The Data Protection Authority (DPA) yesterday gave the Interior Ministry the go-ahead to start a census of the country’s civil servants, believed to number at least 700,000 and to be a significant burden on the debt-ridden state. According to sources, the DPA said that the count could be carried out only if authorities use data relating to the civil servants’ salaries. The authority has insisted that personal questions be removed from an electronic form to be distributed to public service employees. The census began with the distribution of these forms to employees of the General Secretariat for Public Administration, which operates under the ministry’s supervision, the General Accounting Office and the Municipality of Haidari in western Attica. The second phase of the initiative, due to be completed by the fall, foresees the creation of a single body to handle all payments to staff in the civil service. According to the plan, civil servants who fail to register will not be paid.