State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss presented his annual report to the Knesset
on Tuesday, the final one of its kind before he retires from office in
Lindenstrauss said the 64-chapter report, which includes detailed
sections on all government ministries as well as the IDF and other state-run
bodies, was his largest ever in terms of scope.
The state comptroller
noted that his final annual report places “special emphasis” on health issues.
The report includes a particularly scathing chapter slamming the Health Ministry
for wasting huge sums of public money.
The Defense Ministry also came
under fire in the report, with a section revealing that the ministry’s
director-general violated defense export laws by approving several export
Lindenstrauss also said he had devoted special attention to weaker
sections of society, including youth at risk, as well as to ultra-Orthodox
service in the army, which comes after a 2011 government decision to set targets
for haredi enlistment by 2015.
He emphasized that his final report
reflected the audit principles his office has adopted during his term as state
comptroller, which he said included publishing the names of government officials
to promote personal liability, as well as real-time auditing of government
The State Comptroller’s Office also prioritized following up on
how deficiencies revealed in audits had been addressed, Lindenstrauss
He also praised his office staff for waging what he said was “an
uncompromising struggle against government corruption that threatens to
undermine Israeli society and severely damage its integrity.”
said on many occasions that the personal liability of those in the executive
branch [of government] is the heart of good governance,” Lindenstrauss said,
adding that “public servants, however senior, must take responsibility for their
actions or failures.”
Lindenstrauss added that his final report included
a review of how to reduce the bureaucratic burden of public service.
role of government and the public sector is to serve the citizens of the state,”
Lindenstrauss said, noting that in many cases, his office had found that public
bodies imposed a “heavy and unnecessary bureaucratic burden on business owners
and residents,” which he said “eroded public trust in public
Lindenstrauss’s term officially ends on July 3, and Jerusalem
District Court Judge Joseph Shapira has been touted as the leading candidate to
The Knesset will vote on Lindenstrauss’s replacement in a
secret ballot on May 14, even if it holds a break for elections, Rivlin said on
Rivlin noted that, so far, one candidate has been put forward to
replace Lindenstrauss and said that other potential candidates had until Friday
to nominate themselves.
The Knesset speaker added that he hoped there
would be an additional two candidates.
THE REPORT: HEALTH
devoted a considerable part of the report to the Health Ministry, and sharply
criticized it for a litany of failures.
These included wasting huge sums
of public money and mishandling medical negligence cases, which the report said
compromised the rights of patients who legitimately suffer medical errors and
The report also revealed that the Health Ministry continues
to own, run and supervise state hospitals, which Lindenstrauss said was a
multiple role that constitutes a built-in conflict of interest.
comptroller also shed light on the issue of senior physicians from public
hospitals who “moonlight” at private medical facilities, and who enjoy the fact
that their malpractice insurance is paid for by their regular
In keeping with his stated policy of naming those government
officials deemed responsible for failures, Lindenstrauss said Sheba Medical
Center director-general Prof. Zev Rotstein and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center
director-general Prof. Gabi Barbash each moonlight for five or six companies,
earning tens of thousands of additional shekels per month, leading to the risk
of conflict of interest between their public and private posts. He suggested
higher hospital salaries for top managers so they can devote most of their time
Moving on, the report uncovered that medical staffers are
reluctant to report cases where patients were hurt, and added that many families
are not provided with swift and accurate medical records to prove their cases. A
no-fault system is needed to rectify this, Lindenstrauss recommended.
a separate section examining the workings of Magen David Adom, Lindenstrauss
found the organization is poorly supervised by the Health Ministry, and also noted that its top officials have been there too long, possibly preventing
monitoring and renewal in Magen David Adom.
The Defense Ministry
also came under fire in the report. A section on defense exports revealed that
the Defense Ministry’s director-general Udi Shani violated defense export laws
and regulations when approving a number of defense deals and had changed the
ministry’s policy in 2010 regarding provision of export licenses.
three cases, the report found, Shani ignored export procedures and decided to
grant licenses to companies to sell military platforms overseas, despite
opposition from the Foreign Ministry.
