Autonomous administrative authorities

Sometimes it is better for the work generated by a government decision to be done at arm's length instead of by a ministry in The Hague. This is especially true where strict regulations have to be applied in many individual cases or where independent experts have to be called in to carry out quality checks, issue licences or grants, or monitor the implementation of regulations. Tasks like these are entrusted to an autonomous administrative authority (ZBO) by act of parliament or order in council.

Well-known examples of ZBOs are the chambers of commerce, the Centre for Work and Income and De Nederlandsche Bank, but there are a great many more. Many of the ZBOs mentioned here only perform government tasks, but some carry out other activities as well. Garages that are licensed to carry out the annual technical inspection for motor vehicles are ZBOs, but they also do many other jobs. The websites of this type of organisation may contain information on both non-government activities and government tasks.

The minister responsible has a limited number of powers, like the power to appoint board members, issue instructions and approve the budget. These matters are regulated when a ZBO is set up. The minister is only responsible for using these powers and not for the decisions made by the ZBO itself.