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Interpreting services: ACA recommends to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice to step up their cooperation

12.06.2020 - The ministries should harness possible synergies

The report "Interpreting and Translation Services at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice“ (in German) was published today. In its criticism the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) highlighted the lacking cooperation of the two ministries, which failed to engage in a continuous exchange with regard to interpreting services. The audited period spanned the years from 2015 through 2018. The audit was carried out based on indications provided by citizens in the framework of the ACA’s call to submit audit suggestions.

Harnessing possible synergies

Both the Federal Ministry of the Interior as well as the Federal Ministry of Justice need to make use of interpreting services. The ACA criticises the differing approaches of the two ministries, e.g. as concerns the selection and appointment of interpreters. Further points of criticism: differences in the charging of services or in the deployment of technical equipment. There was largely no interministerial cooperation or coordination during the audited period, which would have been appropriate, if only because of the costs. Increased cooperation could create essential synergy effects. The ACA therefore recommends to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice to step up cooperation as regards interpreting services.

Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Graz awarded 91 per cent of the contracts to one interpreting agency only

The fast availability of the required languages and the permanent availability any time, day or night, were the – in principle comprehensible – reasons for the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Graz to award almost all contracts to one interpreting agency. Hence, this agency was awarded 91 per cent of the contracts and received 88 per cent of the fees for interpreting services in 2018. However, the ACA points to the risk of a dependency being created by such contract awards. It recommends to the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Graz to take precautions to minimize the risk of a dependency on the interpreting agency that has been contracted almost exclusively.

Remuneration of interpreters was last adapted in 2007

In its report, the ACA points to the remuneration of interpreters: it was in 2007 that the remuneration fees were last adapted to the economic conditions. For the participation in procedures or hearings, interpreters received at least EUR 24.50 for the first half our, and EUR 12.40 for each additional half hour. Translations were remunerated with at least EUR 15.20 per 1,000 characters. Compensation was provided for travel or waiting times and travel expenses in the form of kilometric allowance or tickets.

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Report: Interpreting and Translation Services at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice (in German)

From October 2018 to March 2019, the ACA audited the interpreting and translation services at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice.

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