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    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.

    A large number of people, institutions, journals and approaches have contributed to the history of (local) administrative sciences in the Netherlands. Initially (around 1914) the legal approach was dominant; from 1964 onwards, political science would become the dominant approach; and from 1990 onwards, Public Administration would increasingly profile itself as an independent discipline. This essay concentrates on the influence on this development of sociology and its, typically Dutch, predecessor sociography. The starting point here is the promotion tree of the founder of the Dutch sociology Sebald Steinmetz. Through him various lines (via his doctorates Nicolaas ter Veen and Jakob Kruijt) go to modern Public Administration. This essay tells the story of the influence of sociography and sociology on the development of the administrative sciences and modern Public Administration in six acts, in which two persons from the promotion tree are discussed (via Sjoerd Groenman, who is promoted by Nicolaas ter Veen there are two different lines again). The line via Jakob Kruijt contains Aris van Braam (he wrote in 1957 what is considered the first Dutch empirical study in Public Administration) and Jos Raadschelders. The first line via Sjoerd Groenman contains Henk Brasz (the first full-time professor in Public Administration in the Netherlands), Fred Fleurke and Ko de Ridder. The second line via Sjoerd Groenman contains Joop Ellemers, Geert Braam (professor at the first regular Dutch Public Administration programme in Twente) and Wim Derksen. These acts are framed with short intermezzos about the other sociological key figures who played an important role in the story of sociography, sociology and Public Administration. In conclusion, the author of this essay discusses the continuing relevance of sociology for modern Public Administration.


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.

    In this essay, the author is looking for pioneering local administrators in the Netherlands who dared to push existing boundaries. However, the story starts in Great Britain where progressive liberals under the label ‘municipal socialism’ proceeded to provide public utilities through municipal governments rather than private enterprises. Their example was adopted by the so-called ‘radicals’ in Amsterdam led by Wim Treub. ‘Aldermen socialism’ with Floor Wibaut in Amsterdam as its most important representative, took it a step further. Their aim for a welfare municipality anticipated the later welfare state. After the Second World War we also saw some strong local administrators who in their own way strived for changes in their municipalities. After 1970 the phenomenon of ‘urban renewal’ led to a new flourishing of ‘aldermen socialism’ in the Netherlands with Jan Schaefer (in Amsterdam) as its most appealing figurehead. Since 2000, we have been in a new era of dualism, citizen participation and devolution that has produced new 'boundary pushers', which generated interest abroad (see the book on mayors by Benjamin Barber). At the end of the article, the author takes a look into the future. Current global problems also confront municipalities and they require local administrators with a good mix of political leadership, new civic leadership, inspiring commissioning and good stewardship. This essay is written for the ‘Across boundaries’ annual conference of the VNG (the Association of Netherlands Municipalities founded in 1912) held in Maastricht (in the far south of the Netherlands) in 2018.


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.

    Tom van der Meer (University of Amsterdam) and Henk van der Kolk (University of Twente) are the guest editors of this special issue on local electoral research in the Netherlands. In the introduction Henk van der Kolk describes the background of the first Local Electoral Research (LKO) performed in the Netherlands in 2016. Weighted data were used from the representative LISS-panel existing of 5000 households from all over the Netherlands. The LKO could become an instrument to obtain an integral view of the state of the local democracy from the perspective of the citizen. The articles in this special issue show on the basis of the LKO data to what extent the two divergent views of local democracy correspond with the facts. The first view is that of a local democracy standing close to its citizens, the other view is that of a local government as a derivative of national government.


Dr. Henk van der Kolk
Dr. H. van der Kolk is universitair hoofddocent politicologie en onderzoeksmethoden bij de vakgroep OMD aan de Universiteit Twente en bestuurslid van het Nationaal Kiezersonderzoek.
Artikel

Uitdagingen voor bestuur en politiek op gemeenteniveau: het burgerperspectief

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 3 2017
Auteurs Dr. Jeroen van der Waal, Babs Broekema MSc en Dr. Eefje Steenvoorden
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    For the legitimacy and ability of governments it is crucial to have insight in the worries of citizens about society and politics. In the Netherlands these worries are at the national level systematically mapped by the Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Agency (SCP) through their Continuous Research Citizen Perspectives (COB) for almost ten years now. At the local level there is a lack of information about what worries citizens. Insight in locally experienced problems will probably become even more important in the coming years because of the recent decentralizations of national governmental tasks to the municipalities. This article investigates which problems citizens perceive in their municipalities based on an analysis of data from the Local Electoral Research (LKO). The authors find a number of striking differences with the problems that are perceived at the national level in the same period. The municipal issues citizens mention offer opportunities, but they also point to the limited impact force of the municipal level of government. All in all the research findings are indicative of a substantial added value of the LKO with respect to the already longer running COB.


Dr. Jeroen van der Waal
Dr. J. van der Waal is universitair hoofddocent politieke sociologie bij de vakgroep Sociologie aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Babs Broekema MSc
B. Broekema MSc is promovendus aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. Aan dezelfde universiteit deed ze een master Bestuurskunde, Beleid en Politiek.

