The Netherlands

   

Executive Capacity

#23
Key Findings
With a comparatively weak Prime Minister’s Office, the Netherlands receives middling overall scores (rank 23) in the area of executive capacity. Its score on this measure is unchanged relative to its 2014 level.

The Prime Minister’s Office coordinates policy, but has limited capacity to evaluate proposals. Several independent strategic-planning units wield varying degrees of influence. Coalition politics leads government parties to support each other’s priorities without rigorous analysis.

The civil service has been cut over the past decade, losing substantive expertise. RIAs are broadly and effectively applied, and the state bank has begun examining financial firms’ approach to climate change. The government’s revival of a neocorporatist mode of interest-group consultation has contributed to the emergence of a network of professional lobbyists.

The government was criticized for prioritizing agricultural interests over clear communication on issues of food safety. Funding for local governments has increased in step with the national budget, although decentralization of key service responsibilities has not always been successful. A “Dutch interests first” political mood has diminished willingness to adapt to international developments.

Strategic Capacity

#12

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
7
The Dutch government has four strategic-planning units. All of these are formally part of a ministry, but their statutes guarantee them independent watchdog and advisory functions.

The Scientific Council for Government Policy (Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid, WRR) advises the government on intersectoral issues of great future importance and policies for the longer term and weak coordination of the work plans of the other strategic planning units. It is part of the prime minister’s Department of General Affairs and is the only advisory council for long-term strategic-policy issues. In 2016, the annual conference of the Dutch Association of Public Administration focused on the need for more strategic intelligence in addressing the big societal issues of the future.

The Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (Centraal Planbureau, CPB) is part of the Department of Economic Affairs. It prepares standard annual economic assessments and forecasts (Centraal Economisch Plan, Macro-Economische Verkenningen), and cost-benefit analyses for large-scale infrastructural projects. In election years, it assesses the macroeconomic impacts of political parties’ electoral platforms. For more than 200 days after the March elections in 2017 while the cabinet was being formed, the CPB was an important background advisor in calculating the financial scope for new policy initiatives.

The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (Sociaal-Cultureel Planbureau, SCP) is part of the Department of Public Health, Welfare and Sports. The SCP conducts policy-relevant scientific research on the present and future of Dutch social and cultural issues – for example, political engagement and participation of citizens, media and culture, family and youth, care, housing.

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, PBL) is part of the Department of Infrastructure and Environment. It is the national institute for strategic policy analysis for the environment, nature and spatial policies. During the 2017 cabinet formation process, the influence of the PBL and high-level civil servants was visible in the long list of energy transition policy initiatives.

In addition to the major strategic planning units, there are at least two important extra-governmental bodies. Firstly, the fairly influential Health Council (Gezondheidsraad, GR), is an independent scientific advisory body that alerts and advises (whether solicited or unsolicited) government and the States General on the current level of knowledge with respect to public-health issues and health-services research. Secondly, the Netherlands Institute for International Relations (Clingendael) conducts background research on Europe, security and conflict issues, diplomacy, and the changing geopolitical landscape.

Citations:
R. Hoppe, 2014. Patterns of science/policy interaction in The Netherlands, in P. Scholten & F. van Nispen, Policy Analysis in the Netherlands, Policy Press, Bristol (ISBN 9781447313335)

P. ‘t Hart, De opgave centraal. Festival Bestuurskunde, 13 September 2016 (platform overheid.nl, consulted November 8 2016)

Nationale Ombudsman, Nederland ergert zich aan gebrek aan deskundigheid ambtenaren, 5 September 2016 (National ombudsman.nl, consulted 8 November 2016)

“Politici die achteraf bepalen wat de kiezer belangrijk had moeten vinden,” NRC-Handelblad, 16 September 2017

How influential are non-governmental academic experts for government decisionmaking?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental academic experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Scholarly Advice
6
The government frequently employs commissions of scientific experts on technical topics like water management, harbor and airport expansion, gas drilling on Wadden Sea islands and pollution studies. The function of scientific advisory services in departments has been strengthened through the establishment of “knowledge chambers” and, following U.S. and UK practice, the appointment of chief scientific officers or chief scientists as advisory experts. These experts may – depending on the nature of policy issues – flexibly mobilize the required scientific bodies and scientists instead of relying on fixed advisory councils with fixed memberships.


Although the use of scientific expertise is quite high, its actual influence on policy cannot be estimated as scholarly advice is intended to be instrumental, and therefore is not yet welcome in the early phases of policymaking. It is certainly not transparent to a wider public. Since 2011 advice has regressed from relatively “strategic and long-term” to “technical, instrumental and mid-/short-term.”

Citations:
R. Hoppe, 2014. Patterns of science/policy interaction in The Netherlands, in P. Scholten & F. van Nispen, Policy Analysis in the Netherlands, Policy Press, Bristol (ISBN 9781447313335)

Interministerial Coordination

#22

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills substantively?

