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NWO-I continues to develop

The current state of play in the operations

In the September 2021 edition of this newsletter, we wrote about several organisational developments within NWO-I. The structural budget deficit that existed back then has since been solved. A message about this was sent to the institutes and the NWO-I office on 25 August 2021. That message also stated that the Foundation Board shall invest millions of extra euros in the further professionalisation of the organisation in the coming years. For example, part of this money will go to the security of our computer networks. Meanwhile, further improvements to the joint operations are still in progress. In this article, we tell you more about that last aspect.

In its current form, the NWO-I Foundation has existed since the start of 2018 and is therefore a relatively young organisation. Various steps have been taken to strengthen the operations of the nine NWO Institutes and the NWO-I office and maximise the benefits from joint operations. We are now a single employer, and most of the employment conditions have been harmonised. Last year, we all began to work in a single financial system, which has improved the level of efficiency. A joint accommodation strategy has been worked on, and we have developed a structure for harmonisation and exchange of information for the various disciplines within the operational support.

Quality and efficiency

Last year, with the help of an external agency, we made ambitious plans to further develop the the quality and efficiency of the operational support at both the institutes and the NWO-I office.  That took place in separate workgroups in the following areas:

  • Supporting the board, strategy
  • Finances, business control, information management, procurement
  • Human Resources
  • Communication
  • Accommodation and facilities
  • Health and safety and the environment
  • ICT (not research-related) and security
  • Legal, privacy

After many discussions, interviews and workshops, each workgroup delivered proposals for improvement that were subsequently discussed by the steering group of the development programme, the institute managers and the directors. Upon approval, all of the proposals were summarised in a single memorandum, listing the important decisions that the NWO-I Foundation Board needs to take. On 15 December 2021, the board discussed all of the proposed points and then took the “intended decisions”. These will first of all be submitted to the GOR NWO-I (NWO-I Group Works Council) for their advice. After that, the board may ratify the decisions. At the time of writing this article, the request for advice for the GOR NWO-I was in the process of finalising.

What now?

The programme Development operations is now entering its next phase. Come what may, changes will come, and for that to be done the proposals need to be worked out and executed. That will happen after the GOR NWO-I has given an advice about the intended decisions. The steering group wants to get down to work as soon as possible with the various operational areas to actually realise the the implementation of the proposals for improvement.

However, extra steps need to be taken in two areas. The first is Finance & Control. The board is of the opinion that expertise needs to be strengthened and consolidated, and a shared back office needs to be established. In addition, the size and focus of Communication at the institutes and NWO-I office will need to be further considered. The collaboration with NWO-D will also be included in these deliberations.

A separate organisation plan will be drawn up for the NWO-I office so that its dual role can be optimally organised. This concerns, of course, the service provided to the institutes, which will eventually be partly realised in shared back offices for Human Resources and Finance & Control. The board also emphasised the second important function of the office, which is the preparation of a proactive strategy and policy, as well as the anticipation of important societal developments.

Good moment

The further strengthening of our operational support comes at a good moment. In the new coalition agreement, the Dutch government has stated the importance of science and made a lot of extra money available for this. Therefore 2022 will be a year of promise and development. That also applies, of course, to our own scientific research work and the optimal assistance offered by operational support. This approach allows us to work together in a sustainable and future-oriented manner to facilitate the development of knowledge that the government and society ask for.

Newsletter Inside NWO-I, February 2022
You can find the archive of the newsletter Inside NWO-I on the NWO-I website.

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