As an independent directive body (founded in 1950) with the authority to distribute public resources, NWO falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The tasks and responsibilities are established in the NWO Act. The NWO Regulations define how the decentralised structure is composed, how decision making proceeds and which principles are used for this. The NWO Regulation on Granting describes who may request funding from NWO and the framework of the assessment process and project management. NWO uses a code of good governance (the Dutch Code of 'Goed Bestuur') as a guideline to give account for its public governance structure.

Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW)

NWO falls under the responsibility of the Minister of Education (OCW). In order to properly take on this ministerial responsibility the Minister has a number of powers described in the NWO Act:

  • to appoint and discharge members of the Executive Board
  • to approve changes to the NWO Regulations (which describe the organisation’s management and constitution as well as its relations with the research organisations)
  • to form an opinion on the strategic plan
  • to approve the budget (in Dutch only)
  • to approve the annual accounts (part of the annual financial report)

The Minister consults with NWO’s Executive Board once or twice a year. An important part of NWO’s duties is performed by providing funding to academic researchers. The financial means for this are for the most part drawn from the budget of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Executive Board

The Executive Board is responsible for carrying out NWO’s duties.

Under NWO come domain boards, research institutes and temporary taskforces. The Executive Board appoints or approves the appointment of members in the boards of these organisations. The NWO Regulations stipulate the rules to be followed in the NWO organisation. These rules have been further specified in covenants, guidelines and other regulations.

In order to effectively accomplish its public tasks NWO maintains well-regulated relations with other departments and other (intermediary) organisations in the scientific field, such as the VSNU, universities, KNAW, Ministry of Economic Affairs, the EU, and Research Councils across Europe. The Governing Board is accountable to the Minister. In addition it is self-evident that a public organisation like NWO must administer public means in a responsible way and be publicly accountable for it.

Regulations as part of good governance

NWO has settled some important governance issues in a number of concrete documents:

Subsidy provision

Important to NWO are the quality, carefulness and transparency of the assessment process and the management of projects. The following documents contain a number of the measures implemented by NWO to achieve this:

  • Regulation granting
  • Appeals and complaints (in Dutch only)
  • Personal data regulation (in Dutch only)
  • Code of conduct on conflict of interests
  • Scientific integrity
  • Fraud protocol

Internal regulations

A number of internal governance issues are (being) settled in the following documents (among others):

  • NWO's Professional Standards Policy ('whistle blowing')
  • Complaints regulation (in Dutch only)
  • Scientific Integrity policy
  • Good Governance Code (in Dutch)

Internal systems for risk management and control

NWO uses a planning & control system; in spring, the Executive Board discusses with the various boards, on the basis of the submitted annual accounts and long-term estimates, the results of the past year and the plans for the years to come. In the spring the Executive Board fixes the financial framework for the coming years; on the basis of this framework the various boards make a definitive budget for the following year which is submitted to the Governing Board in September. Next the general NWO budget is made and presented to the Minister of OCW no later than 1 November.

As part of this cycle the financial policy and financial risks are extensively discussed. In the guidelines on Financial management the laws and regulations that NWO has to abide by are translated into guidelines used within NWO. Every year in the consolidation protocol the principles are laid down for the financial reporting which all parts of NWO have to follow.