Translated by Sevi Charalampopoulou
1. How can evaluation be defined in the contemporary administrational theory and practice?
According to the administrational discipline and the organization theory, evaluation constitutes an administrational function which has only one purpose: To improve the public organization’s performance in terms of the goals that it has set, which means, to make it more efficient and more economical.
2. Are the structures, the functions and the individuals evaluated on the same way?
The answer is no, although there are similarities in the evaluation systems. The structures (directorates, departments, legal persons) are evaluated on the extent of the fulfillment of the task they were created for. The individuals (public servants) are evaluated both on the basis of their participation in the achievement of the organization’s goals and on the quality of their character, as their services must be offered on a specific way and adhere a specific code of conduct. But both systems require cooperation from the side of the servants, as also a proper functioning of the government, as the cooperation between the public organizations on their whole is necessary for their implementation.
3. How is the evaluation of an organization and its stuff conducted on an international level?
The evaluation of the performance of a structure (or an organization on its whole) is conducted on a basis of calculating indicators. Many of these indicators are international. For example a hospital or a university is evaluated in terms of indicators established by the EU and the World Health Organization. Individuals are evaluated through a consensus-based process, according to which the servant is evaluated by himself, his superiors, as also by the citizens (in case that the public organization is extrovert/ offers its services to citizens or corporations). Evaluation is an ongoing process, incorporated in the everyday practice of both the business executives and the servants of public organizations.
4. Is there an evaluation system in the Greek public organizations?
Of course there is! Evaluation takes place both at structures (in every change, modification of the Ministries’ organizations) and at people (through the evaluation sheets being filled in by each servant and his/her superiors once a year). In cases that the result of an organization’s work can be quantified, there is also evaluation based on targets and outcome indicators (i.e. traffic police, armed forces etc.). The General Secretariat of Public Revenue evaluates both its work and its stuff based on targets. Target evaluation of work and servants also takes place in many regions, as also in many legal persons. In other cases, in which the work of a public service is hard to be quantified, evaluation takes place only on the behavioral characteristics of the servants.
5. Is it truth that all Greek public servants have been evaluated as “excellent”?
No. But even in that cases that the phenomenon of excellence embezzlement is observed, the ones to blame are the political supervisors of these services and especially the Secretary Generals, as they bear the role of the Personnel Managers of public organizations.
6. Then which is the main problem of evaluation? Why the system has to change?
The problem that evaluation in our country has is that it has been overridden and substituted by client tricks. The evaluation executives have actually been mortgaged from inside, as their total dependence on the Minister defined the extent in which they act. But when the first leap towards the modernization of the old civil service code by introducing targets and indicators was finally taken, the evaluation which was based on them sometimes was implemented and sometimes was not. Sometimes the evaluation sheets are taken into consideration and sometimes not. The reorganization process also violated the organization law itself, due to political pressure and as a result we ended up overriding the “annoying” Council of State, which according to the Constitution is responsible for the organizing changes of the public sector. Furthermore, the Ministers legitimize directorates and departments according to their will and without actual control (as even the adverse results on the state budget are concealed by borrowing).
In any case a great responsibility for the reduction of the evaluation issue at a political Babel should be attributed to the political parties who had taken on the relevant policy. The syndicates boosting their client interests adopted a negative attitude towards evaluation- especially on fields where work is hard to be quantified (i.e education).
7. Which are the pros and cons of the new charts?
As for the evaluation of the (central/ ministerial) structures, an effort for the census of their work began, but stopped while being still on the stage of its formation. There was not even a limitation of the policy areas, so that we know which administrational structures are necessary in Health, Agriculture, Tourism, etc. Neither was there a reinforcement of the contribution of the Ministries in policymaking. The trumpeted reorganization was restricted at a simple merging of similar- looking structures. Such “reorganizations” have also taken place in the past and were proved to be ineffective. The structures that were temporarily reduced will start swelling again, as the problem has not been combated on its fundaments. Apart from the structure evaluation, the Minister Mr. Manitakis tried to introduce a “post drafts” system, on the basis of which targets could be set and results could be estimated. However, by following the instructions of the inflexible bureaucracy and his foreign patrons, who had neither the necessary knowledge, not the mood to implement the right drafts in the Greek public administration, he violated all the rules related to them and eventually presented the work being ALREADY done by the public servants, as post drafts. This “practice” had not probably any additional value in a structure or servant evaluation and this is why it was abandoned by the next Minister.
8. Which are the pros and cons of the new servant evaluation systems?
According to the law 4250/2014, a quota of bad, mediocre and good servants is established, without however anything essential being changed in the already existing evaluation criteria. Even if the goal of every legislator was the creation of a legitimizing basis for the dismissals demanded by the Troika, this was again not fulfilled, as after the unanimous opposition of the public servants at this absurd- and technically unachievable- “system”, the government withdrew from its original plan, stating that no public servant is going to be dismissed if s/he is negatively evaluated.
After all, the supervisor evaluation system, which the law 4275/2014 introduced, has a principally right targeting, as it focuses its evaluation on their capacity to handle and solve problems and not on their typical assets. This law however is totally symbolic, as there are not the conditions of estimating the administrational work as it has been mentioned, and in addition, the evaluation of the Chief Operating Officers by the new framework is technically impossible due to the multiple commissions and methods that constitute the prerequisite for the function of the new evaluation system.
9. How can Greece eventually possess a correct evaluation system?
Whichever evaluation system we try, it will not have success in Greece, unless we proceed with two fundamental reforms that constitute the prerequisites for evaluating structures and servants:
a) The replacement of competencies by policy fields (and consecutively their correlation to the budget) and
b) The post drafts.
These two constitute the ingredients of the Plans of Action which will allow the rationalization of the administrational action (similar to the one that was massively attempted in the countries of Central Europe during the 60s). When the Plans of Action exist, we will be able to evaluate the role that both structures and individuals have played in their success or failure.
There are also three methodological conditions, so that all that was mentioned above is put into practice:
a) The scientific rules must be obeyed and the positive practices of other countries, on the basis of which the performance of their public organizations has been significantly improved, must be utilized.
b) The new evaluation systems must arise through a public discussion with the servants and
c) Their implementation must be supported through the most appropriate systems.
10. Can the political parties contribute to the evaluation process?
No! Until now, the political parties have been the main inhibitor of the non-existence of reliable evaluation systems in the public sector. They have done everything possible to block the reforms, to undermine them (when some of them were nevertheless established) and mainly, to cause confusion to the crowd, so that they could extract votes. Today, the problem of evaluation has turned into the “ball” between those who “want” it and those who “do not want” it. The political hyper- codification of an administrational act is conducted in political terms of course, but it does not mean that the discipline and the art of administration must be sacrificed for this aim.
Even now, the government has to take ONE AND ONLY decision: To completely retire from the political area, to assign the formation of evaluation systems to the connoisseurs, to guarantee the dialogue with the public servants and afterwards to assign their implementation at an independent executive. We do not need to go to Australia and discover the –indeed ideal – solution of the «Productivity Commission» that they created….years ago. Let us simply go to Alexandras Avenue and to the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection of Sakis Peponis, which with some modifications on its establishing law can do the work quite well.
Given of course that the rulers can find the psychical strength…