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National Statistics Service of Greece — a rant

Today, someone from National Statistics Service of Greece called us for various details about the income, house etc etc… The situation is outrageous. We live in 2012 and people research these statistics via phone? How can you verify whether someone is telling the truth? Are there any liabilities? How can you devise strategies if your paid collection of data is unreliable? The person on the line admitted that they use a sample of the residents at least in our area, I guess in order to decrease the costs.

People are employed in an almost bankrupt country to ask about details that could be obtained automatically by investing in new technologies and a better internal communication between public agencies.

I wonder who is the mastermind behind the decision of the phone interviews and not implementing a system that could query the important data from existing databases. Why we should disclose any piece of information to anyone directly if there are systems which could guarantee a notion of privacy, are cheaper, more reliable, faster and could be reused for a minimal cost?

On the other hand, there are public services which need more people. Hospitals, schools etc etc.

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2 Comments

  1. george says:

    I thing you are fast to reach a (convenient) conclusion.
    Did you ask them what was the purpose of calling you?
    Did you consider that maybe they were doing this randomly, so that they could verify the data that they already have?
    On top of that how do you know they were telling the truth? Maybe it was your neighbor and just wanted to know your annual income 😛
    I’m not trying to defend the current situation, because it sucks, but sometimes it’s easy to blame something we don’t really know about because it is part of a bigger faulty system. And who are we kidding here? It has become a trend.
    About the database issue. You are absolutely right. It is a sad thing every time you try to interact with public services here.

    • dimle says:

      Thank you for your constructive criticism. It is one of the best ways to improve ourselves.

      Unfortunately, before drawing any conclusion, I asked several questions. The other person on the line replied to as many as they could and at the end, she told me she is not responsible for this situation but I should address the issue to politicians. Nevertheless, let me give you the answers to your (very good) questions, as the questioner gave them to me.

      The purpose of calling was to collect statistics in order to make plans for future investments, european funds etc. For instance (the examples are not mine): reconstruction of houses, taxes etc.

      Indeed, the process was random. Nevertheless, it didn’t serve the purpose of verification since they didn’t have any available data. She told me that it would be very difficult to do so (despite my disagreement). Moreover, a verification by phone interview would be absurd. Under no pressure, I guess it is very difficult to contradict yourself about what you have declared for your taxes.

      Lastly, as for how I knew that she was telling me the truth. The caller’s id is displayed on the phone, she gave me the address of the service that she was calling from, her name and we discussed about people that we know in common (students from my school who were also in CEID). I understand that this is not a proof, but it is good enough given that the level of sophistication that is needed to overcome these check points it too high for our local community.

      Maybe I am wrong if there is something that I don’t understand. I would gladly accept this case given enough evidence. To be honest, I would be really happy in this case, because that would mean that my country does not behave as absurdly as I think.

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