What would it be like if the city consisted of nothing but office buildings and no one lived there anymore? If there was no space available for a park, or if all downtown areas looked identical thanks to redevelopment? The Federal Office for Building and Zoning (Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung, BBR) looks into these kinds of questions, develops scenarios and advises the Federation to ensure that a well-balanced mixture of region types emerges. Federal building projects in Berlin, Bonn and abroad are looked after by this authority.
Floods, chemical spills or leaks or terrorist attacks: in the event of national crises, the fire department, the army, the German Agency for Technical Relief and doctors work hand in hand. The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) draws up the emergency plans and guides and controls the rescue operations. The BBK has coordinated cooperation on the national, state and local levels since 2004.
What is your exact position on the planet? Fortunately, we have topographical maps and satellite positioning services. The employees at the Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy provide all the basic geo-information required for the Federal Republic of Germany (BKG – Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie). They also advise the Federal Government in all matters concerning geodesy and geo-information.
The Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration supports the Federal Government in developing its policy of integration and promoting the co-existence of foreign residents and Germans.
In Germany Blattfusskrebse (a species of crab) and Apollofalter (Apollo moths) are in danger of extinction, which is why they are put on a “Red List”. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN) publishes the Red Lists of endangered biotopes and plant and animal species, and advises the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Atomic Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit, BMUB). It also sponsors nature conservation projects, oversees research and regulates the import and export of protected plant and animal species.
Under full sail with Germany’s maritime service provider. The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie, BSH) is not only the flag authority, it also publishes nautical charts, offers oceanographic services and provides information on the use and protection of the seas. It is responsible for tonnage measurements and for laying pipes and cables.
Whether you want to know how long you can spend in the sun or about the effects of using mobile communications – the Federal Office for Protection against Radiation (BfS - Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) provides you with the recommendations given by the experts. Its responsibilities also include nuclear waste disposal and transport, nuclear reactor safety and how to deal with and protect against exposure to radiation.
The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) has been working to promote healthy meals in German households since 2002. This office coordinates food monitoring and approves plant protection products and veterinary drugs. The BVL also works as the German liaison office for early-warning systems in the European Union.
Protecting the free democratic system: to do this, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV) keeps extremist and dangerous activities under surveillance. It answers to the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesinnenministerium).
Foreign trade, the promotion of economic development and energy are the key areas with which the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle, BAFA) is entrusted. As its contribution to international peacekeeping, for example, the BAFA keeps a close check on the export of arms and munitions. In European trade policy, it ensures that import regulations are carefully observed.
The era of National Socialism, the division of the two German states and their reunification have led to a number of property issues. The place to go for anyone affected and their families is the Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV). This office is also a service provider for the federal financial administration and calculates the earnings, allowances and travel expenses of civil servants.
Do you have to sit in a draft at work? Is there mobbing going on at your office? Find the information you need at the Federal Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA – Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin) on topics dealing with safety and health at work. No matter whether it’s about how to design call centers or about safety in process engineering plants: the BauA does the research, drafts solutions to problems and develops job training and continued training programs.
More and more companies are offering comprehensive product ranges in the credit field, insurance and securities. For this reason, since May 2002 what was once three Federal monitoring agencies have now been united under the umbrella of the German Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, BAFin).
Using raw materials economically: the staff at the Federal Institute for Geo-Sciences and Raw Materials (BGR – Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe) advise the ministries on questions concerning applied geo-sciences and geo-scientific issues in environmental and resources conservation. The BGR employees are commissioned by the Federal Government to carry out projects in developing countries in particular and to undertake assignments in research and development.
How clean are the German waterways? When does it make sense to straighten the course of a river? The Federal Institute for Hydrography (BfG - Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde) works in the fields of hydrography, water management and waterways protection. It supports the authorities for Water and Shipping Management (WSV - Wasser- und Schifffahrtsverwaltung) in planning, building and expanding, operating and maintaining the national waterways.
Germany’s real-estate and forestry assets are managed by the Federal Agency for Real Estate. Its services include the use and management of the real estate that belong to the federal government. The agency is located with its main headquarters in Bonn and acts as the property investor when federal government departments invest in new buildings.
The Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE – Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung) has a wide range of tasks in the agricultural, food and consumer protection sector. As a market regulatory authority, it supports the enforcement of European agricultural policy and is responsible for the admission and inspection of border-crossing goods. It also monitors fishing and the use of renewable raw materials.
The Federal Institute for Material Research and Testing (BAM – Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung) aims to improve safety and reliability in chemical and material technology, while promoting the development of German industry at the same time. As the highest federal authority, BAM is also in charge of approving packaging or containers, for hazardous materials in particular.
The central task of the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) is to monitor competition in the free market economy. This includes such things as enforcing the prohibition of cartels and supervising mergers. It can apply European legislation on competition when the European Commission does not take action itself.
