What we audit
We audit central government and the institutions associated with it. We also audit grants awarded by the European Union that are spent in the Netherlands. We seek an active dialogue with our stakeholders. We recognise the importance of knowing what needs, ideas and issues are alive in society.
For parliament and the government
In the first instance, our reports are written for the Dutch parliament and government. The information we provide enables members of parliament to determine whether a minister’s policies are having the intended effect. We tailor our audits to the MPs’ wishes and needs wherever possible. Apart from parliament, ministers and ministries, our principal target group comprises other audit institutions (both local and international) and academics.
Society and media
We work in the interests of society at large. Relevant information about our audits must therefore be accessible to everyone. We maintain contacts with the media so that we can share our audit findings and explain our role and position to the general public. We use various communication channels to draw attention to our work.
Our work in central government
The ministries are responsible for formulating and implementing central government policy. To this end, central government works in conjunction with other public authorities and organisations. In 2016, it received €260.8 billion from taxation and contributions and €28.6 billion from other sources, which it spent on education, care, roads, the police and other public services. We determine whether the ministers collect and spend the money in accordance with the regulations. It must be spent only on the things for which it is intended. And the public must be able to see that their taxes are spent in the right place. We also determine whether the ministries have their operational management in order and whether their policies are achieving the intended results.
Non-governmental institutions with statutory tasks
Many important tasks laid down in the law are not carried out by central government itself but by legal persons at arm’s length from the government. To carry out their statutory tasks, these institutions and organisations are funded in full or in part from the public purse. They include Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). In total, these legal persons with statutory tasks (RWTs) spend about €132 billion each year. The money is spent on, for example:
- education, by schools and universities;
- social insurance schemes, by the Social Insurance Bank (SVB) and the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency);
- railway maintenance and management, by Prorail;
- supervision of the banking sector, by the Dutch central bank (DNB);
- medical research, by teaching hospitals.
- funds from the European Union
Funds received from the EU must also be spent in accordance with the regulations. The Netherlands contributes about €6 billion to the European Union every year and receives €2 billion in return, mainly in the form of grants. The grants are awarded principally from the EU agricultural funds, fisheries funds, social funds and migration funds.
Every EU member state, including the Netherlands, manages the grants it is awarded from these funds jointly with the European Commission. The money is therefore spent under the shared management of the member state and the European Commission. It must be clear to everyone that the funds are not misused and that errors are not made. We therefore regularly audit how the money is managed. We determine how transactions are controlled and whether it is accounted for correctly. We also audit the results achieved with EU grants.
Many transnational challenges, such as terrorism, climate change and the migration crisis, call for an international response. International cooperation increases our effectiveness. In 2013, for example, we worked with the audit institutions of Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Ireland and Norway on a joint audit of the enforcement of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR).
Supreme audit institutions abroad are a source of inspiration and improve the quality of our audits. We, in turn, contribute to the institutional development of supreme audit institution elsewhere in the world.