Bezirkshauptmannschaft (District commission), lowest administrative authority of the general public administration. First instance in matters regarding the federal and provincial administration in the political districts outside the competence of chartered towns. Employs civil servants with different professional qualifications (law experts, physicians, veterinarians and other specialists). The district commission is mainly responsible for matters of traditional local jurisdiction, such as trade law, water and transport law, and also supervises the municipal administration, health service, veterinary service and forestry administration. It is also the first instance for maintaining public law, order and safety (aliens registration office, passport office, supervision of assemblies and gatherings), it issues drivers' licences and handles administrative procedures. A fairly new field of competence is social assistance. The district commissioner is head of the administrative unit. He is appointed by the provincial government and is directly responsible to the Landeshauptmann.
History: After the collapse of the feudal system, district commissions were set up as administrative organs in all crownlands in 1850. In 1854, they were turned into "gemischte Bezirksaemter" (mixed district offices), covering an area approximately the size of today's court districts and combining political administration with a judicial function. In 1868, the administrative and judicial branches were finally separated and district commissions were set up as state authorities of first instance with a wide field of competence. The district commissions were taken over by the Republic in 1918, but delegated to the provinces in 1925.
Literature#H. Stolzlechner, Zur Organisation der Bezirkshauptmannschaft, Zeitschrift fuer Verwaltung 1976; K. Gutkas and J. Demmelbauer, Die Bezirkshauptmannschaft gestern und heute, 1994.