"Public accountability is one of the cornerstones of the democratic state under the rule of law"

Mark Bovens is Professor of Public Administration at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, where he works two days a week. The other three days he serves as a member of the Scientific Council for Government Policy in The Hague. 'Working in The Hague, you feel a bit like Charlie in the chocolate factory’ says Bovens. In The Hague he has direct contact with policymakers, government authorities and politicians, literally working within the accountability institutions about which  he teaches his students at Utrecht University.

"Working in The Hague, you feel a bit like Charlie in the chocolate factory."

In Utrecht, Bovens' work includes research into accountability institutions. Broadly defined, public accountability means there is a check on the governing bodies. This is why public accountability is one of the cornerstones of the democratic state under the rule of law. For example, it ensures that voters go into the voting booth well informed and that measures are taken to counteract abuses of power and corruption. 'Democratic governance and the open society can only happen if there are solid, well-functioning accountability institutions in place.' In the Netherlands, the base of power  for the national accountability institutions is very conveniently centred in The Hague.  It includes not only legal accountability institutions such as the Council of State and the Supreme Court, but also administrative accountability institutions like the Netherlands Court of Audit and the National Ombudsman.

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