Need for change – Some experiences of mapping organisation

Need for change – Some experiences of mapping organisation


Paul van der Molen, Cadastre and Land Registry Agency, Apeldoorn
Paul van der Molen
Cadastre and Land Registry Agency, Apeldoorn
The Netherlands
Email: [email protected]

Mapping agencies which do not develop a strategic view to the development of geo-information in society, and which cannot invest in adequate product development and service attitude, will face hard times and may possibly not survive. Insufficiently performing cadastral organisations supplying incomplete, incorrect, out of date, not timely information on ownership, value and use of land and real estate, cannot serve land tenure security, the land market, and government functions like land taxation, land use planning and development, and management of natural resources. The government might create new organisations in an attempt to neglect existing cadastres or if the government does not take action, an illegal land market and land use will come into existence.

Many organisations for mapping and cadastre face similar problems. First of all there is tension between the organisational principles of the public administration and the requirements of an executive organisation. The aim for serving customers impact heavily on organisations for mapping and cadastre because they need continuity in investments in ICT and organisational development.

The government however is restricted to its annual budget, which can differ from year to year because of the endorsement of the Parliament, the inflexible labour conditions, changing political priorities, apart from political instability and lack of money. Secondly, governments tend to impose some kind of cost recovery regime on this kind of executive organisations, causing decrease of legitimacy because customers are not satisfied in their desire to receive value. Thirdly executive organisations are almost everywhere on top of the list for staff and budget reductions because this kind of going concern activities seldom are politician’s favorite priority. Fourthly, under investments in mapping and cadastre have the potential to cause backlogs which never can be overcome in the future.

Process for change
Yet there is a need for radical change in many organisations for mapping and cadastre. In the field of mapping, there is a growing supply of alternative products, like satellite images and other aerospace surveys methods. These alternative products are mainly provided by the private sector. Mapping and cadastral organisations wanting to cope with changing environment, face a real challenge. To revitalize an organisation is playing a simultaneous chess game, as the necessary change likely consists of various components.

  • redefinition of mandates, tasks and responsibilities
  • definition of mission, vision and strategy
  • creation of transparent managerial and financial structures
  • establishment of processes for customer relations
  • introduction for process modeling and process management
  • creation of a service focused organisation (corporate) culture
  • good public relations and public affairs

These elements will be elaborated hereafter, substantially based on the practical experiences in the Cadastre and Land Registry Agency of the Netherlands, which changed into an independent public body in 1994. For a good understanding it should be known that this Agency is also active in the nation wide production and maintenance of (large scale: 1/1000) topographic maps (i.e. databases).

Administrative Reform
The ambitions of organisations for mapping and cadastre can hardly be met within the traditional structure of the public administration. However there are administrative reforms going on. From an historical perspective (last 20 years) one might observe many reasons for reform. Administrative reform in the United Kingdom was very much based on the opinion that the administration was too ineffective, money wasting, not able to govern, and in the grip of pressure groups and trade unions (the Thatcher era). Administrative reform aimed at restoring political primacy, reduction of the tasks of the ministries to their core business, and the improvement of the output of the large public organisations by steering them at distance. This has been set trend since, applied by many neighboring countries, and finally worldwide. Thus large operational public units should not be part of the core activities of ministries, but be positioned at a certain distance, ranging from agencies within the ministry to fully privatized units. Mapping and cadastre normally are being considered as public tasks, in the sense that one way or another the government takes responsibility for execution of the task and good performance. A form that could suit organizations for mapping and cadastre, is that of a public independent agency with responsibilities sufficient for the goals they wish to achieve.