“Significant room for improving result orientation in Dutch public implementing bodies”

Utrecht, 28 January 2008

Over half of all Dutch implementing bodies feel their managing authorities do not provide professional guidance and steering. This is the conclusion of research by Atos Consulting, the consulting arm of Atos Origin, into the effectiveness and efficiency of governmental implementing bodies.The result orientation of these implementing bodies has been the subject of debate for years. The outcome is not unimportant, as the majority of 950,000 civil servants in the Netherlands work at a public implementing body.

The study also shows that line managers in implementing bodies do not make assignments sufficiently concrete or translate them to the organisation. Additionally, there is no ‘a deal is a deal' culture in which civil servants are held accountable for the results achieved.

Launch of new book ‘Steering on results'
Solutions for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of governmental implementing bodies are presented in the newest book from Atos Consulting, Steering on Results. The first copy of this book is presented to Roel Bakker, secretary general charged with renewing the government service, at the Result Oriented Steering conference.

Result oriented steering
‘Result oriented steering' is the active realisation of greater effectiveness and efficiency in daily practice. All implementing bodies strive for this, but reality is somewhat more complex than the objective. Implementing bodies also cannot do it alone, according the Atos Consulting study. Policy makers and implementers are jointly responsible for defining this change. Over eighty government agencies (policy and implementing) were actively involved in the study. The study used an internet questionnaire, interviews and discussion meetings to gather data.

Separating policy and implementation
There tendency of the past decades to more strictly separate policy and implementation has borne fruits. Operational management has become possible, the government machine has been slimmed down in a variety of policy fields, and customer orientation has improved in many cases. However, the research shows that the intended ‘major profit' of this separation of policy and implementation has yet to be realised. The newly presented book Steering on Results proposes solutions for actually achieving the intended savings and quality improvements.

The need for professional guidance
Over half of all Dutch implementing bodies feel their managing authorities do not provide professional guidance and steering. The study shows that this leads to unnecessary energy loss and frequently also to unclear assignment definition and implementation. It is important that policy and implementation jointly translate social effects into operational goals for the implementing body. Defining the assignment and estimating the feasibility become a joint effort.

Role of line managers is crucial
Line managers play an essential role in improving result orientation. Managers must ensure they receive achievable assignments from their managing authorities and translate them properly to their own organisation. Subsequently, they must steer the internal organisation in order to perform the tasks as efficiently and effectively as possible. They must also fulfil an example role when it comes to result orientation. This translates into being accountable for good and less good performance, cost awareness and stimulation of result oriented performance in employees. The line manager must take on these tasks in order to create a result oriented culture. A culture where ‘a deal is a deal', in which employees are accountable for achieved results, positive and less positive. Particularly the latter is sub-par in implementing organisations. Only one in three organisations have a culture of addressing employee performance.

Financial function offers little support
The management support provided by the financial department is important in result oriented steering. Provision of good management information, coordinating steering and control and adequate decision-making support are the responsibility of the financial function. Unfortunately, the role of the financial function is often limited to maintaining orderly accounts and financial administration. This is insufficient for actually improving effectiveness.

About Atos Origin
Atos Origin is an international information technology services company. Its business is turning client vision into results through the application of consulting, systems integration and managed operations. The company's annual revenues are EUR 5.4 billion and it employs 50,000 people in 40 countries. Atos Origin is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic Games and has a client base of international blue-chip companies across all sectors. Atos Origin is quoted on the Paris Eurolist Market and trades as Atos Origin, Atos Euronext Market Solutions, Atos Worldline and Atos Consulting.

About Atos Consulting
Atos Consulting, the global consulting practice of Atos Origin, is a leading provider of business, process and technology consulting services. With more than 2,500 staff globally, it focuses on delivering proven, pragmatic solutions to the telecom, manufacturing, financial services and public sectors.

For more information:

Atos Consulting, Peter Willem van Lindenberg (study project leader)
+31 6 22 907003

Atos Origin, Erica Prins
+31 6 30 437329