Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with William G. Colman
COLMAN: Athens, yes. There, for the first time, I met Hubert R. (Hugh) Gallagher. He was the Director of the Civil Government division of the Mission. The Chief of Mission was Dwight Griswold, former Governor of Nebraska. He and Gallagher had known each other in connection with the Council of State Governments for whom Gallagher had worked in prior years. Hugh asked me to be his deputy, I don't think we ever had more than four or five people working in the division. He was number one and I was number two. I conducted a general survey of what the personnel situation was in the Greek government. Of course there was a lot of patronage. Also, they had copied several aspects of French Civil Service in earlier years.
Q: So you were dealing with a French model?
COLMAN: A French model and also British to some extent, and I will always remember my first meeting with Minister of Finance Helmis, who you might say was really the minister of administration for the Greek government. He looked after financial, personnel and central management matters. He was explaining the greatness and the competence of the Greek personnel system. He said that the war had been a very disorganizing influence, but that before the war Greece had been recognized as “one of the very best personnel systems in all of the Balkans!” (I had naively been expecting him to say “Europe”.)
Q: One of the best personnel systems in all of the Balkans!!!
COLMAN: All of the Balkans. This was an important transition point for me in two respects: The transition into working abroad; and the opportunity within the field of public administration central management that might allow me to get over into organization and management as well as personnel issues.
On another occasion, the Greek Government came to Hugh and said, “We've got a terrible mess here in the Ministry of Public Works and we would like you to have a look taken at that.” We looked at organization structure and so forth and made some recommendations, a few of which were, I think, adopted. An interesting conference occurred between Gallagher and the Minister of Public Works, his name being Nicoliades. There was a lot of duplication in the field offices of the Public Works Ministry and Mr. Gallagher was kind of impatient. He said, “Mr. Minister don't you realize that that's poor administration?” The Minister replied, “Of course it's poor administration, Greece is a poor country!” I remained in Greece for about a year, arriving over there in August of 1947 and coming back to Washington in July of 1948.
Q: May I interrupt a minute Bill, and ask, before you leave Greece. What did you find, say, on the personnel system; what did you do? Did you try to convert it all to a US model or did you...?