Government approves 'job law'
Fortnight after rancorous debate and deferred decision, cabinet votes to enact 'job law,' enabling directors-general to appoint their deputies without tender; Levin: 'Decision to fortify governance and put end to absurd situation where policy set by ministers is not implemented.'
The cabinet approved Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin's "executive vote" on appointing deputy government ministry directors-general without tenders Sunday.
The proposed bill, termed the "Job Law," stipulates a director-general of any government ministry with more than 150 employees will be entitled to appoint a deputy, acting as the executive arm of both the director-general and minister.
"The government has proven today without a shadow of a doubt that governance and professionalism complement one another. People possessing managerial talents will finally be able to join the Civil Service," Shaked said.
"The decision will fortify governance and put an end to an absurd situation in which policy set by ministers is not implemented in full," Levin added.
"As of today, some ministries have deputy director-general openings, some of which are not staffed. This decision effectively evens out the field across all ministries by turning the role into a position of trust, born of the desire to increase ministers' ability to implement the policy for which they were elected," the government announced.
"This will increase the ministers' ability to govern, while simultaneously increasing the ministry's director-general ability to carry out their own duties. The government's decision has no incremental budgetary cost as the deputy director-general's wages will be paid using the budget of the ministry staffing the position," the government's announcement concluded.
Critics of the proposed bill claim it will only lead to political appointments and the improper culture of ministers handing out jobs at key government positions.
Shaked and Levin claim, however, the move would increase governance as ministers will be able to avail themselves of the deputy director-general to better carry out the policy for which they were elected. The preconditions for the position, the bill stipulates, include six to seven years of experience in the ministry's area of operations, of which four or five years entail experience in a senior managerial position.
"The job law approved by the government marks a return to the troubled times of cronyism, after righting a years' long wrong," protested MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union). "The message sent by the government today is that budgets, positions and anything civil, belonging to the public and meant to serve it has become partisan."
Job laws, Livni added, "are political corruption under the guise of governance and must be stopped. Let every citizen know Israel has no equal opportunities, and the success of their children depends wholly on their political connections rather than their skills."
Chairman of the Yesh Atid parliamentary group MK Ofer Shelah lent his voice to the harsh criticism of the law. "The job law passed by the government is a direct continuation of (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's unbridled assault on the police and its chief. Netanyahu and his cronies lash out at Israel's gatekeepers and professional ranks, while at the same time passing a law meant to provide cushy government jobs for their friends and political debtors," Shelah scathed.
"This is a liquidation sale on statism and public responsibility by people who have abdicated all morals, led by a man willing to destroy everything in his struggle to not face judgment," Shelah added.
Before voting on Shaked and Levin's proposal, cabinet members heard expert opinions that explicitly stated certain juridical obstacles stand in the way of approving the bid.
The Ministry of Justice's legal adviser Attorney Lea Rakover provided the cabinet with an expert opinion on the matter, saying the bill may lead to political appointment and a sweeping exemption from tenders.
"In light of the marked differences between the political and professional ranks—appointed by tender and freed of political influences—exempting a position from tenders, especially any full exemptions, would be suspected to be an attempt to leverage said position for political appointments," Rakover noted in her opinion.
The government debated the proposed bill in an acrimonious cabinet meeting two weeks ago, with Netanyahu announcing that due to the deadlock reached by the ministers, a decision on the bill would be deferred until after the High Holy Days.