More from the Comptroller: Proper procedures ignored in many gov't hirings

By DAN IZENBERG
May 13, 2007 22:16
2 minute read.

 
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The state comptroller found that several senior Civil Service workers were guilty of a conflict of interests, even though they should have known better. One of these was Rachel Zakai, the Israel Lands Authority legal adviser. At the time of her appointment, Zakai's then-husband served as legal adviser to management companies involved in ILA projects. Zakai did not inform the attorney-general and her superiors about the potential conflict of interests. She should have done so in writing, the state comptroller said. Other senior officials the state comptroller found to be involved in a conflict of interests included Yigal Ben-Shalom, director-general of the National Insurance Institute; NII Deputy Director Michel Sa'adon; Yosef Manor, head of the Construction and Housing Ministry's Planning and Engineering Authority and several others. One way of preventing conflict of interests stemming from family ties is for each office to record such ties in the office's reservoir of facts. The state comptroller found that none of the ministries he investigated had done so. According to Civil Service regulations, when a new employee is hired as a civil servant, the legal adviser of the relevant office must consult with the legal adviser of the Civil Service commissioner to determine whether the particular job that the employee has been hired to fill requires him to sign a form declaring that he is not involved in a conflict of interests. The Civil Service commissioner found that even though hundreds of new employees were hired between 2001 and 2005, the legal advisers had not checked with the Civil Service commissioner's legal adviser in a single case. The state comptroller examined conflict of interests in the area of purchasing of goods and services in the health system and found that neither the Treasury nor the Health Ministry had drawn up standard regulations for preventing conflict of interests. This is a particularly sensitive issue, since medical institutions pay huge sums of money to the private sector for their requirements. The state comptroller found that the Clalit Health Fund, for example, spent between NIS 3 billion and NIS 3.5b. in the years 2003-2005. Some 120 employees serve on purchasing committees for Clalit hospitals and health fund districts. In 1999, the health fund drafted a form which each committee member must sign declaring a potential conflict of interests with an outside supplier. The state comptroller found that up until 2006, not a single committee member signed one of these forms. Since the state comptroller's investigation, the health fund has started seeing to it that the forms are signed.

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