Comptroller finds grave faults in state health, defense (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK, JERUSALEM POST REPORTERS 05/01/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
The State Comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss, presented his annual
report to Knesset on Tuesday, the final one of its kind before he
retires from office in July.
Lindenstrauss said the 64-chapter report, which includes detailed
sections on all government ministries as well as the IDF and other
state-run bodies, was his largest ever in terms of scope.
Lindenstrauss noted that his final annual report places "special
emphasis" on health issues. The report includes a particularly
scathing chapter slamming the Health Ministry for wasting huge sums
of public money.
The Defense Ministry also come under fire in the report, with a
section revealing that the ministry´s director general violated
defense export laws by approving several export deals.
The state comptroller also said he had devoted special attention to
weaker sections of Israeli society, including youth at risk, as well
as ultra-Orthodox service in the army, which comes after a 2011
government decision to set targets for haredi enlistment by 2015.
Lindenstrauss emphasized that his final report reflected the audit
principles his office has adopted during his term as state
comptroller, which he said included publishing the names of
government officials in order to promote personal liability, as well
as real-time auditing of government bodies.
The state comptroller´s office had also prioritized following up on
how deficiencies revealed in audits had been addressed, Lindenstrauss
The state comptroller also praised his office staff for waging what
he said was "an uncompromising struggle against government corruption
that threatens to undermine Israeli society and severely damage its
"I have said on many occasions that the personal liability of those
in the executive branch [of government] is the heart of good
governance," Lindenstrauss said, adding that public servants "however
senior, must take responsibility for their actions or failures."
Lindenstrauss added that his final report included a review of how to
reduce the bureaucratic burden of public service.
"The role of government and the public sector is to serve the
citizens of the state," Lindenstrauss said, noting that in many
cases, his office had found that public bodies imposed a "heavy and
unnecessary bureaucratic burden on business owners and residents,"
which he said "eroded public trust in public service."
Lindenstrauss´s term of office officially ends on July 3rd, and
Jerusalem District Court judge Joseph Shapira has been touted as the
leading candidate to replace him.
The Knesset will vote on Lindenstrauss´s replacement in a secret
ballot on May 14, even if Knesset holds a break for elections, Rivlin
said on Tuesday.
Rivlin noted that so far, one candidate has been put forward to
replace Lindenstrauss and said that other potential candidates had
until Friday to nominate themselves. The Knesset speaker added that
he hoped there would be an additional two candidates.
Comptroller takes Health Ministry to task
Lindenstrauss devoted a considerable part of the report to the Health
Ministry, and sharply criticized it for a litany of failures.
These included wasting huge sums of public money and for mishandling
medical negligence cases, which the report said compromised the
rights of patients who legitimately suffer medical errors and
The report also revealed that the Health Ministry continues to own,
run and supervise state hospitals, which Lindenstrauss said was a
multiple role that constitutes a built-in conflict of interest.
The state comptroller also shed light on the issue of senior
physicians from public hospitals who "moonlight" at private medical
facilities, and who enjoy the fact that their malpractice insurance
is paid for by their regular employers.
The report said that young physicians and those living in the
periphery of the country who work for public medical institutions and
do not "freelance" in private hospitals subsidize part of the cost of
insurance policies who do private work, creating distortions in the
Hospital officials, as well as physicians, were also found
to "moonlight" for external organizations, the report found.
In keeping with his stated policy of naming those government
officials deemed responsible for failures, Lindenstrauss said Sheba
Medical Center director-general Prof. Zev Rotstein and Tel Aviv
Sourasky Medical Center director-general Prof. Gabi Barbash
each "moonlight" for five or six outside companies, earning tens of
thousands of additional shekels per month, leading to the risk of
conflict of interest between their public and private posts. He
suggested higher hospital salaries for top managers so they can
devote most of their time to them.
