Israeli government ministries have on average met 72 percent of their 2016 main annual targets, a new report that measures outcomes against goals shows.
The report, published by the Prime Minister’s Office, is the first ever issued by the government that measures performance against preset annual targets. It includes 258 indicators measured against the aims.
The document reveals, for example, that the Finance Ministry has exceeded its goals for lowering the budget deficit and increasing revenues, and has also exceeded its goal of increasing profits at government-owned companies.
Israel’s planning administration, as another example, has exceeded its target of increasing housing units in 2016. Building starts, however, even if they increased over 2015, did not match the set target for 2016, according to the report.
The Health Ministry, the report said, met its target of improving the consumer hospitalization experience. It has, however, fallen short of its aim to cut the waiting time for MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) appointments for patients to 14 days. In practice, waiting time dropped to 20 days in 2016 from 53 days in 2015.
The Education Ministry registered an improvement in both the number of students eligible for high school diplomas and the number of diploma holders who were about to enter graduate studies. But because the ministry did not set targets for 2016, it was possible to measure the increase over 2015, but not against a goal.
According to the report, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services exceeded its target of raising the welfare levels of families in its care, and also in lowering the number of children at risk that are included in its programs.
“This is all about accountability” and is part of a change the Israeli government is undertaking, Eli Groner, the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, said at a briefing with journalists on Wednesday, ahead of publication of the Main Indicators Report 2016 on Thursday.
“The process of getting ministries to agree to this new kind of transparency wasn’t easy,” Groner admitted, but added the document will be a source of transparency for the public and help instill a new culture of accountability — similar to that implemented by some OECD countries — into Israeli ministries.
“The work of the government is improving, its management is improving and we have made everything quantifiable,” Groner said.
Last year was the first year government ministries issued their targets, and new goals have already been set for 2017-2018.
The Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office are not included in the report, but Groner said that the PMO will be included in next year’s report and has already set out its targets for 2017-2018, among which a key aim is to lower the levels of regulation in the economy.
“We cannot implement all our targets in one go,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an emailed statement ahead of publication of the report. “But we are not desisting from our aim.”
There are also discussions underway with the Defense Ministry to set out targets for its civilian operations.
“It is a good thing the government sets goals and good that it looks back at the ability to achieve these goals,” said Omer Moav, a professor of economics with IDC Herzliya. “But if the government is the one that sets the goals, maybe it is setting goals that are the easiest to achieve. Also, the government is giving itself a mark here. What is the objective measure in this whole process?”