Record number of complaints lodged over state bodies

State Comptroller Lindenstrauss submits annual State Ombudsman’s report which found that 14,000 complaints were lodged in 2011, a 44% increase since 2005.

By RON FRIEDMAN
June 14, 2011 04:34
2 minute read.
Micha Lindenstrauss, left, and Reuven Rivlin

Lindenstrauss and Rivlin 311. (photo credit: Marc Sellem Israel/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss submitted the annual State Ombudsman’s report to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Monday.

The report, which compiles public complaints about all the government ministries and state agencies and institutions found that 14,000 complaints were lodged in 2011, an all-time record and a 44 percent increase since 2005.

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Rivlin thanked Lindenstrauss for the report, stating that the Ombudsman’s office had become a central institution and that the large increase in the number of complaints filed to the office was a testament to the trust that the public placed in it.

Lindenstrauss described the submission of the report as a day of celebration for Israeli democracy and citizenry.

“The ombudsman’s office is an independent body and in recent years it has reached out to the public by opening branches in cities like Beersheba and Nazareth, and soon in Kiryat Shmona and in Lod.”

Lindenstrauss commented that while in most other countries the state comptroller and the ombudsman were separate entities, the combination of both roles under a single roof, as it is in Israel, was “a success story, with one agency complementing the other.”

The Ombudsman’s Office’s Director General Hillel Shamgar said the combination enabled the office to identify problems that are beyond the scope of an individual complaint.

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According to the report, at 30% Israel features a higher amount of justified complaints than most other countries. The public bodies that featured the highest percentage of justified complaints were the Israel Broadcasting Association at 45%, the Transportation Ministry at 42% and the police at 39%.

The institution that received the largest number of complaints was the National Insurance Institute, with 1,332. In second place came the police with 689 complaints, and the Finance Ministry with 482 complaints.

Rounding up the top five were the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice.

Tel Aviv was the municipality that received the most complaints, followed by Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.

The report featured examples of complaints that the Ombudsman’s office received on a range of issues from sexual discrimination in the workplace to failure to treat ongoing noise disturbances in local authorities.

Each complaint is described along with the Ombudsman’s analysis and the responsible body’s response to the complaint.

One of the most important matters that the Ombudsman’s Office deals with is the treatment of workplace whistleblowers.

The report stated that the number of whistleblowers who turned to the Ombudsman to complain about improper treatment in the workplace following their actions ballooned from 58 last year to 68 this year.

One such complaint featured in the report was lodged by a Haifa municipal worker who was fired after reporting on corruption in City Hall.

According to the report, the man, who worked as a parking inspector, revealed that his managers had instructed him to avoid fining their associates, and even canceled tickets given to people close to them. He was fired shortly after writing to the mayor about the corruption.

After receiving the complaint, the Ombudsman conducted an investigation and finding the complaint justified, ordered the city to hire him back.

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