Audit: Drastic cuts to secret service budget were irresponsible

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The Cabinet was careless and irresponsible with the massive budget cuts to the General Intelligence and Security Service, or AIVD, in 2012. These cuts left deep marks on the organization and still poses risks to the operation of the secret service.

That is the conclusion of the Court of Audit, who investigated the changes to the AIVD's budget between 2012 and 2015 at the request of the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament.

The Court of Audit is particularly critical on the large budget cut made in 2012, when the Rutte II cabinet to cut 68 million euros from the AIVD budget - about a third of the total budget. Due to the rising threat brought on by the unrest in the Crimea and the problem with jihadists, the AIVD's budget has been raised again in three steps. As a result, the budget is now higher than before the cuts in 2012. According to the court, consequences of these rapid changes in budget include that there is no longer a long-term perspective in the secret service. And despite the plan to protect operational personnel, the outflow of personnel in 2014 is twice as high as in 2012, leading to valuable knowledge and experience being lost.

The Court also criticized the functioning of the service itself. It seems that the AIVD does not have an overview of what different tasks cost the service.This makes parliamentary control of the performance of the service in conjunction with the financial side almost impossible. The Court finally writes that due to insufficient supervision from the Tweede Kamer, there is an insufficient image of the overall functioning of the secret service.

The Court advised the Cabinet to formulate an integrated, multi-year vision on the operation and performance of the secret services. Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs has responded that he embraces the conclusions and recommendations of the Court.