Comptroller's report takes gov't to task

Lindenstrauss cites Religious Services Authority for nepotism, mismanagement.

comptroller report 298.8 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
comptroller report 298.8
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In the wake of the recent storm over the Winograd Committee's report on the failures of the Second Lebanon War, the annual State Comptroller's Report, released Wednesday afternoon, spared no criticism of the government's peacetime functioning. The report cited the Knesset for unnecessary spending and poor bookkeeping. A glimpse of the State Comptroller's Report:
  • Broadcasting: IBA negligent in handling public purse
  • Public Safety: Crime victims' rights not maintained
  • Social Services: Disabled employment service slammed
  • Bank of Israel: Central bank benefits 'excessive'
  • Finance: National budget mismanaged
  • Knesset: Extravagant, unnecessary sums paid out
  • Trade: Outdated weights, measures hurting growth
  • Finance: Tax Authority falsifying numbers of fines
  • Tourism: Directive to insure vacations ignored
  • 'The IDF dragged feet in confronting terror tunnels'
  • Disengagement cost 'miscalculated'
  • Nepotism in religious services apparatus
  • Where your health taxes go
  • Report: Crime Victims' Rights not maintained From the summer of 2003, to September 2006 the Knesset spent upwards of NIS 650,000 on consulting firms that were supposed to held the Knesset form a self-auditing system. The original amount budgeted for the project was just over 100,000, making the project 5.4 times more expensive than originally planned. In addition, the Knesset froze all of the plans that it had paid the consulting firms to create, when it was discovered that the parliamentary budget could not be stretched to accommodate the auditing system. If the Knesset had used better planning methods, had checked the companies it hired and compared prices, and abided by a better time schedule, it would have saved hundreds of thousands of shekels, found the State Comptroller's Report. The dismantling of the Religious Affairs Ministry and the creation in its place of the National Religious Services Authority (NRSA) has failed to combat nepotism, mismanagement and chronic deficits in the religious services apparatus, according to the report. The report sharply criticized the NRSA, headed by Meir Spiegler since its establishment in January 2005, for failing to fix malfeasance. For instance, in 2004 and 2005 an external audit of 86 religious councils, which provide religious services on the local level, discovered that 224 workers received salaries without authorization and some salaries were higher than they should be. However, the authority failed to take steps to remedy this negligence, it said. The report also found that the "macherim" phenomenon was widespread in national and district government offices and local authorities providing services to the public. This is particularly true when private citizens "have trouble receiving the services by themselves because of the unavailability of information explaining how to obtain them or the complexity of the procedures involved in obtaining them." Administrators in the Health Ministry, meanwhile, were castigated for numerous shortcomings, not only for preventing the health funds from providing staffers with these costly benefits. Others were inadequate rehabilitation of mental patients in the community, deficient testing of semen in hospital sperm banks, allowing some health funds to inequitably distribute big-ticket medications; and granting expensive medical care to people from the former Soviet Union who pretended they were immigrants and then went back home.