The New Civil Service Commissioner / A Mediocre Appointment by a Mediocre PM

Israel's government is a generation behind. Reforming it is a national task, and the next civil service commissioner, who would lead this reform, could become one of the most important civil servants in Israel's history.

Moshe Dayan - not the one with the eye patch - will become one of the most influential people over Israel's future, if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes through with his decision to appoint Dayan as the country's next civil service commissioner.

The commissioner is the "king" of public service. The prime minister manages the state, and the civil service commissioner manages the government. He is involved in every aspect of manpower - hiring, firing, promotions, motivations, salaries and political appointments. He is involved in every aspect of meeting ministers' wishes; he can give them permission to hire their best friends, relax hiring practices at their ministries and shorten the process of hiring or firing. No minister can do without the commissioner's help to hire the employees he or she wants, which is an indication of the position's sensitivity.

Emil Salman

As the person who manages the government, the next civil service commissioner must bear a particularly heavy load - taking the government into the 21st century. For decades, the Civil Service Commission refused to advance, freezing the entire public service with it. Israel's government is a generation behind; it's ineffective and unmanageable. Reforming it is a national task, and the next civil service commissioner, the person who would lead this reform, could become one of the most important civil servants in Israel's history.

The Prime Minister's Office and the Finance Ministry have invested intensive efforts in drafting a reform. Yet the new civil service commissioner will have to do most of the work, and therefore he or she must be a person with extensive experience in managing large organizations, have a deep understanding of how to handle manpower and hands-on experience with the problems of government management.

Dayan is the Justice Ministry's legal adviser - and apparently an excellent one, as both Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein recommended him for the role of civil service commissioner. However, that's all he is - a legal adviser. As far as is known, Dayan has never managed a large organization and has no experience handling manpower, and his experience in government management is limited to providing legal advice in a small ministry.

So while Dayan may be an excellent legal adviser and a wonderful person, nothing on his resume has prepared him for the role of civil service commissioner. His experience is simply irrelevant for the job. They might as well have appointed him supervisor of the banks. Although in that instance, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer would have halted the process. When it comes to the role of civil service commissioner, a much more important post, there's no one to object.

Why on earth is Netanyahu considering appointing such an inappropriate person to such an important position? There are two possible explanations. One: Netanyahu has had enough of failed appointments - there was the Yoav Galant affair, and there was Netanyahu's failed attempt to appoint Bari Bar-Zion as civil service commissioner. So he's looking for an easy appointment that can't be shot down. A person with limited managerial experience is likely to have few stains on his record.

Another explanation is that Netanyahu wants a comfortable civil service commissioner who will do his bidding. Since the commissioner controls political appointments, Netanyahu will need his help occasionally, so maybe Netanyahu prefers working with a lowly clerk instead of a strong regulator.

In any case, whether Netanyahu wants a convenient appointment or a convenient regulator, he's clearly not looking for the right person for the job. All the strategic plans to change the face of the government, which Netanyahu's office has been working on for months, are apparently worth nothing to him. Netanyahu clearly does not plan to carry out a reform. He clearly does not want to save Israel from its troubles and let the country advance.

The only thing that he wants to do is to survive his term comfortably. Our prime minister, unfortunately, is a mediocre person with mediocre aspirations - and the future he's building Israel is no more than mediocre.