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Israel

Civic Participation (IL0022)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Israel Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Governance and Social Affairs Department, Prime Minister's Office

Support Institution(s): Policy planning departments in government offices, Ministry of Justice, Unit for the Improvement of Government Public Services, information systems administrators. Suppliers in the pool of public participation, experts and consultants

Policy Areas

Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Israel End-of-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

There are currently processes for public participation in the Government of Israel and the efforts and capabilities to advance additional participation processes should be increased.Main objective - A. To formulate a policy for public participation in Government work.
B. To formulate an institutionalized outlook for implementing public participation processes in Government work.
C. To conduct activities to integrate the culture of public participation in the work of offices by developing tools for guidance, training and lectures.
OGP Challenge - To increase the effectiveness of public resources, public integrity and shared accountability and to improve service

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 9. Continued Integration of Public Participation in Government Work

Commitment Text: To formulate a central outlook for public participation processes in the government and advance specific processes.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: There are currently processes for public participation in the Government of Israel and the efforts and capabilities to advance additional participation processes should be increased.

Main Objective:  

A. To formulate a policy for public participation in Government work.

B. To formulate an institutionalized outlook for implementing public participation processes in Government work.

C. To conduct activities to integrate the culture of public participation in the work of offices by developing tools for guidance, training and lectures.

Milestones:

9.1 To publish a guide for public participation in government work.

9.2 To formulate a central outlook for public participation processes in government Work.

9.3 To hold meetings to integrate public participation in the government.

9.4 To accompany or lead the four significant processes for participation in the Government.

9.5 To accompany and encourage the establishment of round tables.

Responsible institution: Governance and Social Affairs Department, Prime Minister's Office

Supporting institution(s): Policy planning departments in government offices, Ministry of Justice, Unit for the Improvement of Government Public Services, information systems administrators

Start date: April 1, 2014         End dateJune 30, 2016

Context and objectives:

This commitment aims to increase the scope and reach of public participation in governmental processes. Different from Commitment 8, this commitment focuses on the human and organizational factor of governmental processes. While the underlying problems are the same, this commitment deals with an unsatisfactory culture of public participation among government agencies. While there is a growing tendency among public authorities to involve public participation, these processes remain largely undocumented and unknown to public circles wider than NGO activists, and their outcomes are not evident in actual government decisions.  Examples of unpublicized collaboration include the 'National Plan for Integration of Immigrants from Ethiopia in Israeli Society,' (Israeli Department of Government and Society) http://www.pmo.gov.il/policyplanning/hevra/Pages/integration.aspx, and government roundtables, which launched in 2007. 'Society and Governance “ (Israeli Department of Government and Society, 29 Jun. 2016), http://www.pmo.gov.il/policyplanning/shituf/Pages/roundtable.aspx. Azi Lev-On, “Annual Media Report: Procedural (Deliberative) Public Participation in Israel,” http://aunmedia.org/sites/default/files/mediareport/ch5.pdf.   A 2015 paper on public participation in local authorities, published by a leading Israeli think tank, found a rapidly growing number of participatory processes, but these processes focused on opportunities for citizens to voice their opinions instead of any actual say in the decision-making process.  Moran Nagid, “Public Participation in Local Government: Practical Experiences and Lessons Learned,” (The Israel Democracy Institute, 2015), http://www.kotar.co.il/KotarApp/Viewer.aspx?nBookID=102693105#3.9309.6.default.  

The language of the commitment and milestones is vague. The proposed milestones refer to intra-agency affairs that are unknown to the general public. Furthermore, many of the activities detailed in the milestones are already in existence.

Additionally, the commitment focuses on the participatory process without consideration on the outcomes. In this regard, the commitment can be considered an incremental but positive step to increase the scope and width of public participation in governmental processes.

Completion

The proposed guide on public participation in government work was not published on time. Government officials informed the IRM researchers that the guide is still being written as of February 2017.  Correspondance with Tamar Peled-Amir (Member of the PMO Society and Governance Division), 11 Feb. 2017.  

