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Greece: Towards a New Administrative Solidarity, Part 2


This article is the second of a two-part posting
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Panagiotis Karkatsoulis

Taking into account the previously-mentioned remarks, no significant change in the administrative reform policy is expected to take place in 2012. The horizontal cuts will be continued and consequently the public sector’s core functions won’t be carried out properly.

As a countermeasure to that grim prospect, a recovery plan must be agreed upon by major stakeholders, including at least:

1. Measures to strengthen the administrative professionalism, mainly the following:

  • A drastic reduction, by at least 50 percent, of the political appointees, of the posts of Deputy Ministers, Vice-Ministers, General and Special Secretaries, political advisers and other staff employed through political channels: 16 Ministers, 21 Vice Ministers and 9 Deputy Ministers, 75 General and Special Secretaries and 1080 political advisers just for the central government. Adding the 325 municipalities and 23000 legal entities, the number of political appointees is considerably higher.
  • A change of the status of the Secretaries General of the Ministries from politically appointed to selected among qualified professionals for a certain period of time (managers)
  • The re-evaluation of all heads of administrative units according to job descriptions and
  • The establishment of Strategic Planning Units in each Ministry.

2. The enhancement of the Ministries’ capacity for coherent policy-making ensuring both horizontal and vertical coordination by:

  • eliminating/abolishing overlapping competencies and transferring the competences of an executive character to prefectures and/or municipalities and
  • drafting action plans for the Ministries in which the operational, financial and regulatory plans should be integrated.

3. An inter-partisan agreement on the reform’s milestones to be achieved in a three year’s period (2012–2015), preceded by an extensive consultation, both within the civil service as well as with every other stakeholder.

4. The reinforcement of the National School for Public Administration in order to produce a critical mass of well trained professionals to undertake the reform efforts. The best possible use of the foreign technical assistance, to provide targeted training to the civil servants involved in the implementation of the reforms, is also essential.

The reform project will be accomplished under the condition that the employees in the public sector reflectively develop accountability for the reasons of the failures encountered and their degree of blame. Civil servants must drive the reform and gain ownership over it, in order to persuade the wider public that they are able to offer the quality of the services that the society needs and expects from them. The way towards the reformed State crosses the path of the present one in order to outperform it. To that end, the development of a new administrative patriotism is a sine-qua-non condition.

Recently chosen as the 2012 recipient of the International Public Administration Award from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), Karkatsoulis, along with several distinguished Greek and American colleagues, will present a panel titled “Is Reorganization of the State the Answer to the Greek Crisis?” on Sunday, March 4 at 10:45am during the Society’s National Conference in Las Vegas. For more information or to register visit the ASPA National Conference website.

This article is the second of a two-part posting. To read part one and other articles on the crisis in Greece, see the Related Articles box below. To comment on this, or any other, article become a registered reader by clicking the Register link in the upper right hand corner of any page.

Panagiotis Karkatsoulis is with the National School of Public Administration as well as the Ministry of Administrative Reform and E-Government in Greece. Email: [email protected]

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