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Hiring third parties by (local) authorities remains controversial

Hiring commercial consultancy firms by (local or regional) authorities remains controversial and it is at the centre of attention. This was previously revealed in an investigation carried out by Dutch television programme ‘Nieuwsuur’. Dutch news platform Binnenlands Bestuur also sheds light on this issue, via a piece submitted by Coen Modderman, Professor of Local Government at The Open University of the Netherlands and Thorbecke-fellow at Leiden University. In his piece, he highlights the risks of hiring external parties.

‘From 2019 to June 2023, Modderman worked at a consultancy firm as a legal advisor for governments, usually municipalities. Looking back on those years, and in addition to the article by Nieuwsuur and the labour market special from Binnenlands Bestuur, he shares some points. Key risks in (frequently) employing third parties include dependency, loss of knowledge, and lack of transparency.’

‘I was once part of a group project with six members, of which only one member was a permanent staff member.’

People may decide to hire external parties due to periods of extra work, temporary staff absence, backlogs, short-term expertise, or the need for a fresh approach. At team level, the Roemer norm should be applied. This means that no more than 10 per cent of staff costs should be spent on hiring external staff, a regulations that ministries are using now. ‘I was once part of a group project with six members, of which only one member was a permanent staff member,’ Modderman told Binnenlands Bestuur.  

‘The hiring issue is also important in instances of case allocation. For example, it could be nice to get new expert opinion on a difficult and long-running case, but put yourself in the shoes of the person involved. For that person, it can be a huge bummer to have a new point of contact (again), who only knows the previous history from the transfer.’

Like to know more?

You can read the article with all points in Binnenlands Bestuur (in Dutch) here.

Commercial consultancy firms take on role of civil servants

Photo: Sebastian Herrmann via Unsplash

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