Zionism in Action WZO Urged to Revamp Operations

M.B. Meiri, Comptroller of the World Zionist Organization, said here this week that the WZO must be thoroughly reorganized to eliminate waste, inefficiency, duplication and other faults revealed in a study of its operations abroad. He said the worst deficiencies were found in the work of the Israel Aliya Center in North America and the Department of Torah Culture and Education.

The WZO Executive has responded in writing to the Comptroller’s report. It admitted that many of the faults existed but claimed that corrective measures have been taken or were about to be taken. It listed a series of recommendations that have been approved.

The Comptroller found some of the worst defects in the activities of Zionist emissaries sent abroad by the various departments of the WZO. He said that in many cases there was no coordination between newly arrived emissaries and the outgoing ones with the result that many projects are suspended until the new emissary has time to study them.

SOME OF THE FINDINGS

The Comptroller urged the Executive to make sure that emissaries are thoroughly prepared for their Jobs, are knowledgeable about Jewish tradition and religion and speak the language of the country to which they are assigned. He said the Torah Education Department’s chief emissary in Great Britain did not speak English and his colleagues in some Latin American countries could not speak Spanish.

He said that the Department, moreover, allocated funds to educational institutions abroad without any clearly defined set of criteria. He said an inspection of aliya offices in the U.S. showed that some of them were in a serious state of neglect. Many cases were dragged out over a long period of time, sometimes for years. Often an emissary who sent an urgent cable to Jerusalem had to wait several weeks for a reply.

The Comptroller’s report found that during 1974-75, almost IL 1 million was spent on food by WZO officials who claimed they were entitled to their expenditures on food for official purposes. Some employes receive car allowances but do not have drivers’ licenses. Others were provided with WZO-owned cars they were not entitled to, the report said.

WZO EXECUTIVE RECOMMENDATIONS

The WZO Executive said in its response that it has approved recommendations dealing with the selection and activities of overseas emissaries. These include the selection of a single institution to prepare emissaries for their duties and the goal of having a single emissary serve more than one WZO department.

The WZO also recommended that the assignments of emissaries should be reviewed to eliminate large concentrations in one location and none in another. Where a number of emissaries work together, one should be appointed to be in charge of them all. In addition, it was recommended that an emissary or teacher who returns from a mission abroad cannot be assigned to another overseas mission until he has remained in Israel for a period equivalent to his previous term of service abroad.

WZO Executive Chairman Yosef Almogi stated in a foreword to the Executive’s replies that a Comptroller Report Unit would be established to follow up implementation of all recommendations. The unit, that will report directly to the chairman, will be headed by Ms. Ela Shapiro, a lawyer. Almogi said that another step taken to improve the WZO’s efficiency was the reorganization of the internal control system by means of internal controllers appointed in each department. In some cases this recommendation already has been implemented, he said.

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