‘Electronic governance’

The implementation of the ambitious Politeia project, unveiled yesterday by conservative Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, signals a decisive step toward modernizing the civil service and upgrading the relationship between citizens and the state apparatus. The government’s plans for an «electronic governance» could actually transform the state, provided that they succeed in combining the latest innovations in information technology and telecommunications with a radical reform of the public administration and the civil-service mentality. In its provision of state services, Greece is a clear laggard among its European Union peers, including the smaller nations. It is tragicomic to see tens of thousands of civil servants flipping through folders and archives that are bursting with documents, applications and certificates in order to carry out bureaucratic tasks in line with all legal requirements. State officials have to spend days performing tasks which could be executed at the touch of a button. The problem, however, goes further than costly and irksome delays. The state is unable to monitor the broader functions of the civil administration and perform its various functions using modern means. In addition, linking the different sectors of the civil service would allow easier access to them and facilitate monitoring by responsible state officials. Most importantly, it would deal a severe blow to corruption among civil servants. The basic step of setting up the Citizens’ Information Centers (KEPs) showed the huge potential of redefining the troubled relationship between citizens and the state. It’s time we moved on to the next step as sketched out in the pledges of the government. Needless to say, the government is also responsible for seeing these reforms through.

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