A report by the state comptroller published Wednesday found failures in the
supervision and enforcement of standards for Israeli defense exports, and
described some of the shortcomings as “fundamental.”
Joseph Shapira said in his report that the Defense Exports Supervision Act
standardized exports in accordance with international norms, but that the
Defense Ministry’s Defense Export Controls Agency (DECA) is failing to use the
full extent of the authority given to it by law to ensure proper
Additionally, the law enforcement activities of customs
officials on defense exports is incomplete, the report charged.
Defense Ministry’s role is to license activities for defense exports in as short
a time as possible, professionally and efficiently, and to avoid harm to
marketing and exports, while allowing Israeli exporters to compete in the world
defense market,” the report stated.
Shapira noted that improvement has
been made but stressed that there is still room for more, and called on the
relevant authorities to address the failures in the licensing and supervision of
exports as soon as possible.
Responding to the criticism, the Defense
Ministry said DECA is carrying out a series of initiatives to meet standards.
These included “aggressive inspections of the facilities of exporters,” a review
of approved defense deals, and surprise inspections at companies. The ministry
also intends to seek out companies involved in defense deals but not appearing
on DECA’s registry.
In general, DECA keeps to the accepted time limits
when licensing defense products, the ministry said.
thousands of requests for licenses, each requiring in-depth checks, defense
companies waited for replies for just 24 to 27 days in 2011 and 2012 on average,
the Defense Ministry added.
The report also criticized the Defense
Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization (MDO), which is tasked with managing the
development of missile and rocket defense systems. While the body is praised for
greatly contributing to national security, it is also criticized for failures in
its management of personnel.
“In the 20 years since [MDO’s] founding, the
Defense Ministry hasn’t made a serious effort to examine the structure and
makeup of its personnel,” the report said. The structure and personnel are the
result of “improvisations and circumstances, rather than analysis and planning,”
the report charges.
The Defense Ministry said in response that the
Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure
(that runs the MDO) is committed to “maximum flexibility in its activities,
including in the field of personnel management.” It added that this flexibility
has “proven itself in many past occurrences,” and listed the development of the
Iron Dome anti-rocket battery as one prominent example.
The unique makeup
of the MDO’s personnel, which includes young officers and experienced
developers, creates a “special challenge” in management, the ministry
The Defense Ministry’s personnel department and the Administration
for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure manage personnel
together in the best possible manner, and employ an advanced computer system to
this end, the ministry said.
In his report, the comptroller also examined
the national defense budget, which constituted 15 percent of the entire national
budget in 2010 and 2011.
It noted the Defense Ministry’s “failure to meet
guidelines set by the government,” and “inconsistent supervision by the Finance
Ministry of budgetary changes.”
“In 2012, steps were taken to improve the
transparency and supervision of the defense budget, including the establishment
of a terminal in the Finance Ministry for [oversight of] the Defense Ministry’s
budget,” the report said.
The Defense Ministry, for its part, said
civilian supervision of the defense budget is “extensive, and this is the case
despite the security-driven secrecy that is necessary in managing
Supervision and transparency have improved significantly in recent
years, and oversight is now accessible to the Finance Ministry, the security
cabinet, the committee of ministers for military acquisitions, the state
comptroller, and the National Security Council, the ministry
The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also
enjoys greater defense budget oversight, it said.
Officials from the
Defense and Finance ministries are engaged in an ongoing dialogue on all budget
changes, the ministry stated.
“All budgetary changes are reported in
quarterly and monthly reports, and detailed explanations are given as much as
possible, where necessary,” the ministry said.
The errors highlighted in
the state comptroller’s report are not significant and are small when compared
to improvements, it added.