Chapter 4. Greece’s structure and systems

This chapter reviews Greece’s organisational structures and management systems for its development co-operation and the extent to which they are fit for purpose, with appropriate capabilities to deliver on its development objectives. As the aid programme recovers, the Directorate General of International Development Cooperation-Hellenic Aid needs to implement its leadership role, develop a strategy for Greece’s development co-operation and convene the inter-ministerial co-ordinating committee. Greece needs to establish fit-for-purpose systems focusing on internal controls, risk management and due diligence. As Greece expands its bilateral programme, it will need such systems to deliver efficient and effective aid, and avoid grant mismanagement, as has occurred in the past. DG Hellenic Aid’s current structure is not appropriate for delivering its current activities. It needs to consider the expertise needed to implement a larger development and humanitarian programme, including an adequate mix of development and humanitarian experts.

    

Authority, mandate and co-ordination

Peer review indicator: Responsibility for development co-operation is clearly defined, with the capacity to make a positive contribution to sustainable development outcomes

Greece’s legal framework gives the Directorate General of International Development Cooperation-Hellenic Aid of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DG Hellenic Aid) a leading role in development co-operation and creates a co-ordinating committee. However, as the aid programme recovers, DG Hellenic Aid needs to implement its leadership role, develop a strategy for Greece’s development co-operation and convene the inter-ministerial co-ordinating committee.

DG Hellenic Aid struggles to implement its leadership role

By law, DG Hellenic Aid is the authority responsible for the development co-operation of Greece. Presidential Decree 224/2000 creates it as an integral yet independent part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Government of Greece, 2000). The decree gives DG Hellenic Aid the responsibility for planning and formulating Greece’s development co-operation strategy, as well as supervising, co-ordinating, monitoring and evaluating humanitarian and development projects. In reality, DG Hellenic Aid lacks the authority and capacity to implement its mandate, and the legal framework does not empower it to influence other ministries’ annual official development assistance (ODA) planning. Line ministries are not required to implement shared policies and objectives; they only need to report their ODA to DG Hellenic Aid at the end of the year. DG Hellenic Aid could exert its leadership by complying with its legal obligation and formulating a strategy, to be agreed with all ministries involved in Greece’s development co-operation (Chapter 2).

Greece’s development co-operation needs inter-ministerial co-ordination

Inter-ministerial co-ordination is a long-standing challenge in Greece. An OECD review of the Greek administration noted that it “generally operates in silos”: fragmentation and overlaps among structures and tasks discourage information sharing and co-operation – which is usually done ad hoc, based on personal knowledge and initiative (OECD, 2011).

Recent efforts to co-ordinate Greece’s approach to some key issues provide positive examples for co-ordinating development co-operation: the newly created Ministry of Migration Policy has established a platform co-ordinating the work of all ministries and public entities involved in the response to the refugee crisis (Chapter 5), and the General Secretariat of the Government has set up an Inter-ministerial Coordination Network to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into Greece’s national development strategy (Chapter 1).

As noted in the 2011 OECD Development Committee (DAC) peer review, enhancing the role of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Organization and Coordination of International Economic Relations (EOSDOS), established by Law 2731/1999, is crucial to ensuring co-ordinated development co-operation (OECD, 2013; Government of Greece, 1999). However, the draft law that would have achieved this was not approved, and the committee has not been convened since 2011. Nevertheless, there is much for the committee to do, for example: determine the vision and focus of Greece’s development co-operation; engage in dialogue with stakeholders regarding Greece’s development policy; agree priorities for multilateral engagement; and agree an approach to scholarships to achieve development impact (Chapters 2 and 5). As foreseen by Presidential Decree 224/2000, Greece should ensure that all ministries and agencies involved in development co-operation are included in co-ordination efforts (Government of Greece, 2000).

Systems

Peer review indicator: The member has clear and relevant processes and mechanisms in place

Greece needs to establish fit-for-purpose systems focusing on internal controls, risk management and due diligence. As Greece expands its bilateral programme, it will need such systems to deliver efficient and effective aid, and avoid grant mismanagement, as has occurred in the past.

DG Hellenic Aid needs systems that are fit for purpose

The 2011 DAC peer review recognised Greece’s intention to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its aid delivery (OECD, 2013). However, the planned changes have not been implemented. Given the narrow focus of Greece’s current development co-operation, there has been little incentive or room for DG Hellenic Aid to modernise its structures and procedures.

