Israeli Ministerial Auditors Appeal High Court Over Inability to Do Their Job

Internal auditors argue that their staffing budgets are insufficient as they are at the mercy of the politicians whose conduct they audit.

Twelve internal auditors from various government authorities petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday, saying they are unable to fulfill their legally mandated duties because their staffing budgets are at the mercy of the politicians whose conduct they audit.

The petition was submitted after outgoing State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss circulated a draft version of a report in which he criticized the inability of the ministries' internal auditors to do their jobs properly and be effective gatekeepers.

The internal auditors argue that there has never been a minimum staffing level or a clear makeup set for the auditing units of government ministries, despite recommendations to that effect that were submitted to the government by retired Justice Vardi Zeiler six years ago. As a result, the petitioners say, the audit divisions in government ministries are understaffed and cannot handle their assignments.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is named as a respondent, along with Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Civil Service Commissioner Moshe Dayan.

The petitioners - including Justice Ministry auditor Iris Friedman, Civil Service Commission auditor Yaakov Luzon, Courts Administration auditor Ofra Tam-Rosner and Health Ministry auditor Aryeh Paz - also noted that they are generally employed at a lower rank than those they are auditing, and that their salaries contain variable components, including overtime hours and duty shifts, which are dependent on the monthly approval of the people they monitor.

The petitioners argue that the lack of minimum staffing levels and their total dependence on the subjects of their audits have led to some units working with only one auditor, and one with a junior assistant. In some ministries, new positions have been approved but the relevant ministries are not acting to fill them. Thus, the auditors are left with no way to fulfill their legally mandated duties.

The lack of state-determined staffing levels gives those being audited disproportionate and unreasonable influence on the human resources made available to the audit units, they said.

The internal auditors claim that since 2006 they have been repeatedly calling for the implementation of the Zeiler Report recommendations, but that the problems have not been addressed.