Waiting for the managers

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Now that the program for social security reforms has received the green light in Parliament, isn’t it time for the government to take care of the management of the country’s social security funds? IKA, for example, the country’s biggest such organization, has been waiting nine months for someone to be placed at its helm.

The government introduced a significant innovation regarding the staffing of important management posts in the state apparatus by inviting interested parties to submit their resumes and undergo an assessment rather than picking managers according to their political affiliations or other connections, as was the case previously. The plan was put into effect in November and it is only natural that there have been some delays as it is an entirely new hiring system. However, enough time has gone by for the process to be completed, for important posts to be filled and for an evaluation of its results to take place. We need to see what went right and what went wrong, why there were delays and some friction and what needs to be improved so the same mistakes are not repeated.

The economic crisis has overshadowed everything else, and that too is perfectly natural. The public debt is all people are talking about and where all of the government’s attention has been focused. But we musn’t lose sight of the fact that there is life after the recession and that the public deficit is not Greece’s only problem. It has other huge structural obstacles to overcome, and one of these is the ousting of the party cadres from the state apparatus. The public sector is Greece’s backbone, and it needs to be strong and solid if it will be able to effectively meet the challenges that lie ahead.

The process of hiring middle and high-level management through an evaluation and examination process may go a long way toward curing many of the state’s chronic ailments. But even if we end up seeing that this system of open governance creates more problems than it solves, this is a conclusion that can only be reached by assessing the process.

Why, for example, can it work for the United States but not for Greece? Is it a system that simply does not suit this country, or is it something that defies our political system?

Published in "Kathimerini" newspaper 7/10/2010