Dr. Eefje Steenvoorden
Dr. E.H. Steenvoorden is universitair docent politieke sociologie bij de vakgroep Sociologie aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

    This article investigates the state of affairs of local participation and participation wishes, and its backgrounds. The central question is if those who participate a lot are also those who wish to have more participation or not. It is not possible to simply summarize the developments in time in terms of ‘less and less’ participation and ‘more and more’ wishes. Since the seventies the turnout in municipal elections has fallen (against fluctuations without trend at the national elections) and collective actions for local goals have remained at the same level (against a fall in collective actions for supralocal goals). In 2016 also less people have appeared to participate non-electorally (19% local activists) than electorally (54% turnout in 2014). In addition the support for new opportunities for participation is larger than the actual use of existing opportunities. Political participants are almost as often as non-participants in favour of new opportunities for participation. In line with previous research the authors find several social and political attitudes in support of promoting more opportunities for participation. For participants as well as non-participants it applies that support for more opportunities is promoted by ‘positive’ characteristics (like interest in local politics, worries about the environment) as well as ‘negative’ ones (dissatisfaction with local democracy, disbelief in the responsiveness of councillors).


Prof. dr. Paul Dekker
Prof. dr. P. Dekker is hoofd van de onderzoekssector Participatie, Cultuur en Leefomgeving van het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau en hoogleraar Civil Society aan de Universiteit van Tilburg.

Dr. Josje den Ridder
Dr. J.M. den Ridder is wetenschappelijk medewerker bij het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

    In a final view the other guest editor draws conclusions on local democracy based on the analyses of the Local Election Research presented in this special issue. The good news is that the basic attitude of the Dutch people about their local democracy, their local institutions and their local government is quite positive. A picture of trust and satisfaction arises from the data that are available. However, the picture is much less positive if we look at the local democracy from the perspective of the monitoring citizen. The outcomes of municipal elections are largely dictated by national party preferences, which is both harmful for the process of representation before and the control and accountability after the election of the municipal council. In addition, the level of political participation at the local level is rather low and the participants are not a balanced reflection of the population, even in new forms of participation that are especially designed to break the dominance of the permanent participation elite.


Prof. dr. Tom van der Meer
Prof. dr. T.W.G. van der Meer is hoogleraar Politicologie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam en sinds 2015 codirecteur van het Nationaal Kiezersonderzoek.

    From 1974 until 1994 John Wevers was alderman in Maastricht (an old city in the deep south of the Netherlands) in the area of urban development. Before (from 1967 until 1974) Wevers was already a political activist in this domain. In 2016 he published his autobiography, which is very interesting for several reasons. The autobiography not only gives insight in the policy and the organization in the area of urban renewal in that period, but also in the functioning of local politics in general. At his farewell as an alderman in 1994 Wevers was the last remnant of a generation of Dutch Labour politicians (the other three were Adri Duivesteijn in The Hague, Ypke Gietema in Groningen and Fons Asselbergs in Amersfoort) who made architecture a public matter during the eighties. During the seventies Wevers also belonged to the generation of Dutch Labour politicians (amongst Jan van der Ploeg in Rotterdam, Max van den Berg in Groningen and Jan Schaefer in Amsterdam) who propagated the human scale and living in the inner city for ordinary people. In this respect they could rightfully call themselves the heirs of the legendary Labour alderman Floor Wibaut (alderman in Amsterdam from 1914 until 1931).


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.

    The Dutch minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Plasterk, has resolved to obligate municipalities to set up an independent audit office. Other variants of the audit office function, in which counselors themselves are members of local audit offices or commissions, will be forbidden. The minister’s assumption is that an independent audit office will control the municipal government more effectively. The disappearance of counselors as member of audit offices (or commissions) may have implications for the impact of local audit reports. The supposed effect of the membership of counselors is that there will be better coordination between the local audit office (or commission) and the need for control of the municipality. In addition one might suppose that the presence of counselors in the audit office guarantees that the audit reports will receive enough attention in the municipal council. Both effects concern the impact of local audit investigation. In this article, the authors study the extent to which membership of counselors really contributes to the impact of local audit investigation on the basis of quantitative (a survey amongst secretaries of local audit offices) and qualitative (an explorative case study in a number of Dutch municipalities) research. The results show that the membership of counselors as such does not lead to a greater impact, but that a proper consultation is required between the audit office and the municipal council.


Mr. Paul Koster
Mr. B.P. Koster is jurist bij de gemeente Delfzijl en raadslid in de gemeente Bedum.

Mr. dr. Albertjan Tollenaar
Mr. dr. A. Tollenaar is universitair docent bestuursrecht en bestuurskunde aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

    The often gloomy analyses of democratic representation at the local level are frequently directed at the problems with parties and elections. Direct participation is not a good alternative because only certain people who are already politically active use it. However, with the help of the concept ‘representative claim’ and based on two qualitative case studies of decentralizations in the social domain, the authors show that there are other representative people besides elected politicians. These self-appointed, non-elected representatives may advocate on behalf of vulnerable groups who themselves do not have a strong voice in politics. In addition this study shows that elected representatives, like political parties and local counselors, can strengthen their representative role by: (1) cooperating better with the non-elected representatives, (2) highlighting their representational claims and the basis of these claims, and (3) strengthening their responsiveness towards their support base through authorization and other accountability structures other than elections. In this way the democratic representation in municipalities is reinforced and may be stronger than the often gloomy analyses suggest.


