As Dutch governments change every four years, it’s hardly surprising that ministers rely on teams of experts to help them draw up policy and put it into practise.

But quite how much outside help they have no-one seems to know. So now home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst has agreed to make a list of all the government’s advisory councils, committees, commissions, planning offices and ‘knowledge centres’.
A quick trawl on the internet produces the following helpful hints. The government’s grandly named Scientific Council for Government Policy has its own list of official advisory bodies – a modest 21. These range from the ‘spatial planning bureau’ to the ‘advisory council for scientific and technology policy’.
Then there is the report drawn up by the SCP (which advises the government on social and cultural issues) which said there are 128 ‘knowledge centres’ attached to the 10 different ministries!
So how much does all this cost? Ter Horst says financial details are included in individual ministerial budgets but that no-one has added them up.
A few minutes with a calculator should do the trick… Just as long as she does not set up a committee to look into the situation, a knowledge centre to analyse the information and an advisory council to tell her what to do about it.

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