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Saturday, November 14, 2009

e-governance, FOSS and public administration transparency in Greece

Greece is facing a quite tough period at the moment. The economy is in ruins , unemployment is rising and public debt becomes a major issue. Political stability has been a major problem. The October national election result was a big blow to the "New Democracy" conservative party which saw its percentage falling to an all time low, since the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974. That was a fair result, since ex Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis failed to address major social and economic issues. His greatest failure was to secure fairness and transparency in public administration, a goal he vowed to achieve as part of his government campaign and a chronic problem of Greece.

The new tenants of the government buildings, the PASOK socialist party regained power and promise to address -amongst all the other major issues - the issue of fairness and transparency in public administration.  As part of their arsenal to tackle this problem, they propose an e-governance framework to reduce bureaucracy and assure fairness in the public sector hiring procedures, a major area where corruption has infiltrated over the years.  It is also clear that there is a clear motion from PASOK's inner circles to use Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and utilize already existing Greek frameworks/communities for that effort (ΕΛΛΑΚ).

There is no doubt that the FOSS adoption will meet opposition from well established Microsoft shops that use to dominate the public sector IT purchase market (and the taxpayer's pocket). In short, I have the following recommendation for the Greek government (if they ever bother to listen)

  • To follow/migrate to open source products in public administration not only on the desktop (Linux/Open Office) but also at the server end if possible. The cost benefits will be enormous, especially now that there is an active FOSS community.
  • To start teaching actively FOSS issues and software in secondary education. It is completely unacceptable to have an IT/Computing cirriculum that mentions almost nothing about FOSS.
  • Follow the paths of other countries (Netherlands, Norway) and making Open Document formats a standard for public services.
  • In response to the effort, this is a first and is a very positive move. However, the timing of the effort (the expectations of people) shows that the backend pipelines are still not able to work properly. The end result is that thousands of CVs are on standby and technologies to filter them out still do not exist. This could backfire badly and derail the effort.   


  1. Ωραίες οι ιδέες σου. Είναι όμως εφαρμόσιμες; Εαν μια κυβέρνηση δεν έχει τα οικονομικά που πρέπει για να μην εξαρτάται απο τα συντεχνιακά συμφέροντα πως θα κάνει την τομή;

  2. Kompioytera kalhspera,

    Parakolouthousa ta arthra soy apo kairo. Nomizw omws oti h eisagwgh toy arthroy soy xtypa adikws to komma ths Neas Dhmokratias. O Kwstas Karamanlis palepse arketa gia na ftiaksei kapoia pragmata, oso kanenas allos.


  3. Γρήγορες απαντήσεις για τα σχόλιά σας

    1. Η ιδέα είναι απόλυτα εφαρμόσιμη ειδικά όταν συντρέχουν οικονομικοί λόγοι για να σωθούν χρήματα.

    2. Προς το συνάδερφο. Ο σκοπός αυτού του άρθρου δεν είναι να ταχθώ υπέρ ή κατα της ΝΔ. Η εισαγωγή ήταν απαραίτητη για να καταλάβει ο αναγνώστης ότι η κατάσταση είναι δύσκολη και επομένως υπάρχει λόγος να κρίνεται η ηλεκτρονική διακυβέρνηση ως ενέργεια προς τη σωστή κατεύθυνση.Εξάλλου είπα ότι κάποια προβλήματα είναι χρόνια.