Since 1 July 2021, the cabinet has made the underlying departmental decision notes public. This was prompted by the report ‘Unprecedented Injustice’ by the parliamentary committee inquiry into childcare benefit, which stated that the provision of information to parliament must be more adequate, open and complete. It is part of a trend where more and more policy documents are made public. This flow of data must ensure transparency in policy choices. For anyone who follows ‘The Hague’ for work, however, this is becoming an ever greater challenge.
It seems that not only are ministerial letters being written, external investigations being carried out and underlying policy documents being released more and more frequently – the volume is also increasing. Digitalisation has played a huge part in this over the past ten years. This also means that the now twenty political parties in the House of Representatives have quite a bit of work to do to analyse this and to monitor the government. The same applies to the media – which also have a monitoring function – and interest groups. Sometimes, a decision made in The Hague turns out to be impossible for a municipality, organisation or company. Due to the large stream of letters, memorandums, parliamentary questions and reports, it happens more and more often that documents are not read or read too late.
Robots do the work?
To keep track of this flow of documents and to have a filter on it, we increasingly leave the work to artificial intelligence, including some algorithms. They are the first filter and make the flow of data manageable for those who know what to look for.
Thanks to the efforts of the Open State Foundation, more attention is being paid to access to policy documents. Municipalities still use a patchwork of systems, but even there more and more documents are public. The House of Representatives itself has also ensured that all documents are easily accessible and that debates can be followed and watched online. This transparency and open data also lead in this case to even more documents and even more data. Using algorithms, we can make this somewhat manageable, but therein lies a risk.
The risk of political monitoring with artificial intelligence is the lack of context. Not only the context of the policy memorandum or the parliamentary letter, but also of the user himself. The user’s own situation is also subject to topicality, as a result of which news that was previously not interesting (and which was therefore not clicked on) suddenly becomes very important.
All tools that help make large data streams manageable can be a good addition for anyone following the political arena. In ‘Brussels’ everyone knows POLITICO. But be aware of the limitations of automated tools. There is always a blind spot, just like with humans. That’s why Public Matters has chosen a combination in which digital tools (such as InfoMatters) help to filter information, but a consultant always pays attention to the ‘Brussels’ or ‘The Hague’ context and the client’s current affairs. This way, we not only share the information, but also advise directly when action is needed.
Would you like to know more about the monitoring of ‘The Hague’ & ‘Brussels’ developments and our unique system InfoMatters, with which you are always up to date with political-administrative developments? Please contact us or visit this page for more information.