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Zeger van der Wal on integrity in a networking society

Zeger van der Wal, Professor by special appointment Ien Dales chair at the Institute of Public Administration wrote an opinion piece in Dutch journal Binnenlands Bestuur on the changing relation between government and society and how this affects integrity.

The number initiatives led by, for instance, citizens within governmental organisations is increasing. These changes call for a different policy on integrity, according to Van der Wal. 'Civil servants and administrators are increasingly expected to 'let go' of control and responsibilities by working together on designing and providing policy and services with citizens, companies and social organisations, in other words: co-creation and co-production. That's easier said than done. Governments are split two ways as a result because stakeholders still expect the administration to take the lead - and take the blame when things go wrong - but at the same time it is also becoming less likely for that same administration to have the authority and legitimacy to actually make decisions.'

New questions

Thought should be given to the extend in which governments share responsibility for their social partners and how to best organise this. 'How can you be inclusive and at the same time make sure that 'amateurism' does not take over? How can you guarantee information remains secure and confidential when you are asked to share it, sometimes extensively, with various different partners, both organisations and individuals?' At the moment, a lot of public organisations have a very different approach to addressing these issues in relation to integrity.

'It is also necessary to explain to citizens that they can no longer simply point an accusing finger at the government when a partnership does not immediately lives up to their often high expectations. In a networking society, both success and failure have many fathers.'

You can read the full article [Dutch]

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