Moving on, the report uncovered that medical staffers are reluctant
to report cases where patients were hurt, and added that many
families are not provided with swift and accurate medical records to
prove their cases. A no-fault system is needed to rectify this,
The state comptroller´s audit also brought to light flaws in the
treatment of elderly people who suffer a stroke or a hip fracture and
who are entitled to get rehabilitation including physiotherapy so
their condition can improve. But many get no such treatment at all,
or it is delayed, or provided by institutions not licensed to do so,
the report found. As a result, some patients become bedridden in
geriatric nursing facilities and cost the economy major amounts of
money -- or even die prematurely.
And while Israel has the highest mortality rate for kidney-failure
patients undergoing dialysis, the Health Ministry has failed to
promote prevention of the condition, and there is also a severe
shortage of kidney specialists, the report found.
The ministry’s Israel Transplant coordinating center has not found
countries willing to perform safe kidney transplants abroad at the
health funds’ expense, so patients have died.
In a separate section examining the workings of Magen David Adom,
Lindenstrauss found the organization is poorly supervised by the
Health Ministry, and also noted that its top officials have been
there too long, possibly preventing monitoring and renewal in MDA.
The comptroller said that there are a number of first-aid and rescue
organizations that are purely voluntary and do not charge for the
services. But while ongoing disputes over "territory" have caused
disruptions, the ministry has not managed to resolve the the
disagreement and set down who does what, the report revealed.
Dir.-Gen. of MOD violated defense export laws
The Defense Ministry also comes under fire in the report. A section
on defense exports revealed that the Director General of the Defense
Ministry, Udi Shani, violated defense export laws and regulations
when approving a number of defense deals and had changed the
ministry¹s policy in 2010 regarding provision of export licenses.
In three cases, the report found, Shani ignored export procedures and
decided to grant licenses to companies to sell military platforms
overseas despite opposition from the Foreign Ministry.
The report said Shani should have consulted with other government
agencies and should have incorporated the new policy into official
In a second defense-related chapter, Lindenstrauss found that the IDF
and MOD mishandled the development of a protective system for armored
The report criticizes Chief of Staff Lt-Gen. Benny Gantz´s decision
as deputy commander of the IDF in 2010 to order two Israeli defense
contractors to combine independent tank protection systems into a
single platform, which Lindenstrauss said was made without the
necessary staff work and a proper study of the issue.
"The decision to recommend to the chief of staff to create an
integration of both systems was done without a review by the IDF and
the MOD of whether the development of such a system is feasible," the
comptroller wrote in the report, adding that the situation was "the
result of a flawed decision-making process in the MOD and the
IDF ....as well as the MOD´s failure to abide by the obligation to
issue a tender for the development of such a system."
State children at-risk program fails to track its own work
In a section on at-risk children, Lindenstrauss´s report sharply
criticizes a flagship government program aimed at reducing the number
of children and youth considered at risk, for failing to properly
assess and keep track of its own work over the past five years.
The report faulted the National Program for Children and Youth at
Risk, established in 2006 under the auspices of the Ministry of
Welfare and Social Affairs, for taking over four years to get any of
its programs actually working in the field.
The NIS 155 million a year program had succeeded in fostering better
cooperation between the various professional government departments
working with children and local authorities, the report found.
However, another criticism was that it had failed to establish
quantifiable goals to reduce the number of children at risk.
Ultra-Orthodox Army Service on the rise, so is deferment
The State Comptroller´s report included a review of ultra-Orthodox
men serving in the army, and the IDF´s efforts to increase the number
of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men enlisting.
An audit carried out between September 2010 and August 2011 revealed
a discernible and "important" increase was registered in the number
of haredim enlisting, exceeding a government target set in January
2011 of 1,200 recruits. In 2010, approximately 1,000 haredi men
eligible for military service enlisted in the IDF, representing 13%
of possible recruits from the ultra-Orthodox sector, and in 2011 that
number increased to 1,280 haredim, or 16% of the potential ultra-
Lindenstrauss said these figures represented “an important trend
which needs to be encouraged and nurtured.”