10
 9

The GO / PMO has comprehensive sectoral policy expertise and provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO has sectoral policy expertise and evaluates important draft bills.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise, but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
6
The Dutch prime minister is formally in charge of coordinating government policy as a whole, and has a concomitant range of powers, which include deciding on the composition of the Council of Ministers’ agenda and formulating its conclusions and decisions; chairing Council of Ministers meetings, committees (onderraad) and (in most cases) ministerial committees; adjudicating interdepartmental conflicts; serving as the primary press spokesperson and first speaker in the States General; and speaking in international forums and arenas (e.g., European Union and the United Nations) on behalf of the Council of Ministers and the Dutch government as a whole.

The prime minister’s own Ministry of General Affairs office has some 14 advising councilors (raadadviseurs, with junior assistants) at its disposal. The advising councillors are top-level civil servants, not political appointees. In addition, the prime minister has a special relationship with the Scientific Council of Government Policy. Sometimes, deputy directors of the planning agencies play the role of secretaries for interdepartmental “front gates.” To conclude, the Prime Minister’s Office and the prime minister himself have a rather limited capacity to evaluate the policy content of line ministry proposals unless they openly clash with the government platform (regeeraccoord). Of course, personal skills and experience make a difference, but structural capacity remains weakly developed. For example, the prime minister has been unable to anticipate and prevent serious political problems in key departments, such as the Ministry of Justice and Security, and Ministry of Defense, where several cabinet ministers had to resign.

Citations:
http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/regering/bewindspersonen/jan-peter-balkenende/taken http://www.nationaalarchief.nl/selectielijsten/BSD_Coordinatie_algemeen_regeringsbeleid_stcrnt_2009_63.pdf

Additional reference:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin (2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

M. Rutte, De minister-president: een aanbouw aan het huis van Thorbecke, Lecture by the Prime Minister, 12 October 2016 (rijksoverheid.nl, consulted 8 November 2016)

‘“Onvermijdelijke” aftreden Van der Steur op de voet gevolgd,’, NOS.nl, 26 January 2017, consulted 10 October 2017.

“Jeanine Hennis stapt op als minister van Defensie.,” NRC-Handelsblad, 3 October 2017

Can the government office / prime minister’s office return items envisaged for the cabinet meeting on the basis of policy considerations?

10
 9

The GO/PMO can return all/most items on policy grounds.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO can return some items on policy grounds.
 5
 4
 3


The GO/PMO can return items on technical, formal grounds only.
 2
 1

The GO/PMO has no authority to return items.
GO Gatekeeping
6
Given the nature of Dutch politics – a strong departmental culture and coalition governments – the Ministry of General Affairs has little more to rely upon in carrying out its gatekeeping functions than the government policy accord (regeerakkoord). Ministerial departments have considerable power in influencing the negotiations that take place during the elaborate process of preparing Council of Ministers’ decisions. Each line ministry – that is, its minister or deputy minister – has a secretariat that serves as the administrative “front gate.” By the time an issue has been brought to the Council of Ministers, it has been thoroughly debated, framed and reframed by the bureaucracy between the ministries involved.

Gatekeeping in the Dutch system is one-directional; policy documents are moved from lower to higher administrative levels. The prime minister, through his representatives, does play a prominent role in coordinating this process. But given the limited scope of his monitoring capacities and staff, he can steer the course of events for only a fairly small number of issues. The euro crisis has provided the prime minister with a clear range of agenda-setting and policy-coordination priorities. Furthermore, pressure from the European Union on member states to improve the coordination of economic and fiscal policy has resulted in both the prime minister and minister of finance taking on a more prominent role in shaping the Netherlands’ fiscal and economic policies. The European Semester arrangement forces the government to update its economic policies every half year in the Nationaal Hervormingsprogramma in response to EU judgment. Under both the Rutte I and II cabinets, this has been a major driver of better gatekeeping and policy coordination.

Citations:
Europa NU, Coordinatie nationale economieen (www.europa-nu.nl/id/vg9pni7o8qzu/coordinatie-nationale-economieen)
Ministerie van EZ, Nederlands Nationaal Hervormingsprogramma 2013 (ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/nd/nrp2013_netherlands_nl.pdf)

Additional reference:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

M. Rutte, De minister-president: een aanbouw aan het huis van Thorbecke, Lecture by the Prime Minister, 12 October 2016 (rijksoverheid.nl, consulted 8 November 2016)

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination in the GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
8
Generally, line-ministry legislative or white-paper initiatives are rooted in the government policy accord, EU policy coordination, and subsequent Council of Ministers decisions to allocate drafting to one or two particular ministries. In the case of complex problems, draft legislation may involve considerable jockeying for position among the various line ministries. The prime minister is always involved in the kick-off of major new policy initiatives and sometimes in the wording of the assignment itself. After that, however, it may take between six months and four years before the issue reaches the decision-making stage in ministerial and Council of Ministers committees, and again comes under the formal review of the prime minister. Meanwhile, the prime minister is obliged to rely on informal coordination with his fellow ministers.

Citations:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The large majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
8
Council of Ministers committees (onderraad) involve a separate meeting chaired by the prime minister for the ministers involved. Each committee has a coordinating minister responsible for relevant input and documents. Discussion and negotiations focus on issues not resolved through prior administrative coordination and consultation. If the committee fails to reach a decision, the matter is pushed up to the Council of Ministers.

