The Bottom Line / Why the Ministers Love Hollander

The first chapter of the State Comptroller's report was dedicated to the corruption called political appointments in the public service.

The first chapter of the State Comptroller's report was dedicated to the corruption called political appointments in the public service. The jobs discussed are considered "positions of trust," which ministers, naturally, want as many as possible. They can appoint to these jobs trusted political cronies who see their major job as promoting the minister, with the good of the country only in second place.

To prevent a situation whereby all government ministries turn into employment bureaus for party activists, the Civil Service Commission has issued rules limiting the budget for such political appointments to NIS 77,300 a month. The ministers can appoint 5-7 assistants or advisers in their bureaus, and these employees are not allowed to be members of a central committee of a party to which the minister who appointed them belongs.

The person in charge of enforcing the rules and who must stand fast against the ministers is Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander. But State Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg stated that Hollander "did not stand by the rules he set." He allowed ministers to exceed the proper limits on appointments and budgets, and did not set even a minimal qualification level for "positions of trust."

For example, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau exceeded its maximum salary budget by 36 percent, while other excesses took place in the offices of Silvan Shalom and Danny Naveh - all members of the ruling Likud party.

Hollander allowed minister without portfolio Natan Sharansky to hire 10 assistants and advisers, even though his position entitled him to only three. And six of Naveh's eight appointments were members of the Likud Central Committee, which violates the rules.

But Hollander wasn't born yesterday. He knows what the ministers want. He knows very well the road to their hearts. The more flexible you are, the better chance they will give you another term as commissioner; and no one would even think about replacing you as was the case with the previous commissioner, Yitzhak Gal-Nur.

We still have not forgotten the Tzachi Hanegbi affair, in which he made dozens of improper political appointments as environment minister. Hanegbi was forced to resign from his position as the internal security minister, and was investigated by the police. But what about the person who was supposed to prevent such an occurance? Every appointment, every position, every tender and every acceptance of an employee in any government office must receive Civil Service Commission approval.

This is the case of Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz. Everyone knows that Katz specializes in political appointments. The papers are filled with reports on the minister who turned the Agriculture Ministry into an employment office for Likud Central Committee members. Now he, too, is a candidate for police investigation. And only Hollander, asleep on his watch, knew nothing.

Two months ago, MK Gideon Sa'ar tried to destroy the civil service once and for all. He proposed, with the support of Industry and Trade Minister Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu, Sharansky and Katz, the "jobs for the boys" law that would have allowed ministers to increase significantly the number of "trusted positions" available to them. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz strongly attacked the proposed law, but Hollander waited silently in the shadows - as if he were not even connected to the issue, as if he was a UN observer.

Therefore, instead of complaining about the ministers, the time has come to examine the regulator. After nine years on the job and 35 years in government service, the time has come to refresh the civil service a little.

It is time for Hollander to leave, and along with him the policies to which he agreed.

We really do not want to turn into a third-world country. The problem is that cabinet ministers would never initiate such a change. They love Hollander too much.