DG Hellenic Aid acknowledges that its procurement, risk management and due-diligence mechanisms were not strong enough to prevent past misuse or mismanagement of grants. Ex-ante audit mechanisms – which were subsequently abolished – were weak, and project monitoring and follow-up was inadequate. DG Hellenic Aid should be commended for its dedication to reviewing instances of misuse by NGOs, and identifying and recovering unexpended funds from bilateral, regional and international institutions. To avoid similar problems in the future, it should draw on lessons from the review of past grants and the 2016 report of the General Inspector of Public Administration into misuse by public entities (General Inspector of Public Administration (2016).

Lessons from this and other reviews indicate that Greece needs to create the essential building blocks for a fit-for-purpose development co-operation system, including:

  • clear and transparent processes and procedures for decision making on programming, policies and partnerships

  • a system that ensures high-quality development co-operation, including in relation to cross-cutting issues

  • a system that provides adequate and timely information on development co-operation programmes, and ensures accountability for results, in line with Greece’s commitment to transparency

  • procurement, contracting and agreement mechanisms that help implement policies and commitments fairly and efficiently

  • a system that facilitates assessing and adapting to strategic, reputational, programming and security risks, and informs control and due-diligence mechanisms, including related to corruption

  • independent and effective audit processes

  • incentives to innovate and adapt to changes in the development landscape.

Capabilities throughout the system

Peer review indicator: The member has appropriate skills and knowledge to manage and deliver its development co-operation, and ensures these are located in the right places

DG Hellenic Aid’s current structure is not appropriate for delivering its current activities. It needs to consider the expertise needed to implement a larger development and humanitarian programme, including an adequate mix of development and humanitarian experts. It could build staff capacity by participating in DAC networks and European Commission training programmes.

DG Hellenic Aid’s structure and staffing are not appropriate for delivering its assigned activities

DG Hellenic Aid recognises that it needs to adapt its structure to ensure better delivery of its development co-operation activities. Six directorates – as required by Presidential Decree 224/2000 (Government of Greece, 2000) – comprising just 24 staff result in a top-heavy organisation (6.3.Annex C). In 2017, a statistical office was established in DG Hellenic Aid and in 2018 the office was staffed by an economist with statistical capacity. Diplomats and rotating staff make up the majority of DG Hellenic Aid staff, with few development and humanitarian experts.

The 2011 DAC peer review recommended structuring DG Hellenic Aid around three key functions: policy, programming and corporate processes (OECD, 2013). Such a structure would allow DG Hellenic Aid to adapt more readily to changes in its development co-operation portfolio.

Despite a significant reduction in its ODA, DG Hellenic Aid has maintained a cadre of dedicated staff. The current period of reduced operations offers an opportunity to consider the competences DG Hellenic Aid will need – including an appropriate mix of development and humanitarian experts – to implement a larger development and humanitarian programme in the future.

Past DAC peer reviews encouraged Greece to develop a strategic approach to human resources, including recruitment, training and career development (OECD, 2013, 2008). DG Hellenic Aid implements annual staff appraisals and encourages ad-hoc feedback. Setting clear individual objectives to help evaluate staff performance could improve this system.

Participation in DAC policy networks could help build staff capacity

DG Hellenic Aid faces challenges in recruiting, training and retaining staff. A number of DG Hellenic Aid staff have developed expertise in development co-operation during their placements in Brussels at the Permanent Representation of Greece to the European Union. However, this is not a regular occurrence, and DG Hellenic Aid relies mostly on on-the-job training. The lack of current operations limits staff opportunities to learn on the job. Moreover, the high staff turnover – few stay more than two years – limits the effectiveness of such an informal training system, as institutional memory is rapidly lost. DG Hellenic Aid could consider building staff capacity by accessing training delivered by other DAC members, as well as participating in European Commission training programmes. The recent appointment of official focal points will facilitate learning from the DAC networks on development evaluation, governance, and environment and development.

References

Government sources

Government of Greece (2000), Presidential Decree 224/2000, Government of Greece, Athens.

Government of Greece (1999), Law 2731/1999, Government of Greece, Athens.

General Inspector of Public Administration (2016), Annual Report 2016, Athens, https://www.gedd.gr/article_data/Linked_files/199/GEDD-EE-2016.pdf.

Other sources

OECD (2013), OECD Development Assistance Peer Reviews: Greece 2011, OECD Development Assistance Peer Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264117112-en.

OECD (2011), Greece: Review of the Central Administration, OECD Publishing, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264102880-en.

OECD (2008), "DAC Peer Review of Greece", OECD Journal on Development, Vol. 7/4, https://doi.org/10.1787/journal_dev-v7-art40-en

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