Tuesday, 13 December 2005
Brian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
We want to ensure, particularly with information and communications technology, that we are apprised ab initio and throughout the process to ensure we know the scope of a project. In the past we have been prepared to give budgets to line Departments to enable them to proceed with their ICT and technology issues to bring about a more effective service. We were all agreed on this. These issues have arisen in both the private and the public sectors. There have been successes in both.
I thank the Deputy for his openness on this point, but it is important that we have an identified person responsible. We cannot have situation whereby no one is responsible in the event of something going wrong. From a management viewpoint it is important that such a person is identified so that everyone knows in respect of every Department in which there are consultancies or operations outside its remit to assist on strategic reviews or whatever, that there are those with overall responsibility for ensuring projects are brought to a successful conclusion and within budget. The moment it is indicated a project will not meet its budget, it is incumbent on him or her to explain the situation adequately so that a systems failure does not arise, as we have seen in the past not just with this Government but under previous Administrations. A public administration culture per se needed to be addressed.
That is the idea behind these initiatives. They are sensible, fair and will work. They will allow the public service not to recoil into indecision but to make decisions on the basis of adequate preparation so that people may proceed with some confidence and we all know where we are going and do not have problems in the future. That is the thinking behind the initiative and, as a result, it is being welcomed by everybody in the service. I will ask individual Ministers to confirm that they have put these arrangements in place to my satisfaction as a result of this initiative.