Civil servants set for merry-go-round

The process that will see up to 50,000 civil servants transferred to different departments as part of a wider effort to make the public sector more efficient was set into motion on Monday by Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis.

The government has made no secret of its desire to overhaul the wider civil service, which includes schools, hospitals and the public transport system. In fact, it has come under pressure from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to do so as excessive amounts of money are being wasted in the public sector, which needs to be slashed if Greece is to reach its deficit targets.

Ragousis sent a circular to all government departments yesterday, asking that each ministry take stock of the personnel under its auspices, make a list of their skills, find out how many have been transferred to other jobs and identify any positions that have not been filled and those that are oversubscribed.

A census of state employees – the first of its kind in Greece – was completed in July, when public servants were asked to enter their details online or face having their wages stopped.

Just over 768,000 bureaucrats took part in the process. The number of civil servants, which does not include those working in the broader public sector, represents 17.5 percent of the overall working population, which totals 4.4 million people.

From the analysis of the data submitted by the bureaucrats, it emerged that 54 percent were men and one-third are aged between 40 and 50. Almost 40 percent have a university education and 28 percent have only finished high school.

However, Ragousis is hoping that his latest effort to glean more information about the personnel that the state employs will help the government in its bid to make the public sector more efficient. This scheme will begin with the transfer of 25,000 to 50,000 civil servants from positions where they are not required to other areas where there are shortages.

The minister has asked for the information to be collected and sent to him by February 10, so the government can draw up its plans for transferring staff and overhauling the public sector.

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