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Sanneke Kuipers on the Dutch Administration during the Corona Crisis in Dutch Newspaper AD

There is an ongoing struggle between the Minister of Public Health, Hugo de Jonge, and the Dutch Municipal Health Services (GGDs). De Jonge wants the GGDs to speed up testing, conduct more tests, and allow priority testing but the GGDs are pulling on the brakes. The waiting lists for a corona test have increased to up to 4 working days and sometimes testing locations that still have capacity can only be found on the other side of the country.

'The GGDs were simply not prepared for such a large scale pandemic', says Sanneke Kuipers, Associate Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University. For years, the GGDs have been forced to deal with austerity measures and now, out of the blue, thousands of people need to be tested. So, it is not surprising that De Jonge is having to deal with opposition from the GGDs. André Rouvout, foreman of the GGD, recently sent a letter openly criticizing the government's plan to prioritise the testing of people working in health care and education. In the end, Minister de Jonge got his way. 'This is typical Dutch administration', says Kuipers. 'We keep going back and forth, the minister makes up his mind, and, most of the time, everyone tends to accept it’.

Authority

During the spring, when the virus was spreading rapidly, hardly anyone was questioning the government's authority. The virus was new and there was a lot of fear amongst the population. The government set the course and everyone fell in line. 'That's changed now', says Kuipers. 'During the summer, things started to go awry. The turning point was when national contamination rates plummeted and regional differences started to appear. The government's central control seemed to stall, in part because the decision was made to go for a more regional approach. That regional approach soon resulted in conflicts with the security regions. That doesn't help when trying to maintain the government's authority'.

You can read the full article (in Dutch) on the AD website.

Dr. Sanneke Kuipers, associate professor in Crisis Governance, combines crisis management scholarship with practical experience as a consultant. She publishes on crisis management, institutionalization, organizational survival, and crisis accountability in international scholarly journals and books. Sanneke has extensive experience as senior advisor at Crisisplan BV in crisis research, evaluation, training and teaching projects, advising national ministries, safety regions and executive agencies. Current research projects include projects on risk and crisis management, institutionalization of public organizations, blaming and accountability after crises and organizational survival.

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