The civil service, in a nutshell

Politically motivated appointments of people who often lack the proper qualifications, an absence of control over the functioning of the civil service and a glut of laws, many of which are badly drafted, are the main evils of Greece’s public sector, according to the man appointed to fight them for five years on behalf of the ordinary Greek citizen. Outgoing Ombudsman Nikoforos Diamandouros, who, on April 1, will take over as European Ombudsman, also told a press conference yesterday that the worst sectors of the civil service were local authorities, town-planning departments, tax offices and social security funds. Between 1998, when the Ombudsman’s office was set up, and the end of last year, Diamandouros and his four assistants received 41,865 complaints regarding the public sector. In 2002 alone, the total reached 17,114. Diamandouros said three-quarters of the complaints proved to be justified, while 90 percent of these had a positive outcome for complainants – despite the civil service’s best efforts to the contrary.

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