Civil service revamp eyed

If PASOK ministers thought they were going to be able to relax and forget about work over the Easter break, they got a rude awakening yesterday when Prime Minister George Papandreou asked them each to come up with detailed plans over the next few days on how to improve the public sector, particularly with respect to battling corruption. Sources said that Papandreou sent a letter to all his ministers asking them to carefully study a report put together by Ombudsman Giorgos Kaminis detailing the failings of public administration. The premier asked that the officials come up with specific suggestions by April 19 about how the problems that are relevant to each of their departments can be tackled. Papandreou wants his ministers to aim particularly at making it easier for citizens to interact with the civil service and for those who are responsible for mismanagement to be rooted out and punished. One of PASOK’s central election pledges was to improve the functioning of the public sector by slashing red tape and eradicating corruption. To show that he meant business, Papandreou broke with tradition and invited someone who was not a member of government to sit in on his first Cabinet meeting on October 7 last year. This man was Kaminis, who, in a televised discussion, made it clear to the new ministers that much of the public sector suffers from bad management, a lack of direction and graft. Sources said that the bid to overhaul Greece’s bureaucracy will be one of three policy areas where the government will be particularly active over the next few months. The other two will be ensuring that the economic targets set in its Stability and Growth Program are met and carrying out some of the structural reforms it has proposed, such as the reshaping of local government through its «Kallikratis» scheme. Papandreou’s letter was the second time this week that pressure has been put on government ministers to start producing results. Earlier in the week, Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos gave them a 200-page booklet detailing their responsibilities and informed them that their progress was being closely watched.

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