Wednesday, 8 October 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
79. Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the main features of the Civil Service action plan to meet the requirements of the benchmarking process within his own Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22193/03]
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O'Donoghue): Under the action plan to which the Deputy has referred, my Department is committed to continuing to progress and develop the various strands of the Civil Service modernisation agenda as set out in Sustaining Progress. Within that context, my Department has identified three main priority areas. These are: the need to ensure more efficient use of resources; a greater emphasis on human resource development; and the maximisation of technology to deliver better services to customers.
As the Department moves forward, a key focus will be on ensuring maximum efficiency in the use of the resources through implementation of expenditure review and internal audit programmes as well as ongoing reviews of the operations of the Department to ensure effective targeting of resources to meet Government priorities and to deliver quality services to customers. The efficient management of the Department's resources will be underpinned by the development of a management information framework, MIF, relevant to the Department's needs.
In order to ensure effective and efficient delivery of the mission and goals of the Department, significant attention will be given to human resource development. This will be done through the implementation of an integrated human resource strategy aimed at enhancing both the performance of the organisation and of individual staff members. The embedding of the Civil Service performance management and development system, PMDS, and the provision of training for staff through targeted training programmes which will be subject to ongoing evaluation and review will underpin the delivery of the strategy.
While the central Department has limited involvement in the direct provision of services to the public, an important focus for the three cultural institutions which are part of my Department – the National Museum, the National Library and the National Archives – which have a significant level of direct interaction with customers, will be the development of new ways of meeting the needs of their customers through greater use of technology-based services over the period to June 2005. A number of specific objectives to achieve this are set out in the plan.
As the Deputy is aware, my Department was formed in June 2002 – less than 18 months ago – bringing together functions and staff from the former Departments of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and Tourism, Sport and Recreation. In that context, it is important to recognise and acknowledge the significant progress which has already been made by my Department in meeting the various challenges associated with the establishment of a new Department and, at the same time, in managing to make substantial progress in implementing the civil service modernisation pro gramme. The logistical challenges associated with the bringing together of new functions and a new group of staff have been addressed with considerable flexibility and goodwill from the staff of my Department, including the internal reorganisation necessary to support the three sectors within its portfolio – arts, sport and tourism – and to deliver a quality service to its customer base.
My Department now has in place a robust framework for the progression of the civil service modernisation programme in accordance with the requirements of Sustaining Progress and the benchmarking process and the Secretary General will be making his report on progress under my Department's action plan to the public service verification group in the coming weeks.
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