Since the Balkenende IV Council of Ministers there have been six standing Council of Ministers committees: international and European affairs; economics, knowledge and innovation; social coherence; safety and legal order; and administration, government and public services. Given the elaborate process of consultations and negotiations, few issues are likely to have escaped attention and discussion before reaching the Council of Ministers.

However, since the Rutte I and II cabinets have consisted of two or more political parties of contrary ideological stripes (the conservative-liberal VVD and the PvdA or Labor Party, in the case of Rutte II), political pragmatism and opportunism has tended to transform “review and coordination” to simple logrolling, or in Dutch political jargon: “positive exchange,” meaning that each party agrees tacitly or explicitly not to veto the other’s bills. This tendency has negative consequences for the quality of policymaking, as minority views effectively win parliamentary majorities if they are budgetarily feasible, without first undergoing rigorous policy and legal analyses.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
6
Since the 2006 elections, politicians have demanded a reduction in the number of civil servants. This has resulted in a loss of substantive expertise, with civil servants essentially becoming process managers. Moreover, it has undermined the traditional relations of loyalty and trust between (deputy) ministers and top-level officers. The former have broken the monopoly formerly held by senior staff on the provision advice and information by turning increasingly to outside sources such as consultants. Top-level officers have responded with risk-averse and defensive behavior exemplified by professionally driven organizational communication and process management. The upshot is that ministerial compartmentalization in the preparation of Council of Ministers meetings has increased. Especially in the Ministry of Justice and Safety, the quality of bureaucratic policy and legislation preparation has become a reason for serious concern.

Citations:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

H. Tjeenk Willink, Een nieuw idee van de staat, Socialisme & Democratie, 11/12, 2012, pp. 70-78

“Is justitie politiek te managen?, in NRC-Handelsblad, 1 October 2015

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
7
Very little is actually known about informal coordination at the (sub)-Council of Ministers level regarding policymaking and decision-making. The best-known informal procedure used to be the “Torentjesoverleg,” in which the prime minister and core of the Council of Ministers consulted with the leaders of the political parties supporting the coalition in the Prime Minister’s Office (“Het Torentje”). Coalition governments cannot survive without this kind of high-level political coordination between government and the States General. Given the weak parliamentary support of the Rutte I and II councils of ministers (October 2010 – February 2017), such informal coordination is no longer limited to political parties providing support to the governing coalition.

Under the present conditions, in which civil servants are subject to increasing parliamentary and media scrutiny, and in which gaps in trust and loyalty between the political leadership and the bureaucracy staff are growing, informal coordination and the personal chemistry among civil servants are what keeps things running. Regarding interministerial coordination, informal contacts between the senior staff (raadadviseurs) in the prime minister’s Council of Ministers and senior officers working for ministerial leadership are absolutely crucial. Nonetheless, such bureaucratic coordination is undermined by insufficient or absent informal political coordination.

Citations:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin (2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 154-163, 198-203, 220-228.

S. Jilke et al., Public Sector Reform in the Netherlands: Views and Experiences from Senior Executives, COCOPS Research Report, 2013

Evidence-based Instruments

#5

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
9
In the Netherlands, RIAs are broadly and effectively applied in two fields: environmental impact assessments (EIMs) and administrative burden-reduction assessments (ABRAs).

Environmental impact assessments are legally prescribed for projects (e.g., infrastructure, water management, tourism, rural projects, garbage processing, energy and industry) with foreseeable large environmental impacts. Initiators of such projects are obliged to produce an environmental impact report that specifies the environmental impacts of the intended project and activities and includes major alternatives. Environmental research and multi-criteria analysis are the standard methods used.

The development of a method for ex ante evaluation of intended legislation regarding compliance costs to business and citizens was entrusted in 1998 to an ad hoc, temporary, but independent advisory commission called the Advisory Board on Administrative Burden Reduction (ACTAL). In 2011, some policymakers suggested that ACTAL become a permanent rather than temporary body. The policy philosophy on administrative regulation was at that time already shifting from (always negative) “burden reduction” to (prudentially positive and strategic) “appropriate regulation.” After evaluating its impact, the government decided in 2017 that ACTAL is to be succeeded by a formal advisory body, Adviescollege Toetsing Regeldruk (ATR, Advisory Body on Assessment of Regulatory Burdens).

Citations:
www.actal.nl/over-actal/taken-en-bevoegdheden/ (consulted 26 October 2014)

Milieueffectrapportage (nl.m.wikipedia.org, consulted 26 October 2014)

J. ten Hoppe, Tijd om te kiezen, Column dd. 14 June 2016 (actal.nl, consulted 8 November 2016)

Staatscourant nr. 29814, 29 Mei 2017, Besluit van 17 mei 2017, nr. 2017000809, houdende instelling van het Adviescollege toetsing regeldruk

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
8
RIAs are obliged to identify one or several alternatives to the option chosen by an initiator. According to the Advisory Board on Administrative Burden Reduction (ACTAL) guidelines, alternative options for administrative burden reduction assessments (ABRAs) are investigated. In principle, the option involving the greatest cost reduction ought to be selected. The extent to which practice follows theory is not known. Stakeholders and decision makers have been involved in the process of producing RIAs, making burden-reduction analyses more effective. The status of ACTAL as an independent body for evaluation has been changed to a legally established permanent advisory body.

