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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).

    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.

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.

    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.

    After a year’s delay, the new Dutch Environmental Act will enter into force on January 1, 2022. Within this new legal framework, municipalities are expected to develop an environmental vision through policy integration and citizen participation. This new working method raises some questions. This article focuses on the quality of policy considerations with regard to vulnerable spatial domains and in particular religious heritage. It answers the question about the quality of policy considerations in municipal environmental visions and then examines whether policy integration and participation have contributed to this. An analysis of 33 municipal environmental visions shows that the quality of policy considerations for religious heritage is low in almost all municipalities. Interviews with nine municipalities provide a more complete picture and make it clear that the real quality of the policy considerations is higher than what can ultimately be found in the visions. However, these findings raise doubts about the future protection of the religious heritage in the further elaboration of the environmental vision in the environmental plan. In connection with this, two calls are made: (a) as a municipality, ensure that the subject of cultural heritage is on the political-administrative agenda; (b) ensure that cultural heritage is not only part of history, but also of the future.


Lars Stevenson MSc
L.M. Stevenson MSc is sinds 1 juli 2020 als PhD-student verbonden aan de vakgroep bestuurskunde van de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. Hij deed een master politieke wetenschappen in Nijmegen.

Dr. Marlies Honingh
Dr. M.E. Honingh is universitair hoofddocent bestuurskunde aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen en redactielid 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.
Thema

‘Waarom mag het niet wat meer onze kerk zijn?’

Spanningen bij meervoudig gebruik van monumentale stadskerken

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 3 2020
Auteurs Matthias Kaljouw MA
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article provides insight into the way in which various city churches that are national monuments fulfill their various, sometimes contradictory, functions. All of these are church buildings that determine the city view. These five church buildings are dependent on commercial rental by a foundation or manager for their maintenance, but they also explicitly fulfill a religious and cultural-historical function. How do ecclesiastical and management organizations deal with this area of tension, what administrative forms do we find and where and why do tensions arise? The author sketches the results of a comparative case study of five churches, supplemented with data collected through focus groups with administrators of 20 church communities associated with city churches that are national monuments. It appears that tensions between the various functions of the church building occur in all these churches, regardless of the chosen administrative model. These tensions seem to be concentrated mainly around the ‘iconic’ meaning of the church building. For the church community, the church building not only fulfills the function of ‘meeting place’; it is also the building through which the church community is visible and recognizable in the city. In addition, the church building also appears to represent certain values with which church communities identify themselves. It is therefore important for administrators and foundations to answer a ‘cardinal’ question: can the current ecclesiastical function of the building be part of the commercial and cultural-historical function of the building, or should it remain strictly separate from it?


Matthias Kaljouw MA
M.J. Kaljouw MA is promovendus praktische theologie aan de Protestantse Theologische Universiteit (Groningen). Zijn onderzoek richt zich op het gebruik van en de betekenisgeving aan achttien iconische stadskerken in Nederland.

    The author of this contribution asks whether and, if so, in which specific cases, the principle of the separation of church and state applies to situations related to the emptying of churches. As a result of the closure, restoration and re-designation of church buildings, governments may be confronted with issues that touch on this principle. The principle of the separation between church and state prescribes that the government must be neutral. This contribution explains that this neutral attitude differs according to the social domain in which the issue arises. Using a contextual approach, he makes clear which interests (religious, general, private and the interests of others) should be decisive in government policy in this area in the various domains.


Mr. dr. Jos Vleugel
Mr. dr. A. Vleugel is als onderzoeker en universitair docent staatsrecht verbonden aan de faculteit Recht, Economie, Bestuur en Organisatie van de Universiteit Utrecht. Zijn expertise ligt bij de volgende thema’s: grondrechten, de neutrale overheid, religieuze tolerantie en de scheiding tussen kerk en staat.

