims to enable individual members of the Bundestag to obtain impartial information on certain topics regardless of the expertise of the federal ministries. They are intended to help reduce the executive's knowledge advantage over the legislative branch . As part of Department W ( Science and External Relations ), they form a sub-department of the administration of the Bundestag . The journalist and doctorate theologian Guido Heinen has headed the Scientific Services with around 65 employees since 2011 .


The scientific services are divided into ten departments corresponding to the 22 committees of Parliament; each department works for several committees.

Faculties of the Scientific Services
FB Subject areas
WD 1 History, contemporary history and politics
WD 2 Foreign affairs, international law, economic cooperation and development, defense, human rights and humanitarian aid
WD 3 Constitution and Administration
WD 4 Budget and finance
WD 5 Economy and transport, food, agriculture and consumer protection
WD 6 Work and social
WD 7 Civil, criminal and procedural law, environmental protection law, construction and urban development
WD 8 Environment, nature conservation, reactor safety, education and research
WD 9 Health, family, seniors, women and youth
WD 10 Culture, media and sport

Until 2013, there was also the European department (WD 11), whose area of ​​responsibility was transferred to the European subdivision (PE) of department P ( parliament and members of parliament ), which had 64 employees .


Commissions to the departments can be given by members of the Bundestag as well as by committees of the German Bundestag . Existing material may also be made available to the federal government , the state governments , members of the state parliaments and the European Parliament as well as external (scientific and other) institutions on request.

Requests from other parliaments within the European Union , the Council of Europe and the parliaments of Israel , Canada , Mexico and the United States are also processed on a reciprocal basis within the European Center for Parliamentary Science and Documentation .

The scientific services receive up to 4,300 inquiries a year. The inquiries are received by a department called Hotline W , which can query numerous databases and provide more than half of the information directly. Otherwise, Hotline W clarifies who is responsible and forwards the order to the department. If inquiries are answered in writing, the departments know different forms such as elaborations, state of affairs, documentation and technical articles that differ in form and scope. In exceptional cases, work will also be outsourced to external scientists. Draft speeches are only made for members of the Bundestag Presidium.

As a rule, the scientific services do not conduct their own research, but present the state of research, legislation and case law in an understandable and clear manner. The work of the WD is committed to political neutrality. The work is usually exclusively available to the client for four weeks. After this time, the Bundestag has been publishing the work on its website since 2016, “so that there are no narrow grounds for exclusion”.

Members of parliament may only use the scientific services in the context of their mandate-related work.


The scientific services can fall back on the third largest parliamentary library in the world with around 1.4 million copies , the library of the German Bundestag . In addition, they also evaluate the archives of the German Bundestag.

Other areas of responsibility

Less known tasks of the scientific services are the preparation of three awards, the media award of the German Bundestag , the science award and the Franco-German parliamentary award . The permanent exhibition on parliamentarianism in the Berlin German Cathedral Paths - Irrwege - Detours is also being further developed by the Scientific Services (Department WD 1).

The scientific services also act on their own initiative: they put together two-sided information on “current terms”, which is made available to all members of parliament. There are also drafts for the general public on the website.


Legal dispute for expert opinion on extraterrestrial life

At the request of MP Gitta Connemann , Department 8 of the Scientific Services (WD 8) prepared two studies in 2009 with the titles The search for extraterrestrial life and the implementation of UN resolution A / 33/426 on the observation of unidentified objects in flight and extraterrestrial life forms ( WD8-3000-104 / 2009) and The European Union and its handling of the topic of "unidentified flying objects" (WD11-148 / 09). The elaborations deal with the possible existence of extraterrestrial life , unidentified flying objects and possible investigations about them. Since the elaborations had not been published, a plaintiff tried to get access to the studies in 2011 due to the Freedom of Information Act before the Berlin Administrative Court. The plaintiff also filed a complaint with the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information . The 2nd Chamber of the Berlin Administrative Court ruled in the first instance on December 1, 2011 (Az .: VG 2 K 91.11): "The right to access to official information according to the Freedom of Information Act (IFG) also applies to elaborations by the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag." The German Bundestag appealed the judgment. In November 2013, the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court granted the appeal in full. It decided that the Freedom of Information Act (IFG) does not apply to documents of the scientific services that are created for members of parliament, provided that these documents were not created in the performance of administrative tasks, but are attributable to the area of ​​parliamentary activity and the direct support of the members of the German Bundestag in their mandate-related activities. In June 2015, the Federal Administrative Court decided that the draft must be published: "The German Bundestag is an authority that is obliged to provide information as far as reports and other preparatory work by the scientific services are concerned".

