Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.
The projected total cost of the communications unit for 2004 is €299,921, of which €122,990 is a direct cost to my Department with, on average, €35,386 being borne by the five other Departments that have staff seconded to the unit. The cost for the unit in 2003 was €288,737.
The unit provides a media information service to Ministers and their Departments. It furnishes news updates and transcripts, which ensure Departments are kept informed in a fast and efficient manner of relevant news developments. Departments are able to provide a better service to the public this way.
The communications unit operates 18 hours a day based on a flexible rota of three working shifts. The unit is staffed by six established civil servants, five of whom are seconded from other Departments. The work of the unit means that Departments have greatly reduced their use of external companies and ensures they no longer duplicate work such as transcripts and tapes. The unit is estimated to save Departments in excess of €200,000 per annum.