Written Answers. - Computerisation Programme.

John Bruton

Question:

46 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach the number of individuals in his Department working on the year 2000 issue who will qualify for special bonus payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1217/99]

John Bruton

Question:

47 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 1 of 16 December 1998, the report on completing the SMI Programme of Action on Information Technology has been submitted to the Government. [1797/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 47 together.

As the Deputy is aware from my reply of 16 December progress is being made in implementing a number of the recommendations contained in the SMI Working Group Report on Information Technology through the work of the Interdepartmental Implementation Group on the Information Society.

The Government recently considered that group's first report, which covers a wide range of issues including measures to improve delivery of public services using information and communication technologies, and on the basis of their report, has adopted an action plan for implementing the information society in Ireland.

I launched this action plan on Monday, 25 January and I expect that it will result in progress being made on a number of the issues identified in the SMI working group report.

The SMI working group report contains a number of recommendations on the acquisition and retention of skilled IT staff. In December, 1998 the Department of Finance reached agreement with the unions on a set of once-off exceptional measures to retain skilled IT staff engaged in year 2000 work until that work is completed. This includes scope for reassignment of suitable administrative staff to IT work and, where it is deemed appropriate payment of a loyalty bonus in April 2000 to skilled IT staff. Four IT officers in my Department who are working on the year 2000 issue will qualify for special bonus payments.

The remaining recommendations of the report including those relating to staffing issues, will shortly be considered by the SMI implementation group, in the context of completing the SMI programme of action on information technology and I expect that a report will be submitted to Government at an early date.