Local One-Stop-Shops in Germany: Organization, personnel and service provision for citizens

Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann / Prof. Dr. Jörg Bogumil


Objective of the research project

The idea of a local one-stop-shop originated in Unna in the late 1970s. Starting point of these considerations was the intention to bundle most of the customer-driven services for citizens in one department (integration of tasks) so that citizens have to frequent only one agency for most of the services. Furthermore, local one-stop-shops bring the municipal administration to the city districts. While administrative tasks are being centralized, the administrative organization is being decentralized. In almost all local one-stop-shops a combined offer has emerged with a central local one-stop-shop, usually in the city hall, and some decentralized external offices. Even though the pilot project in Unna had attracted a lot of attention, there were only few successors in other German cities in the 1980s. Only at the beginning of the 1990s the idea of local one-stop-shops received new impetuses, inter alia through the nationwide recognized pilot project “Bürgerladen Hagen” which was supported by the ÖTV. In Hagen it could be proved for the first time that customer-oriented offering structures through local one-stop-services not only improve the quality of work but also have an impact on productivity (cf. Kißler/Bogumil/Wiechmann 1994, p. 173 ff.).

In the meantime, local one-stop-shops have established and become a usual case in the municipalities. Since the mid-2000s such local one-stop-shop structures can be found in almost all municipal administrations – at least with 20.000 inhabitants and more. In 2010, a survey was conducted in municipalities with more than 20.000 inhabitants in the Land Nordrhein-Westphalen. The result of this survey was that local one-stop-shops already existed in 91% of the municipalities and that in 4% of the municipalities their opening was planned (Bogumil/Ebinger 2012). Meanwhile, however, there is an increased number of complaints, for example about unsatisfying service provision in the local one-stop-shops, disproportionately long waiting times, the closure of decentralized district facilities and increasing complaints of the employees about the working conditions and disproportionate absenteeism. Today the requirements and general conditions for the work in local one-stop-shops have changed, also through federal legal measures, which have made the fulfilment of tasks more difficult (e.g. federal legal complexification of legislative provisions for the electronic ID card with substantial additional compliance costs for the municipalities). Notwithstanding, the local one-stop-shops remain the most important interface of the municipal administration with the citizens. Against his backdrop, the situation of the local one-stop-shops in Germany was reviewed and analyzed. In the course of the project, a written survey for all German municipalities with more than 15.000 inhabitants was conducted, followed by four intensive case studies.

The research project is directed by Prof. Dr. Jörg Bogumil (Ruhr-University Bochum) und Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann (University of Potsdam). In Bochum the project process is done by Sascha Gerber, in Potsdam by Christian Schwab, Susanna Fazio and Moritz Heuberger. The duration is from April 2016 until July 2019. Financial assistance is provided by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung.