In February 2017, Israel’s cabinet approved Government Resolution 2397 approving a five-year socio-economic development plan for the Bedouin population in the Negev for the years 2017 to 2021. The resolution aims to close gaps between the Negev Bedouin population and the general Israeli population and is focused on four core areas: education and social services, economy and employment, infrastructure development, and strengthening the local authorities. Twelve government ministries are partners to the resolution and its implementation. The Department for the Socio-Economic Development of the Bedouin Society in the Negev at the Ministry of Economy and Industry (hereinafter: the Department) is in charge of implementing Government Resolution 2397. The Department asked each of the relevant government ministries to present a detailed work plan, including indicators and objectives for the implementation of the plan. Four statutory authorities also submitted work plans: the Council for Higher Education in Israel, the Government Institute for Technology and Science Training, the Authority for Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev, and the Israeli Employment Service. In January 2018, the Department issued a book comprising the proposed work plans. This book serves as a unique planning tool. It is also designed to serve as a basis for monitoring and following up the implementation of the long-term, inter-ministerial government resolution.
In January 2020, the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute was asked by the Department to examine to what extent the set of work plans for the implementation of Government Resolution 2397 served its purpose as a tool for planning, following up, and improving the implementation of the government resolution.
The goal of this study is to examine the development process of the work plans for Government Resolution 2397, their implementation, and the monitoring of their implementation. The study is intended to contribute to the groundwork in preparation for the next five-year plan for the years 2022–2026.
The study was conducted using qualitative research tools. Overall, 24 semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with representatives of the 11 government ministries and the four statutory authorities that are partners to Government Resolution 2397 and submitted work plans. (The Ministry of Finance was partner to the government resolution but did not submit a work plan as it was in charge of budgeting the plan.) Another joint interview was conducted with several Department representatives. The interviews were conducted from February 2020 to January 2021, most of them online or by telephone while some were conducted face-to-face.
Qualitative thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. All the interviews were transcribed, and the transcripts were analyzed and re-analyzed – by open coding, concept mapping analysis, and targeted analysis. The data analysis enabled the creation of themes and sub-categories and the identification of the correlations between them.
Findings and Conclusions
The findings from the interviews with the partners to Government Resolution 2397 are presented below, classified according to three main topics:
- Perceptions regarding the preparation of work plans, in general, and their use – This is a sphere of action not yet fully or equally incorporated in all government ministries; while annual ministry-level plans follow systematic, well-defined procedures, specifically designated government plans lack consistency and systematization.
- Characteristics of the development process of the work plans for Government Resolution 2397 – The development of the work plans met with difficulties since many of the partners to the development lack expertise in strategic planning. The government ministries tended to rely on existing work plans, largely based on the presumption that the government resolution was a source of funding for ongoing activities.
- Characteristics of the implementation stage of the work plans for Government Resolution 2397 – The interviewees expressed great satisfaction with, and appreciation for the Department professionalism, reflected both in its monitoring and follow-up of the resolution implementation and in its commitment to the promotion of the resolution. The interviewees noted that the Department evaluation of the resolution implementation versus its planning was helpful in incorporating the resolution in the work of the government ministries.
Main directions for Action for the Upcoming Five-Year Plan
- The Department should assist the partner ministries in developing work plans that include indicators and objectives based on the government resolution and, at the same time, enable in-depth planning.
- The print format of the set of work plans should be upgraded, and the option of using an alternative format, e.g., a digital platform, should be considered, so as to enable the updating of the work plans in light of changing needs and constraints.
- Collaboration should be enhanced between all the partners to the government resolution: government ministries, statutory authorities, local authorities, and representatives of the Bedouin population – both at the planning stage of the work plans development and at the implementation stage.
- Mechanisms for following up the work plans implementation should be used more extensively, while leaving room for changes – The meetings of the steering committee for Government Resolution 2397 are a most effective means of strengthening collaboration, establishing trust between partners, and enhancing transparency.