The decision-making process

The Netherlands decided in 2013 to buy 37 JSFs. The decision-making process for this deal first began in 1996. It is a complicated process in which the Dutch parliament has an important role to play.

Decision-making by the cabinet

Although, in principle, the Minister of Defence decides on purchases of defence equipment (or ‘defence materiel’, as it is known), a number of other ministers are also directly involved in the decision-making process. While each ministry has its own role to play in the process, ministers often write jointly to the Lower House of the Dutch parliament.

  • The Minister of Defence
    The Minister of Defence wishes to replace the current fleet of fighter aircraft and decides which aircraft represents the best value for money in the light of the duties which the armed forces are required to perform. The Minister of Defence pays for the purchase of new aircraft from the defence budget.
  • The Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
    Based on his or her responsibility for the Dutch economy, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy seeks to ensure that the Dutch aerospace industry secures as much JSF-related work as possible
  • Minister of Finance
    The Minister of Finance keeps a close eye on the financial aspects of the transaction. The Ministry ensures, for example, that the country is not exposed to any unacceptable financial risks. The Ministry was also involved in drawing up the arrangements set out in the government’s policy document entitled In the Interests of the Netherlands on the financial framework for the acquisition of the JSF.
    The Minister of Finance is also involved in the agreement between the Dutch state and Dutch aerospace companies that obliges the latter to remit a percentage of their turnover earned from JSF-related work to the Dutch state
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    The Minister of Foreign is responsible for the international security strategy, which is one of the principal factors underlying the need for new weapons systems.

The role played by parliament

The Dutch parliament plays a role in the decision-making process for the JSF partly because one of its functions is to scrutinise the government, but also because the government needs political support in order to pursue its policies. Parliament needs to be well-informed in order to properly discharge its role. One of the key documents in this connection is the Regulations on Major Projects drawn up by the Lower House of parliament. The JSF project became subject to these Regulations when the Lower House designated it as a ‘major project’. One of the resultant requirements is that the Minister of Defence should submit regular progress reports to the Lower House.

The Defence Materiel Process (DMP)

The decision-making process at the Ministry of Defence is based on the Defence Materiel Process (DMP). The DMP also plays an important role in the way in which parliament is kept informed of developments.

Lessons learned from the JSF project

In March 2019, we published an audit report on the decision-making process for the JSF. This report was entitled Lessons learned from the JSF project: Keeping major defence procurement projects under control. These are valuable lessons for future procurement projects.

We have drawn a time line showing the milestones in the decision-making process for the JSF.