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  1. 1. 56 Saarland “CONIFERE is a precious tool that will help us use our limited resources wisely.” Karl Rauber, Minister of Federal and European Affairs, Head of the Chancery, Saarland At all times, the government must be able to justify the use and success of public funds and grants. Given its tight financial situation, the Saarland government has decided to increase the visibility and efficiency of its funding system, at the same time optimizing administration management. With this in mind, in 2002 it began planning to set up a public-funding database, called CONIFERE. The system was designed jointly by the software firm Proximity i tec and business intelligence (BI) expert Business Objects. More than just an information management system, in the short term the new solution was to offer query and performance analysis features at several aggregation levels. A Centralized Database CONIFERE allows permanent access to comprehensive and up-to-date information on the status of all projects and programmes funded by the land, the federal state, the German government and the European Union (EU), which are often closely imbricated and interdependent. Ongoing monitoring of funding practices should also facilitate the work of the departments in charge of legal and administrative control. By processing the data entered, they can, for example, check whether the funds earmarked for support projects throughout the land were allocated to the proper recipients and used appropriately. It gives the administration the means to identify fraud or unduly paid amounts early on, and to correct the situation. Decentralized Data Sources The centralized database contains information supplied by all the ministries in different forms. Departments that grant many subsidies, e.g. for the job market or business development, process the applications using dedicated workflow programs and transfer the data to CONIFERE through electronic channels or via defined interfaces. In addition to sending the funding data to the database, these applications produce the reports required by the EU and automate funds application processing in the concerned departments. The objective is the integrated processing of all funding measures. In addition to this automatic processing by dedicated applications, in a few special cases the data is entered manually in standardized Excel spreadsheets. CHALLENGE 1 Saarland devotes roughly a third of its budget to funding public programs and projects SOLUTION 1 Implementation of a public funding database called CONIFERE, based on Business Objects BENEFITS 1 Improved insight and efficiency of funding system 1 Optimized management of administration S TATE FUNDING ADMINISTRATION Germany
  2. 2. 57GOVERNMENT/EDUCATION For ministerial departments and services that do not grant enough subsidies to justify the use of dedicated applications, they can enter their data directly in CONIFERE using input screens. This way, the data from the decentralized systems is immediately available. CONIFERE Meets Varied Needs, Manages User Rights Since mid-2004, some 150 employees working in a number of ministries and departments use the central funding database CONIFERE as a complete reporting and BI system. The database currently contains more than 30,000 records. Using the InfoView module, a component of the Business Objects analytic environment integrated in CONIFERE, users with the appropriate access rights can create their own reports with point-and-click ease—without needing additional technical skills. In addition to customized reports, a number of standard reports can be accessed by specific user groups. However, to extract information from CONIFERE, users must log in and can only access the information they are authorized to see. Business Objects also manages user rights using a sophisticated authorisation concept. An Informed Minister, 24/7 The Saarland Minister of Economic Affairs also enjoys another advantage. When the minister, Dr. Hanspeter Georgi, travels, he can query the public-funding database using his laptop via the UMTS and GPRS network to perform fine-grained analysis and generate ad hoc reports. He can then quickly know, for example, how many new jobs were created by the “single business investment incentive” in town X or district Y. Likewise, he can easily compare the number of jobs actually created against program objectives. In this manner, no matter where he is, the minister can always access all necessary information on the use and availability of funds. Before the Business Objects solution was implemented, this kind of query had to be entered manually, which was very time-consuming. Next Step: Creation of a Guide and a Control System This information management and reporting system is just the first step. Other steps to develop the central funding database CONIFERE are currently being studied. A public-assistance funding guide and a monitoring and management system are currently being considered. The guide would contain all the information on Saarland’s public-funding and grant programs and provide directives in this area. Furthermore, by gradually developing the database into a monitoring and management system, subsidy programs and support initiatives could be assessed using relevant indicators. Saarland Points the Way for the Rest of the Country Saarland has bigger plans than the stated objectives of its public-funding support programmes (such as job creation). In the medium term, it hopes to expand its objectives on a broader scale (e.g., by optimizing the job market sector) in accordance to the plans of the federal government. The Ministry of Economics and Labor and the Ministry of the Interior, Family, Women's Rights, and Sports were chosen as pilot sites for this management system. But Saarland already has the reputation of a pioneer in Germany. It is currently the only state in the country to have successfully implemented a truly integrated, real-time solution for subsidy and grant monitoring through a central database. About Saarland 1 Activity: Government Saarland is one of the smaller German states with roughly 1 million inhabitants. The state lies in the south west of Germany and has France and Luxembourg as its neighbours,The areas of activity of the Ministry for Economic Affairs are financial and logistical help for jobs, infrastructure and general business conditions in Saarland, practical research and use of technology in businesses, investment support, promotion of foreign trade, career training, support for start-ups and young enterprises and career training.