An ambitious government initiative to conduct an online census of the country’s civil servants, believed to number between 700,000 and 1 million and to be a significant burden on the debt-ridden state, yesterday started rather more dynamically than expected, as hundreds of thousands of public sector workers sought to declare themselves on the ministry’s website, causing the system to crash. According to ministry sources, the system crashed in the morning after about 200,000 civil servants tried to log on at around the same time. «The application did not respond as planned,» the head of the ministry’s General Secretariat for Information Systems, Diomidis Spinellis, told Skai Radio. Spinellis said authorities had not anticipated such an overwhelming response. Civil servants have been told that failure to register will result in the suspension of their wages. The system had been restored by the early afternoon, by which time more than 100,000 public servants had managed to submit their details online. Prior to that a special telephone help line had been flooded with thousands of calls by bewildered civil servants unable to submit their salary and tax details online. The civil servants’ union ADEDY was also besieged with calls by frustrated would-be applicants. «We received hundreds of calls from employees who found themselves unable to complete the online form,» said ADEDY’s vice president, Ilias Vrettakos. According to a spokesperson for the ministry, the system had been rendered fully operational again by yesterday afternoon. The online head count is to resume today but with certain restrictions to avert another crash, as the system is only capable of supporting about 12,000 entries per day. The ministry has now allocated specific time slots for civil servants according to the last numbers of their tax registration code (AFM). The deadline for civil servants to register for the electronic census is July 23.