Civil service shakeup

In what it billed as an effort to shake up the bureaucracy and reconstitute the State, the New Democracy government yesterday presented Parliament with a bill aimed at reforming the civil service. Among its main changes is that general directors will be chosen by a special appointments council to serve a three-year term. After this, they will be evaluated again and re-appointed or replaced by someone else. This will apply to managers as well. The term of current general directors and directors – who were appointed after climbing up the hierarchy and were to serve until their retirement – will end as soon as the new legislation is published in the government gazette. The legislation is aimed at «introducing flexibility to the administration and (ensuring) dynamic cadres with operational thinking and not a bureaucratic mentality,» said Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. These changes were necessary, he said, in order to break down the system introduced by the PASOK government in which its own party members were dominant. But PASOK and the civil servants’ federation ADEDY declared that New Democracy was maintaining the old system of treating the civil service as its own fiefdom in which it could reward political friends and punish its rivals. New Democracy «has shown its true face and its real understanding of what public administration is about,» declared Alekos Papadopoulos, PASOK’s spokesman on home affairs and a former interior minister. «It is sacking everyone in a position of authority,» he charged. «It is overturning every sense of hierarchy and meritocracy with the sole aim of handing positions to those that its party favors.» ADEDY demanded the withdrawal of the legislation and said it would present its position in detail on Tuesday. The bill foresees also that hirings in the civil service will be conducted only through written examinations run by the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP), including hirings by local governments which have often served as an uncontrolled way for parties to dole out favors at a local level. It also increases the number of positions in the civil service that will be set aside for the heads of households with many children (more than four) and ethnic Greeks who move here from abroad.