Everything comes together here: in the German Federal Bureau of Investigation (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA), the central Federal agency for police information and intelligence. The BKA coordinates the cooperation of the Federal States and is responsible for international cooperation, when such crimes as drug dealing, money laundering or trafficking in human beings cross international borders.
The Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, the Post Office and the Railway ensures equal opportunity for rival companies on the "network markets". In addition to overseeing fair competition, this supreme federal office also tests technical devices on their electromagnetic compatibility and draws up the frequency utilization plan for Germany.
The central service provider for the Federal Republic of Germany: the Federal Administration Office (BVA – Bundesverwaltungsamt) provides more than one hundred different services for the ministries in Berlin and Bonn as well as for their divisions. This includes schools abroad, the modernization of administration and staff recruitment for government offices. The BVA, with its main offices located in Cologne, also maintains the central register for foreigners and processes applications for education loans.
The German Federal Revenue Office (BZSt), which is located in Bonn, Berlin, Saarlouis and Schwedt, is responsible for national and international tax issues on the national level and also supports the state tax authorities in auditing large companies and corporations. The BZSt is part of the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF).
The Federal Republic of Germany – Finanzagentur GmbH, or the German Finance Agency for short, keeps a watchful eye on the country’s bank balance. Its tasks include taking out loans and managing the national debt. The Frankfurt-based agency also issues stocks and bonds, such as Treasury bonds or federal savings bonds.
Set out to discover ancient cultures: if you’d like to take a virtual trip to the Coliseum in Rome or to an oasis settlement in Oman, on this site the German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, DAI) will take you along with it. You can learn about the organization of the federal institution and take a glimpse into the research on monuments, finds and written sources.
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt, DPMA), with headquarters in Munich, is a federal superior authority subordinated to the Federal Ministry of Justice. It is the central authority in the field of industrial property law in Germany.
Cinema as a cultural asset: In the 1960s, the German film industry was confronted with a crisis – the state reacted by forming the German Federal Film Board (FFA). The Federal Film Board under public law receives fees from cinema operators, video program vendors and TV stations. It supports filmmakers and the quality of German productions and is also involved in marketing these films abroad.
Which driver doesn’t know the “files” in Flensburg? In the Central Register of Traffic Offenders at the Federal Office for Motor Traffic (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA) traffic offenders collect “points”. Records are kept on driver’s licenses and vehicles as well as drivers.
The employees at the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (LBA – Luftfahrt-Bundesamt) are responsible for making sure that any flight you take is always a safe one. Whether you’re flying in a plane, using a parachute or traveling with an airline – all these modes of air transportation are tested, approved and monitored here. Violations of the legal regulations in civil aviation are pursued and punished by this office.
What’s for dinner today? The Max-Rubner Institute (MRI) focuses on consumer protection for everything that has to do with healthy food. The Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food tests fish, meat and vegetables for harmful substances. Areas of research also include careful and nutrient-preserving food processing and quality assurance for plant and animal products.
Who knows whether medications really help? Before a drug comes onto the German market, its quality and effectiveness must be tested, and it goes through tests for safety and environmental acceptability. Biological preparations such as vaccines and serums for humans and animals are tested by the Paul Ehrlich Institute, PEI.
What time, how long, how heavy? Everything starts with time, length and weight – babies are already measured just after they take their first breath. Measuring everything there is to measure as exactly as possible is exactly what the Federal Physical-Technical Institute (PTB - Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt) does.
How can infections be avoided? Are allergies on the rise? What dangers are posed by the cultivation of gene-manipulated plants? Since its foundation more than 100 years ago, the Robert Koch Institute, RKI, has been working to protect people against infectious diseases. Today its researchers also study health trends in Germany and test the safety of procedures and products using gene technology.
How much does the average German earn? How many unemployed people are there in Germany? How many schools, single households or conservation areas are there in the country? The Federal Statistical Office, with its main offices located in Wiesbaden, collects all kinds of official data about Germany. Although many of these official analyses deliver facts on which important political decisions are based, they are also readily available to anyone interested.
„T as in Technical, H as in Help, W as in worldwide“ – another way of spelling the German acronym THW of the Organization for Technical Support (Technisches Hilfswerk). The blue vehicles always turn up when people, animals or material assets are in danger, because one of the tasks of the THW is to provide technical support for civil defence, at the site of major accidents and catastrophes, within the country and abroad.
For humanity and the environment: to preserve nature as the foundation of life, for future generations as well, and to promote environmental thinking and action as a matter of course – that is the goal of the Federal Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA) in Dessau-Roßlau.
Illegal employment, cigarette smuggling and product piracy: the customs authorities pursue criminals and guarantee that international goods traffic runs smoothly. On behalf of the state, the customs officers also levy duties. And to protect endangered animals and plants, they check travelers with suspicious souvenirs.