Federal republic with access on various levels and via various laws
Germany is a federal republic with 16 provinces - the so-called Länder. Both provinces and the federal state have parliaments, governments and administrations. However only at federal level and in some of the 16 provinces access to document legislations do exist - se the overview by the German Society for Freedom of Information. The environmental wob is applicable all over Germany, furthermore a wob specially concerning consumer issues has been introduced.
The easiest overview over governmental and administrative offices and agencies is currently to be found via Wikipedia, including links to federal ministries and all 16 provinces in English.
The division of tasks between the 16 provinces and the federal government is governed by the German Grundgesetz (basic law). For example education and culture are the competence of the provinces, whereas foreign- and defence policy is the competence of the federal government. Numerous fields however are overlapping, and in order to find out, which institution holds the document, you are interested in, you have to go case by case.
There is a federal wob-ombudsman, aswell as in some of the provinces, who may be of help, when you apply.
By Brigitte Alfter