Citations:
www.actal.nl/over-actal/taken-en-bevoegdheden/ (consulted 26 October 2014)

Staatscourant nr. 29814, 29 Mei 2017, Besluit van 17 mei 2017, nr. 2017000809, houdende instelling van het Adviescollege toetsing regeldruk

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
8
In the Netherlands, RIAs are broadly and effectively applied in two fields: environmental impact assessments (EIMs) and administrative burden reduction assessments (ABRAs). EIMs have been legally mandated since 1987. Anyone who needs a government license for initiating substantial spatial or land-use projects with potentially harmful environmental impacts is obliged to research and disclose potential project impacts. More than 1,000 EIM reports have been administratively and politically processed. They guarantee that environmental and sustainability considerations play a considerable role in government decision-making. However, environmental impact assessments are sometimes subordinated to economic impact assessments. There are no systematic social – or, for example, health – impact assessments. In 2017, the DNB (Dutch state bank) announced checks on whether firms in the financial sector have sufficiently explored the risks of climate change in their policies. In the water sector, similar stress tests of policies by water management boards, and municipal and local water management/emergency plans are being prepared.

Citations:
NRC.next, “DNB waarschuwt financiële sector voor risico’s klimaatverandering, 4 October 2017”

Kennisportaal Ruimtelijke Adaptatie, “Verpliche stresstest wateroverlast voor waterschappen en gemeenten,” consulted 12 October 2017

Societal Consultation

#3

To what extent does the government consult with societal actors to support its policy?

10
 9

The government successfully motivates societal actors to support its policy.
 8
 7
 6


The government facilitates the acceptance of its policy among societal actors.
 5
 4
 3


The government consults with societal actors.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Negotiating Public Support
9
International references to the “polder model” as a form of consensus-building testify to the Dutch reputation for negotiating public support for public policies, sometimes as a precondition for parliamentary approval. In this form of neo-corporatism and network governance, the government consults extensively with vested interest groups in the economy and/or civil society during policy preparation and attempts to involve them in policy implementation. It has been a strong factor in the mode of political operation and public policymaking deployed by the Rutte I (2010 – 2012) and Rutte II (2012 – October 2017) governments. Recent examples include the public debate on pension reform and the national summit on climate policy after the Paris Accords. The Rutte I and Rutte II councils of ministers produced societal agreements on cutback policy, housing policy, care policy, energy policy and socioeconomic policy.

In spite of its apparent revival, this mode of politics and policymaking is under stress. Trade unions have suffered due to an erosion of representativeness and increasing fragmentation, although employers’ associations have been less affected. Quite recently. The Netherlands witnessed the unique phenomenon that both school teachers’ unions and employers (school administrators) together lobbied for higher salaries and for workload reduction for elementary school teachers. The recent revival may owe more to the fact that the Rutte I and Rutte II cabinets have not been able to rely on solid parliamentary support than to any renewed vigor on the part of business and labor associations. A side-effect of the reviving “polder” tradition within a more fragmented political landscape may be the emergence of an extensive network of professional lobbyists. Due to rather closed cabinet formation processes, which have led to “boarded up” governmental agreements, professional lobbying is probably less effective than in the United States.

Citations:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 188-198, 230-251.

J. Woldendorp, (2013) De polder is nog lang niet dood, Socialisme & Democratie, jrg. 70, nr. 2, pp. 46-51

P.D. Culpepper, Quiet Politics and Business Power. Corporate Control in Europe and Japan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2011 (esp. ch. 4, The Netherlands and the myth of the corporatist coalition)

NRC-Handelsblad, Het gebroken Nederland dat in 2017 op Den Haag afkomt, 4 November 2016 (nrs.nl, consulted * November 2016)

‘Silent lobbying is no longer good enough’, interview with prof. dr. A. Timmermans, 19 May 2016 (universiteit leiden.nl, consulted 8 November 2016)

PO Raad, Schoolbesturen steunen lerarenstaking, 25 September 2017

“Onze superieure politieke cultuur,” NRC-Handelsblad, 13 July 2017

Policy Communication

#4

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

The government effectively coordinates the communication of ministries; ministries closely align their communication with government strategy. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 8
 7
 6


The government coordinates the communication of ministries. Contradictory statements are rare, but do occur. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries are responsible for informing the public within their own particular areas of competence; their statements occasionally contradict each other. Messages are sometimes not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
Coherent Communication
8
The Informatie Rijksoverheid service responds to frequently asked questions by citizens over the internet, telephone and email. In the age of “mediacracy,” the government has sought to make policy communication more coherent, relying on the National Information Service (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst, RVD), which is formally a part of the Prime Minister’s Department for General Affairs, and whose Director General is present at Council of Ministers meetings and is responsible for communicating policies and the Prime Minister’s affairs to the media. The government has streamlined and coordinated its external communications at the line-ministry level.

In 2011, there were a total of about 600 information-service staffers in all departments (down from 795 in 2009). Another effort to engage in centralized, coherent communication has involved replacing departmentally run televised information campaigns with a unified, thematic approach (e.g., safety). These efforts to have government speak with “one mouth” appear to have been fairly successful. For example, the information communicated by the government regarding the downing of a passenger plane with 196 Dutch passengers over Ukraine on 17 July 2014 and its aftermath was timely, adequate and demonstrated respect for the victims and the needs of their families.

