Retired Judge Joseph Shapira, who serves as both State Comptroller and Ombudsman, on Monday submitted his annual Report to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Edelstein noted that the number of public complaints filed with the Ombudsman’s office last year – 15,000, marks an increase from 2014.
“This is a positive statistic which shows that the citizens are fighting bureaucracy and foolishness, but it also shows that there are many more issues which must be dealt with, particularly when a third of the complaints were found to be justified,” said the Knesset speaker.
“The complaints were handled in a professional, thorough and fair manner, and perhaps this will motivate citizens to file more complaints,” Edelstein added, saying, “I am certain that the people in the State Comptroller’s Office, whom I thank for their dedicated work, will provide the appropriate professional service wherever necessary.”
State Comptroller Shapira said in response that “it’s important that the public is showing concern and is not willing to ignore [violations]. There are companies where the percentage of justified complaints was [very high]. At the Israel Postal Company, for instance, some 69 percent of the complaints were found to be justified. It is [gratifying] to see that the public is taking this matter seriously. It contributes to a better society.”
Besides the postal service, the government bodies with the highest number of justified complaints were: Ministry of Transport and Road Safety – 52%, Broadcast Authority – 48%, the IDF – 44%, Israel Electric Company – 41%, and Ministry of Education – 40%.
Government agencies with 100 complaints or more in 2015 were: National Insurance Institute (Israel’s Social Security agency), The Israel Postal Company Ltd., Israel Police, Ministry of Economy and Industry, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Transport and Road Safety, Ministry of Housing and Construction, and Israel Tax Authority.
Shapira said that in 2015 he issued 20 orders which legally protect citizens who expose corruption, 15 temporary and 5 permanent. “This is above the average [number of orders],” he noted.
2015 saw an increase of 25% of complaints filed online.
State Control Committee Chairperson MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) said the report indicates that the complaints filed with the Ombudsman’s Office relate to the daily affairs of the country’s citizens. “I call on all the government offices to [work together] so that corruption will gradually subside,” she said.
The principal function of Israel’s state comptroller is to review the legality, regularity, efficiency, economy, and ethical conduct of public institutions. The reviews are performed by ongoing as well as spot inspections of the financial accounts and activities of all ministries, the armed forces and security services, local government agencies, and any corporations, enterprises, or organizations subsidized or managed by the state to any extent.
By law, the State Comptroller also functions as Ombudsman to whom members of the public may send complaints about actions by governmental bodies that have caused them harm.