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Minister Coughlan welcomes Public Service Excellence Award for her Department

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today welcomed the award to her Department, of a Public Service Excellence Award for its new Animal Health Computer System which was presented by An Taoiseach at a Showcase and Awards ceremony in Dublin Castle. Ms Marian Finucane chaired the independent selection committee for the awards.

The Minister said that it was gratifying for all of those involved in the project to have their efforts and achievement recognised in this fashion and she wished to express her thanks to the people concerned. The Minister added: "It is good to see recognition being given to such a successful large scale project that provides genuine benefits in terms of improved service delivery and administration."

Minister Coughlan said that this new computer system "is an essential element in supporting the Department's various animal health and welfare activities and brings the benefits of modern technology to the administration of the Department's various programmes".

It augments other systems developed by her Department in recent years particularly those relating to cattle traceability, which "provide further assurances on food safety which consumers rightly demand".

The system is being used principally for the management of the TB and Brucellosis eradication schemes at the moment - the Department carries out up to nine million TB tests and some five million Brucellosis tests annually. It has recently been extended to facilitate the creation of a national database of all keepers of domestic poultry and captive birds as part of the Department's response to the threat of an outbreak of avian influenza. Later phases of the system will see it extended to deal with other bovine health programmes as well as disease programmes in pigs, sheep and poultry.

The system provides private veterinary practitioners with on-line access to the Department's system and allows electronic exchange of data. More than 900 private veterinary practitioners in approximately 400 practices throughout the country use it on a daily basis and these account for about 95% of all testing under the TB and Brucellosis Eradication schemes (100% in some counties).

The Public Service Excellence award follows on from other successes at the Eircom Innovation Through Technology awards earlier this year when the Department received the top award in three of the categories.

The Minister expressed her pleasure that her Department has been recognised as one of the leading innovative organisations in the Irish Public Service and indicated that it would continue to exploit technology to facilitate change and to improve services and efficiency for all of its stakeholders

31 March, 2006

NOTE FOR EDITORS

The three awards under the Innovation Through Technology Awards scheme, which were also presented by An Taoiseach at a function in the Berkeley Court Hotel, Dublin on 26th January were as follows:

(a) for the Government to Business category for the Department's implementation of the Single Payment system. Set up to meet the demands of the Common Agriculture Policy's Single Farmer Payment (SFP) scheme the system was designed to calculate farmers' entitlements under the scheme. The SFP scheme radically changed the basis on which payments are made to farmers by de-coupling payment and production for over 13 schemes and consolidating a range of scheme-based payments into one single payment.
(b) for the Best Partnership Project category for its work on the e-SAD (electronic single administrative document) project with the Revenue Commissioners and REACH. This project allows exporters to submit export declarations to the Revenue Commissioners ROS system and removes the need for an exporter to submit these documents separately to both Government agencies and thus reduces the opportunity for error or delay.
(c) for the Innovative Organisation of the Year (overall award) for its deployment of several technology-based solutions, including the delivery of the Single Payment system and the rolling out of the Animal Health Computer System.

Date Released: 31 March 2006