Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaking after a Cabinet meeting. Jan. 9, 2015 (photo: Rijksoverheid) Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaking after a Cabinet meeting. Jan. 9, 2015 (photo: Rijksoverheid)
Rutte cabinet slammed over poor policy execution
With reporting by Demid Getik and Zack Newmark. The current coalition government received harsh criticism in the annual Court of Audit report for its inability to solve problems in implementing policies without causing havoc at affected ministries. At its core, the report states that the government wants to achieve much, but puts too little thought into planning and executing policy especially in cases of budget cuts. At the Ministry of Defense, the Dutch armed forces have barely enough money and equipment to protect Dutch borders, the report said. Even still, many army vehicles were put in storage due to lack of money. Meanwhile, Army staff training and education is running behind, if happening at all, so that the staff is not trained for the highest threat level. The report cited failures to train personnel on the Chinook helicopter, but also raised a red flag on F-16 fighter jet training. Missions to combat ISIS in Iraq is eating away the entirety of the capped number of flying hours for the fighter jets, leaving little time for training new pilots and drilling current pilots. Former government ministers also stated a need to add money to the Defense budget, some of which was approved this week. The Court concluded that Social Affairs and Health Ministries have "not completed" their roles in the introduction of reforms to the personal healthcare budget (PGB). The State Secretary for Health, Martin van Rijn, also criticized this himself last month. Decisions regarding PGB were made, but they were not "well prepared" which led to a delay of data and insufficient processing of Social Insurance. An investigation needs to be conducted into the problems with the Social Insurance, the Court stated. As many government agencies and public services rely heavily on ICT, they have been experiencing major challenges combining ICT, high performance and ambitions. The Dutch government in the past was criticized heavily for information technology failures, and the high cost it carries against the national budget. The Dutch tax authority, Belastingdienst, may have to replace outdated computer systems that have been causing trouble. Earlier this week, the tax office announced they would eliminate between 4,000 and 5,000 jobs as advanced information technology systems will reduce their staffing needs. The office currently hires 28,000 workers. The income and expenditures of the central government in 2014 were lawful and errors and uncertainties remained within the allowed margin. The Court of Audit thus approved the government account for 2014. The Court of Audit urges the Dutch Cabinet to make the implementations of reforms and other decisions work well. Political ambitions often create friction between available time, people, and resources, accountability research shows.