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    Since 2003, decentralized audit offices in the Netherlands have been authorized to investigate the regularity of the administration conducted. The definition of ‘regularity’ and the scope of the regularity investigation is not described in the law or in the literature. In this article, a regularity investigation is defined as ‘testing whether the administration has complied with applicable law’. That applicable law consists of written and unwritten rules of law, and case law. Audit offices examine regularity less often than efficiency and effectiveness. However, they have started researching it more often than in the past, according to this article. Of the administrative audit office reports in 2019, 42% contained a regularity finding, conclusion or recommendation. Accountants also investigate the regularity. They do this in the context of the annual audit and limit themselves to financial regularity. The regularity audit carried out by decentralized audit offices is broader. In addition to written legal rules, it also focuses on unwritten legal rules and case law, it is not limited to financial subjects and the investigation period can be longer than one reporting year. The findings and conclusions of the audit offices regarding the lawful unlawful actions of the administration concern the consequences for citizens and companies and the consequences for the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration’s actions.


Arjan Kok
Mr. drs. A. Kok RA is sinds 2004 werkzaam bij de Rekenkamer Metropool Amsterdam, is medeauteur van de Handreiking juridische vraagstukken van de NVRR (juli 2020) en doceert het onderdeel rechtmatigheidsonderzoek binnen de postacademische cursus Rekenkameronderzoek (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam).

Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about and movement in the position of local audit offices in the Netherlands, For example, there is currently a bill to strengthen the audit offices in the Dutch House of Representatives (‘Tweede Kamer’), and in recent years there have been drastic cuts in the budgets of many local audit offices. The development of local audit offices nationally is therefore strongly determined by politics. Partly for this reason, it is wise to look beyond national borders and gain insight into the development and position of the local audit institutions in other European countries. It is striking that the majority of the regional European audit offices are not only considerably larger and perform more tasks – in addition to performance audits, they also audit the annual accounts – but also that there are considerably fewer decentralized audit offices per country. In addition, there are major differences in powers. For example, regional audit offices in France can in some cases impose fines and take certain cases to court. Despite the large differences, however, there are also many similarities between the various European decentralized audit institutions. For example, all audit offices conduct performance audits and independence is almost always properly guaranteed by law. The article concludes with a plea for the Dutch situation to be somewhat more in line with the development of the European decentralized audit institutions.


Paul Hofstra
Drs. P. Hofstra is tot 1 juni 2021 directeur/bestuurder van de Rekenkamer Rotterdam. Hij is daarnaast voorzitter van de Rekenkamer Sint Eustatius.

    Dutch municipalities and provinces have been obliged to have an audit office or audit office function for about 20 years. How does the audit office work nowadays and what contribution does it make to decentralized administration? That is the question at the center of this article. To this end, the authors list the available knowledge about audit offices or committees and present the results of their own analysis of 982 audit reports from 234 audit offices or committees from 308 Dutch municipalities. The audit office or committee has been institutionalized in the vast majority of municipalities and in all provinces. Council members are increasingly less likely to (also) be members of this board and the output has increased slightly from approximately one to an average of one and a half surveys per year. Where initially mainly business management-oriented subjects were examined, some broadening to more policy-related themes has taken place. Municipal councilors are quite satisfied with their audit office or committee. At the same time, the actual social effects of policy are rarely measured in audit institutions. Moreover, council members make little use of audit reports in controlling the municipal board, and audit offices or committees also add little to their framework-setting role. Little is known about the extent to which the research of the audit offices makes a more objective contribution to the administration and strengthening of the functioning of the municipal council, which is also a theme for future research.


Klaartje Peters
Prof. dr. K. Peters is zelfstandig onderzoeker en publicist en bijzonder hoogleraar Lokaal en regionaal bestuur aan de Universiteit Maastricht; zij is voorzitter van de Rekenkamer Venlo en rekenkamerdirecteur in Beuningen, en redactielid van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Sabine van Zuydam
Dr. S. van Zuydam is onderzoeker bij Necker van Naem en is verbonden aan de Universiteit Twente; daarnaast is zij (plaatsvervangend) voorzitter van verschillende rekenkamercommissies en redactielid van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    In the more than 15 years that decentralized audit offices have existed in the Netherlands, little attention has been paid to the research methods they use. This article focuses on how the research methods used by decentralized audit offices have developed and to what extent they use new technology. New technology has changed a lot in 15 years, which offers new possibilities for research, but also raises new questions. Based on an empirical analysis of audit reports, it can be concluded that decentralized audit offices adopt a standard approach to document and file analysis and interviews, with only limited application of innovative technology. On the basis of a theoretical exploration of the relevant literature and a simple qualitative analysis of research by the Netherlands Court of Audit and the Rathenau Institute, a framework has been developed in which the opportunities and risks of the application of new technology in decentralized audit office research are described. This can provide a handle for future application. Decentralized audit offices can use this for (more) reflection on their research methods and innovation, in order to develop to maturity while remaining young.


