Israel's PM Office Under Fire for Employing Too Many Personal Aides

Report released by State Comptroller's Office says failure to establish clear criteria allowed number of 'positions of personal trust' to increase six-fold between 1995-2010.

The number of personal aides and advisers employed by the Prime Minister's Office increased six-fold during the years 1995-2010 because the Civil Service Commission failed to establish clear criteria for these positions, said a report issued Tuesday by the State Comptroller's Office.

According to former Chief Justice Eliezer Goldberg, this was partly because the commissioner failed to effectively fulfill its role as a watchdog over the positions of personal aides in the prime minister's office.

Benjamin Netanyahu - Emil Salman
Emil Salman

According to Civil Service regulations, prime ministers, ministers and ministry directors-general are permitted to hire people to fill certain "positions of personal trust" without issuing a tender. The only restriction on these hirees is that they may not be integrated into the management echelons of the government ministry.

The report shows that during these 15 years, which span seven governments and five prime ministers, the number of positions of personal trust in the Prime Minister's Office reached 53, while in only 10 of 48 cases were all the criteria permitting their employment without a tender fulfilled.

The report also revealed that there was a substantial increase in the number of "personal trust" positions among clerical workers approved between 1995-2005.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss criticized the prime ministers for taking on so many aides without considering whether there was a real need for them.

He also pointed an accusing finger at former Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander for wantonly approving the hiring of these assistants in contravention of the regulations that appeared in Civil Service circulars, and often without examining whether the aides were qualified for the positions they were filling.

In response to the report, the prime minister's office presented data in which it could be seen that, while the number of "positions of personal trust" significantly increased during the terms of previous prime ministers, during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's current term the number decreased by six. However, Netanyahu was not completely disconnected from the rising figure. During his last term the number of "positions of personal trust" had increased by seven.

The prime minister's office announced it would set up a public committee to inquire into the structure of the office, including the employment of workers in "positions of personal trust".

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: מבקר המדינה: מספר משרות האמון במשרד רה"מ גדל פי 6 ב-15 שנה