Despite these positive developments, the report revealed an increase
in the number of haredi men deferring army service through full-time
yeshiva study under the Torato Omunato framework. Between 2003, when
the Tal Law came into affect, and 2010, the number of men eligible
for military service who deferred their enlistment rose by 60
percent, the report found.
Foreign Ministry mixing humanitarian aid, entrepreneurship
The comptroller also took his magnifying glass to two aspects of the
Foreign Ministry: the workings of the newly re-organized political
planning division, and the Masahav agency dealing with foreign aid.
Regarding the planning division, whose re-organization was an element
of the Winograd Committee report that looked into shortcomings of the
Second Lebanon War, the comptroller found that the committee´s
conclusions were not implemented and there was still a lack of good
coordination between the planning bodies of the Foreign Ministry, IDF
and Defense Ministry.
The report said that the IDF was reluctant to cooperate fully with
the Foreign Ministry because of concern of rampant leaks inside the
Regarding Mashav, the comptroller said the ministry needed to set
clear guidelines regarding the involvement of the private sector in
aid projects, so that they do not become less humanitarian
assistance, and more mining for business prospects.
Police are not keep up with computerized system
An audit of the police revealed a series of failures in a new
computerized system deployed over the past decade to to improve
crime and terror fighting capabilities, and to cut down on response
time to emergency calls.
Lindenstrauss slammed police for not taking sufficient steps to
encrypt computer databases used in patrol cars, and for failing to
examine the efficiency of the systems´ deployment and the potential
risks posed by outside elements gaining access to the information.
The report noted that while police said they had implemented the
system in June 2003, at that time they had only installed 289 of
1,000 of the computerized patrols ordered, despite announcing a
maintenance spend of NIS 6 million between 2000 and 2003. The
majority of the systems were in fact installed only by November 2005.
The state comptroller also blasted the police for failing to examine
various units´ needs regarding the system, even though certain police
units did not utilize the system as much as others. Lindenstrauss
recommended police consider deploying more computerized patrol
systems, but only in those units likely to use them often.
Israel Railways failing its safety record
In a section on the Transportation Ministry, Lindenstrauss focused on
failings in Israel’s transport infrastructure, particularly its rail
and air networks.
Recent years have seen a number of serious rail accidents, and last
year 60 people were hurt when two passenger trains collided near
In 2003 the rail network was privatized in an effort to make it more
effective and accessible. No longer part of the Ports Authority, it
began operating as a government company under the name Israel
Railways. Since then passenger rail traffic has grown considerably –
from 17 million a decade ago to 36 million in 2010.
After a number of safety incidents, in the summer of 2006 Israel
Railways authorized a five-year plan for improving passenger
However, previous reports have repeatedly cited failings in Israel
Railways´ operation – for example, procedures for granting
conductors’ licenses and disciplining conductor errors have yet to be
Lindenstrauss´s new report revealed that serious work remains to be
done in improving rail safety and reliability.
The report also finds fault with safety in the passenger air
industry, faulting virtually every official – from prime ministers to
finance ministers and transport ministers – to have served in
aviation-related posts over the last decade. There is a gap,
Lindenstrauss said, between the threat presented by the poor state of
the civil air industry and the strength of the official response to
Lindenstrauss said that all ministries involved – particularly the
minister of transport and his director-general – must act urgently
to find ways to make air travel more safe and effective.
Israel lagging behind Western nations in pesticides supervision
In a chapter on the environment, Lindenstrauss said the Environmental
Protection and Agriculture ministries must increase surveillance of
pesticide use, so that Israel no longer lags behind other Western
nations in terms of its pesticide regulations.
Israel lacks a normative data collection and analysis system
regarding pesticides and fertilizers, a tool that would help
government authorities monitor the risks associated with these
chemicals, the report said.
Lindenstrauss also slammed the government for not doing enough
regarding plans to establish desalinated water facilities, noting
that a 2001 government decision to establish such a facility in
Ashdod by 2003 had not occurred. The government must act to ensure
that the country can cope with the ongoing water shortage, the state
The report also slammed the Agriculture Ministry for bypassing legal
requirements and transferring hundreds of millions of shekels to
farmers without reducing the numbers of foreign workers or
significantly improving water infrastructure.