At the time of writing this report, the IRM researchers had no available information as to the level of completion of milestone one. In regards to milestones three and four, the government has had public participation meetings as a preexisting activity such as:

  • The launching of a dedicated governmental public participation website in 2010;  Which is out of service at the time of writing of this paper: https://shituf.gov.il/. See also: OECD, The Call for Innovative and Open Government, p. 145 (2011).  
  • An online public consultation process regarding regulation in Israel of Google Streetview;  David Shamah, The View from the Israeli Street. Jerusalem Post, (April 27, 2011) available at: http://www.pressreader.com/israel/jerusalem-post/20110427/282849367542262.   
  • An open public consultation in a governmental public commission following the 2011 social protests;
  • A public consultation process regarding the integration of immigrants from Ethiopia into society, launched in 2014 and completed late 2015.  Presented and documented in a dedicated website: newway.gov.il.   

According to the government, similar consultation processes continued to take place through the work of other committees in charge of drafting government policies in other fields.  For instance: A committee on government policy regarding the issue of outsourcing social services – Information on the process and the report (in Hebrew): http://www.pmo.gov.il/policyplanning/hevra/Pages/socialservices.aspx;   

Furthermore, the government has engaged with CSOs for the last decade advocating for the establishment of roundtables.  This process was formalized in 2008, but had begun earlier. Cabinet Resolution 3190 of the 31st Government, 'Government relations, the civil society and the business sector contributes to achieving public goals,' (24 Feb. 2008), http://www.pmo.gov.il/Secretary/GovDecisions/2008/Pages/des3190.aspx.  The IRM researchers consider that the commitment’s proposed activities are not new, and while they are laudable and carried out on a significant scale, they neither present new ambitious plans nor address the shortcomings of past efforts in the field, as stated above. Additionally, the open wording of the commitment makes it difficult to determine a proper level of completion.

Early Results (if any)

The number of round tables organized by government ministries has progressively increased.  Interview with Tamar Peled-Amir (Member of the Society and Governance Division in the PMO) 28 Sept. 2016.  Although many of the processes are not documented or coordinated by any central body, eleven roundtables took place over 2014, according to information from the Prime Ministers' Office and Sheatufim, the Israeli Center for Social society.  “PMO Roundtables 2014 Summary,” http://www.sheatufim.org.il/multimedia/upl_doc/doc_140615_121997.pdf.

Next Steps

The IRM researchers acknowledge that there are many public participation processes occurring in the government of Israel outside of the 'official' OGP track. However, the next action plan could present specific thematic public participation processes, as well as clear minimum requirements by which activities might be considered public participation processes. These can include:

  • Participation occurring throughout the process (at the outset of decision-making process, during the process and toward its completion);
  • The open participation of all relevant stakeholders; and
  • Better documentation of the processes, especially their actual impact on governmental decision-making.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

9. Continued Integration of Public Participation in Government Work

Commitment Text:

To formulate a central outlook for public participation processes in the government and advance specific processes.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: There are currently processes for public participation in the Government of Israel and the efforts and capabilities to advance additional participation processes should be increased.

Main Objective:

A. To formulate a policy for public participation in Government work.

B. To formulate an institutionalized outlook for implementing public participation processes in Government work.

C. To conduct activities to integrate the culture of public participation in the work of offices by developing tools for guidance, training and lectures.

Milestones:

9.1. To publish a guide for public participation in government work.

9.2. To formulate a central outlook for public participation processes in government Work.

9.3. To hold meetings to integrate public participation in the government.

9.4. To accompany or lead the four significant processes for participation in the Government.

9.5. To accompany and encourage the establishment of round tables.

Responsible institutions: Governance and Social Affairs Department, Prime Minister's Office

Supporting institutions: Policy planning departments in government offices, Ministry of Justice, Unit for the Improvement of Government Public Services, information systems administrators

Start date: 1 April 2014

End date: 30 June 2016

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to address an unsatisfactory culture of public participation among government agencies. While there is a growing tendency among public authorities to initiate processes for public participation, the existing processes remain largely undocumented and unknown to public circles beyond NGO activists. Specifically, this commitment set out to achieve a better culture of public participation by:

