Audit office says MPs not fully informed

The national audit office (Rekenkamer) has criticised the way the cabinet is keeping MPs abreast of strategic projects, saying that parliament ‘needed such information in order to carry out the proper checks and balances’.

Government departments have all the relevant information about ‘need, necessity, implementation and results’, but often fail to make it public, the auditor said. Moreover, the aim of some major projects is often unclear, making it difficult to decide if they are on target, ANP reported.
The third Wednesday in May is traditionally the day when ministers declare how their departments have performed over the past year and the audit office publishes its own reports on individual ministries. It is known as gehaktdag (minced meat day).
One project where MPs had not been given all the relevant information was the ‘Group size and quality of primary education’ initiative, the auditor said.
‘The reports which the education minister sent to parliament did not mention that small classes only have a positive effect on children if the maximum number in class is considerably below the figure the minister had opted for,’ the report said.
Relevant information was also left out of a project to further develop Rotterdam port as a transport hub, and another focusing on river development.
However, the audit office concluded that 99% of government spending last year had been in accordance with the rules.
Finance minister Wouter Bos said he wanted to change the way ministers were called to account, claiming it was too bureaucratic and figure-based. Instead, the way policy was actually being put into practise should take centre stage, he said. MPs will debate the ministerial annual reports next Tuesday.

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