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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In a report that set sparks flying on Monday between State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus and Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander, the former found that although the system of tenders for positions in the civil service is supposed to offer equal opportunity to anyone who meets the basic requirements, in 55 percent of those held between 2002 and 2004, the winner had already been working in the job, without a tender, on a temporary basis.
Lindenstraus presented the annual State Comptroller's report to the Knesset on Tuesday.
For the comptroller's findings on other organizations he examined, click below:
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In the case of the Justice Ministry, the report on the Civil Service Commission continued, 80 percent of the tenders were awarded to employees who had already been hired without a tender to fill the position. In the case of the Finance Ministry, the figure was 66 percent.
According to civil service regulations regarding tenders, only eight candidates are supposed to appear in person before the committee of examiners which makes the final choice. If there are more than eight applicants, they must all first undergo a pre-selection process involving an oral or written exam or a test that simulates the work environment of the job they are seeking.
In a statement to the media, Lindenstraus referred in particular to what he described as a "problematic and very puzzling appointment" by the Civil Service commissioner.
He also said he had lodged a complaint against Hollander and senior officials in the Civil Service Commission over attempts they allegedly made to suppress the report. "Over the past few months, regrettably, the commissioner used senior officials in his office to apply heavy pressure on employees of the State Comptroller's Office to prevent the publication of the report," Lindenstraus charged. "They did not succeed."
In one case examined by the State Comptroller, 118 applicants applied for a Justice Ministry tender. According to standard procedure, the Civil Service Commission invited all of them to a test to pre-select the final eight. But the Justice Ministry asked the Civil Service Commission to cancel the test. As a result, 75 applicants appeared before the committee of examiners. The committee chose the two who were already temporarily employed by the ministry.
The State Comptroller also found that there were no criteria for determining the minimum grade that a candidate needed or the number of candidates that would be chosen to advance from one stage to the next in the pre-selection process. Ministries took advantage of this situation to apply pressure on the Civil Service Commission to make sure the employees who were already working for them advanced to the final stage of the examination committee.
For example, in one Finance Ministry tender, 11 candidates were allowed to appear before the examination committee instead of eight, because the tenth-ranked candidate in the pre-selection process was already working in the job. The examination committee chose him.
The State Comptroller also found fault with the way that Civil Service Commissioner appointed his assistant to the post of deputy director-general in charge of administration without publishing a tender for the job.
Although the Civil Service Commission is responsible for overseeing the procedures for tenders throughout the civil service, no one oversees the procedure within the commission itself, the State Comptroller pointed out.
Hollander hired his assistant in 1996. The job does not require a public tender because it is based on personal trust. However, in 2003, he promised the woman that when she left her current job, he would appoint her to a senior position in the commission, that is, to a regular civil service job. This was a promise he should not have made, the State Comptroller wrote.
Hollander had already appointed the woman in 2002 to be responsible for administrative matters in addition to her duties as his personal assistant. In January 2004, he established a new position for her called "head of the administrative and manpower branch." Officially, she was no longer his personal assistant, even though she continued to fulfill that job as well.
A few months later, he changed the job description of her new position and upgraded it "head of the administrative and manpower department," a position parallel to that of a deputy director-general. At this point, she was given a special contract as a senior employee of the Civil Service Commission.
Hollander appointed her to this job even though she did not meet all of the minimum requirements for a deputy director-general of administration according to civil service standards.
The State Comptroller wrote that "the commissioner and the commission made unacceptable use of a position and their power to shape it as they wished to benefit the assistant and promote her to a senior and tenured post. This was done even though according to the directives of the Civil Service Commission itself, changes in job descriptions must be a function of genuine changes in the organizational structure of the ministry and should not be tailor-made to fit a given individual."
Here are some of the other faults the State Comptroller found with the tender system as managed by the Civil Service Commission:
There is no standard way to determine whether an applicant for a tender meets the minimum conditions for the job.
In some cases, people who recommended a certain candidate for a job opening ended up on the examining committee which awarded the job.
The commission did not contact those who had sent letters of recommendation for job applicants to ask them for more details about the applicant.
In cases where the applicant already worked for the civil service, his office was supposed to send all the annual personal appraisals that had been made to the commission. It turned out that most offices did not write annual appraisals of their workers.
In order to make sure that ministries did not lobby members of the examination committee who made the final choice, their names are not made public. However, it turns out that most of the committees are made up of the same people. For example, there is a reservoir of 1,200 representatives of the public who are eligible to serve on examination committees. However, it turns out that 11 percent of these public representatives served on 40 percent of all the committees that were established between 2000 and 2005.