Gov't services lose sight of humanity when implementing policy: Committee
Parliament, Ministries and government organizations too often lose sight of the human dimension when implementing policy, a parliamentary committee of inquiry concluded after investigating the functioning of organizations like benefits agency UWV, driver's license institute CBR, and the Tax Authority. As a result, citizens are often left in trouble, facing complicated rules they don't understand, the committee concluded, NOS reports.
The committee, led by VVD parliamentarian Andre Bosman, came to the conclusion that about 20 percent of citizens are not comfortable with the rules in multiple policy areas. Because there is too little interest in each other's work between the government, parliament, and implementation, proposed policy is not always properly tested for feasibility.
This results in rules that are often so complicated that even professionals have trouble understanding them. "This problem is particularly relevant for measures that are laid down in a coalition agreement," the committee said.
And problems encountered at the agencies in implementing policy do not always reach the people who can solve them."Certainly in larger implementing organizations, a signal sometimes has to pass through a layer of managers before someone can make a decision." It also happens that employees do not feel safe to report problems. And political- and media focus on incidents can lead to a defensive attitude in agencies, which makes them reluctant to contradict unrealistic expectations.
Like the committee that investigated the childcare allowance scandal, the Bosman committee also concluded that implementing agencies are given mixed messages. On the one hand they are expected to serve citizens. On the other hand they must take strict action against fraudsters. "But clear guidance from politicians or the cabinet is lacking."
According to the committee, the Cabinet also does not always inform parliament completely and on time. Officials from Ministries do not want their Minister to get into trouble and for that reason are sometimes reluctant to inform parliament, the committee said.
The Ministries have too dominant a position and parliament and implementing agencies cannot provide a sufficient counterweight to this, the committee said. The committee called on parliament to lean less heavily on Ministries and to look more closely at implementation itself. Parliament and cabinet must also evaluate the effects of new policy much sooner than they do now, the committee said.
The Bosman committee also urgently appealed to the Cabinet, parliament, and implementing agencies to cooperate more in formulating and implementing policy. "Every day postponement means more people in trouble," the committee said.