Drop in dubious public hirings

There was a substantial drop in the number of suspect hirings for much-sought-after jobs in the public sector last year, according to a report made public by the civil service recruitment watchdog yesterday. The Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP) looked into 64 cases in which some wrongdoing was suspected. It found that only 10 of them merited the official complaints that had been lodged. The details of these cases, six of which were for jobs at the Municipality of Hania in Crete, have been sent to prosecutors, ASEP said. The figure represents a dramatic drop in the proportion of cases being investigated by ASEP in which something suspicious in found. In 2000, the watchdog uncovered wrongdoing in 88.5 percent of the complaints it was called to look into. There are strict guidelines for the advertising of jobs in the public sector and for the process by which candidates are actually awarded posts. However, hirings by local government departments and other state bodies have often served as a way for political parties to dish out favors. As Athens was hosting the Olympics last year, ASEP stepped up checks at the Culture Ministry, the Olympic Stadium and the Hellenic Olympic Committee but did not find anything untoward. Overall some 11,000 permanent employees and 33,000 seasonal workers were hired in the public sector. ASEP said 1 million applications were received for these positions.