If pressed to summarize my month at Harvard University as a Wexner Senior Leader into one, concise insight — one that I implement in my professional life — I would surely point to the principle of Cross-Boundary Collaboration.
The synergic law-enforcement strategy, adopted by the State Attorney’s office, is a prime example of the de facto implementation of this principle.
In 1931, Al Capone was arrested after years of futile attempts to charge him with “traditional” criminal offenses. He was finally charged with tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. The underlying principle of his arrest 90 years ago — that of fighting crime not only by means of traditional criminal enforcement — has been adopted as a collaborative strategy by Israeli administrative enforcement agencies across the board.
The objective is to compromise the financial infrastructure that supports criminal activity, consequently impairing the perpetrator’s ability to use the ill-gotten gains for further criminal activity, as well as stripping offenders of their illegal assets; undermine the incentive to engage in criminal activity for capital gain and convey a clear message of law enforcement and governance.
Recognizing the effectiveness of an integrative enforcement model, the Civil Enforcement Unit and Civil District Attorneys have spearheaded a collaborative enforcement effort of the civil-administrative enforcement authorities.
Civil enforcement allows for the deployment of an array of tools. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to serve as a counterpart for traditional criminal enforcement, or — where conventional criminal law is non-applicable — to offer civil and administrative remedies — in lieu of criminal legal measures. For instance, the authority to revoke licenses granted by the government in its administrative capacity, the termination of contracts, removal or eviction from properties and premises, punitive damage claims and so forth.
The essence here is the “linking of arms” of all enforcement agencies, each offering its own jurisdiction and tools. Methodically coordinated, this tactic conveys a clear and uniform message — that of the rule of law.
This, of course, is easier said than done.
Albeit operating in the same government, harnessing numerous organizations — each with its own agenda, objectives, work schedule, inner hierarchy, decision making and work processes and range of authority — to engage, as a whole, in a shared objective, to devise and implement joint modus operandi — poses its own set of challenges and obstacles.
The success of such a concerted effort relies greatly on the foundation of a collaboration that benefits all involved parties and consolidates a system of mutual responsibility through a long-standing partnership.
For this purpose, a “round table” format for convening the relevant agencies on a regular and ad hoc basis, has proven to be most beneficial, as it ensures a democratic and egalitarian process for the sake of a greater good.
Nonetheless, a partnership — even-handed as it may be — requires a coordinating component, which oversees the synergic operation and integration of all input. This responsibility was assumed by the Civil Enforcement and Outsourcing Unit and civil district attorneys.
This system, in which each party can freely bring to the table its own mission proposals and receive the necessary support for important tasks, is instrumental in ensuring the ongoing activity and serves as an incentive. Successful outcomes further fuel commitment and motivation for future collaborations.
This process is as follows: once an objective or a need for enforcement is identified, all the relevant bodies convene for a round-table brainstorming session, aimed at ascertaining the best method for tackling the issue. Each party assesses the means with which it can contribute to a successful outcome. About 15 government ministries, ranging from the Israel Police to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and from the Israel Tax Authority to the Health Ministry, are permanent members of the strategic synergic enforcement round table. Additional authorities join as per objective and mission requirements.
Once the necessary enforcement tools have been selected, a joint enforcement mission against the target is launched. All agencies arrive on-scene at the same time — including backup and police protection when needed. Each agency exercises its specific legal authority — either at the scene or at a later point, after it analyzes and processes the findings collected on site.
The synergies created by the “linked arm” approach ensure immediate results and serve to reinforce the rule of law, while obstructing the infrastructures of illegal activity, thus rendering such activities non-viable. This is cross-boundary collaboration par excellence.
Get To Know The Author
Wexner Senior Leadership Network Member Orit Cotev (Class 2017) is Senior Deputy to the State Attorney (Civil Affairs). Prior to her current position she served as the Southern District Attorney (Civil Law). Orit established the Civil Enforcement Unit at the State Attorney’s Office. She is also the Chairperson of the Appeal Committee for the National Council of Planning and Construction. Orit holds LLB and LLM degrees from the Hebrew University.