Plan to curb skiving and fraud in the civil service

As part of a broader overhaul of the civil service that Greece has pledged to its foreign creditors, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday heralded plans for more efficient disciplinary councils handling the cases of public sector workers accused of offenses and the intensification of inspections on employees who are unjustifiably absent from their work and who entered the civil service with fake education certificates.

Mitsotakis said that the number of disciplinary councils had been reduced to 65 from 120 “to boost flexibility and speed” and added that a separate body had been assigned to examine cases relating to local authority workers.

As regards employees found to have been absent from their posts consistently and without good reason, he said authorities were planning to boost inspections in this area too. “There is a systematic effort to check whether the designated working hours in the public sector are being kept to,” he said.

Mitsotakis noted that inspections have already been carried out on staff at his own ministry, as well as the Interior, Culture and Tourism ministries and that “dozens more” checks were to follow.

In a related development, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said City Hall had decided to revoke the appointment of a civil servant to the municipal police force after it was found that he had secured the post using a forged university degree certificate. According to sources, City Hall is going to seek to recoup the wages paid to the employee, who was hired in 2004.

Kaminis’s decision came a day after Alternate Interior Minister Leonidas Grigorakos called for the qualifications of all civil servants hired in the past 20 years to be rechecked for authenticity. That decision came after he said that inspections revealed that 10 percent of staff hired between 2004 to 2009 had submitted false education certificates.

Mitsotakis played down Grigorakos’s statement on Thursday, saying that it was difficult to assess the number of staff who joined the civil service with fake certificates with any certainty.