Shalom Simhon
Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon. Photo by Michal Fattal
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The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labor pays public relations and strategic consulting firm GCS at least $1 million a year, according to confidential sources close to ministry officials. They say the ministry is paying well above market rates for the services of the agency, whose CEO is attorney Eli Davidovitz, particularly in light of the fact that the ministry is already budgeted for a spokesperson and deputy spokesperson.

According to the sources, the main accomplishments of GCS on behalf of the ministry have been the design of a new logo, in a different color for each of the units of the three-headed beast, and new, catchier names to some of those divisions.

The ministry's in-house spokeswoman stepped down about a year ago. Her replacement is scheduled to start work next month. To fill the gap, the deputy spokesman was called up to issue official press announcements and the like.

Ministry officials did not deny the sums being paid to GCS: "In August 2010, GCS was awarded a public tender issued by the Trade, Industry and Labor Ministry for strategic consulting, market and public relations services," the ministry said in a statement.

It went on to explain that the fees were based on the hourly rates established by the accountant general, adding, "One of the parameters in selecting the winning bid had to do with the size of the discount given in relation to the accountant general's rates, in addition to examining the quality of the various bids," the ministry said.

"GCS and its subcontractor, Adler Brand Design, have been working with the ministry since the tender was awarded, in accordance with all the demands of the tender and the agreement, and to the complete satisfaction of the ministry and its heads," the statement continued, praising the work of GCS and noting the vast realm governed by the ministry, "which contains more than 40 units that provide services to a broad array of groups and with an annual budget of around NIS 6 billion.

"The Trade, Industry and Labor Ministry is satisfied with the quality of service [rendered by GCS]," the statement concluded.