Dr. Hester van de Bovenkamp
Dr. H.M. van de Bovenkamp is universitair hoofddocent aan het instituut Beleid & Management Gezondheidszorg (iBMG) aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Dr. Hans Vollaard
Dr. J.P. Vollaard is universitair docent Nederlandse en Europese politiek binnen het Instituut Politieke Wetenschap van de Universiteit Leiden.

    This essay contains a short history of the municipal and other administrative sciences in the Netherlands. This history is divided into seven lives. Each life has its own specific characteristics and approaches. The story starts in 1914 with the dissertation of Gerrit van Poelje and the aldermanship of Floor Wibaut (for the Dutch Labour Party) in Amsterdam. Nevertheless, the authors make a plea to view 1921 as the actual starting point, because it is the year of the introduction to municipal administration written by Van Poelje and the first Dutch academic magazine on municipal administration (‘Gemeentebestuur’). This means that we can prepare for the celebration of 100 years of (municipal) administrative sciences in 2021. A great challenge for all universities, but certainly for the Public Administration programme of the University of Twente, which is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. The challenge is to work on current topics such as the relationship between public administration and technology in smart, sustainable and resilient cities.


Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de opleiding European Public Administration aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    This year we are celebrating volume 70 of the Dutch magazine ‘Bestuurswetenschappen’ (Administrative Sciences in English). The first complete volume was published in 1947, but the first issue had already appeared in November 1946, so last month our magazine had its 70th anniversary. It is an appropriate age to reflect for a moment on the launch of our magazine in this anniversary issue, because 70 is rapidly becoming the new 65. It is also an opportunity for us to pay respect in this editorial to those people who were involved at the launch of the magazine which happened under difficult circumstances (because of the consequences of the Second World War and the huge task of rebuilding the Netherlands). At the same time this homage is an impressive ‘who’s who’ of Dutch (and also partly the international) administrative sciences at that time, with many remarkable and influential characters playing a role. Apart from all the male authors and editors, one woman (Hermine Revers) was the editorial secretary of the magazine. Chief editor was Gerrit van Poelje, who is considered by many to be the founder of Public Administration in the Netherlands.


Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de opleiding European Public Administration aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    The recruitment and selection of candidate (municipal) councillors by political parties at the local level is an underexposed area of research. This is noteworthy because of the explicit worries about the lack of suitable candidates and about the underrepresentation of certain groups in society. These kinds of nomination problems may also arise from the manner in which parties recruit and which requirements they have for potential candidates. Therefore this article explores recruitment and selection processes at the local level in order to be able to designate possible causes of these nomination problems. The exploratory research involves case studies of the selectors, candidates and the nomination procedure of seven political parties that took part in the municipal elections of 2014 in a typical, average Dutch municipality in the west of the Netherlands: Voorschoten (25,000 inhabitants). The local party elite mainly recruited party members and some non-party members from their own networks, such as local associations. Thus groups in society that are not part of these networks, are less likely to appear in the picture. Active party membership and the willingness to invest a lot of time in their council work appeared to be the highest appreciated characteristics of the ideal councillor according to interviews with the local party elite and a survey amongst the candidate councillors. With a declining number of party members and other ways to spend their time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit non-pensioners as candidates.


Maurits Grimberg MSc
M.R. Grimberg MSc is als militair werkzaam bij de Kernstaf van het Commando Luchtstrijdkrachten, binnen de sectie Coördinatie en Investeringsplannen. In april 2014 studeerde hij af aan de Universiteit Leiden in de Politieke Wetenschap bij Hans Vollaard op een masterthesis over de totstandkoming van een kandidatenlijst in de gemeente Voorschoten.

Dr. Hans Vollaard
Dr. J.P. Vollaard is universitair docent Nederlandse en Europese politiek binnen het Instituut Politieke Wetenschap van de Universiteit Leiden.

    The Dutch government aims at a participatory society, for example by striving for a larger amount of self-responsibility in providing social care, since the introduction of the Societal Support Law (in Dutch called ‘Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning’ or in short Wmo). Does public opinion in the Netherlands reflect this change of mentality? This article investigates (a) how far public opinion on responsibility for social care for the elderly has changed between 2003 and 2010, (b) which factors explain why some people put most responsibility on the government and others on the family and (c) which factors explain intra-individual changes of attitude. This research has used survey data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (2003, 2006/07, 2010). A shift in public opinion appears to have taken place in line with government policy: less responsibility for the government and more for the family. However, a majority of the Dutch population still puts most responsibility on the government. Attitudes appear to be connected with normative motives rather than with utilitarian motives. Intra-individual changes in attitudes in the direction of less government responsibility are mainly explained by normative factors and not by factors related to self-interest.


Mevr. dr. Ellen Verbakel
Mevr. dr. C.M.C. Verbakel is universitair docent bij de opleiding Sociologie van de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.
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