    The care for religious heritage is no recent phenomenon in the Netherlands. King Willem I (1813-1840) was the first king of the Netherlands personally committed to the preservation of churches. But striving for conservation does not mean that a building is frozen in time; on the contrary. Many a church is made smaller, rebuilt or expanded in the course of its existence. The use of churches for other than religious purposes is also nothing new in the Netherlands, as is the re-designation of churches. The ‘Grote Kerk’ of Veere has been re-designated many times since 1600. Of the current approximately 7,100 buildings in the Netherlands that were built for a religious function, some 1,700 have already been re-designated. It is said that around 1,000 church buildings have been closed since the 1960s, hundreds of which have been demolished. As far as religious buildings are concerned, change is not an exception, but a constant. So desperately wanting to keep everything as it is – or was – seems impossible. But all this does not alter the fact that church buildings are dear to Dutch society. For example, churches make up only 4% of the total stock of national monuments in the Netherlands, but together they receive about 40% of all maintenance funds. Church buildings apparantly offer something extra and lift us up as people. And from that perspective alone, the recommendation is to keep these buildings as much as possible for the future.


Drs. Frank Strolenberg
Drs. F.J.G.M. Strolenberg is programmaleider Toekomst Religieus Erfgoed bij de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed en werkt als zelfstandige vanuit Frankenvrij.net.

    Large government investments are regularly preceded by an ex-ante evaluation. This article examines the quality of two ex-ante studies and considers the use made by administrators and representatives of the people of these ex-ante studies. In both cases it concerned qualitatively sound ex-ante studies. In both cases, these studies also demonstrably affected the debate about these investment plans in the people’s representations. But there was no question of power-free decision making. In both cases, the representatives of the people were put under great pressure. Not only was there time pressure. The public debate came late. The use of sound ex-ante studies is not only an investment in rationality, but is also accompanied by political-strategic manoeuvring. The relevance of this article to practitioners is that it (a) contains four reasonable requirements that the representative may make of each ex-ante study offered by the executive board; (b) also shows that an ex-ante analysis on which important decisions are based should not be characterised by secret parts or by undefined assumptions and an ex-ante analysis must be transparent; and (c) demonstrates it is important as a representative to be tenacious, to keep a firm hand and not to decide before all questions have been answered and a full list of safeguards is on the table.


Prof. dr. Michiel Herweijer
Prof. dr. M. Herweijer is bijzonder hoogleraar Bestuurskunde aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen en redacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen. Hij was tot 1 januari 2019 directeur van de Noordelijke Rekenkamer. Sinds 1 november 2018 is hij docent publiek management aan de Universitaire Campus Fryslân te Leeuwarden (een nevenvestiging van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen).

    Given the increasing importance of local administration and its range of tasks, it is important to know whether municipal councils are succeeding in properly controlling the administration. That is one of the main tasks that has been entrusted to the municipal council when dualism was introduced in the Netherlands in 2002. Council members are aware of the importance of the monitoring task, but little is known about the way in which they perform this task. Research in ten Dutch municipalities into the use of the available set of tools for framing and monitoring shows that municipal councils make little or no use of some of the instruments, in particular with regard to information gathering and the support of the council. Good information provision to the council sometimes appears to be subordinated to the political importance of the coalition. And everywhere councillors are struggling with the set of programmes for programme budgeting and accounting introduced during the dualisation process: it offers insufficient possibilities for framing and checking. In the absence of a clear assessment framework, it is not possible to determine whether this detracts from the effectiveness of control and framework. What good or effective control is and what its purpose is are also apparently not a topic for discussion in the local arena. This article shows (a) that council members can make more and better use of available framework and control instruments and the possibilities for supporting the council; b) the instrument of the programme budget (and the program account) does not seem to live up to the expectations of the dualisation process; c) mayors, as chairmen of the council, do not always feel responsible for the proper provision of information for the council and, in a broader sense, for better positioning of the council as a framework-setting and controlling body. More leadership is required here.


Prof. dr. Klaartje Peters
Prof. dr. C.E. Peters is zelfstandig onderzoeker en publicist, bijzonder hoogleraar Lokaal en regionaal bestuur aan de Universiteit Maastricht en redactielid van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Dr. Peter Castenmiller
Dr. P. Castenmiller is verbonden aan adviesbureau PBLQ en is tevens voorzitter van de rekenkamer van de gemeente Delft.
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