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Ifc-review of the Dutch Admin Simplification Programme

Ifc-review of the Dutch Admin Simplification Programme

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Published by dmaproiect
This note is a progress assessment of the Dutch government’s recent regulatory reform initiatives.
The assessment is carried out in light of the World Bank Group’s 2007 examination
of The Netherlands’ 2003–2007 Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme. It is based on
documentation provided by the Dutch Government’s Regulatory Reform Group as well as interviews
with Dutch officials in July and September 2008.
This note is a progress assessment of the Dutch government’s recent regulatory reform initiatives.
The assessment is carried out in light of the World Bank Group’s 2007 examination
of The Netherlands’ 2003–2007 Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme. It is based on
documentation provided by the Dutch Government’s Regulatory Reform Group as well as interviews
with Dutch officials in July and September 2008.

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Published by: dmaproiect on Feb 26, 2010
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Major fndings o the 2007 review
 The World Bank Group’s 2007 review concludedthat the Dutch regulatory reorm programme was the world’s leader. Based on an innovative design—a 25%target reduction in regulatory costs, a link betweenregulatory reorms and the budget cycle, and the es-tablishment o ACTAL (the Dutch Advisory Boardon Administrative Burden) as an independent watch-dog o the reorms—the program was well under way to reduce administrative burdens on businesses by thetargeted 4 billion Euro. The review also identifed anumber o important challenges and critical steps nec-essary or the Dutch government to take to remain a world leader in regulatory reorm.
Recommendationsocused on the ollowing areas o improvement:
Institutional consolidation and strengthen-1.ing  
by bringing together miscellaneous regula-tory simplifcation units under a single entity,and by strengthening the voice o businesses inACTAL and IPAL;
Broadening the regulatory reorm ocus2.
roma ocus on administrative burdens towards thebroader impacts o regulation, and building on astrengthened system or Regulatory Impact As-sessment (RIA) to integrate assessments o newly-proposed regulations;
Setting a new 25% target3.
or reduction in regula-tory costs by 2011. The new target would coverboth inormation and direct compliance costs, inthe latter addressing the major regulatory con-straints aced by businesses. A new baseline mea-surement o regulatory costs going beyond admin-istrative burden reductions would beneft rom theadvanced lessons o other countries;
Using business surveys4.
as a measurement tool inaddition to the Standard Cost Model. Such sur- veys could identiy the biggest annoyance costsperceived by businesses, as well as be used tobenchmark changes in perceptions as a result o reorms;
Review o theDutch AdministrativeSimplifcation Programme
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Simeon Djankovand Peter LadegaardThe World Bank Group
This note is a progress assessment o the Dutch government’s recent regulatory reorm ini-tiatives. The assessment is carried out in light o the World Bank Group’s 2007 examinationo The Netherlands’ 2003–2007 Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme. It is based ondocumentation provided by the Dutch Government’s Regulatory Reorm Group as well as in-terviews with Dutch ofcials in July and September 2008.
Signifcantly expanding and reorienting com-5.munication eorts.
Dedicated communicationssta within IPAL are needed to present messagesto the public and ensure that businesses know how to take advantage o the reorms; as well as to learnrom businesses on what else can be done or needsto be done dierently;
Improving data quality,6.
transparency and acces-sibility to compliance cost measurements. New measures could include: a central database, clearlinks rom aggregated burdens to specifc regula-tory obligations, and public access to cost data andmeasurements.
Recent Regulatory Reorm Initiatives
 The release o the 2007 report coincided with the po-litical election cycle and with associated preparations o a new coalition agreement. Announced on 17 February 2007, the Coalition Agreement o the Balkenende IV Government set out a number o high-level prioritiesor the continued eorts to reduce regulatory burdensor businesses.
A subsequent White Paper (July 2007)expanded and elaborated on these commitments.
Ma- jor new initiatives to-date include:
Creation o the Regulatory Reorm Group and
strengthening o Actal.
 The group integrates theormer project unit, IPAL (Ministry o Finance), with three separate units previously dealing withdierent aspects o regulatory impacts on busi-nesses in the Ministry o Economic Aairs. Lo-cated in Ministry o Finance, the group reportsto the Secretaries o State or Finance and orEconomic Aairs. The group reports biannually to Parliament and on an ad-hoc basis to a Min-isterial Steering Committee on Regulatory Pres-sure headed by the Prime Minister. Actal has beenre-established as a statutory body with both regu-latory review and advisory unctions; the newly-appointed Wientjes Business Advisory Commit-tee o private sector representatives oers eedback on the Government’s regulatory reorm initiatives.(This action gets an A+ in terms o addressing thefrst issue identifed by our 2007 report)