The continual technological innovation in information and communication technologies has led policy communication to adapting to the new possibilities. New developments are focused on responding more directly to citizen questions, exploring new modes of behavioral change, and utilizing Net-based citizen-participation channels in policymaking and political decision-making. For example, in 2011 the Dutch government decided to participate in the global Open Government Partnership. But in 2017 the Dutch government was criticized for structurally misleading and insufficient communication on issues of animal disease and food safety due to prioritizing agricultural interests over public health.

Citations:
Voorlichting, communicatie en participatie. Gemeenschappelijk jaarprogramma voor communicatie van de Rijksoverheid in 2014 (rijksoverheid.nl, consulted 23 September 2015)

Communicatie Online, Nog honderd persvoorlichters bij ministeries, juni 2011 (www.communicatieonline/nieuws/bericht/nog-honderd-persoorlichters)

Overheidscommunicatie, Kabinet maakt werk van openheid (rijksoverheid.nl, consulted 9 November 2016)

“We leren niks van de Q-koorts,” NRC.nl, 25 January 2017

“Onze gezondheid wordt bewaakt door de minister van boerenzaken,” Marc Chavannes, De Correspondent, consulted 12 October 2017.

Implementation

#32

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Efficiency
7
According to an optimistic estimate by a leading newspaper, the Rutte II government has in its four-year reign implemented 80% of its policy initiatives. Of the 271 initiatives, 158 were successful and 59 were (partial) failures. In its overall assessment of government performance, the General Audit Chamber still finds most departmental reports inadequate in terms of policy effectiveness and efficient monetary expenditure. This is especially true for progress made in cutback policies and, according to parliamentary inquiries, for information- and communications-technology applications and large infrastructure (rail, roads) projects.

The government frequently formulates more far-reaching policy goals than are pursued in practice. Recent policy failures have involved train and rail infrastructure, job creation, flexible labor market relations, and tax and pension reforms, which were postponed and will need to be addressed by the next government. Nevertheless, the government will claim credit for renewed economic growth, budgetary equilibrium, and important austerity measures (e.g., an increase in working hours, reduced public funding for home care, a gradual decrease in tax relief on mortgages and capping health care costs). In water management, implementation of the “Room for River” plans appear to have been successful.

The national government has devolved a significant number of tasks to subnational governments, which makes government and administrative responsibilities more fuzzy, and policy performance harder to evaluate. Provincial and local audit chambers, do what they can, but the amount and scope of decentralized tasks is simply too large for their capacity at this moment. Policy implementation in the fields of policing, youth care and care for the elderly in particular are increasingly sources of complaints by citizens and professionals, and thus becoming matters of grave concern. In academic and professional evaluation circles, a debate is emerging on how to tailor evaluation research designs to the need for more policy-oriented learning.

Citations:
Eindrapport Parlementair onderzoek naar ICT projecten bij de overheid, Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 2014-2015, 33 326, nr. 5

Provinciale en lokale rekenkamers, Algemene Rekenkamer Verslag 2013 (rekenkamer.nl, consulted 27 October 2014)

Pierre Koning, Van toezicht naar inzicht, Beleidsonderzoek Online, July 2015 (beleidsonderzoekonline.nl, consulted 26 October 2015)

NRC-Handelsblad, “Rutte-II deed – grotendeels – wat het beloofde in 2012.,” 14 January 2017

“De rivier is breder, de rust is terug,” NRC-Handelsblad, 22 February 2017

Elsevier Weekblad, “Leo Stevens: waarom we de fiscus niet vertrouwen,” 8 July 2017.

To what extent does the organization of government provide incentives to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
7
Dutch ministers’ hands are tied by party discipline; government/coalition agreements (which they have to sign in person during an inaugural meeting of the new Council of Ministers); ministerial responsibility to the States General; and the dense consultation and negotiation processes taking place within their own departments other departments in the interdepartmental administrative “front gates” and ministerial committees. Ministers have strong incentives to represent their ministerial interests, which do not necessarily directly reflect government coalition policy. The hasty coalition agreement of the present Rutte II Council of Ministers – which was more of a mutual exchange of incompatible policy preferences than a well-considered compromise – and its relatively weak parliamentary support, have led to party-political differences frequently being voiced in the media. When the Rutte II cabinet reached out to three smaller political parties not supporting the government agreement, interministerial commitment and coordination visibly increased.

Citations:
R.B. Andeweg & G.A. Irwin (2014), Governance and Politics of The Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 140-163

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
4
Given the Prime Minister’s Office’s lack of capacity to coordinate and follow up on policy proposal and bills, systematic monitoring of line ministries’ implementation activities is scarcely possible. In the event of crises, ad hoc monitoring does occur. Parliamentary debate on ministerial monitoring should have been limited to a well-defined set of “focus subjects” in full accordance with the policy-program budgeting philosophy developed in the 1970s. However, recent political developments (the election campaigns in 2010 and a Council of Ministers breakdown in 2012) have prevented this. In 2012, yet another system of program budgeting – called “responsible budgeting” – was introduced.

