June 19, 2017, 9:38 a.m.
Israel has a population of 8.5 million (2016), 92% of which lives in urban areas. The Union of Local Authorities in Israel (ULAI) is a non-profit organization established in 1938 gathering more than 250 local councils and municipalities. ULAI is an umbrella organization that represents the common interests of Israeli local councils and municipalities before the Israeli parliament, central government and other official public institutions in municipal matters. ULAI also offers professional advice and provides training programs for municipal employees about education, welfare, economy, water, security, gender issues, labor relations and legislation.
The Union of Local Authorities of Israel counts with several subsidiary companies, including:
The Israeli Bank of Local Authorities, created in 1953 to provide financial services to local councils and municipalities, including the transfer of central government funds, access to low interest credit for, infrastructure and urban development projects. Although ULAI only owns small shares in the bank’s budget, ULAI holds 17% of the voting rights in the bank’s general assembly.
The Automation Technologies Group (ATG), established in 1967 offers support to the development and operation of information and technology systems. It provides computer processing services to municipalities and related bodies. With more than 400 employees, the company works with 200 Israeli local governments, municipal companies, schools, and other local public organizations. The company offers Management Information Systems solutions in areas such as financial systems, payroll and human resources, engineering and geographic information systems (GIS), water and sewage services, social welfare, etc. It offers support to implement systems for improved communication with residents (local authorities’ websites, online services to facilitate tax payments, school registration, development of mobile applications, making payments secure, etc.). Assistance with information systems for the management of municipal income and billing and debt collection services (automatic and operator answering services, call service center for payments, parking fines, municipal taxes, management and operation of water consumption, levies, educational fees, construction fees, welfare services, etc.).
The Local Government Economic Services Ltd (LGES). Established in 1974, the LGES assists municipalities to streamline public projects in a wide range of municipal activities. LGES had an annual turn-over of 1.2 billion euros in 2015. The company’s goal is not to make profit but to serve local governments. Every year, 2/3 of the annual profits are redistributed to the municipalities according to the amount of transactions the municipality had that year with LGES, while the rest covers operational costs. The independence of the company is ensured by a board composed by mayors, city directors, professionals and politicians. One of the main services is the development of a system for collective procurement, where the LGES acts as purchasing agent for a consortium of local governments and offers assistance to municipalities to conduct tender processes to purchase goods and services and to provide assistance with service contracting.