Public contracts under suspicion

Prosecutors are ready to launch an investigation into the running of a program set up to modernize the civil service between 2001 and 2003 after inspectors found that it was riddled with irregularities regarding the way public contracts were handed out, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. A team of public administration inspectors conducted checks on records at the Interior Ministry, which ran the program, called Politeia, and found that 148 projects were assigned to contractors directly without proper rules for public works being followed, such as a tender process. The inspectors, sources said, also found that 21 projects were assigned verbally, while in 75 cases the contractors who were awarded the work were not provided with any written confirmation of the budget and time frame they were expected to keep to. The program was set up in 2000 under the PASOK government to make the use of information technology more widespread in the public sector by training employees in its use. According to an Interior Ministry statement at the time, Politeia targeted «the development of the skills of public servants so that they become competent users of new technologies» and «the improvement of the performance and efficiency of employees and their work environment.» Athens prosecutors are studying the report drawn up by the inspectors to decide whether criminal charges should be filed, sources said.