Minister Grapperhaus to augment independent position of WODC

It is necessary to augment the independent position of the WODC (Research and Documentation Centre) from the Ministry of Justice and Security. Minister Grapperhaus has come to this conclusion following the recommendations made by three investigative committees. As a result, a ministerial order will lay down the independent position of the WODC, which will also move to a separate building. The rules for policy research will be refined as well to increase the distance between policy and research. New officials responsible for ensuring compliance with the code of conduct for independent research will be appointed at both the Ministry and the WODC.

Minister Grapperhaus presented this information in a letter to the House of Representatives today, following his receipt of the report on the relationship between the WODC and policy as published by the WODC II Committee, which was chaired by Prof. M.L.M. Hertogh.

Three investigative committees

The publication of the report by the WODC II Committee concludes the activities of the three independent investigative committees that Minister Grapperhaus established following reports of possible irregularities affecting WODC investigations. ‘I concur with the three committees that the WODC and its published research are of substantive value to the field of justice. Taken together, however, the three reports paint a critical picture’, says Grapperhaus. ‘In response, I will provide a robust package of measures that addresses the shortcomings detected by the committees.’

Position of WODC

While the three committees affirm the need for interaction between policy and researchers in conducting proper policy research, the current tensions in this area have gotten out of hand.
Grapperhaus: ‘The reports indicate that the present position of the WODC, which has evolved organically, constitutes a poor foundation for its independent functioning.’ The Minister adopts the recommendation of the WODC II Committee to lay down this independent position by ministerial order, as well as the recommendation that the WODC move to a separate building from the Ministry. A new director for the WODC's management team is to be recruited, whose responsibility it will be to enhance staff resilience, develop a culture of calling others to account and support employees who are subject to undue influence.

Clearer delineation of policy and research

The Minister will refine the code of conduct for proper commissioning and train dedicated policy officers in order to safeguard the valuable position of the WODC. It has emerged from the three committee reports that contacts between policy and research are integral to policy research, particularly during the phase when it is determined what to investigate. While such contacts may improve the quality, the boundaries between peer advice and undue influence can sometimes become blurred. Clearer delineation of these boundaries will provide policy officers with guidance in daily practice. To raise awareness of as well as promote compliance with the standards and protocols applicable to conducting policy research, the Minister will appoint a central knowledge coordinator for the active monitoring of compliance with the new work processes in the area of research. Minister Grapperhaus also requests that the WODC appoint a chief science officer within its organisation to safeguard a sound relationship with the policy side in the course of an investigation, among other things.

Ministry responsible