OPINION

Glimpses of an efficient state

The challenge of bringing the country’s civil service into the 21st century is the aim of of a government program called «Syzeuxis,» which has been progressing at such a good pace that those at the Interior Ministry are actually optimistic. The program «can effectively fight bureaucracy and transform the civil service from a dynast into the citizen’s servant,» Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said during his presentation of the program at the Zappeion Hall yesterday. The basis of the program is the use of advanced telecommunication infrastructure to link civil service departments. It is aimed at minimizing the time it takes for public services to communicate and essentially does away with the phase of time-consuming correspondence between those departments – a process that currently can take weeks, if not months. Practically, this means that under the new system a citizen will only have to go to his or her nearest civil service office for almost «any transaction with the state.» One does not need to emphasize what a great service this will provide, particularly for residents of the provinces and in other isolated areas. When the program is completed, it will be used by 2,500 public administration departments and their 150,000 staff members. Apart from the benefits to millions of Greeks, who will no longer have to waste time – and often money – going from department to department, the state will benefit in another important way as well. Through the use of video phones for teleconferencing, it will be possible to resolve issues that concern staff in different departments and ministries without requiring them to leave their offices and thereby avoiding travel time and expense. It is an ambitious project that will introduce truly revolutionary changes in people’s daily transactions with the state. The ministry’s zeal in pushing ahead with the project is encouraging at a time when such spectacular indications of progress in the government’s work are rare indeed. If the government manages to train and inspire civil servants in the use of the new system, it will have done a great service to the cause of truly modernizing this country.