Integrity management in the public sector: The Dutch approach

Although the significance of integrity seems undisputed nowadays, this has not always been the case. Integrity is still a relatively young policy area. It steadily climbed up the political, administrative, and academic agendas since the early 1990s. Integrity policies, strategies, monitors, and evaluations gradually matured and gained more attention of both national and international institutions, such as the EU.

The Netherlands was among the front-runners in this regard and can look back on twenty-five years of experience. And just as during our former EU Presidency in 2004, we would like to highlight the importance of this topic again at the European level, especially since upholding integrity is a process which requires continuous attention. Public organisations are in constant change, which also imposes new ethical challenges.

This publication focuses on how integrity is managed within the Dutch public sector. It gives an overview of the national policy framework and structures, continues with several examples of integrity approaches within individual public organisations, and concludes with some academic reflections.

As such, the book describes the main aspects of the ‘Dutch integrity approach’. Characteristic for this approach is that we are not solely fixated on avoiding criminal acts such as corruption and fraud, but that we also emphasise the ethical aspects of public officials’ behaviour. This requires, besides rules, regulation and investigation, all kinds of training and awareness raising activities. As a third pillar – next to regulation and training – we are searching for methods to institutionalize public integrity. The firm and sustainable embedding of integrity is a challenge, not only for the Netherlands but for all EU member states. 

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