About the Freedom of Information Act and its applicability to institutions of higher education

The Freedom of Information Act, 1998 (hereinafter: “the Act”) was drafted on May 19, 1998, and enacted a year later. The Act anchors the right of every citizen or resident to receive information held by public authorities.

Since December 29, 2006, the Act has also applied to institutions of higher education in Israel, including the Weizmann Institute of Science (hereinafter: the Institute), by the power of the Regulation to Determine a Public Authority according to the Law, published on December 29, 2005. This Decree determined all institutions of higher education are considered as “public authorities” with regards to the management of their financial affairs and that alone.

The Act was amended on February 16, 2015 and its jurisdiction was expanded to include other issues concerning publically-budgeted institutions of higher education, due to the fact that the definition of “public authority” in Article 2 of the Act was added in another paragraph (9b), according to which the Act applies to institutions of higher education due to state participation in their budget according to guidelines set in Article 17a of the Higher Education Council Act (1958). Concurrently, a new paragraph (11) was introduced to Article 9b of the Act (information which there is no obligation to divulge), concerning budgeted institutions of higher education, according to which there will be no obligation to divulge “information that can cause substantial damage to the academic and administrative freedom of a higher education institution as perceived in Article 15 of the Higher Education Council Act, a damage to academic promotion and review processes or unpublished studies, or divulging the identity of donors who explicitly expressed their wish for anonymity”.

For full language of the Act [Hebrew only]

Supervisor for the implementation of the Act at the Institute (hereinafter: the Supervisor)

Noa Nussbaum Moshkovitz, Adv.

Weizmann Institute of Science
P.O Box 26 Rehovot, 7610001

Tel: +972-8-934-3984
freedom.information@weizmann.ac.il

Application and treatment of requests

Application to receive information

An application to receive information will be filed using the Application to Receive Information according to the Freedom of Information Act form in the following format (Hebrew only), via email (scanned) OR fax OR regular mail, to the Supervisor listed above.

Fees and Letter of Commitment

Upon application, the applicant will pay an application fee. Fees are updated from time to time in the Freedom of Information Regulations (Fees), 1999 [ (hereinafter: Fee Regulations). Currently, this fee is set at 20 New Israeli Shekels (NIS). In addition, the applicant will sign a Letter of Commitment to bear all service and information production charges according the enclosed format.

The fee and all other service and information production fees (should these be required) can be paid in one of the following ways:

  • On the Institute website
  • Via bank transfer to account no. 58300012 at Bank Leumi, branch 800 (central branch, T.A), made to the Weizmann Institute of Science (please make sure to note “application fee according to Freedom of Information Act” under purpose of deposit)
  • Via cashier’s check, sent to the Weizmann Institute of Science together with the application form

    Payment of the application fee and signing the Letter of Commitment as mentioned above are qualifying conditions for initial processing, however they do not constitute an obligation by the Institute to divulge requested information, should there be any reason(s) within the Act that allow the Institute to reject the application or to divulge only partial and/or conditional information.

    Regulation no. 6 for Fee Regulations  states certain exemptions for payment of fees.

Time until reply

The application will be examined within the timeframe permitted by the Act:
The applicant must be notified about the decision to divulge information within 30 days from receipt of application or receipt of application fee (the later of the two). If necessary, and under the provisions of the Act, the Supervisor or the Vice President of Administration and Finance of the Weizmann Institute of Science may extend the reply time for up to 90 additional days.

Should the requested information concern a third party, and the Supervisor is considering divulging this information, the Supervisor must contact said third party, and allow it to object to the delivery of information. A third party contact will extend reply time by an additional 21 days, and should the position of the third party be rejected, it will be given the right to appeal the decision, and the information will not be delivered to the applicant until such right has been exhausted.

Delivery of information

Should the Supervisor have reasonable ground to assume, upon application or at any stage of treating the application, that its treatment will require payment of treatment and production fees at the cost of more than 150 NIS, the Supervisor will inform the applicant of the estimated cost of fees, and may require the applicant to deposit, before treatment of the application has ended, the estimated amount or part of that amount, or to produce financial guarantees that the costs will be paid in full. Once the Supervisor has notified the applicant of this procedure, all treatment of the application will be held until the required fees have been deposited or required guaranteed have been made.

The requested information will be supplied to the applicant within 15 days of the decision to provide information or of receipt of payment for treatment and production fees at the Institute (the later of the two). In extraordinary cases, the Supervisor may extend the supply date beyond the aforementioned 15 days.

The information will be provided to the applicant in the format existing at the Institute, and the Institute is not obligated to provide any processing of this information as to meet the applicant’s needs.

Decision to reject application for information

A decision to reject an application for information, in whole or in part, will be sent to the applicant in writing, detailing the reasons for the decision and notifying the applicant of their right to appeal against this decision.

Report by the Supervisor for the implementation of the Act at the Institute