Israel's New State Comptroller: Role Is Not to Intervene in Decision-making Process

Matanyahu Englman, the first comptroller in decades who is not a former judge, says his job is to offer only ‘constructive criticism’

Matanyahu Englman speaks at the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 1, 2019.
Emil Salman

Newly elected State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said on Monday that “It’s important to distinguish clearly between the role of the comptroller and decision-making processes. Decision making must be done by the decision makers.” He added that the comptroller’s intervention “could undermine the status of the criticism as objective and independent.”

Englman spoke at a Knesset ceremony, after declaring allegiance to the state and its laws and assuming his position. He described the comptroller’s job as “constructive criticism” and said that he would try to reflect his financial and management background, adding that “integrity and ethical behavior are an important part of the state comptroller’s mission.” He suggested that along with his recommendations, the comptroller can offer alternative methods of operation to the organizations under review, in order to improve their performance.

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Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein said that the work of reviewing should not be taken lightly, because it saves lives. He noted that all the reports written by the outgoing comptroller, former judge Joseph Shapira, pointed out life-threatening defects. “Anyone familiar with the comptroller’s work knows that it is not only theoretical.” It strengthens the welfare and lives of Israelis, and should not scorned in a properly run country, he said.

Englman, who was the director general of the Council for Higher Education, is the first comptroller in decades who is not a former judge. Last month, in a secret ballot, he defeated opposition candidate Gen. (res.) Giora Romm, chairman of the board of directors of the National Road Safety Authority. Englman was also supported by opposition members, receiving 67 votes to Romm’s 48. Five MKs abstained. Knesset sources say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recruited two MKs from the Arab Ra’am party as part of a political deal.

Englman worked in the early 1990s as an accountant for Fahn Kanne & Co., managing the Jerusalem branch. In the early 2000s he was appointed deputy director general of the Jerusalem College of Engineering, and later CEO of the Shoham Local Council.

In 2014 he was appointed executive vice president and director general of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He also headed the CEO forum of the Committee of University Heads in Israel. Throughout he served as chairman of the review committee of Joint Israel.

In June 2018 he was appointed director general of the Council for Higher Education and its Planning and Budgeting Committee, which made him responsible for Israel’s higher education budget of about 12 billion shekels ($3.36 billion). Englman has a bachelor’s degree in economics and accounting and a master’s degree in business administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He lives in Nof Ayalon, a religious community in the Gezer Regional Council.