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Israel

Transparency, Participation, Accessibility of Information in Local Authorities and Ministry of the Interior (IL0031)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Israel Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Economic Development, Ministry of the Interior

Support Institution(s): All local authorities, the Local Government Center, the Center of Regional Councils and representative bodies; the Ministry of Justice – Freedom of Information Unit; the Government ICT Authority; Digital Israel; the Prime Minister’s Office – Department of Home Affairs, Planning and Development, Residents of local authorities, relevant civil society organizations, start-up companies and business companies interested in data

Policy Areas

E-Government, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Israel Implementation Report 2017-2019, Israel Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the public problem commitment will that the address?
The promotion of civic participation and involvement in the local and regional democracy; improving the accessibility of information and services being provided to residents; improving good governance in the local authorities and encouraging innovation and economic growth in the local authorities. What is the commitment?
Actions to make the databases in the possession of the Ministry of the Interior publicly accessible. How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
Making the databases in the possession of the Ministry of the Interior publicly accessible will enable the disclosure and use of the data by the public, authorities and civil society and the business/entrepreneurial sector for various purposes. The Ministry also considers the promotion of transparency as a driver of innovation and economic growth for the local authorities. Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
Transparency: through making information publicly accessible and improving the public’s access to information. Additional information
The publication derives from the obligation imposed in Government Resolution No. 1933 – “Improving the exchange of government information among entities, and making government databases publicly accessible” (2016). Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable: Identifying and mapping the relevant databases
January 2017
July 2017
Improving the data for the purpose of publication
July 2017
December 2017
Beginning to publicize of the Ministry of Interior’s databases and making them publicly accessible
January 2018
Ongoing publication of databases, insofar as updated data are found/collected that are suitable for publication.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

9. Increasing transparency, civic participation and the accessibility of information in local authorities and in the Ministry of the Interior

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan: [29]

The promotion of civic participation and involvement in the local and regional democracy; improving the accessibility of information and services being provided to residents; improving good governance in the local authorities and encouraging innovation and economic growth in the local authorities

Milestones

9.1 Identifying and mapping the relevant databases

9.2 Improving the data for the purpose of publication

9.3 Beginning to publicize of the Ministry of Interior’s databases and making them publicly accessible

Start Date: January 2017

End date: June 2018 and ongoing forward

Context and Objectives

Israel’s Freedom of Information (FOI) law covers local governments and the central government. However, the central government has been much more active in promoting transparency compared with what local governments have done. The governmental unit for Freedom of Information has authority to direct only central government agencies in their implementation of the law, not local authorities such as municipalities or local and regional councils.

In Israel, most of citizens’ regular engagements are with their local municipality, not the central government. For example, when parents want to be involved in the management of their child’s school, when residents want information on development plans in their neighborhoods, or when residents ask for better sanitation services, they must engage directly with their municipalities. Therefore, it is equally if not even more important to promote transparency of information held by local governments.

It would be easy to verify this commitment’s full implementation once the databases mentioned in milestone 9.3 have been published. It should be noted that while the title of the commitment refers to local authorities, the milestones only mention initial publication of information held by the Ministry of Interior. However, as mentioned above, the potential improvements to access to information will be achieved only if there is substantial progress in regard to transparency at the local level. Should implementation be limited to the Ministry of Interior, much of this potential impact will be lost, and the contribution of the commitment to access to information will be limited. However, if implemented among local governments and the Ministry of Interior, this commitment could generate wider changes in local government that may promote more transparency in general.

Next steps

At the time of the writing of this report, the declared end date for implementation has passed, and the commitment is yet to show signs of progress. Therefore, the IRM researchers recommend implementing the commitment as soon as possible to avoid further delays.

Moving forward, the IRM researchers also recommend publishing the list of databases that are expected to be published and to collect information from the public and CSOs as to what kind of local information is most important to them. Another important next step would be to grant the Government Unit for Freedom of Information authority over local government to encourage information officers in such authorities to be more proactive and more effectively implement the law.

