Planning Tenders Call for Firms to Plan Trips for Top Bureaucrats

The two tenders are for drafting a master plan for marinas at Israel’s ports, and for drafting a master plan for the location and space allotted to Israel’s prisons.

Avshalom Halutz

Two recently published tenders asking for proposals for national master plans require the contenders to plan trips abroad for top government clerks should they win. The working trips would be partially or fully funded by the tender winners – at the expense of government funds slated for planning.

The two tenders are for drafting a master plan for marinas at Israel’s ports, and for drafting a master plan for the location and space allotted to Israel’s prisons.

Industry members expressed shock at the terms, saying that they were unprecedented for planning tenders in Israel and left sector sources wondering if this marks the beginning of a trend.

“They’ve turned the planning teams into travel agents,” said one planner angrily.

While foreign travel is an important component of national planning for any country, the way it has been included in the tenders is problematic. Generally, officials should conduct comparisons abroad before even publishing tenders, and their findings should influence the tender terms. Foreign travel once a contractor has been chosen has limited value.

Tempting destinations

Beyond that, planners say that they fear that the quality of the destinations chosen for each proposed trip will sway the tender results. “A good team but one that proposes a ‘simple,’ cheap trip to Cyprus might find itself [losing] to a less qualified team that offers a luxurious tour to the French Riviera,” said a planner.

Government representatives denied this to TheMarker.

Furthermore, government sources stated in response to inquiries that the tender winners will be partially or fully funding the travel. This means that the travel will be coming out of the government’s planning budget, tucked away from public view – and not out of separate funds the government budgets for foreign travel.

The first tender, published by the Transportation Ministry and the Shipping Authority, calls for the tender winner to “plan, organize and manage a trip around the Mediterranean Sea basin for members of the committee to learn and get to know marinas in these countries. The countries will be approved in advance by the government authority.”

When asked for clarification by would-be tender applicants, government representatives stated that the tender winner would cover the costs, and that the trip would include four senior bureaucrats, take up to four days and include visits to two or three “advanced marinas.”

The prison planning tender, published by the Finance Ministry’s National Planning Authority, requires the tender winner to organize, plan and manage a six-day trip through two Western European nations for senior bureaucrats. The tender winner will not pay for the bureaucrats’ travel but will be responsible for funding the planning and logistics of the trip, and paying for the travel expenses of a representative on behalf of the company.

In this case, the need for such a trip is questionable as the tender is for planning how to distribute prisons around Israel, and how much land to designate for them; it will not address how prisons are built or function.

The Planning Authority stated in response that the location of the trip was not stated in the tender, and that if a working trip is critical to the planning work, the team will be required to organize it.

The Transportation Ministry stated in response that it is well known that Israel’s marinas are in bad shape, so planning of new marinas cannot be based only on those that currently exist in Israel. It added that the tender does not state where the trips will be, but only that they need to take place.