Policy on policy puts great pressure on implementation

A closer look on the productivity of executive organisations

A closer look on the productivity of executive organisations
  • Case Study

The lack of productivity within Dutch executive organisations is having a major influence on how government plans are being realised. ‘The Netherlands is stuck and has to get moving again,’ says Selwyn Moons, public sector partner at PwC.

Moons and his colleague Sander van Veldhuizen have examined the productivity of executive organisations. Their work resulted in a benchmark that identified process, IT and personnel as the biggest challenges facing the sector.

‘For years now it has been a regular part of our work to screen executive organisations,’ Moons explains. ‘One of the things we assess is productivity, using a tool to look at the output and see how many people and resources are required to achieve this.’ ‘Customers regularly ask us to look at points for improvement in processes compared to other implementing organisations,’ adds Van Veldhuizen. ‘They don't only care about the things that go well.’

Larger study

What started as an analysis of a few executive organisations grew into a larger study that has since screened 95 percent of the independent administrative bodies and agencies in the Netherlands. Moons: ‘We gradually became more and more curious about the mutual productivity of the executive organisations and that became the basis for the database.’

Moons and Van Veldhuizen discovered something striking in the benchmark when looking at the overall picture of the organisations studied. While production increased by a few percent, the effort required for this to happen increased by significantly more. ‘Inefficiency in implementation is also a social problem which is affecting citizens,’ emphasises Van Veldhuizen. ‘And that is an enormous motivation to tackle this issue,’ adds Moons.

Decline in productivity

The signal emanating from this benchmark is that government services are becoming increasingly expensive. ‘A ten percent drop in productivity means that services become ten percent more expensive,’ continues Van Veldhuizen. ‘The fact that there is currently a shortage on the labour market makes things even more complicated. Much of the work is human work so the government needs a lot of hands. Paradoxically, however, the same government is taking lots of workers out of the market.’

Community of solvers

‘The productivity problem facing the government requires solutions in process, personnel planning and IT strategy,’ reveals Moons. ‘This is therefore an ideal challenge for PwC and its experts to solve.’ The fact that Van Veldhuizen and Moons share a background in government and ministries is an advantage in practice. Both understand how politics works and at the same time think in a solution-oriented way.

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Selwyn Moons about the community of solvers

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Sander van Veldhuizen about the community of solvers

‘Our customers like that we speak the same language and have knowledge of political-administrative relationships,’ adds Moons. ‘The benchmark tool can help provide advice on the complex implementation issues currently facing the national government. The Netherlands is stuck and has to get moving again. Using the benchmark tool our teams can find solutions to improve strategies for IT and human resources and optimise processes.’

High workload

Moons and Van Veldhuizen see the results of the benchmark as worrying in light of the Dutch government’s current agreements. Productivity problems at executive organisations are placing the Netherlands under pressure and this is clearly illustrated by the shortage of personnel in the healthcare sector. The benchmark also exposes a number of issues when it comes to performance, says Van Veldhuizen: ‘Central government workloads are already high and yet more and more policy involves tailor-made solutions. That makes the work increasingly labour-intensive and puts further pressure on the execution.’

‘In a nutshell,’ concludes Moons, ‘there are more than enough reasons for improvement. Executive organisations may well have to become more ambitious in order to get better.’

Contact us

Selwyn Moons

Selwyn Moons

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)88 792 71 07

Sander van Veldhuizen

Sander van Veldhuizen

Director, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)63 419 05 25

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