In a harsh report published Tuesday afternoon, State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss sharply criticized staff appointments in the Prime Minister’s
The report specifically refers to the appointment of
‘special advisers,’ the personal aides and advisers hired at the discretion of
the prime minister, ministers and ministry directors- general separately from
regular civil service staff.
Lindenstrauss submits longest-ever report to Knesset
The number of special adviser positions in
the PMO has increased almost sixfold between 1995 and 2010, the report
At the time of the audit, which was conducted between February 2010
and February 2011, there were 53 special adviser positions in the PMO, including
aides and consultants to the prime minister, the director general and the
“The report reveals significant defects in [special
adviser appointments] in the Prime Minister’s Office, some of which originated
during previous governments, and which have intensified over the years,”
Lindenstrauss’s office said.
Though the audit was carried out during
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s time in office it also covers previous
administrations dating back to 1995.
The PMO noted the State
Comptroller’s report refers to the decade during which there were seven
governments and five prime ministers, and said that during Netanyahu’s
administration, the number of special advisers has been cut.
under previous governments the number of special advisers grew, since taking
office Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has cut six special adviser posts
despite a significant increase in the volume of work,” said the PMO in its
According to the report, the increase in special adviser posts
between 1995 and 2010 was not based on any comprehensive and thorough needs
analysis process, and the approval of the majority of those posts was not in
accordance with civil service regulations.
The audit also revealed that
although civil service regulations stipulate that ministers may employ no more
than six bureau aides, the Civil Service Commission approved a far greater
number of posts.
Between 1995 and 2005 the number of bureau aids grew to
13, though during the audit only 12 of these posts were filled. Six of the
people hired to those posts were employed as secretaries in the Prime Minister’s
Discrepancies were also uncovered in the salaries paid to special
advisers, some of which were far higher than the prescribed rate.
report goes on to criticize the PMO for providing exemptions from public
recruitment tenders, noting that only 10 out of 48 prime ministerial aides and
advisers met civil service requirements for being appointed without a public
According to civil service regulations, the prime
minister, ministers, and general directors of government offices may appoint
special advisers to their staff at their own discretion, without such a public
However, according to the Civil Service Law (1959) and
Supreme Court rulings, special advisers are subject to certain restrictions,
including being prohibited from working as part of the regular management
hierarchy of a ministry and from supervising other civil service workers
The report found that several PMO special advisers hold
management positions, including in the National Economic Council, and that some
were in roles similar to those carried out by professional staff who had been
hired according to public recruitment processes.
There were also blatant
discrepancies between the stated job description of some special advisers and
their actual roles, the report said.
“This severely harms the PMO’s
governmental, professional and apolitical character, and its strictness in
filling job positions with professional staff, whose loyalty is first and
foremost to the principles of public service,” Lindenstrauss said in the
At the beginning of March, after the State Comptroller’s office
published a draft copy of the report, Netanyahu announced the establishment of
an external committee to examine the PMO’s structure and the appropriate format
for appointing office staff.
The committee, chaired by former PMO general
director Yossi Kucik and which also includes public and academic officials, was
also expected to make recommendations for appropriate regulations and
In a statement on Tuesday, the PMO said the Kucik
Committee is expected to submit its findings by the end of the year.
July, the committee told the State Comptroller’s office that it was “continuing
its work on examining special adviser roles in the PMO and government
ministries.” Lindenstrauss recommended in the report that the PMO make the
report’s findings known to the committee.
“Above all, we must make very
sure not to infringe the infrastructures as set out by the provisions of the law
and by the procedures stipulated by it,” Lindenstrauss concluded.
pointed out that in comparison, the White House has around 3,500 special
advisers, a figure over 150 times greater per capita than Israel.
State Comptroller did not mention the names of any employees, and for good
reason – and we expect that the media exercise the same caution,” the statement