State Comptroller

   In May 1949, the Knesset passed the State Comptroller Law of 5709, which established, under its aegis, the office of the state comptroller to supervise the activities of the government, the ministries, local authorities, government corporations, and other bodies if the government or the Knesset so desires. The comptroller is appointed by the president upon recommendation of the Knesset but is independent of the government and responsible only to the Knesset, a regulation that is strictly interpreted. Its annual report is published and presented to the Knesset. The state comptroller also serves as an ombudsman, dealing with the public's complaints against any institution of the state. Under an amendment to the State Comptroller Law, comptrollers now serve one term of seven years; previously the state comptroller was elected by the Knesset for a five-year term and was eligible for reelection to a second five-year term. In July 1998, Miriam Ben-Porat completed her second term as state comptroller and was succeeded by former Supreme Court justice Eliezer Goldberg; Goldberg was succeeded in the post by former Haifa district court president Micha Lindenstrauss in June 2005.
   The function of the state comptroller is to examine the efficiency, legality, and ethical probity with which the government operates. The comptroller is appointed by the Knesset and submits an annual report to it, as well as any specially requested reports that might be prepared at its request from time to time. The report contains details on all agencies audited. It provides specific findings and is published.
   The state comptroller engages in critical review of the administration of the assets, physical plant, finances, and obligations of the state. The comptroller audits the operations of government ministries, state-owned enterprises and institutions, corporations in whose operations the government is involved, local authorities, and other agencies subject to inspection under law. The powers vested in the comptroller and the variety of agencies audited are extensive. State comptroller audits are not restricted to accounting matters. The comptroller examines the legality, integrity, management, efficiency, and economy of the operations of agencies audited. The comptroller inspects parties' books of account and monitors parties' compliance with the ban on receiving contributions from corporations, expenditure ceilings stipulated by law, and bookkeeping in accordance with guidelines laid down by the comptroller. The comptroller discharges a similar duty concerning local authorities and enforces rules meant to prevent conflicts of interest on the part of ministers and deputy ministers.
   When the comptroller's office completes its audits of other agencies, a report is compiled and submitted to the Knesset Control Committee. When a local authority is audited, the comptroller reports to the head of the authority reviewed. These reports are also published, ordinarily upon presentation.
   The Knesset Control Committee holds annual discussions on state comptroller reports. The comptroller always takes part in the discussions and invites relevant senior civil servants to attend the committee's deliberations. The committee submits its conclusions and proposals regarding the report to the Knesset plenum for approval. The Knesset, the Control Committee, and the government are entitled to ask the comptroller for an opinion on any matter pertaining to comptroller duties.
   Since 1971, the state comptroller has also served as the public complaints commissioner, in effect functioning as an ombudsman, in which role he or she investigates complaints by the public. In this, the comptroller is assisted by a special Public Complaints Commission attached to the office. Anyone may petition the public complaints commissioner. Complaints may be filed against agencies legally subject to auditing by the state comptroller or against persons who work for such agencies. Complaints may cover any action contrary to law, without legal basis, contrary to the principles of sound administration, or involving excessive severity or flagrant injustice. "Actions" may include action taken late or failure to act. The state comptroller and public complaints commissioner are accountable only to the Knesset and are not dependent on the government. The comptroller maintains liaison with the Knesset's State Control Committee. The commissioner submits an annual report to the Knesset, which is then published and brought to public attention.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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