A smaller and more efficient civil service

The civil service needs to carry out its public tasks with less money, while still maintaining the same quality of services. The Civil Service Reform Agenda sets out ways of achieving this.

Aims of the Civil Service Reform Agenda

The Reform Agenda is intended to help achieve three objectives for the civil service:

  • providing a high level of service to the public, businesses and institutions;
  • increasing effectiveness and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy;
  • reducing the civil service’s staff and equipment costs.

High-quality central government services

Central government is continually striving to improve the quality of its services, for instance through smarter use of ICT. Soon people will only have to provide their details once to be able to deal with government-related matters online. The government wants its services to be fully digital (in Dutch) by 2017. It is also working towards more effective use of databases and closer monitoring by the various inspectorates.

An effective civil service

The civil service needs to operate more as a single organisation. In the past each ministry had its own implementing organisations, operational management units and inspectorates. In recent years ministries have been working together more and more closely, and the civil service now has shared service organisations for its operational management tasks. Examples include P-Direkt, which deals with personnel matters for the entire civil service (in Dutch), and the shared service centre for ICT services (SSC-ICT).

Central government is also combining its work processes, for example by introducing government-wide procurement centres. Several ministries now share premises. Where possible, communication is government-wide. Central government will continue down this path over the coming years.

Organisational units within the government are now able to carry out tasks for other units, for example. Structuring departments by function and social target group avoids duplication and allows central government to respond more effectively to changes in society.

Reducing staff and equipment costs

The coalition agreement states that structural cuts to the civil service of €1.1 billion a year must be made from 2016 onwards. These spending cuts are on top of the reductions in staff and equipment costs of over €3 billion agreed previously.

Because less money is available, the civil service will be 8 to 12% smaller by 2018 than it was in 2015. Central government is taking measures to avoid a disproportionate number of job losses in certain provinces due to the closure of government offices in the region.

Central government as an attractive employer

It is a challenge for central government to remain an attractive employer despite these spending cuts. Staff are encouraged to change jobs more often in order to develop professionally. Each year between 100 and 120 trainees who perform well are offered a job. This ensures that young people continue to join the civil service.