At the outset I would point out that the Association of Higher Civil Servants (AHCS) report to which the Deputy refers was a submission made in June of this year in response to a request from the Co-ordinating Group of Secretaries, which was set up to oversee the strategic management initiative, for ideas and suggestions regarding the proposed programme for reform of the civil and public service. The AHCS submission was not therefore directed specifically at my Department but was concerned with the civil and public service in general.
As the Deputy is aware, this administration clearly stated in its Programme for Government that public service reform would be high on its agenda, and that a number of problems were known to exist which could only be addressed by a systematic programme of action including legislative change. Earlier this year the Government mandated the Co-ordinating Group of Secretaries to prepare proposals for reform and I understand that the group will submit its proposals to Government very shortly. In framing its proposals, the group has taken account of the views of the AHCS. Once it has had an opportunity to consider the group's proposals, the Government will announce details of a reform programme.