Watchdog report finds bottleneck in cabinet decisions

More cabinet decisions are bureaucratic and administrative in nature than a decade ago, a government watchdog found in an analysis.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid (R) sits across from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid (R) sits across from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
More cabinet decisions are bureaucratic and administrative in nature than a decade ago, a government watchdog found in an analysis.
“The public sector and governance as a whole is becoming much more bureaucratic, much more loaded with process over the years,” said Tomer Lotan, executive director of the Citizen’s Empowerment Center in Israel, which produced the report.
The watchdog group, which lobbies for better governance and management in the public sector, analyzed 7,610 cabinet decisions from the last three governments – two under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and one under former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
The main finding indicated that a greater share of government orders passed by the cabinet deal not with substantive or legislative issues but with bureaucratic ones – for instance, approving travel plans for MKs or transferring jurisdictions between ministries.
Source: CITIZENS' EMPOWERMENT CENTER IN ISRAELSource: CITIZENS' EMPOWERMENT CENTER IN ISRAEL
Whereas substantive decisions made up 801 of 2,046 decisions made by the Olmert government, or 39.1%, they comprised 412 of 1,660 decisions made by the most recent Netanyahu government, or 24.8%.
“Basically, what we have is an overload of processes being pushed into the government meetings,” Lotan said.
The result, he said, is a bottleneck that detracts from the government’s ability to deal with issues that have a real impact on the public.
“This bottleneck should be opened,” Lotan said, “and the basic move for that is to make a kind of a devolution process, bringing decisions to a lower level and giving more power and more authority and responsibility to the administrative level of ministries.”
The report also found that a significant proportion of the substantive bills the government passes are bundled together in the omnibus budget bill approved annually by the cabinet.
“This means that a very significant portion of government decisions are initiated by the Finance Ministry, passed as a single unit as part of one government meeting, and do not allow for a deep discussion of core issues and structural reforms,” the report noted.
Another section of the analysis broke down the government’s substantive decisions by sector, finding that an increasing share of such resolutions focused on real estate and infrastructure while fewer dealt with education, health and security.
“We can definitely see that issues such as education and health were less on the government agenda, and this is something I think that voters should know before they go vote,” Lotan said.
The report’s goal was to bring attention to government decisions as a tool for reform, one that’s often ignored by the public in favor of Knesset bills, he said.