While the use of design by the government is still in its infancy, there is a vast field of possibilities that remains unexplored. To encourage further exploration, the Ministry of Home Affairs, in collaboration with the National Government’s Innovation Community (RIC) and the social design agency Afdeling Buitengewone Zaken (Department of Unusual Affairs), organized an event where civil servants and designers could come together to explore collaborations. This event was held under the umbrella of the ‘Social Design Showdown’, which is a recurring event.

For this edition, I had the opportunity to share our experiences as Design Audit Studio. This is a summary of that story as shown on the Social Design Showdown website (https://www.socialdesign.nu/blog/event-14-ontwerper-x-ambtenaar – Dutch):

To kick the showdown off, Linda Meijer-Wassenaar takes us through the origins and development of Design Audit Studio (DAS), a team of four design researchers at the Netherlands Court of Audit. She talks about her journey as a visualizing auditor to form a team of in-house designers and how she changed the timing of designer involvement at the beginning of audits. It is a story that many in-house designers can relate to, as it challenges the traditional view of designers as mere “executors” who add aesthetics to reports.

Linda describes how she gradually transformed that perception of designers through internal sessions. With the support of a sponsor on the board, she succeeded in giving design a vital role in NCA’s audit work. The transition from operational to strategic is crucial to truly give design its due importance. Nowadays, the DAS is involved from the start of an audit to discover new perspectives and embed a people-oriented approach.