Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together.
The total projected cost of the communications unit for 2006 is €352,626. Some €153,757 is a direct cost to my Department, with on average €39,774 being borne by the five other Departments which have staff seconded to the unit. The cost to date in 2006 is €264,470.
The unit provides a media information service to Ministers and their Departments. It furnishes news updates and transcripts that ensure Departments are kept informed of any relevant news developments in a fast and efficient manner. In this way, Departments are able to provide a better service to the public.
The communications unit works an 18-hour 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 it ensures that they no longer duplicate work such as transcripts and tapes. The communications unit is estimated to save Departments approximately €200,000 per annum.