State Comptroller: The institution’s budget is managed without any control

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The budget of the Mossad – in its full name the Institute for Special Functions, the multi-faceted intelligence body considered one of the best of its kind in the world – is within the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office and is included together with the General Security Service in the Intelligence Organizations section. In 2019, the budget of the two organizations amounted to NIS 10 billion, and according to publications in the Israeli media, the Mossad requested and was supposed to receive a substantial increase in the budget, partly due to the struggle in Iran’s efforts to obtain a nuclear bomb.

However, the budget items of the institution are completely confidential – and from the auditor’s report on the huge construction plan of the institution arise deficiencies in the implementation of budgets amounting to billions of shekels, and from an original budget of one billion five hundred million shekels, it may swell to two billion six hundred million. This is in a country that is penny to penny in its welfare budgets for example.

The auditor’s astonishing finding in the report on the plan shows that the master plan for construction and the project budget were not submitted to the Prime Minister as the commissioner and then the plan and budget were not submitted to the Ministerial Committee for approval of development plans and equipment of the defense system. (On a multi-year budget). In other words, the institution was run here in accordance with the Prime Minister’s initial decision and from there operated in an independent and separate mechanism and without any control over the implementation of the plan.

The prime minister decided in February 2013 “to leave the Mossad headquarters in place while ensuring its ability to operate.” In August 2014, a ‘triple’ agreement was signed (the Mossad, the Ministry of Finance, the Israel Land Authority) for the implementation of Phase A of a master plan for construction and financing; This was preceded by work formulated by the Mossad for the realization of its construction and infrastructure needs by 2040 as part of the “Master Plan 2040”.

The master plan includes a large-scale and resource-intensive project whose details have not been provided and one can only guess that these are technological aspects of intelligence work. The cost of the ‘triple’ agreement for the implementation of Phase A of the master plan was NIS 1.5 billion.

However, according to the auditor, the institution did not agree with the Ministry of Finance until the end of the audit on the full budget of the project: this, despite the fact that the plan was initially budgeted, as stated, in the amount of NIS 1.5 billion. If the institution realizes all the contents it presented, then NIS 1.081 billion will be added to the costs of the master plan and its costs are expected to amount to NIS 2.6 billion.

The State Comptroller further found that in the framework of the master plan for construction at the institution, the institution did not complete comprehensive work to examine its subsistence costs, and deficiencies were found in the labeling of the institution’s manpower as a basis for the master plan. The Comptroller states that the NPO did not do its job “to serve as an examining eye of the project at the national level” – and in fact was not in the picture when planning and executing the resource-intensive project “despite its operational importance and the high financial cost of the program”.

It was also determined that the institution did not agree with the Ministry of Finance until the end of the audit on the full budget of the project.

The report states that although the institution has prepared a multi-year plan for construction in the institution, the institution has not completed comprehensive work to examine its subsistence costs based on a detailed multi-year plan for manpower growth. This examination of the costs of subsistence is a basic tier for outlining the response that the master plan is supposed to provide for the needs of the institution and its requirements for years to come. Deficiencies were also found in the outline of the institution’s manpower needs as a basis for the master plan, which should provide a solution to the increase in the number of employees in it.

Thus, the institution based its forecasts regarding the expected increase in manpower data on the actual growth characteristics over the past years, and did not examine the growth needs of people in the face of the tasks they are supposed to perform. In particular, it did not appear that the occupations were analyzed, or that the workload imposed on the employed in the variety of positions was examined, and it was not found that a task analysis was performed – from which the number of dedicated functionaries needed to perform the same tasks, staff and support.

In some of the conclusions, State Comptroller Engelman recommends that the Mossad bring major support projects to combat the costs required for approval by the Minister in charge – the Prime Minister – and through the National Security Headquarters for approval by a relevant ministerial committee. The State Comptroller also recommends approving the full costs of projects prior to departure, even in cases of a step-by-step budget.

What is missing here is the obvious conclusion of ministerial or parliamentary oversight of a program worth billions of shekels – even if it is a secret intelligence body.

The Mossad’s response: “The Mossad for Intelligence and Special Functions is a key body in the security community of the State of Israel and is recognized by the political and security echelon.

“Due to the growing security threats to Israel and due to its unique and crucial contribution, the Mossad’s role in the campaign for national security has increased and its missions have expanded in recent years.

“The master plan for the construction of the institution was written after in-depth planning and was managed with full transparency and supervision by the Ministry of Finance, subject to the approved budget of the institution, taking care not to create commitments that are not budget approved by the Ministry of Finance.

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