In Memoriam of Saskia J. Stuiveling
S.J. Stuiveling, former President of the Netherlands Court of Audit passed away April 20, 2017, at the age of 71. A member of the Netherlands Court of Audit from 1984 to 2015, she held the esteemed position as its President for the last 16 years of her career.
Saskia, as she was known, was preceded by her reputation when she was appointed to the Court of Audit’s Board in 1984. Her work for the parliamentary inquiry into the Rijn-Schelde-Verolme group, her membership of the Senate for the Dutch Labour Party and her position as State Secretary for the Interior had already earned her an impressive record in public administration.
Elected in 2000, she was the Court’s first female president. She possessed an unmatched energy, an extraordinary expertise, and she personally contributed to the modernization of the Court of Audit, where she often worked behind the scenes and laid foundations for later successes that led to improved public administration.
Saskia was admired for so many things, including her perfectionism and eye for detail. She was a source of inspiration to her colleagues and had the creative knack to identify relationships and develop conceptual approaches long before others. On more than one occasion, she initiated the public debate and was greatly appreciated for doing so.
From her very first day in office, Saskia was concerned with government performance and its responsibility for weaker members of society. She set the Court of Audit’s course to audit public sector performance in the fields of education, care and security, and under her leadership, the Court gained a wealth of expertise in these fields.
Saskia had a keen sense for social and political relations and frequently took the initiative to undertake new activities. Her work within the international audit community was exceptional. She was at the birth of many innovative activities that widened the reach of Supreme Audit Institutions and brought them closer to citizens.
She also strengthened ties between audit institutions. In 1992, she established the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Working Group on Environmental Auditing and in 2002 the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI) Working Group with a focus on IT governance.
Following the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, she took the initiative to increase the transparency of aid flows. Her IntoSAINT self-assessment initiative put the integrity of public administration and the role of audit institutions on the map.
As President of the European regional network, she inspired EUROSAI to be more innovative and creative. She pioneered cooperation with audit institutions in the Arab region. The enormous respect she enjoyed internationally and her personal charm enabled her to move mountains.
Upon Saskia’s retirement as President of the Court of Audit in 2015, the prime minister, Mark Rutte, announced the creation of the “Stuiveling Open Data Award,” an annual award first conferred in 2016 for public initiatives that promote, clarify or encourage the use of open data.
The establishment of this award in her honor was born from Saskia’s interest in everything related to the modern information society. Sometimes referred to as “The Hague’s Digitization Prophet,” she warned against the risk of the government missing the digital boat. She reasoned that with so many sources of information available to the public, it became even more important for the government to be transparent. Saskia likened the digital revolution to the invention of the printing press.
She could ease the tension with a witty comment or anecdote, and in more private settings, she would often surprise people with the personal attention she would give.
Working with Saskia was a great privilege. Knowing Saskia was a gift. Missing Saskia will be eternal, as will remembering her.