Ard Schilder
Dr. N.A.C. Schilder is directeur-bestuurder van de Zuidelijke Rekenkamer.

Isabelle Fest
I. Fest MA is promovendus bij de Universiteit Utrecht, waar zij onderzoek uitvoert naar de toepassing van algoritmen bij de Nationale Politie.

Erik Schurer
E. Schurer MSc is als onderzoeker verbonden aan de Zuidelijke Rekenkamer.

    The impact of audit office reports has received little attention in the scientific literature. In this article, various forms of impact have been distinguished with the help of Public Administration literature and factors that promote the use of evaluations have been distinguished. This theoretical framework was subsequently used for empirical research into the effect of audit office research. The extent to which the recommendations have had an impact was investigated in 20 Dutch municipalities with the aid of impact reports from audit institutions. Out of 176 publications, 94% of the 1216 recommendations were adopted by the city council. This means that the procedural impact is high. Of the 731 recommendations that could be checked at 17 municipalities, the local audit offices report that 58% had been fully implemented, 19% partially and 15% not or not tackled differently. The three categories of success factors from the scientific literature were visible in the practice of the audit offices. This applies most strongly to impact factors related to evaluation quality, in particular the factors related to communications standards, clear recommendations, timeliness and relevance to the decision maker. As far as research and decision-making factors are concerned, the commitment of the organization and the political climate are the most important factors for audit institutions. Finally, the involvement of stakeholders promotes the impact as a catalyst. The article concludes with practical lessons for promoting the processing of audit reports.


Sjoerd Keulen
Dr. S.J. Keulen is specialistisch adviseur bij de Algemene Rekenkamer. Daarnaast is hij extern lid van de Rekenkamer Utrecht.

    This article focuses on the regularity audit carried out by decentralized audit offices in the Netherlands. Decentralized audit institutions have been given a limited task assignment from the legislator for this type of research. It was expressly not the intention that the audit office repeats the (financial) regularity audit done by the accountant, nor was the decentralized audit office given a role in the so-called indemnity procedure. The decentralized audit office’s role is primarily to carry out a system test of regularity. A positive side effect of this limited task assignment has been that decentralized audit institutions have not started to practice regularity audits as a separate activity. Monitoring the relationship between regularity, efficiency and effectiveness can protect an audit office from pitfalls. While this working method is maintained, new opportunities will arise for decentralized audit institutions. The accountant will soon no longer have primacy in assessing (financial) regularity, but the municipal and provincial Executive will instead report directly to the municipal and provincial council in an annex to the annual accounts. The accountant will continue to monitor whether what is stated in this annex about regularity is correct and complete. This offers new possibilities for the decentralized court of auditors to assist the council in its monitoring and contextualizing role, and in forming an opinion on regularity.


Jan van der Bij
Mr. dr. J. van der Bij is werkzaam bij het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties, lid van het College van de Noordelijke Rekenkamer, lid van de commissie BBV en voorzitter van de commissie Bado.

Klaartje Peters
Prof. dr. K. Peters is zelfstandig onderzoeker en publicist en bijzonder hoogleraar Lokaal en regionaal bestuur aan de Universiteit Maastricht; zij is voorzitter van de Rekenkamer Venlo en rekenkamerdirecteur in Beuningen, en redactielid van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Sabine van Zuydam
Dr. S. van Zuydam is onderzoeker bij Necker van Naem en is verbonden aan de Universiteit Twente; daarnaast is zij (plaatsvervangend) voorzitter van verschillende rekenkamercommissies en redactielid van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    From 1964 (until around 1990), political science became the dominant approach within (local) administrative sciences in the Netherlands. This position was taken over from the legal approach. In this period, the concepts of politics, policy and decision-making were central to research and theory. In the period up to 1990, we still see a predominantly administration-centric or government-centric perspective among these political scientists, although we already see incentives from different authors for a broader perspective (the politics, policy and decision-making concepts remain relevant however) that will continue in the period thereafter. This broader perspective (on institutions, management and governance) took shape in the period after 1990, in which Public Administration would increasingly profile itself as an independent (inter)discipline. This essay tells the story of the (local) administrative sciences in this period as envisaged by twelve high-profile professors. The story starts in 1990 in Leiden with the (gradual) transition from classical to institutional Public administration, as is revealed in the inaugural lecture by Theo Toonen. This is followed by eleven other administrative scientists, who are divided into four ‘generations’ of three professors for convenience. In conclusion, the author of this essay argues that there is mainly a need for what he calls a (self-)critical Public Administration.


Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    For administrative sciences in the Netherlands in general and for local administrative sciences in particular 2021 is a special year. It is the year in which our Dutch journal Administrative Sciences (the first issue was published in November 1946) celebrates its 75th anniversary, even though 1947 was the first full volume. But it is also the year in which it is 100 years ago since its predecessor, Municipal Administration, was founded; the first issue was published in January 1921. This means that we can speak of 100 years of having an (academic) journal for local government in the Netherlands. In 2016 we paid extensive attention in an editorial to the start of our Administrative Sciences journal and the men (and a woman) who have worked in it from the very beginning. In this editorial, we therefore draw attention to the men from the very beginning (this time there was no women involvement) of the Municipal Administration journal. It is the first academic journal in the field of local government in the Netherlands, first published every two weeks from January 1921 and on a monthly basis after 1922. The editorial board of the new journal was entrusted to a committee, of which, in addition to the board of the VNG (that is the Dutch association for municipalities) and its secretary, six people were members: Herman Nieboer (after his sudden death on 16 November 1920, he was replaced by Willem Drees in January 1921), Gerrit van Poelje, Willem van Sonsbeeck, Ate Roelof Veenstra, Bastiaan Verheij and Jacob de Wilde. Henri Vos, Pieter Bakker Schut and Jakob Herman van Zanten joined them in 1922.


Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.
Essay

Populisme als reactie op een falende (lokale) democratie?

Pierre Rosanvallons Le siècle du populisme

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 1 2021
Auteurs Nico Nelissen
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    It had been on the wish list of the author of this essay (Nico Nelissen) for some time to devote an essay to the phenomenon of ‘populism’. The publication of Pierre Rosanvallon’s new book Le siècle du populisme (‘The Age of Populism’) was a good reason to act on this intention. The book is structured as follows. An introduction presents the broad outlines of what is discussed in the book. Then populism is discussed in three parts. The first part is mainly analytical in nature, in which the phenomenon of populism is analyzed from the perspective of unity and diversity. The second part of the book discusses the history of populism, not only now and in France, but also in the past and in other countries. In the third part of the book, a critical reflection on populism is given based on setting it against the background of the failures of modern democracy. Finally, there is an annex in which the history of the concept of populism is explained. Reflections on populism usually take place in the field of nation states and national democracies. But perhaps much more relevant is populism at the level of local democracy. It is often the ‘local annoyances’ that give rise to criticism of local government and local politics. It is to the credit of Rosanvallon who, on the whole, has nothing to do with populism, yet has the courage to deal with this protest against mainstream democracy with a little less bias.


Nico Nelissen
Prof. dr. N.J.M. Nelissen is emeritus hoogleraar aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, redactielid en oud-hoofdredacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.
Artikel

Access_open Uitvoeringsorganisaties tussen staat en straat

De relevantie van maatschappelijke verantwoording voor directeuren van ZBO’s en agentschappen

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 1 2021
Auteurs Lars Brummel, Sjors Overman en Thomas Schillemans
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This contribution analyzes the degree of relevance that administrators of independent administrative bodies (ZBOs) and agencies assign to their accountability relationships with social stakeholders. Although there is a lot of attention for social forms of accountability in the scientific literature, no large-scale quantitative research has been conducted into how administrators of implementing organizations experience this accountability. This study fills this gap on the basis of survey research by: (1) mapping the importance of forms and practices of social accountability for implementing organizations; and (2) weighing potential explanations for differences in the importance of social accountability in implementing organizations. The authors show that administrators of ZBOs and agencies in the Netherlands attach great importance to accountability towards their broad public environment, also compared to other countries with similar types of implementing organizations. This observation is in line with the Dutch reputation of consensual and interactive governance. Differences in the importance of social accountability between implementing organizations cannot be explained by the vertical accountability relationship with the parent department or other institutional organizational characteristics. The analysis shows that social orientation is greater among ZBOs and agencies where the media has more influence over administrators. Social accountability is associated with greater perceived media pressure.


Lars Brummel
L. Brummel MSc is promovendus aan de Utrecht School of Governance (USG) van de Universiteit Utrecht. In 2018 rondde hij zijn researchmaster bestuurskunde en organisatiewetenschap af in Utrecht.

