NEWS

Shift to digital processes faces some pushback from civil servants

shift-to-digital-processes-faces-some-pushback-from-civil-servants

Although Greece has made strides in digitizing governance and public administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which provided an urgent impetus for the reduction of face-to-face exchanges, the government’s efforts have been partially thwarted by pushback from state functionaries and professionals, Kathimerini understands. 

Following an apparent reluctance by civil servants to embrace online processes, the government issued a presidential decree on Tuesday noting that online and paper documents have the same validity and that they should be afforded equal status. 

This applies to personal declarations, power of attorney orders and a host of other processes that have been shifted online as part of a broader effort by the government to digitize processes. 

Tuesday’s presidential decree followed a previous one issued three weeks ago but essentially ignored. The new decree stipulates that it is “obligatory” for electronic documents to be accepted. 

There had been similar pushback when the government introduced a simplified process for registering births in February which obliges maternity clinics to update state and municipal registries electronically.

The general secretary of the Digital Governance Ministry, Leonidas Christopoulos, had to communicate directly with more than 100 maternity clinics to ensure the new system was adopted. 

E-prescriptions were also ready long before the pandemic hit but many doctors had been unwilling to change their habits. Similarly staff at registry offices have been inflexible about the shift to new technologies. 

Notwithstanding widespread reluctance, ministry sources say the pandemic has allowed them to do a lot more than they could have done under normal circumstances.