ECONOMY

Information Society in race against time

The Information Society (IS) company, the agency assigned with the task of bringing the lumbersome Greek public administration up to date with the digital age, has to issue roughly one tender per working day until the end of May if it wishes not to lose any European Union subsidies, says its president, Constantinos Doukas. About a dozen tenders have been issued this month and a further 45 are expected in the next two months. The record was dismal in the first two months of the year, as no tender was issued. IS has to sign contracts worth 290 million euros and record expenses of 110 million in the year as a whole. The target seems ambitious and fears are being expressed that it will not be attained, but Doukas says it is too early to say. For the program to gain speed, he says, the bidding companies have to reduce the number of legal challenges to competitors, which threaten to derail progress toward the deadlines. He notes the cases of Philippos, the program for networking and technologically upgrading military hospitals, and the one for the Attica regional health service, which dragged on for months due to a war of legal challenges. But he believes their number will now be reduced as there will be «projects for everyone.» For their part, the bidding companies consider that the targets are too ambitious, mainly due to IS’s lack of staff and an inadequate legal framework. Doukas acknowledges staff shortages but insists that staffing can only take place gradually. Besides IS, 18 other public agencies have signed contracts with the authority managing the program. The overall target is for contracts worth 1 billion euros to be signed and for 520 million in expenses to be disbursed. The contracts include 250 million euros for broadband facilities, 200 million for further training and 400 million euros for the development of online services for transactions with citizens.