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Written Answers. - Departmental Staff.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 36. Mr. J. O'Keeffe Information on Jim O'Keeffe Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  if he has satisfied himself that his Department is operating effectively and efficiently and is adequately resourced from the point of view of personnel and otherwise. [18482/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell One of the most reliable indicators of the efficiency and effectiveness of any organisation is its performance in the implementation of strategies for the management of the organisation and its resources. My Department is implementing a range of modernisation strategies aimed at supporting the achievement of the Department's objectives in its policy and operational areas.

Substantial progress was recorded over the past 18 months in particular in the implementation of strategic planning, performance management and development, a staff training and development programme, financial management, information technology and customer service initiatives. This progress was independently validated under the quality assurance arrangements provided for by the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, leading to qualification by my Department for the 4% final phase, paid earlier this month, under the programme.

While I am satisfied that my Department is operating efficiently and effectively in line with [1150] the public service as a whole, I recognise the need for continuous improvement in the implementation of strategies for further modernisation of the organisation and the services it provides. Guided by developments at central level, my Department is currently planning the direction and substance of the next phase of modernisation which will be encompassed within the Department's strategy statement for the period 2003-05.

The new strategy statement is to be prepared by 6 December 2002 under the terms of the Public Service Management Act, 1997. This statement will incorporate the commitments set out in the Agreed Programme for Government which fall due for implementation by my Department. Implementation of the strategies contained in the new statement will be the subject of a twice-yearly formal review of progress which I will be leading. I should add that my Department expects to be in a position early next year to report in respect of 2002 on achievements under the Department's strategy statement for 2001-04.

In terms of the services provided by my Department, the emphasis has been, and continues to be, firmly on delivering greater efficiency and effectiveness as the Department has rolled out a comprehensive programme of organisation restructuring across the justice and equality sector. In the past three years or so, the Courts Service, the Irish Prisons Service, the new equality/disability and refugee service infrastructures and other bodies have been established with devolved authority and strengthened management structures leading to enhanced service provision.

There has been considerable expansion over recent years in the area of staff resources and related costs, particularly, though not exclusively, in the asylum and immigration area. The level of these resources is kept under continuous review and, at present my Department is in consultation with the Department of Finance with a view to ensuring that adequate resources are in place to cater for Ireland's 2004 Presidency of the EU in the justice and home affairs and equality areas.

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