Since 2013 to 2014, General Audit Chamber studies have indeed focused on particular subjects, and following some political consultation, on departmental domains. In 2012, the General Audit Chamber reported that just 50% of governmental policy initiatives were evaluated, most of these evaluations incorrectly were considered effectiveness studies. Hence, parliament remains largely ill-informed about the success of governmental goals and objectives. In 2016, the government cut financing for the General Audit Chamber by €1.2 billion, meaning a personnel reduction from 273 to 233 full-time employees and outsourcing research for specific programs. In 2017, the Audit Chamber launched a website for monitoring ministerial compliance of Audit Chamber recommendations.

Citations:
Algemen Rekenkamer, Rapport Effectiviteitsonderzoek bij de Rijksoverheid, 22 May 2012 (consulted 12 October 2017)

Algemene Rekenkamer, Opvolging Aanbevelingen, consulted 12 october 2017

Algemene Rekenkamer, Een toekomstbestendige Algemene Rekenkamer, 13 October 2016 (rekenkamer.nl, consulted 9 November 2016)

R.B. Andeweg & G.A. Irwin (2014), Governance and Politics of The Netherlands. Houdmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 188, 198-203

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies and executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies, Bureaucracies
4
The national Framework Law on Agencies/Bureaucracies has insufficient scope: too many agencies are exempted from (full) monitoring directives, while annual reports are delivered too late or are incomplete. Hence, the government lacks adequate oversight over the dozens of billions of euros of expenses managed by bodies at some distance from the central government. The original intention was that the Framework Law would apply fully to some 75% of the agencies; by 2012 it had less than 25% of its intended function. In 2014 – 2015, it became clear that several oversight agencies and inspectorates, such as the Inspectorate for Health Care and the Authority for Consumers and Markets, were not quite up to their tasks.

ICT projects for the national government too were improperly monitored, resulting in huge time- and cost-overruns. The Social Insurance Bank (Sociale Verzekeringsbank, SVB) was for far too long unable to disburse personal benefits to special-education students and senior citizens eligible for day and home care on time and in the correct amount. The Implementing Institute for Workers’ Insurances (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UVW) has struggled for a long time with apparently unsolvable problems, including delays in medical check-ups and increasing fraud, while the inaccessibility of its ICT-system is undermining communication with clients. Implementation of human resource plans for the National Revenue Service (Belastingdienst), following substantial political pressure, were put under external supervision. Some MPs believe the Revenue Services’ organizational continuity may be at stake. In 2017, implementation problems in the reformed national policy system were reported, including excessive administrative regulation, incomplete oversight of different tasks and task fields, and insufficient leadership in capacity-building and performance management. On top of this, there were financial irregularities in the national police’s Central Works Council.

Citations:
Algemene Rekenkamer, Kaderwet zbo’s. Rijkwijdte en implementatie, juni 2012

A. Pelizza and R. Hoppe, Birth of a failure. Media debates and digital infrastructure and the organisation of governance, in Administration & Society, 2015

Instellingsbesluit Onderzoekscommissie intern functioneren Nederlandse Zorg Autoriteit (NZa), 27 October 2015

Financiëel Dadblad, Algemene Rekenkamer gaat effectiviteit UWV onderzoeken, 29 January, 2016 (fd.nl., consulted 9 November 2016)

NRC.nl, Wiebes plaatst Belastingdienst onder curatele, 12 October 2016 (nrs.nl, consulted 9 November 2016)

Nu.nl, Deel Tweede Kamer niet overtuigd dat de continuïteit van de belastingdienst niet in gevaar is, 2 November 2016 (nu.nl., consulted 2 November 2016)

Rapport brengt belangrijkste belemmeringen bij Nationale Politie in kaart, Consultancy.nl, 18 July 2017

“Strafontslag COR-baas politie. Declaratieschandaal.,” NRC.nl, 1 September 2017

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
Decentralization and integration subsidies comprise 14% of all income from the general fund (Gemeentefonds). Policy-related national subsidies have decreased as a proportion of total income (falling from 62% in 1990 to 34% in 2011) and in number (from over 400 in 1985 to less than 50 at present). As of 2015, the national government has pursued a far-reaching decentralization of policy tasks (in youth work, chronic patient care, social benefits, worker-activation employment programs). However, local-government budgets are supposed to contribute to meeting the European Monetary Union 3% government-deficit norm by accepting a decrease in their total budget. In 2014, local governments on average received €1,091 per inhabitant. In the coming years, this will decrease to approximately €950. In addition, the national government has placed new restrictions on the way municipal governments spend their own income.

Local governments will be expected to “do more with less” in the upcoming years. The Center for Economic Policy Analysis recently proposed that local governments expand their local tax base; combined with a decrease in national taxes, this would simultaneously be good for the national economy and local democracy. The Association of Dutch Local Governments (Vereniging Nederlandse Gemeenten, VNG) has installed a special advisory commission to look into the issue.