· Standardizing the protocols for such processes;

· Working with government officials on initiating such processes;

· Encouraging the establishment of 'round tables' bringing together the governmental sector and civil society.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

This commitment was described in the midterm report as 'substantial' in its level of implementation. However, the vague wording of the commitment made the proper level of implementation difficult to determine, even though government activities for some milestones went beyond what was described in the action plan and others were completed after its planned end date. As described in the midterm report, some processes were launched, including an online public consultation regarding regulation of Google Street View, an open public consultation in a governmental public commission following the 2011 social protests, and a consultation process regarding the integration of immigrants from Ethiopia into society. For more information, see the IRM midterm report. Israel IRM Midterm Report, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Israel_MidTerm-Progress_2015-2017_ENG.pdf, pg. 51.

End of term: Substantial

The government has taken some additional steps in this field since the midterm report, and reports others taken after the end of date for the commitment, including a national public participation conference used to disseminate the public participation tools. A public participation guide was published in December 2017.

For milestone 9.5, the government held a roundtable session that the government initiated to discuss Israel's third OGP action plan due to be presented to OGP on 12 July 2017. Roundtable for the third action plan, https://www.the7eye.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/%D7%A1%D7%93%D7%A8-%D7%99%D7%95%D7%9D-%D7%A1%D7%95%D7%A4%D7%99-060717.pdf. Unlike during the development of the second action plan, the government invited a variety of CSOs and commercial entities to partake in a day-long roundtable to develop the third action plan. It also made use of one of the technological tools developed for public participation and gathered comments which it clustered as 'insights'. Furthermore, unlike the second action plan, the government did not present a ready and full set of commitments; it spent the first half of the day holding a general discussion on the overall goals of open government, and then held subject-specific discussions on ideas for the third action plan. However, organizers did not get back to participants to report on how the roundtable impacted the decision-making process. It did not present actual commitments or a draft of the action plan, and the discussion was held in general terms, leaving the CSO representatives interviewed for this report with a feeling that they were not actual participants with an invitation to leave a concrete mark on the action plan.

The government reports that based on comments collected during the July 2017 consultation, it developed suggestions for public participation impact indicators. However, a concrete policy regarding the evaluation framework for open government has yet to be developed. The government claims that consultations and public comments effected the commitments for the third action plan prior to its publication in December 2017. These changes are not documented in the online consultation website.

Several interviewed CSOs said they sense a greater willingness of government officials to receive inputs and ideas from them. Stakeholders' meeting, 13 September 2017. The head of one CSO told the IRM researcher that the relationship with the government, while still far from what it should be in their eyes, is gradually becoming less one-directional. Shevy Kirzon, Head of Public Knowledge Workshop, interview on 17 September 2017, Tel-Aviv. The government also reports it is making efforts to bring in the public, not just CSOs, into such processes. In the framework of working on Israel's third OGP action plan, the government contact reported, for instance, on a Facebook campaign inviting citizens to offer their insights for the action plan. In addition, an internal governmental Public Participation Guide has been published to improve practice.

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Marginal

As described in the IRM midterm report, the government has engaged in significant public participation processes following the 2006 Lebanon War when problems in government-civil society relations and coordination were exposed. See fn. 1, p. 48, Israel IRM Midterm Report, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Israel_MidTerm-Progress_2015-2017_ENG.pdf. At first, public participation mostly centered around coordination, but has recently expanded to allow for greater public participation in the decision-making process. This commitment aimed to eventually widen the scope of such public participation processes, though the goals were vague and modest such as 'to create a central outlook', 'to hold meetings to integrate', 'to publish a guide', to encourage the establishment of' etc.

Looking at the processes that have taken place as part of this commitment, and especially since the midterm report, it can be said that the 'next steps' suggested in the midterm report were largely implemented. For instance, public participation processes are now much better documented and one can look back at the process using also the technological tools mentioned in Commitment 8, and the processes occur from an initial stage of the government decision-making process. As described above, there is little evidence of the public having an actual impact on the decisions reached, even if they are more involved in the process. The IRM researcher recommends providing more accountability in the form of reports summarizing consultation processes and offering evidence to its actual impact outcomes. In addition, public consultations should be expanded in fields currently left out of public participation circles, such as budgeting.

