Report: Gov’t fails to create viable blueprint to relocate offices to capital

Despite official decree to transfer most units to Jerusalem by 2015, government has done little to facilitate move, State Comptroller Report states.

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Over five years after the government’s official mandate to transfer all national units of parliament to Jerusalem – with the exception of regional offices – implementation of the landmark undertaking has significantly failed, according to the latest State Comptroller Report.
The decision to relocate the offices was made in May 2007 in accordance with the Basic Law stating that the capital “is the seat of government is Jerusalem.”
The government contended that concentrating all its activity in the capital was a key means of strengthening the city politically, socially and economically.
Indeed, the addition of thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of square meters of office buildings would substantially increase property taxes and general commerce transactions, improving the capital’s present economic woes, the government determined.
The government resolution, entitled “Moving the national units of government to Jerusalem” stipulated that nearly all government offices will be “gradually transferred” into the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem by 2015.
The decision was made in coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office, Government Housing Administration, Finance Ministry and Jerusalem Development Authority, the report stated.
The director of the Prime Minister’s Office was subsequently charged with formulating an implementation team to devise a “master plan” to move government offices to the capital within the stated eight-year window.
The master plan, the report stated, was to develop roughly 130,000 sq.m. of land to house 95 national units from 20 government agencies.
From April-August 2012 the State Comptroller’s Office – with assistance from the Jerusalem Municipality, Civil Service Commission, Government Companies Authority and Planning Administration of the Interior Ministry – examined the resolution’s implementation.
The report found that there has been incomplete preparation for the plan, resulting in the continued, and significant, delay of government relocation to the city.
While the report found that the Housing Administration acted in recent years to create structures designed to populate different units of government offices – primarily including the planned expansion of the David Ben-Gurion government compound – those efforts have failed.
The report found that the compound presently will only provide approximately 15 percent of the total space necessary to transfer all government offices, and is still many years away from the expansion necessary to meet the government’s housing needs.
Furthermore, the report found that the staff charged with securing funding for construction costs has failed to do so. As a result, the government decided that the Housing Administration can only authorize leases, renovation or construction related to the transfer of the government units with the approval of an “Exceptions Committee,” headed by the Prime Minister’s Office’s director, the report stated.
This protocol was repeatedly breached, the report stated, when it was determined that the Housing Administration approved leases, or sought alternative housing, in several instances without seeking the committee’s approval.
Additionally, the Exceptions Committee rejected the requests of the Development of the Negev and Galilee Ministry, and Culture and Sports Ministry to move to Jerusalem, the report stated.
The State Comptroller’s report found that with few exceptions, no substantive action plan has been implemented to encourage government units to move to the capital, resulting in a decree that the Government Companies Authority examine which units will be required to make the move.
The report continued that the plan to have government units relocated has been significantly delayed due to an incomplete action plan delineating sources of financing, monitoring implementation and even determining a viable time frame.
The report added that leadership of the move has been ostensibly abdicated, with few alternatives presented for remedying the situation.
The report emphasized that “practical action” is required of the Government Companies Authority, as well as local government, to further examine the impasse and create a blueprint necessary to implement the transfer of government agencies to the capital.
“The State Comptroller’s Office believes it is desirable that this report will impart the substantial gaps in the implementation of the government’s decision to move its units to Jerusalem and promote cooperation in finding a detailed solution,” it concluded.