Citations:
VNG, De wondere wereld van de gemeentefinanciëen, 2014 (eng.nl, consulted 9 November 2016)

Vaststelling van de begrotingsstaat van het gemeentefonds voor het jaar 2014, fig. 2.2.3, p. 13, Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 2013-2014, 33 750 B, nr.2

“Laat gemeente meer belasting heffen,” in NRC-Handelblad, 25 April 2015

VNG, Terugblik VNG-Commissie Financiën, 17 October 2016 (eng.nl., consulted 9 Novermber 2016)

Federatie van Onderwijsorganisaties, “Code rood in het primair onderwijs: Staking donderdag 5 oktober!” 5 September 2017

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
5
Dutch local governments are hybrids of “autonomous” and “co-government” forms. However, local autonomy is defined mostly negatively as pertaining to those tasks left to local discretion because they are not explicitly mentioned as national policy issues. Co-government is financially and materially constrained in rather extensive detail by ministerial grants. Increasingly, the Dutch national government uses administrative and financial tools to steer and influence local policymaking. Some would go so far as to claim that these tools have in sum created a culture of quality control and accountability that paralyzes local governments, violating the European Charter for Local Government. This is due in part to popular and political opinion that local policymaking, levels of local-service delivery and local taxes ought to be equal everywhere in the (small) country.

Starting in 2016, the Local Government Fund (Gemeentefonds) budget has increased in step with increases in the national government’s budget. The transfer of policy competencies in many domains of care imply that local discretion has increased, sometimes resulting in different treatment for similar cases by local governments in different parts of the country.

Citations:
Hans Keman and Jaap Woldendorp (2010), „The Netherlands: Centralized – more than less!‟, in: Jürgen Dieringer and Roland Sturm (hrsg.), Regional Governance in EU-Staaten, Verlag Barbara Budrich: 269-286.

VNG-reactir op de Rijksbegroting 2017, Bijzondere Ledenbrief, eng.nl., consulted 12 October 2017

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
5
Local governments themselves also try to meet mutually agreed-upon national standards. Several studies by local audit chambers have involved comparisons and benchmarks for particular kinds of services. Local governments have been organizing voluntary peer reviews of each other’s executive capacities. In 2009, the Association of Dutch Local Governments established the Quality Institute of Dutch Local Governments (Kwaliteitsinstituut Nederlandse Gemeenten, KING). Since 2016, KING produces a comparative report on the status of local governments (“De staat van Gemeenten”) which collects relevant policy evaluations and assists local governments in their information management-based policy perspectives. Nevertheless, due to the implementation of strong decentralization plans, including funding cutbacks, it is likely that the uniformity of national standards in the delivery of municipal services will diminish.

Citations:
Raad Financiële Verhoudingen:
http://www.rob-rfv.nl/documenten/reactie_rfv_op_decentralisatiebrief.pdf

Raad voor het Openbaar Bestuur:
http://www.rob-rfv.nl/documenten/reactie_rfv_op_decentralisatiebrief.pdf

Kwaliteits Instituut: https://www.kinggemeenten.nl/

KING Jaarverslag 2015 In één oogopslag, ringgemeenten.nl (consulted 12 October 2017)

Adaptability

#18

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures no matter how useful adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
6
Government reform has been on and off the agenda for at least 40 years. In this time there has been no substantial reform of the original government structure, which dates back to the 1848 constitution, “Thorbecke’s house.” Although several departments have been switched back and forth between different ministries, the system of ministries itself has not been substantially reformed. The Council of State, which is the highest court of appeal in administrative law, is still part of the executive, not the judiciary. The Netherlands is one of the last countries in Europe in which mayors are appointed by the national government. In spring 2013, the Rutte II government largely withdrew its drastic plans to further reduce the number of local and municipal governments from just over 400 to between 100 and 150 with 100,000 or more inhabitants per district, as well as its intentions to merge a number of provinces.

Since 1997, the Homogenous Group International Cooperation (Homogene Groep International Samenwerking, HGIS) has coordinated the budgets and policies of government departments involved in foreign, trade and development policy. In response to EU-level developments, Dutch financial and economic policymaking procedures were adapted to EU-level budget norms and assessments. The oversight role of the Dutch parliament has been strengthened. Information about EU policies and decisions reach the Dutch parliament through a large number of special channels. Although the number of civil servants with legal, economic and administrative expertise at the EU level has undoubtedly increased due to their participation in EU consultative procedures, no new structural adjustments in departmental policy and legislative preparation have been implemented. At present, a political mood of “Dutch interests first” translates into a political attitude of unwillingness (beyond what has already been achieved) to adapt domestic political and policy infrastructure to international, particularly EU, trends and developments.

Citations:
Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, Nederlands Parlement en de EU (minbuza.nl, consulted 9 November 2016)

Standpunt VNG (homepage vng.nl, consulted 27October 2014)

Gemeentelijke en provinciale herindelingen in Nederland (home.kpn.nl/pagklein/gemhis.html, consulted 27 October 2014)

Verdrag van Lissabon vergroot rol van nationale parlementen in Europa, Parlement & Politiek, Europa (parlement.com., consulted 23 September 2015)

“Wat is HGIS?,” 2016, rijksbegroting.nl (consulted 12 October 2017)

“Macron gaat Rutte net iets te snel,” NRC.nl, 26 September 2017

“Rutte zowel kritisch als positief over toekomstvisie Europa,” Algemeen Dagblad, 13 September 2017

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively in international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
7
The Netherlands has been a protagonist in all forms of international cooperation since the Second World War. However, research has shown that since the late 1970s, 60% of EU directives have been delayed (sometimes by years) before being transposed into Dutch law. The present-day popular attitude to international affairs is marked by reluctance, indifference or rejection. This has had an impact on internal and foreign policy, as indicated by the Dutch shift toward assimilationism in integration and immigration policies; the decline in popular support and subsequent lowering of the 1%-of-government-spending-norm for development aid; the shift in the government’s attitude toward being a net contributor to EU finances; and the rejection of the EU referendum and the recent rejection of the EU treaty with Ukraine in a non-binding referendum.

