Better Use programme must still prove itself

The Court of Audit concludes from its audit of central government’s financial statements that the Better Use programme’s achievement of its goals is difficult to measure. The difficulties are due to the outcomes not being always attributable to the programme and to the minister measuring the loss of journey times rather than the reduction in congestion.

In the Court’s opinion, the minister’s report to the House of Representatives on these problems and the progress made with the programme is open to improvement. Finally, the Court of Audit concludes that the chosen financing method does not suit the programme.

In view of the programme’s financial and social importance, both the Court of Audit and the Southern Audit Office audited the Better Use programme in 2014. They wanted to determine whether points could be agreed for the programme’s follow-up as agreed in 2014, and for the final impact measurement of the current phase of the programme that the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment (I&M) will present in mid-2015.

The central government, local authorities and the business community introduced the Better Use programme in order to reduce congestion in the busiest regions of the Netherlands by 20% by means of innovative solutions and greater use of the railways. Better Use is a joint programme that will run to the end of 2023. The central government is providing up to €794 million in finance for it and the local authorities and business community at least €300 million. Agreements on the programme have been made in 12 regions in the Netherlands for the period 2012-2014. One of the regions is Brabant.

The Court of Audit recommends that the minister improve the information provided to the House of Representatives and clarify the problems encountered in the measurement and the programme. It also recommends that the management, information system and financing be carefully reviewed so that they complement and are consistent with each other.

The Southern Audit Office’s recommendations on the future of the Better Use programme relate to the selection of projects and improvements in management methods. Its report can be found at

The Court of Audit submitted its findings on the Better Use programme to the House of Representatives on 20 May 2015, Accountability Day. The Southern Audit Office published its report, Brabant Better Use Programme, on the same date. The Southern Audit Office carried out its investigation in the province of North Brabant and the Court of Audit audited the Ministry of I&M and, with the voluntary cooperation of the auditee, the measures implemented by the municipality of Utrecht.