The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung, “BVT”) is an Austrian police organization that acts as a domestic intelligence agency. It is tasked with the protection of constitutional organs of the Republic of Austria and their ability to function. The agency was created from the Austrian State police, as well as various special task forces targeting organized crime and terrorism that were under the direction of the Directorate General for Public Security (Generaldirektion für die öffentliche Sicherheit, “GDföS”), which itself is a department of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The BVT publishes the Verfassungsschutzbericht, an annual report on the status of the protection of the constitution.
The legal basis for the BVT is the Sicherheitspolizeigesetz (“Federal Security Police Act”). The BVT exists as a federal office with nine bureaus in each of the states of Austria, generally located alongside the state police in the capital of each respective state.
The BVT was created in 2002 through the reorganization of various special task forces of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the former state police. This was undertaken as a reaction to a perceived danger to public security caused by an increase in international terrorism. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Federal Minister of the Interior Ernst Strasser ordered the restructuring of Austrian counterterrorism efforts.
Gert-René Polli, an officer of the Heeresnachrichtenamt, was named as director. After Polli’s resignation in October 2007, Peter Gridling, a former director of an Austrian counterterrorism task force, was named as his successor.