 A shit towards other regulatory impacts
includ-ing through a systematic attention to regulatory “annoyance costs” and separate monitoring o en-terprise perceptions; through the review o com-pliance costs o the 30 most problematic laws asseen rom the businesses’ perspective; and throughthe new ocus on the quality o regulatory ser- vices and transactions provided by public agencies.(This action gets an A- in addressing the secondrecommendation o our 2007 report)
New administrative burden reduction targets, to be
achieved by 2011.
The Government has announceda number o new 25% burden reduction targets tobe achieved or i) administrative burdens (net); andii) burdens associated with government inspections.Furthermore burdens associated with applying orgovernment grants will be reduced “substantially”. Inaddition, the government has reached an agreement with the association o local governments on a 25%reduction or local governments.
(This action getsan A in terms o addressing the third recommenda-tion o our 2007 report. One caveat is that the mul-tiplicity o targets may create conusion—see below how the Regulatory Reorm group has come up witha dashboard measure to fx this.)
 Review oF the Dutch ADministRAtive simPliFicAtion PRogRAmme
s p://.r./gr/ca_ar#r5
“A Pa Rd Rd tap r B t nrad 2007-2011” pbd by  Rary Rr grp,  p://.z./drr?bd=159422&yp=PDF
A par   ra 25 % ar  adra brd  D gr a df ar  b dd   eu c ar rd adra brd a  eu   25%.
Implementation o business surveys
to gaugeannoyance costs and identiy greatest perceivedobstacles or business. (This action gets an A+ interms o addressing the ourth issue identifed by our 2007 report. This is a difcult exercise andthe speed with which it has been implemented inthe Netherlands is impressive. There will likely besome need to adjust the surveys once they havebeen tried once.)
New communication strategy in place.
This is a welcome and much needed addition to the reormprogramme. Until recently, the communication e-orts were unimaginative and with little chance toreach the intended audience. New channels o com-munication have been opened, through mass media,and the creation o business spokespeople will un-doubtedly be very valuable. A word o caution: ex-perience in other countries suggests that the resultso the new communication strategy are only likely tobe seen in six months to a year ater implementationstarts. Hence, management may exercise patiencein seeing benefts rom this signifcant investment.(This action gets an A in terms o addressing thefth recommendation o our 2007 report.)
Improvements in data quality and method-
including through a new baseline mea-surement o all administrative compliance costs(numbers publicly available); through the gradualdevelopment o a new methodology to measure“substantive” compliance costs, and through busi-ness surveys enabling a better mapping o busi-nesses’ regulatory reorm concerns and priorities.(Still too early to judge the success o this initia-tive, which addresses the sixth recommendation inthe 2007 report, as the benchmark measurementshave only recently become available.)In addition, a number o other reorm initiatives havebeen launched, such as a more systematic use o thesilence-is-consent rule, common commencementdates or new business regulation (twice yearly), andon-line compliance support to businesses.By the end o 2007, according to ofcial data pre-sented by the Dutch Government to Parliament, ad-ministrative burdens had been reduced by 23.9% rom2003 to 2007 as measured against the 2003 baseline.
Further Assessment o Initiatives
Despite the new government’s apparent commitmentto the regulatory simplifcation agenda, the frst sev-eral months o the new program were characterizedby some degree o uncertainty about the program’ viability. This had in part to do with transitions atthe political level, with a growing eeling o reormatigue among some o the directly involved ofcials,and with the practical difculties associated with thereorientation o the reorm agenda.In the ollowing months, however, the program gainedmomentum and a number o critical milestones werereached (seeRecent Regulatory Reorm Initiatives), which put the program on track or achieving theset targets, and or continuing to be the leading and(now) most innovative regulatory reorm program inthe world. Overall, the Dutch Government has car-ried through a remarkable restructuring and strength-ening o the Regulatory Reorm Program with a serieso bold moves to upgrade the Government’s regula-tory reorm agenda. The most critical actors now in place include the in-stitutional consolidation and strengthening o the pro-gram through the Regulatory Reorm Group, Actal,the Wientjes Committee, and continued high levelpolitical oversight under the Prime Minister’s auspices. The Program remains ocused on results with a num-ber o clear targets and strong monitoring mechanismlinked to the budget cycle. The frst round o ministries’identifcation o simplifcation measures bode well oran achievement o the new reduction target.
simeon DjAnkov AnD PeteR lADegAARD — the woRlD BAnk gRouP

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