Smaller government, fewer government buildings

Central government is being made smaller and more efficient. Between 2013 and 2020, the share of jobs in central government as a percentage of all jobs in the Netherlands will fall from 3.4% to 3.0%. Use of government buildings will also become increasingly efficient.

Government agencies will increasingly be housed under one roof, and more civil servants will be concentrated in fewer square metres, with fewer workstations per FTE. As a result, central government will need 30% less office space, and this will open the way for the disposal of premises. These measures will save the government some €142 million from 2020 - €62 million in The Hague and €80 million in the rest of the country.

These reforms are set out in two letters that the Minister for Housing and the Central Government Sector, Stef Blok, has submitted to parliament. One letter provides an overall picture of the government's master plans on office accommodation. The other deals with the impact of the reorganisation of the civil service on regional employment. To avoid some provinces losing a disproportionate number of jobs, the minister has taken compensatory measures in consultation with local government and ministerial colleagues.

'The public are entitled to expect the government to work as efficiently as possible,' said Mr Blok. 'At a time of cutbacks, it is logical that the government should make savings among its own ranks. These changes will hurt. But we are doing our utmost to spread the pain evenly. In my view this outcome is the best we could have achieved at this juncture.'

Office space for government agencies will be chosen with a view to increasing the use of premises that are owned by the state, rather than leasing premises. The proportion of state-owned buildings will thus rise from 55% in 2012 to 70% in 2020. By that year, the master plans envisage that central government will be housed at 70 locations: 51 locations with state-owned premises and 19 with leased premises. Currently, there are 130 locations with office accommodation. The government realises that some staff may have further to travel.

Measures to compensate for impact on jobs
Mr Blok has also presented an overall picture of the shrinking workforce in the central government sector, including the Ministry of Defence, the National Police, the courts and the prison system.

It shows that job losses are lowest in the provinces of Groningen, Overijssel, Flevoland and Limburg. And in Zeeland the number of jobs will in fact go up because of the stationing there of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. Measures are being taken in the provinces of Drenthe, Friesland and North Holland to compensate them for the relatively high fall in jobs there.

  • Jobs will be retained in Drenthe by the Ministry of Economic Affairs keeping an office in Assen. In Emmen, an office of the Tax and Customs Administration will remain and the National Archives repository will be extended.
  • In Friesland, the Public Prosecution Service and the Tax and Customs Administration will not be slimmed down to the extent originally planned, and the Ministry of Defence will strive to keep jobs in the province.
  • In North Holland, the planned closure of two prisons will not go ahead.

In consultation with his colleagues, Mr Blok has acceded to parliament's wish to keep open the tax office in Venlo.

The minister is convinced that the impact in the areas facing the biggest reductions in employment - northeast Groningen, southern Limburg and Zeeland - will be limited. The civil service will continue to contract in the years ahead. The minister will therefore continue to monitor the impact of reorganisations on regional employment and take corrective action where necessary.