With a primary goal to build an independent, efficient and functional public administration that meets the needs of society and provides high quality services to citizens and businesses, the Greek Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction is firmly dedicated to implementing the Government’s strategy for reforms and reconstruction of the country’s public administration. Pointing out the Government’s aim to transform the Greek public administration into an independent, meritocratic and effective public administration by 2020, Secretary General Grigoris Theodorakis deliberates on current projects and national strategies, as well as the country’s investment potential.
European Times: What are the Ministry’s mission and responsibilities?
Grigoris Theodorakis: The Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction is official governmental body responsible for public administration reforms and, in this regard, we are developing a wide range of actions aimed at answering the long-standing issues of reduced state efficiency. Successful transformation to an independent, functional and transparent public administration requires a comprehensive approach. Hence, we devised a coherent “National Strategy for Administrative Reform 2017-2019”, which aims to improve the internal functioning of public administration through initiatives such as a new mobility system, performance evaluation, proper selection, job description, etc., thus guaranteeing increased performance through optimal allocation of staff, simplification of procedures, and extensive use of digital technologies.
European Times: You pointed out that the “National Strategy for Administrative Reform 2017-2019” is the primary document for reforms in the public administration. What are the main priorities set forth in this Strategy?
Grigoris Theodorakis: In order to provide a comprehensive approach in increasing the efficiency, independence and transparency of the public administration, we have identified eight key areas. Firstly, the Strategy focuses on shaping and implementation of public policies by enhancing interministerial coordination as well as cooperation with public organizations. Furthermore, it aims to reduce operational costs while enhancing the quality of services to both citizens and business through re-organization of formal structures and the simplification of administrative procedures. Thirdly, it focuses on modernization of the legal framework concerning the operation of local government entities putting emphasis on social participation and accountability. In addition, when it comes to human resources, emphasis is given on meritocracy, transparency and impartiality so as to ensure an efficient and effective administration. The Strategy also envisions modernization of the legal and regulatory environment as well as creation of a single point of open access to legal information for the public sector, citizens and business. Additionally, through promoting the principles of transparency, accountability and open governance, our aim is to enhance citizen participation in decision-making through public consultation, evaluation tools and open data platforms. When it comes to E-government, we strive towards improvement of public services provided to citizens and businesses through the simplification and digitalization of procedures developing new skills and competences in public administration. Lastly, through the National Anti-corruption Strategy, our aim is to identify sectors with the highest level of corruption risk, improve legislation and codes of ethics, enhance accountability, implement European and International best practices etc.
European Times: What are the challenges that the public sector in Greece is facing at the moment?
Grigoris Theodorakis: Unlike many other countries, numerous international reports show that Greece does not suffer from an overstaffed public administration. Nevertheless, there is a need to increase efficiency and transparency, as well as to improve the allocation of the staff and nurture stable, permanent and de-politicized working relationships. Reforming the public administration does not mean reduction in staff and services, but rather increased performance through optimal allocation of staff, simplification of procedures, extensive use of digital technologies, etc. With our efforts, dedication, genuine structural measures and comprehensive reform strategy, we will succeed in creating a modern and up-to-date by Public Administration by 2020, leaving problems such as bureaucracy, high costs, overlapping responsibilities and corruption, in the past.
European Times: Digitalization of the public administration is one of the key priorities. What has been done in this regard?
Grigoris Theodorakis: In the era of digitalization, we have understood the necessity of aligning all levels of the public administration with technological advancement. We focus on upgrading the skills of the public administration, especially the digital skills, through targeted programs and actions. At the same time, we have created a comprehensive compulsory digital organizational chart, which is a database in a central portal where each agency has to register its own data. This chart covers both the structure and personnel, based on job descriptions and digitized procedures, which will bring the right people with the right skills to the right place through a transparent and easy mechanism combating clientelism.
European Times: What is your personal message?
Grigoris Theodorakis: In addition to being a key driver of the economy, an independent, efficient and transparent public administration is crucial for strengthening the ease of doing business and building a solid reputation among international investors. Greece is a very attractive investment destination with many competitive advantages. Our country has immense investment opportunities and a whole kaleidoscope of sectors with investment potential, and with an increasingly more efficient public administration, the success of any investment is nearly guaranteed. With our holistic approach, we have entered a path of irreversible progress.
Furthermore, we remain dedicated to increasing transparency and thus strengthening investors’ trust. We have fully incorporated EU legislation regarding public procurement and tenders, and the process is transparent and secure. In addition, Greece aims to be one of the first countries worldwide where the licensing procedure for new businesses will be fully digitized, and all transactions with the state are electronic, and we are aiming to implement this by 2020.