OPINION

ASEP, municipalities

During the annual report by the state Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP) it became apparent yet again that even though 2003 showed an improvement over 2002, local government organizations (OTA) continue to a major factor in bypassing the strict, meritocratic system of appointing staff in the public sector. ASEP’s observations are significant: «In dozens of cases, especially in OTA, [short-term] work contracts cover an agency’s standard needs – quite illegally, of course – with the result that permanent positions remain empty and are not announced. So it becomes apparent the degree to which the appointment system is manipulated and undermined.» The ASEP report refers to «falsely signed short-term contracts which conceal long-term work,» and it emphasizes that «the problem is significant and may involve many more OTA and their legal representatives in prefectures laws all over the country.» The degree to which it does occur demands that measures be taken at once by the Interior Ministry and the general secretary of the regions. ASEP also notes very serious problems in the announcements made by municipalities and other OTA. The report speaks of «an inexcusably large number of job announcements» and the «waste of human resources, time and public funds which this situation entails;» and it also notes, «Of the total number of job announcements sent for checking by OTA and their legal representatives in 2003, more than 75 percent of them were followed by repeated telephone conversations with services of those agencies.» The report also mentions «legally and ethically unacceptable recalls of announcements.» Local government has been the spoilt child of political parties in Greece since the restoration of democracy. It was bolstered with money and sponsors and at the same time handed greater authority. But it is a serious question as to whether it responds to the public’s high expectations. Many OTA have proved inadequate at properly managing the funds at their disposal, and in some cases there has been corruption, bribery and bad management in the microscosm of municipalities, which grew due to poor oversight or a general lack of interest. OTA heads must enhance transparency during their terms of office – and in the matter of appointments – so as to reinstate the institution’s prestige.