The report said Shani should have
consulted with other government agencies and should have incorporated the new
policy into official Defense Ministry procedures.
In a second
defense-related chapter, Lindenstrauss found that the IDF and Defense Ministry
mishandled the development of a protective system for armored personnel
The report criticizes Chief of Staff Lt-Gen. Benny Gantz’s
decision as deputy commander of the IDF in 2010 to order two Israeli defense
contractors to combine independent tank protection systems into a single
platform, which Lindenstrauss said was made without the necessary staff work and
a proper study of the issue.
CHILDREN AT RISK
In a section on at-risk
children, Lindenstrauss’s report sharply criticizes a flagship government
program aimed at reducing the number of children and youth considered at risk,
for failing to properly assess and keep track of its own work over the past five
The report faulted the National Program for Children and Youth at
Risk, established in 2006 under the auspices of the Welfare and Social Services
Ministry, for taking over four years to get any of its programs actually working
in the field.
The NIS-155-million-a-year program had succeeded in
fostering better cooperation between the various professional government
departments working with children and local authorities, the report
However, another criticism was that it had failed to establish
quantifiable goals to reduce the number of children at
ULTRA-ORTHODOX ARMY SERVICE
The report included a review of
ultra-Orthodox men serving in the army, and the IDF’s efforts to increase the
number of haredi men enlisting.
An audit carried out between September
2010 and August 2011 revealed a discernible and “important” increase was
registered in the number of haredim enlisting, exceeding a government target set
in January 2011 of 1,200 recruits. In 2010, approximately 1,000 haredi men
eligible for military service enlisted in the IDF, representing 13% of possible
recruits from the ultra-Orthodox sector, and in 2011 that number increased to
1,280 haredim, or 16% of the potential ultra-Orthodox draft.
these positive developments, the report revealed an increase in the number of
haredi men deferring army service through full-time yeshiva study under the
“Torato Omunato” framework. Between 2003, when the “Tal Law” came into affect,
and 2010, the number of men eligible for military service who deferred their
enlistment rose by 60%, the report found.
comptroller also took his magnifying glass to two aspects of the Foreign
Ministry: the workings of the newly reorganized political planning division, and
the Mashav agency dealing with foreign aid.
Regarding the planning
division, whose reorganization was an element of the Winograd Committee report
that looked into shortcomings of the Second Lebanon War, the comptroller found
that the committee’s conclusions were not implemented and there was still a lack
of good coordination between the planning bodies of the Foreign Ministry, IDF
and Defense Ministry.
The report said that the IDF was reluctant to
cooperate fully with the Foreign Ministry because of concern of rampant leaks
inside the ministry.
Regarding Mashav, the comptroller said the ministry
needed to set clear guidelines regarding the involvement of the private sector
in aid projects, so that a situation does not arise where there is less
humanitarian assistance and more mining for business prospects.
audit of the police revealed a series of failures in a new computerized system
deployed over the past decade to improve crime- and terror-fighting
capabilities, and to cut down on response time to emergency
Lindenstrauss slammed police for not taking sufficient steps to
encrypt computer databases used in patrol cars, and for failing to examine the
efficiency of the systems’ deployment and the potential risks posed by outside
elements gaining access to the information.
The report noted that while
police said they had implemented the system in June 2003, at that time they had
only installed 289 of 1,000 of the computerized patrols ordered, despite
announcing a maintenance spend of NIS 6 million between 2000 and 2003. The
majority of the systems were in fact installed only by November 2005.
state comptroller also blasted the police for failing to examine various units’
needs regarding the system, even though certain police units did not utilize the
system as much as others. Lindenstrauss recommended police consider deploying
more computerized patrol systems, but only in those units likely to use them
In a section on the Transportation Ministry,
Lindenstrauss focused on failings in Israel’s transport infrastructure,
particularly its railways and air networks.
