Trusting governments

OECD Observer

“Trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback.” This old Dutch saying was evoked by Alexander Pechtold, Netherlands minister for Government Reform and Kingdom Relations, as both a warning and a challenge in his concluding remarks as chair of the OECD ministerial meeting, “Strengthening Trust in Government: What Role for Government in the 21st Century?”, held in Rotterdam on 28 November 2005.

Before the meeting, Mr Pechtold stated in the OECD Observer that “to find a therapy that works, we will need the right diagnosis.” A dialogue with students about confidence in government was a key feature at the event, thanks to a “parallel summit” held in association with Erasmus University. Among Mr Pechtold’s key messages from the discussions was the need for government to better engage with citizens, to constantly improve their performance and to recognise that involving the public service is key to the success of any reform. “If government employees are not on board, reforms will not happen,” said one delegate to the meeting. The statement concluded with a call on the OECD to continue working with member countries on public governance issues to help them in their efforts to strengthen citizens’ trust.

For more detail, including the full text of the chair’s closing remarks, visit

©OECD Observer No 254, March 2006

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