Sjors Overman
Dr. S.P. Overman MSc is universitair docent aan de Utrecht School of Governance (USG) van de Universiteit Utrecht. Hij is in 2016 gepromoveerd aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.

Thomas Schillemans
Prof. dr. T. Schillemans is hoogleraar Verantwoording, gedrag en instituties aan de Utrecht School of Governance (USG) van de Universiteit Utrecht.

Nico Nelissen
Prof. dr. N.J.M. Nelissen is emeritus hoogleraar aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, redactielid en oud-hoofdredacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.
Artikel

Digitaal leiderschap

Verkenning van de veranderende rol van gemeentesecretarissen in de informatiesamenleving

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 4 2020
Auteurs Dr. Martiene Branderhorst
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Rapid technological change and the information society have consequences for the role and duties of municipal clerks. To increase understanding of the implications of digital technologies for the role of municipal clerk (town clerk), this article presents an exploration of the ‘digital leadership’ of municipal clerks, i.e. leadership that suits a time when digital technologies are growing explosively. By using the four leadership perspectives of Bolman and Deal and the public value thinking of Moore, it was investigated which leadership themes are mentioned in the literature. In this way, this article aims to contribute to the leadership role of the municipal clerk so that he gives shape and direction to the organization from a vision on this change task and leads this transition instead of seeing it as a collection of smart gadgets or an issue concerning the IT department. This means that he will have to be aware of technological developments, can think critically about their significance and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to lead the municipal organization in the information society. This article shows practitioners that: (a) municipal clerks play an important role when it comes to the structure of the municipal organization in the information society; (b) the way in which municipalities innovate digitally has an impact on society and people’s lives; and (c) it is therefore important to shape the leadership of municipal clerks based on public values in order to realize legitimate applications of digital technologies with added social value.


Dr. Martiene Branderhorst
Dr. E.M. Branderhorst is gemeentesecretaris en algemeen directeur in de gemeente Gouda en lid van de Raad voor het openbaar bestuur (Rob).

    While authorities sometimes make it appear that the coronavirus outbreak in the first half of 2020 did not allow for policies other than those in place, we saw remarkable variations in policy approaches in Western Europe. Governments almost everywhere pushed for ‘social distancing’, but differences in wording and communication, and implementation and enforcement emerged that could not be entirely explained by differences in the manifestation of the coronavirus. In order to understand and explain such differences, this article points out the institutional filter that exists between the corona threat and policy action. The interaction between two central components of the institutional filter – national culture and state tradition – is elaborated in this article for six Western European countries in particular: the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and Belgium, France and Italy, on the one hand. Policy action in these countries is largely consistent with what could be expected given the combinations of national culture and state tradition in these countries. The institutional filter forms a comprehensive framework with which more specific explanations from social trust or manifest public leadership can be placed.


Prof. dr. Frank Hendriks
Prof. dr. F. Hendriks is hoogleraar bestuurskunde aan de Tilburgse School voor Politiek en Bestuur van de Universiteit van Tilburg.

    Adriaan Koelma fits in with the list of legal scholars who helped to shape the early history of the (local) administrative sciences in the Netherlands, which was dominated by a legal approach to local administration. In that respect, he was not only a follower of the first Dutch public administration scholar, Gerrit van Poelje, but also his successor. He held the chair in Public Administration in Rotterdam, which Van Poelje vacated in 1933, first as a lecturer and later as a professor (from 1946 onwards). Nowadays, Koelma is mainly remembered for the state commission named after him: he (in vain) advocated the introduction of districts (next to municipalities). He was chairman of this state commission that was installed by Minister Beel on 19 December 1946. He fulfilled his scientific activities in addition to a career in the Dutch civil service. Koelma was a typical ‘self-made man’ who worked his way up from junior employee at the municipal clerk’s office of Dordrecht to municipal clerk and, if only briefly, mayor of Alkmaar. His experiences in the Second World War had a great influence on his later life. Due to a war-related illness, he had to give up the chairmanship of the Koelma Commission in 1947 and in 1948 his professorship and role as mayor of Alkmaar. This war also gave him insight into the pernicious influence of Nazi ideology on governance theory and governance practice. He could not have suspected how hard the German occupier would put the Dutch administration and its servants to the test during his public lesson of 1934, because at that time the Nazi regime in Germany had not yet shown its true nature at the local level of government.


Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Prof. dr. Marcel Boogers
Prof. dr. M.J.G.J.A. Boogers is hoogleraar Innovatie en Regionaal Bestuur aan de Universiteit Twente, senior adviseur Openbaar Bestuur bij BMC en hoofdredacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.
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