The change in attitudes has also negatively affected government participation and influence in international coordination of policy and other reforms. Since 2003, the Dutch States General have been more involved in preparing EU-related policy, but largely through the lens of subsidiarity and proportionality – that is, in the role of guarding Dutch sovereignty. However, Dutch ministers do play important roles in the coordination of financial policies at the EU level. Indeed, it is only since the beginning of the banking and financial crisis that the need for better coordination of international policymaking by the Dutch government has led to reforms in the architecture of policy formulation. The sheer number of EU top-level meetings between national leaders forces the Dutch prime minister to act as minister of general and European affairs, with heavy support from the minister of finance. In the first months of 2016, Prime Minister Rutte has acted as chair of the European Union’s Council of Ministers, where he played a leading role in the negotiations with Turkey over stopping the influx of refugees from the Middle East. Immediately after the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, Prime Minister Rutte explicitly stressed the need for the Netherlands to be part of a well-functioning European Union. The Vice-Chair of the European Commission is a former Dutch minister. The Dutch minister for Development Aid and Trade plays an important role in fostering better cooperation between governments, international companies and international aid organizations through transnational treaties on production and supply chains. The Netherlands will be part of the U.N. Security Council for the next year.

Citations:
R.B. Andeweg & G.A. Irwin, Governance and Politics of The Netherlands (2014). Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 220-228 regarding coordination viz-a-viz the EU and 251-272 for Foreign Policy in general.

“Dijsselbloem herkozen als Eurogroepvoorzitter,” in NRC-Handelsblad, 13 July 2015

“De eerste 100 dagen van eurocommisaris Frans Timmermans,” in Europa Nu, 31 March 2015 (europa-nu.nl, consulted 26 October 2015)

NRC.nl., Rutte staat opeens pal voor EU, daagt PVV uit over Nexit, 6 July 2016 (nrs.nl, consulted 9 November 2016)

Organizational Reform

#27

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
5
There have only been two visible changes in the institutional practices of the Dutch government at the national level. One is that the monarch, formally the head of government, was stripped of participation in cabinet formation processes; the second chamber or senate now formally directs that process. The second is an informal adaptation to less parliamentary support for the Rutte I and II governments. Informal coordination processes between government ministers, and all members of the senate and second chamber have become crucial for governing at the national level.
Two organizational-reform crises have emerged in recent times that threaten citizens’ well-being in the long run. The first is the underfunded, understaffed and ill-considered transfer of policy responsibility to municipal and local governments within important domains such as youth care, health care and senior-citizen care. Many local governments lack the expertise, budgetary powers and monitoring/evaluation capacity to implement these changes without grave difficulties. In many cases, they have joined local-government alliances or have outsourced such tasks to commercial firms without adequate democratic oversight. However, on the local level, experiments in local budgeting, and deliberative and participatory policymaking (Code Oranje, Civocracy) have gained some traction.

Second, there is a looming reform crisis in the justice and policing system, which undermines the government’s task of protecting citizens’ security. The reform of the policing system from regional or local bodies into a single big national organization is stagnating; police officers have mounted strikes based on wage and working-condition issues; and the top echelon of the police leadership is in disarray. The digitization of the justice system and the reduction in the number of courts, in addition to imposed cutbacks, has wreaked havoc within the judicial branch of government. There is a crisis in the relations between the political and the bureaucratic elements, given that the Department of Justice and Security is supposed to provide political guidance to both of these reform movements.
Although institutional arrangements are monitored regularly (Scientific Council of the Government on Citizen Self-Reliance, Council for Public Administration on Local Democracy and annual reports by the national Council of State), recommendations and plans are not followed up due to a lack of political will.

Citations:
Code Oranje|Democratic Challenge, democratic challenge.nl

Civocracy, civocracy.org

Jaarverslag Raad van State, 2016

Kees Breed, “Politici moeten de illusie van de ‘cockpit Den Haag’ loslaten,” 21 September 2016, platformoverheid.nl,

Raad voor het Openbaar Bestuur, Democratie is meer dan politiek alleen. Burgers aan het roer in hun leefwereld, Adviesrapport 28 June 2017

WRR, Weten is nog geen doen. Een realistisch perspectief op redzaamheid, 24 April, 2017

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
6
No major changes have taken place in strategic arrangements or capacities beyond what has already been mentioned regarding externally driven policy coordination in fiscal and economic matters. Generally, strategic capacity is rather strong. Though there are signs that government officials are aware of a need for strategic change. However, due to the long period of austerity, which is only now coming to an end, strategic capacities have not been strengthened. Experiments in participatory budgeting and local democracy may somewhat harness citizen knowledge and expertise to local government.
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