As a result, some farmers have engaged in acts of profiteering at the
expense of other farmers, Lindenstrauss said, calling on the
Agriculture Ministry to establish stronger regulations.
Israel Broadcasting Agency squandering its budget
In a scathing chapter on the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the State
Comptroller paints a picture of mismanagement, negligence and
irresponsibility that has resulted not only in an ongoing multi-
million shekel deficit, and a vastly overloaded payroll, but also a
problem of property ownership.
The report revealed that, apparently, no-one bothered over the years
to check whether properties supposedly belonging to the IBA have
actually been registered as such, a factor that came to light when
the Finance Ministry, which was unwilling to keep bolstering the
faltering financial status of the IBA, said that the only way it
could get rid of its deficit was to sell off the bulk of its
properties in Jerusalem.
But when it came to taking an inventory of the properties, the IBA
was lacking in legally binding proof of ownership, the report found.
The IBA has been operating out of state-owned properties in
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Some of these properties were long ago
officially transferred to the IBA, but the IBA neglected to do the
required paper work.
Legal guardianship is not effectively functioning
In a chapter devoted to the situation regarding legal guardianship
and wards of court, the State Comptroller slammed the Justice
Ministry´s Custodian General department for a number of failings.
According to the Capacity and Guardianship Law (1962), a court can
appoint an individual, corporation or the Justice Ministry´s
Custodian General as a legal guardian to care for a person who is
deemed permanently or temporarily incapable of looking after their
The report revealed that the custodian-general´s department lacked
complete and up-to-date information on wards of court and their
guardians, largely because courts´ secretariats had failed to hand
over relevant documents and because the custodian-general´s office
hadn´t updated computerized records.
Lindenstrauss said wards are "helpless and restricted, weak citizens
of the state" and so monitoring court-appointed guardians is a real
"The state cannot shirk its responsibility to ensure wards´ basic
needs," the report said.
In some cases, legal guardians who had died were not replaced,
leaving nobody to deal with their wards´ affairs, and the Welfare
Ministry had also failed to examine the suitability of some
guardians, the report found.
The custodian-general had also failed to maintain an up-to-date list
of guardians who had either been dismissed or found to be deficient,
which the state comptroller said ought to have been passed to the
bodies responsible for appointing guardians.
The report further revealed that in 2008- 2009, some corporate
managers appointed as guardians had unlawfully removed funds from
several wards´ accounts, causing wards "significant damage and
problems". Although representatives of the Justice Ministry, the
attorney-general and the Welfare Ministry met with the custodian-
general to propose ways to improve guardians´ supervision, those
proposals have yet to be implemented, Lindenstrauss said, adding that
some of those proposals require amendments to current legislation.
The state comptroller said the fact that there is no supervision of
how guardians manage their wards´ personal affairs was "a badge of
shame for the relevant authorities, and the responsibility lies at
the doorstep of the Justice Ministry and the Welfare Ministry."
Courts are not implementing flagship computerized system
Lindenstrauss also criticized the Court Administration (CA) for
serious failures in implementing its flagship computerized system,
including the absence of civil servants from the project management
team, which the report said was not in the public interest.
Named Net Hamishpat and dubbed a flagship system designed to improve
service for the public and streamline the administrative
infrastructure of the judicial system in Israel´s courts, which deal
with over a million cases every year.
Net Hamishpat was intended to create a ´paperless´ court system and
was deployed in courts in May 2010, however, the state comptroller
found that the CA had failed to work according to the government´s
agreed software project management methodology for software
development and engineering, systems analysis and quality management
developed by the Treasury and an external software firm, Methoda Ltd.
After the system was installed, the audit found that there had been
serious failures that caused problems, which might have been avoided
if the correct acceptance testing procedures had been followed. The
report said there had been multiple system failures that could have
been avoided had the correct acceptance test procedures been
followed. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/01/12)
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