Position and powers

The Netherlands Court of Audit is a High Council of State. We are an independent institution, separate from the government and parliament. We have statutory powers to perform our work.

We are an independent institution

his means that we ourselves decide what we audit. Members of parliament, ministers and state secretaries sometimes ask us to carry out audits. In practice, we usually honour their requests if we can add value. We respond carefully to suggestions and signs from society, the public, enterprises and organisations and may decide, for example, to involve them in our audits.

Right to confidential information

The government must account correctly for its revenues and expenditures and the statutory powers it exercises. Our unique and special powers to audit the government are laid down in the Government Accounts Act. We can audit all ministries and other public organisations that are associated with central government. We can also audit organisations that are not part of the government but carry out a public task, such as the national police service and ProRail, the railway infrastructure manager. We have a right to access all the relevant information we need to perform our tasks, including confidential information.

This information includes data on the revenue and expenditure of ministries and institutions at arm’s length from the government. We do not have a right to inspect information on the revenue and expenditure of municipalities and provinces, not even if they are responsible for the use of central government funds. We can ask them, however, to cooperate in our audits.

We do not express political opinions

We express an opinion on government policy; we do not express political opinions. The Court of Audit can say, for example, that a law is not working as intended and make recommendations for improvement. 

Position of the Netherlands Court of Audit as a High Council of State

As a High Council of State, the Netherlands Court of Audit is a national public body created to safeguard the democratic rule of law. Other High Councils of State include:

  • the Senate;
  • the House of Representatives;
  • the Council of State;
  • the National Ombudsman.

The Court of Audit’s tasks, powers and legal status are laid down in the Constitution and the Government Accounts Act 2016.