Athens, 31 January 2008
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank you most cordially for your invitation and am delighted to have the honour of receiving this special distinction from TÜV HELLAS on behalf of the OP Competitiveness Special Management Service.
The OP Competitiveness Special Management Service of the Ministry of Development decided back in 2001 to set up, to document, to put into effect and to maintain a Quality Management System which would ensure continual improvements in its efficiency in line with the requirements of the Hellenic Organization for Standardization (ELOT) standard EN ISO 2001:2000.
Quality is a complex concept, which embraces all aspects of business and economic activity. From the design and production of goods, to the provision of services (both public and private) and the overall operation of businesses.
A few years ago no one could have spoken of efficient and well-organized public services; far less so of certified public services, meeting high management and quality standards.
The adoption of the Quality Management System is a vital management tool which ‘guides’ a public service or a business, leading it along the path to progress and development, so that it can respond effectively to an ever more competitive environment.
The System, which was first certified by TÜV HELLAS in June 2003, represents a collective commitment undertaken by the entire workforce, from the administration to the ordinary employee. The OP Competitiveness Special Management Service successfully completed the first three years of certification and in July 2006 the System was re-certified. Today preparations are under way to meet the needs arising from the new management rules involved in the new statutory framework governing the Programme Period 2007-2013.
Results of the maintenance of the Quality Management System to date indicate:
- Increase in the efficiency of the Service
- Improvement in performance of the Service
- Rational use of available resources
- Creation of a common language shared by all employees of the service, facilitating new staff in their induction into the duties and competences of the service
- Full response of the service to all stages of audits and controls by Greek and European auditing bodies
- Ensuring satisfaction of our ‘clients’, where ‘clients’ are the Greek state, the European Union, ordinary citizens, businesses and the ‘Final Beneficiaries’ – as we refer to those private persons and agencies who can take advantage of the programmes managed by our service.
Improving and upgrading the services offered by the state now requires that those services be certified. Certification is as important as – if not more important than – computerization, upgrading of staff, simplification of procedures, and so on.
We believe that the work involved in certifying a service necessarily leads to improvement in all related areas.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I should like to express my thanks to our quality consultant, whose services have made such a vital contribution to the development and certification of the System, and to the director and staff of the Service, who, through their high quality qualifications and skills have represented the added value recognized in today’s award for the Operational Programme ‘Competitiveness’. I should also like to congratulate my predecessors in the post of Special Secretary, Mr. Diakoulakis, who took the initial decision to seek certification for the Service, and Mr. Efstathopoulos, who continued the process and successfully completed the re-certification. Today’s success belongs to them, as well as to the deserving staff of the OP Competitiveness Special Management Service.
The Quality Management System remains one of the most important tools available to us in implementing the objectives of the Programme, in the continual improvement of our department and the services we provide.
It is our job to manage substantial European and national resources, with a keen sense of responsibility and a profound sense of our duty to the public, to business, to agencies, universities, research institutes and to the common national endeavour to create a better country for our people. This award is another indication that we are performing our task effectively and responsibly, ensuring transparency and efficiency.
Finally, I should like to point out that in implementing the consistent policy of the Ministry of Development for improving the competitiveness of Greek businesses through quality, in the context of the OP Competitiveness, and specifically Action 2.5.2 ‘Organizational modernization of SMEs’, the OP Competitiveness has supported actions to certify existing SMEs employing up to 250 persons in the following areas:
- ELOT EN ISO 9000 (quality assurance)
- ELOT EN ISO 14000 (environmental management)
- ELOT 1801 (health and safety)
- ELOT 1416 (hazard analysis and critical control points)
The projects included have a budget of 37.3m Euro, with public spending of 15m Euro. They involve 2,380 businesses in all sectors of the economy – processing, services, trade and tourism. Only expenditure on consultancy services and certification is eligible.
In a continually enlarging Europe, in a world which is continuously changing and becoming ever more competitive, we Greeks must learn not to fear developments but to view them as challenges. It is part of our national character, when we compare ourselves with other peoples, to wish to demonstrate that we can do better. I am confident that we can indeed do better, and that our businesses will acquire significant comparative advantage in the new global environment if they follow the path of certification.
And so, with these thoughts in mind, I welcome you all to today’s event.
I thank you all most profoundly, and congratulate you on the superb organization of today’s proceedings.