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Israel Design Report 2017-2019

Israel’s third action plan continues to focus on disclosing government-held information, strengthening transparency legislation, and using technology to improve access to government services. The consultation process to develop the action plan was rushed and offered few opportunities for stakeholders the opportunity to influence the contents of the plan. Moving forward, Israel could improve the consultation process of future action plans by holding more in-person meetings and allowing stakeholders to shape the thematic focus. Future action plans could also be improved by making sure that commitments are directly relevant to OGP values broadly and continue improving the Freedom of Information law specifically.

Table 1. At a glance
Participating since: 2012
Action plan under review: Third
Report type: Design
Number of commitments: 14

Action plan development
Is there a multistakeholder forum? Yes
Level of public influence: Consult
Acted contrary to OGP process: No*

Action plan design
Commitments relevant to OGP values: 11 (79%)
Transformative commitments: 1 (7%)
Potentially starred commitments: 1 (7%)

Action plan implementation
Starred commitments: N/A
Completed commitments: N/A
Commitments with Major DIOG**: N/A
Commitments with Outstanding DIOG*: N/A

**DIOG: Did it Open Government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Israel joined OGP in 2012. Since then, it has implemented two action plans. This report evaluates the design of Israel’s third action plan.

General overview of action plan

Israel enters its third action plan with a strong civil society, and the government continues to show willingness to consult civil society on a number of policy issues. Access to information remains an important area in Israel, particularly regarding the country’s Freedom of Information (FOI) law, which has been included in previous action plans. Commitments in the third action plan seek to continue improving government transparency, access to information, and the availability of government services through technological solutions.

The Government Information & Communication Authority continues to coordinate the OGP process in Israel. The development of the third action plan included one in-person stakeholder meeting, which was followed up with an online consultation on the draft commitments. However, these consultations were held late in the development process, and civil society stakeholders expressed that they did not have sufficient opportunities to influence the final action plan commitments.

The commitments in Israel’s third action plan mainly focus on the use of technology to improve public access to government services and to improve transparency and information disclosure. However, several commitments represent small steps whereas others are not directly relevant to OGP values.

Notable commitments in Israel’s third action plan include publishing secondary legislation (Commitment 5) and fulfilling Israel’s reporting obligations for greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement (Commitment 6). Commitment 8 is also noteworthy, as it seeks to amend the Freedom of Information Law in order to increase disclosure obligations of government agencies.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle
5. Increasing the transparency of information about primary and secondary legislation

Make secondary legislation information publicly available through the “Legislation Depository” in the Knesset website

The IRM researchers recommend adding to the legislation website tools that could allow the public to offer feedback during the legislative process and engage more directly with Knesset members. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
6. Establishing a reporting and control system on the implementation of the measures in the National Plan for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Establish a system to report on progress toward the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Moving forward, the government could ensure that the annual reports under the Paris Agreement present the information in a manner that is easily understandable to the public. The government could also include comparative information with previous reporting periods to demonstrate trends in implementation of the convention. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
8. Promoting Legislative Amendments regarding active publication of information

Amend the Freedom of Information Law to increase disclosure obligations for government agencies.

The government could clarify what categories of information it intends to be disclosed through the amendments and which categories of public authorities will be covered. It is also recommended that the FOI law be harmonized with modern technology to facilitate easier submissions and improve publication practices. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

 Recommendations

The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

Seek high-level political support (after formation of the new government) to oversee the OGP process.
Conduct at least three consultation meetings for the multi-stakeholder forum and provide reasoned response to participants.
Consider other government agencies, such as the Governance and Society division, to lead and coordinate the OGP process
Consider in detail whether future commitments will lead to changes in government practice along core OGP values of access to information, civic participation, and public accountability.
Have more ambitious and specific goals in future commitments in general and improve the FOI law in particular.

* In 2017, OGP updated its Procedural Review policy, establishing the level of “Involve” on the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) spectrum as the minimum requirement during the development of the action plan (see Table 3.1 in this report). However, during the co-creation period for Israel’s 2017–2019 action plan, the minimum requirement was “Consult.” Therefore, Israel is not considered to have acted contrary to OGP process for the 2017–2019 action plan period. For more information about the Procedure Review policy, visit: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/procedural-review/.

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