As mentioned above, the government published a Public Participation Guide and convened a public participation conference which it says will become an annual event. The IRM researcher recommends that these tools be used to create best practices, to stress the importance of ongoing public participation processes held at several different stages of each decision-making process, to include several rounds of consultation and updates, and to determine the actual impact of public participation on the outcomes of the process. This has yet to be realized in most public participation processes, though, as mentioned in the midterm report, the integrating process of immigrants from Ethiopia into society has exhibited some of these principles. Israel IRM Midterm Report, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Israel_MidTerm-Progress_2015-2017_ENG.pdf, pg. 50.

Carried Forward?

Parts of this commitment have been carried forward to a new public participation commitment in Israel's third action plan.


Israel's Commitments

  1. Civic Participation Processes in Government

    IL0023, 2017, Capacity Building

  2. Resolution Implementation Reports

    IL0024, 2017, E-Government

  3. Action Plan Performance Indicators

    IL0025, 2017, E-Government

  4. Government Call Centers

    IL0026, 2017, Marginalized Communities

  5. National Legislation Database

    IL0027, 2017, E-Government

  6. National Plan for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    IL0028, 2017, Audits and Controls

  7. Transparency Criteria

    IL0029, 2017, Public Participation

  8. Publication of Information Legislative Amendments

    IL0030, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  9. Transparency, Participation, Accessibility of Information in Local Authorities and Ministry of the Interior

    IL0031, 2017, E-Government

  10. Publicly Accessible Databases

    IL0032, 2017, E-Government

  11. Remotely Accessing Government Services

    IL0033, 2017, Capacity Building

  12. Paperless Government

    IL0034, 2017, E-Government

  13. Open-Source Code

    IL0035, 2017, E-Government

  14. Evaluation of Open Government Plan

    IL0036, 2017, OGP

  15. Contracting Between the Government and Private Sector

    IL0016, 2015, Open Contracting and Procurement

  16. Unified Website for Government Offices

    IL0017, 2015, Records Management

  17. Data.Gov

    IL0018, 2015, Open Data

  18. Public's Satisfaction with Government Services

    IL0019, 2015, Public Participation

  19. ATI on Legislation

    IL0020, 2015, Records Management

  20. Civic Participation Tools

    IL0021, 2015, E-Government

  21. Civic Participation

    IL0022, 2015, Public Participation

  22. Review of the Governmental Freedom of Information Unit's Authority

    IL0014, 2015, Capacity Building

  23. Web for FOI

    IL0015, 2015, Right to Information

  24. Establishing a Cross-Sector Forum That Promotes Open Government Programs

    IL0001, 2012, Public Participation

  25. State Budget Information Accessibility

    IL0002, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  26. Publication of Work Plans in Government Offices

    IL0003, 2012, E-Government

  27. Establishing a System of Measurement and Review and Publicizing a Government Service Report to the Public

    IL0004, 2012, Capacity Building

  28. Cooperation Between the Government and the Public in Developing Online Applications

    IL0005, 2012, Private Sector

  29. Public Participation in Policymaking Processes

    IL0006, 2012, Public Participation

  30. Establishing a Freedom of Information Unit in the Ministry of Justice

    IL0007, 2012, Judiciary

  31. Developing Technology Infrastructure for Providing Government Services

    IL0008, 2012, E-Government

  32. Inter-Office Committee for Improving Business Processes

    IL0009, 2012, E-Government

  33. Creating a Government Contact Center (NAMAL - Meeting Point for Citizens)

    IL0010, 2012, E-Government

  34. Online Catalog of Government Services

    IL0011, 2012, E-Government

  35. Establishing a Unit for Government Service to the Public

    IL0012, 2012, Public Service Delivery

  36. Establishing a National Information Technology (IT) Unit Headed by a Government CIO

    IL0013, 2012, E-Government