Recent years have seen a
number of serious rail accidents, and last year 60 people were hurt when two
passenger trains collided near Netanya.
In 2003, the rail network was
privatized in an effort to make it more effective and accessible.
longer part of the Ports Authority, it began operating as a government company
under the name Israel Railways. Since then, passenger rail traffic has grown
considerably – from 17 million a decade ago to 36 million in 2010.
a number of safety incidents, in the summer of 2006 Israel Railways authorized a
fiveyear plan for improving passenger security.
However, previous reports
have repeatedly cited failings in Israel Railways’s operation. For example,
procedures for granting conductors’ licenses and disciplining conductor errors
have yet to be formalized.
Lindenstrauss’s new report revealed that
serious work remains to be done in improving rail safety and
In the report, Lindenstrauss said the
Environmental Protection and Agriculture Ministries must increase surveillance
of pesticide use, so that Israel no longer lags behind other Western nations in
terms of its pesticide regulations.
Israel lacks a normative
datacollection and analysis system regarding pesticides and fertilizers, a tool
that would help government authorities monitor the risks associated with these
chemicals, the report said.
The state comptroller also slammed the
government for not doing enough regarding plans to establish desalinated water
facilities, noting that a 2001 government decision to establish such a facility
in Ashdod by 2003 had not occurred. The government must act to ensure that the
country can cope with the ongoing water shortage, the state comptroller
The report also slammed the Agriculture Ministry for bypassing
legal requirements and transferring hundreds of millions of shekels to farmers
without reducing the numbers of foreign workers or significantly improving water
As a result, some farmers have engaged in acts of
profiteering at the expense of other farmers, Lindenstrauss said, calling on the
Agriculture Ministry to establish stronger regulations.
In a chapter on the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the
state comptroller painted a picture of mismanagement, negligence and
irresponsibility that has resulted not only in an ongoing multimillion-shekel
deficit, and a vastly overloaded payroll, but also a problem of property
The report revealed that no one bothered over the years to
check whether properties supposedly belonging to the IBA had actually been
registered as such, a factor that came to light when the Finance Ministry, which
was unwilling to keep bolstering the faltering financial status of the IBA, said
that the only way it could get rid of its deficit was to sell off the bulk of
its properties in Jerusalem.
But when it came to taking an inventory of
the properties, the IBA was lacking in legally binding proof of ownership, the
In a chapter devoted to the situation
regarding legal guardianship and wards of court, the state comptroller slammed
the Justice Ministry’s Custodian-General Department for a number of
According to the Capacity and Guardianship Law (1962), a court
can appoint an individual, corporation or the Justice Ministry’s
custodian-general as a legal guardian to care for a person who is deemed
permanently or temporarily incapable of looking after their own
The report revealed that the custodian-general’s department
lacked complete and up-to-date information on wards of court and their
guardians, largely because courts’ secretariats had failed to hand over relevant
documents and because the custodian- general’s office hadn’t updated
Lindenstrauss said wards are “helpless and
restricted, weak citizens of the state” and so monitoring court-appointed
guardians is a real need.
COURTS Lindenstrauss also criticized the court
administration for serious failures in implementing its flagship computerized
system, including the absence of civil servants from the project management
team, which the report said was not in the public interest.
Hamishpat” and dubbed a flagship system designed to improve service for the
public and streamline the administrative infrastructure of the judicial system
in the country’s courts, which deal with over a million cases every
Net Hamishpat was intended to create a “paperless” court system and
was deployed in courts in May 2010, however, the state comptroller found that
the administration had failed to work according to the government’s agreed
software project management methodology for software development and
engineering, systems analysis and quality management developed by the Treasury
and an external software firm, Methoda Ltd.
After the system was
installed, the audit found that there had been serious failures that caused
problems, which might have been avoided if the correct acceptance testing
procedures had been followed. The report said there had been multiple system
failures that could have been avoided had the correct acceptance test procedures