[29] Government OCT Authority, Open Government Action Plan for 2018–2019, pgs. 37–38 https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Israel_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf

IRM End of Term Status Summary

9. Increasing transparency, civic participation and the accessibility of information in local authorities and in the Ministry of the Interior

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan: [40]

The promotion of civic participation and involvement in the local and regional democracy; improving the accessibility of information and services being provided to residents; improving good governance in the local authorities and encouraging innovation and economic growth in the local authorities

Milestones

9.1 Identifying and mapping the relevant databases

9.2 Improving the data for the purpose of publication

9.3 Beginning to publicize of the Ministry of Interior’s databases and making them publicly accessible

Start Date: January 2017

End date: June 2018 and ongoing

This commitment aimed to direct efforts and resources towards the pro-active publication of datasets held by the Ministry of Interior as well as information on the affairs of local authorities. [41] The underlying assumption was that municipalities, as public agencies, bear some of the most meaningful impact on the everyday lives of residents. The commitment called for mapping and publishing of all government databases, except for those that raise concern for specific reasons. [42] Nevertheless, given the importance, described above, of information regarding local authorities, this commitment focused solely on the Ministry of Interior, which holds much of this information.

The outcome of this commitment runs contrary to its underlying assumptions. The governmental website that presents government databases pro-actively disclosed under the resolution mentioned above shows the Ministry of Interior as one of the least transparent. [43] Out of 761 datasets available at the dedicated government website, only eight are from the Ministry of Interior, making it rank 17 out of 22 government ministries, in order of volume of disclosed datasets. In the mapping of the ministry’s databases as required by commitment 11 in this action plan, only 28 databases were identified out of more than 1,000 governmental databases.

On several occasions, the Ministry of Justice officials informed the IRM researchers that the Ministry of Interior strongly objected to any central oversight over the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) law in local authorities, and that this commitment served as a compromise, as it was to cover only information held by the ministry itself. However, as mentioned above, that too did not materialize. It is also worth noting that shortly before the writing of this report, heads of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel met with the Justice Minister in the interim government, and asked him to consider exempting local authorities from the FOI law. According to a letter sent to the minister following the meeting by heads of the federation, the Minister “listened to the requests and promised to consider the suggestions raised.” [44]

Because of the lack of implementation, this commitment has not changed access to data held by the Ministry of Interior or access to information on the affairs of local authorities.

[40] “Open Government Action Plan for 2018–2019”, Government OCT Authority, pp. 37–38, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Israel_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf.

[41] “Open Government Action Plan for 2018–2019”, Government OCT Authority, pg. 30, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Israel_Action-Plan_2017-2019_EN.pdf.

[42] Resolution 1933 of August 2016 on the opening of government datasets to the public. Full text is available at: “Improving government information transfer and accessing government databases to the public”, Prime Minister’s Office, Government Services and Information Website, 30 August 2016, available [in Hebrew] at https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/policies/2016_dec1933.

[43] See “Welcome to Government Data”, data.gov.il.

[44] For coverage and full text of the letter see: Binny Ashkenazi, “The Federation of Local Authorities: ‘Cancel the Freedom of Information Law in Local Authorities’”, themarker.com, 7 November 2019, available [in Hebrew] at https://www.themarker.com/law/1.8093153.


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, Anti-Corruption

  7. Transparency Criteria

    IL0029, 2017, Access to Information

  8. Publication of Information Legislative Amendments

    IL0030, 2017, Access to Information

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

    IL0031, 2017, E-Government

  10. Publicly Accessible Databases

    IL0032, 2017, Access to Information

  11. Remotely Accessing Government Services

    IL0033, 2017, Access to Justice

  12. Paperless Government

    IL0034, 2017, E-Government

  13. Open-Source Code

    IL0035, 2017, Access to Information

  14. Evaluation of Open Government Plan

    IL0036, 2017,

  15. Contracting Between the Government and Private Sector

    IL0016, 2015, Access to Information

  16. Unified Website for Government Offices

    IL0017, 2015,

  17. Data.Gov

    IL0018, 2015, Access to Information

  18. Public's Satisfaction with Government Services

    IL0019, 2015, Public Participation

  19. ATI on Legislation

    IL0020, 2015, Open Regulations

  20. Civic Participation Tools

    IL0021, 2015, E-Government

  21. Civic Participation

    IL0022, 2015, Open Regulations

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

    IL0014, 2015, Access to Information

  23. Web for FOI

    IL0015, 2015, Access 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 Openness

  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, Open Regulations

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

    IL0007, 2012, Access to Information

  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

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