After the organizations and as part of its campaign "FragDenBundestag" had published the list of 3,800 federal reports and more than 2,000 reports of users, citing the Freedom of Information Act have been asked who decided Elders of the German Bundestag on 18 February 2016 to publish all requested reports and, in future, all new reports on the Bundestag website.

Guttenberg plagiarism affair

In February 2011 it became known that the then Federal Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had used content from several expert reports of the WD in his doctoral thesis without indicating the sources. After the University of Bayreuth Guttenberg had revoked his doctorate in February 2011 in the wake of the plagiarism scandal surrounding his dissertation , he resigned from all political offices at the beginning of March 2011.

Scientific services of the state parliaments

All state parliaments in Germany apart from the Saarland state parliament and the Hamburg citizenship maintain their own scientific services. Your reports are collected by the Parliamentary Advisory and Expert Service of the State Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia. Following complaints from FragDenStaat , state parliaments in Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate are now also publishing their reports. The Schleswig-Holstein state parliament changed the information access law so that it does not have to issue reports from its scientific service.


  • Rupert Schick, Gerhard Hahn: Scientific services of the German Bundestag . 5th edition, German Bundestag, Public Relations Department, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-89372-013-5 .
  • Thomas von Winter: The scientific services of the German Bundestag. In: Svenja Falk u. a .: Handbook of Policy Advice. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-14250-X , pp. 198-214.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Policy advice from the second row. February 22, 2011, accessed August 28, 2016 .
  2. The Scientific Services Division (WD)
  3. ^ Organization plan of the German Bundestag. June 13, 2018, accessed June 15, 2018 .
  4. ^ WD 1: History, Contemporary History and Politics ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  5. WD 2: Foreign Affairs, International Law, Economic Cooperation and Development, Defense, Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  6. ^ WD 3: Constitution and Administration ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  7. WD 4: Budget and Finances ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  8. ^ WD 5: Economy and Technology, Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Tourism ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive ); the page describes the area of ​​responsibility until 2013.
  9. ^ WD 6: Labor and Social Affairs ( Memento from April 26, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  10. WD 7: Civil, criminal and procedural law, environmental protection law, traffic, construction and urban development ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  11. WD 8: Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety, Education and Research ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  12. WD 9: Health, Family, Seniors, Women and Youth ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  13. ^ WD 10: Culture, Media and Sport ( Memento from October 23, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  14. WD 11: Europa ( Memento from January 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  15. The Bundestag strengthens its European expertise. December 5, 2013, accessed June 15, 2018 .
  16. Bundestag puts its reports online. Zeit Online , February 19, 2016, accessed February 22, 2016 .
  17. ^ Controversial doctoral thesis. Guttenberg also copied from Bundestag service. Spiegel Online , February 19, 2011, accessed February 20, 2011 .
  18. Information on the library website , accessed on January 12, 2016
  19. Does the Bundestag keep UFO files under lock and key? , Welt Online , November 25, 2011.
  20. Dates for December 1, 2011: Information on UFOs and extraterrestrials ( Memento of November 28, 2011 in the Internet Archive ),
  21. Is there a right to information about UFOs? ,
  22. ^ Complaint for the release of the drafting of the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag on UFOs and extraterrestrials , accessed on November 28, 2011.
  23. No start permit for UFOs in the Bundestag? ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on April 2, 2012.
  24. ^ Freedom of information 3Sat Kulturzeit,, March 20, 2012.
  25. Bundestag must allow inspection of "UFO documents" (No. 46/2011) ( Memento of December 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) In:, accessed on March 9, 2012.
  26. Judgment of the Berlin Administrative Court, VG 2 K 91.11 ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 63 kB), accessed on December 22, 2011
  27. UFO plaintiff wins in court
  28. ^ Judgment: Bundestag must disclose UFO files, accessed on December 2, 2011.
  29. Freedom of information. Bundestag sues against transparency ,, January 25, 2012, accessed on February 1, 2012.
  30. Bundestag does not have to disclose "UFO documents" and "Guttenberg documents" - 26/13 ( memento of November 25, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  31. UFO study of the Bundestag remains secret
  32. Bundestag must grant access to Guttenberg documents. Zeit Online, June 25, 2015, accessed June 25, 2015 .
  33. Guttenberg and Ufos for everyone - Bundestag must approve documents., June 25, 2015, accessed June 25, 2015 .
  34. FragDenBundestag successful: Bundestag opens its filing cabinets
  35. ↑ The report is now available on the internet at
  36. Guttenberg used six Bundestag reports.
  37. Guttenberg and the “illegal administrative act” . Southgerman newspaper. February 25, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  38. ^ Parliamentary advisory and expert service of the Landtag North Rhine-Westphalia
  39. Arne Semsrott: Final decision: Landtag Rhineland-Palatinate has to issue expert opinion (update). In: Retrieved April 6, 2019 .