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Coveney welcomes progress in implementation of the Croke Park Agreement

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed the announcement by the National Implementation Body that the targets set out under the Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement are being met.

"My Department submitted its progress report early last month on the implementation of its 'Action Plan' under the Croke Park Agreement.  The report outlines the significant progress made by my Department, which has been engaged in a fundamental process of re-organisation, major reductions in staffing levels and improvement of its business processes, including major changes to the local office network.  We have reported major progress, including a reduction of 173 staff and administrative savings of nearly €14million since the end of March 2010."

Since 2005 the Department has been engaged in a major change management programme including re-organisation at all levels facilitated by changes in the way schemes are managed, reductions in disease levels, and the advanced use of information technology. As a result the Department has been able to reduce its staffing level from 4,800 to 3,600, a reduction of 25%. The cost of running the Department has fallen substantially, by some €60million since 2008.

Under the Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement Action Plan major changes are already taking place in the Department.  These include the Local Office Re-organisation Programme which, when fully completed in 2012, will reduce the number of local offices from 58 to 16, reducing overall staff numbers by some 400 and reducing the cost of administration by €30 million per annum, while maintaining a high level of integrated services to farmers. There will be further staff savings, in addition to the substantial drop in numbers to date, over the period of the programme to 2014 when the Department’s staffing levels will have reduced by 470, resulting in savings of some €23 million. This will represent a total reduction of some 1,400, or almost 30%, in staff numbers since 2005.

On the non-pay side, further targeted savings of €20 million to 2014 will result from business and procurement process improvements and better use of use of information technology, including developing and encouraging further use of on-line services.

The Minster concluded, "I will continue to drive the implementation of my Department's Action Plan and will also seek additional measures to ensure more efficient and effective ways of running the Department. The Agreement has facilitated, and will continue to facilitate, the Department in re-organising to meet the challenges of maintaining operating capacity with reduced resources. I am reviewing all aspects of my Department in great detail as part of an Expenditure Review I am currently undertaking."

Date Released: 15 June 2011