A statistical profile of the public service

No matter how optimistic Interior and Public Administration Minister Costas Skandalidis is in planning administrative changes for the public sector, he cannot ignore the fact that his executives and work force are ill-equipped to bring restructuring projects to life. Just over half of all public servants (54 percent) have graduated from senior high school, and 28 percent have graduated from institutes of tertiary education, while 30 percent of the permanent staff of state corporations have completed primary or junior high school. Most of these numbers derive from three large ministries with many staff – the ministries of National Defense, the Economy and Justice. Of staff employed on private open-ended contracts, 35.7 percent have completed primary school and 43 percent have completed secondary education. Local government The educational background of the average employee in municipalities and prefectures is even weaker, as shown by research conducted by the public sector’s staff statistics service (DSS). The data is dispiriting, as only 9 percent of employees knows at least one foreign language, and 26.5 percent have completed primary school. Of 66,553 local government (OTA) employees, 33,277 – or 50 percent – have a secondary education, 11,249 (16.9 percent) have a university education, 4,396 (6.6 percent) have a technical college education and 17,361 (26.5 percent) have completed compulsory education. Most public servants can communicate in basic English. Their knowledge is limited and the few who do possess formal qualifications in a foreign language are mostly university graduates. In order to avoid perpetuating this pattern of public servants with a limited range of knowledge, lack of creative imagination and little interest in the business of their workplace, the National Public Administration Center – which plans and implements ongoing training programs – emphasizes the educational needs of public servants. Their research has shown that employees are interested in being trained in fields such as the introduction of new technology and modern administration methods. They are particularly interested in matters concerning service quality, the environment, health and the European Union. The Greek public sector may be poor in knowledge and equipment such as computers, but employees don’t get bored. There are 13,691 televisions and VCRs for their entertainment, a number that grows every year. An outsider might wonder what purpose televisions and VCRs serve in the public sector, when there is such a dire shortage of photocopiers, fax machines and computers. The total number of computers hooked up to a network in the public sector is 79,308, or one computer for every seven employees. The number of calculators and typewriters is more satisfactory, but the Greek public sector is short of fax machines and photocopiers, not all of which have paper or are in working order. Ministries have a total of 16,752 vehicles at their disposal: 7,808 passenger vehicles, 1,838 vans, 1,407 tanker-trucks, 280 tow trucks, 2,581 three-wheeled vehicles and 216 ambulances. Self-governing bodies discharging state functions (NPDD) have 2,269 vehicles, local government 13,376 and public corporations (KNPID) have 12,573. Of a total of 44,980 vehicles, only 1,398 are ambulances and 2,918 are garbage trucks. The number of public servants fell by 13 percent in 2002, though the number still remains high, at 567,067, which includes 200,000 soldiers, police officers, teachers, National Health System (ESY) doctors and legal officials. The significant reduction of 12,000 employees is attributed to transfers of staff from regional services and ministries who had been seconded to prefectures. The statistics don’t include workers at national stadiums and gymnasiums that are now supervised by local government offices. The fall in the number of KNPID employees is due to the fact that the statistics no longer include post office or Hellenic Telecommunications staff. In December 2001, there were 367,067 permanent staff employed in ministries and NPDD. For each employee who retires on a pension or who stops working after an open-ended contract, almost three new employees are appointed.