Nudgeathon: Designing Smarter Policy
The Ministries of Environmental Protection (MoEP) and Finance, together with the Prime Minister’s Office, are working on making changes that will help policymakers make better decisions. They have organized a so-called "nudgeathon" – a workshop aimed at developing solutions that can be implemented to a given issue. The specific goal was to examine various ways that behavioral economics can be used to affect decision making in the Israeli government. The idea of the nudgeathon (or a "nudging" marathon) comes from hackathons, events at which computer programmers focus all their efforts to develop solutions to programming issues.

​The nudgeathon workshop, the second of its kind, was held on June 25, 2017. Officials from 15 public ministries and agencies and researchers from 10 educational institutions took part in it.
Participants worked on 19 policy issues, and came up with solutions such as:

  1. Jerusalem chooses health: a joint project between the Ministry of Health, the Jerusalem municipality, and the Jerusalem Innovation Team, aimed at building a model of a healthy cafeteria that will encourage school students to eat more healthy foods, while taking into account the needs of cafeteria owners. The model that was created will be used as a pilot project in Jerusalem schools when school begins in the fall.
  2. Digital updates: The Israel Securities Authority will examine messages and reports sent to pension holders via e-mail to understand the effect of the transition to digital messaging. This digital messaging should ultimately increase the public’s ability to realize its rights and raise the level of responsiveness to reports sent.
  3. Dealing with dog waste: The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Innovation Team is using behavioral economics tools to develop solutions for one of the most troublesome issues for city residents – dog waste in the streets. Among ideas to be implemented: improving infrastructure, putting up signs intended for dog owners on garbage cans, putting up signs with glowing eyes in the dark that will make a dog owner feel someone is watching him (if he doesn’t pick up his dog’s waste). At this stage, the experiment will focus on a number of "hot spots" in the city. It will be expanded if it is successful.


MoEP Deputy Director General Galit Cohen: "The use of behavioral economics tools brings humanistic values to the work of the government. It serves as a reminder of sorts that when we talk about ‘the public’, we are actually talking about people rather than numbers. That is, not about rational entities whose behavior can be expected to be modeled in mathematics; and the public should be treated as such. In addition, there is the value of efficiency: It is the government’s duty to examine the steps it takes, as empirically as possible, while striving for constant improvement."