Israel Police to Spend $206k Annually on PR Firm, Without Issuing Tender

'There needs to be a special relationship of trust with such an agency,' the police wrote in its request for a tender exemption.

Incoming police commissioner Roni Alsheich greets his senior officers after being sworn into office.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Israel Police plans to spend 800,000 shekels ($206,000) to hire a public relations firm without conducting a tender for the work.

“There needs to be a special relationship of trust with such an agency,” the police wrote, in its request for a tender exemption.

Earlier this month it was reported that Merav Lapidot, the Finance Ministry spokesperson for the past year-and-a-half, had been appointed national police spokesperson. Nevertheless, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich wants to put police public relations in the hands of an external agency that will also outline a media strategy to be followed by all the police spokespeople.

Alsheich’s top aide Haim Blumenfeld said, “There is a need for special knowledge and talents, particularly in the area of formulating an image strategy and crisis management, which are not among the professional abilities of the current array of police spokespeople. As a result, there is a need to hire an outside advisory body that has the specific knowledge and professional experience needed.”

No decision has been made regarding the person or agency to be hired. It will be made after the commissioner meets with all four contenders to determine which is best suited to Alsheich’s vision for the police. The agencies and PR professionals trying to win the assignment are Yuval Peleg, Tal Goldfinger, Spot Media and Boaz Lieberman. The winner will be determined by a formula that considers price (20 percent) and the quality of the proposal (80 percent).

Upon being appointed, Alsheich argued that the Israel Police would be better off just doing its work than engaging in public relations, but he is actually devoting considerable resources and attention to PR. Even before assuming the post, he engaged Tandem consultants, headed by Gil Vinish, for “consulting and accompanying change processes,” from November 2015 through June. This work, which was also assigned without a tender based on the “special relationship of trust” argument is costing the Israel Police 400,000 shekels.

When TheMarker ran a story about this contract, the police said, “The process of change that the commissioner-designate plans to lead requires intensive accompaniment and integrated control over the Israel Police’s entire internal consulting apparatus for its various tasks. Given this, an external expert was chosen to help lead the process.”

That Alsheich has to date allocated 1.2 million shekels to public relations illustrates his lack of regard for the police spokesperson’s office and the work of the PR division established by his predecessor Yohanan Danino. Danino himself was no slouch in public relations spending. Not long before he ended his term, Danino also engaged, without a tender, the Le’omek Hatoda’a ad agency for an ad campaign. The same agency also got a 250,000 shekel contract (without a tender) for advising Danino and the spokesperson’s division.