I will answer the second part of the Deputy's query first. Most of these systems and schemes have been in place since the period 1992 to 1997, the year when the Public Service Management Act was introduced. Reforms relating to Revenue customer charges and those that brought about improvements to the social welfare system, improved services for pensioners, replaced the mess that used to be the agricultural scheme and facilitated the introduction of the motor tax on-line system and the registration offices, have all been fully implemented. A host of other reforms of a very high standard have been introduced in every area of the public service, including those relating to information, communication and technology services, in their broadest sense, through to others that apply to an entire range of schemes. In education, for example, many reforms have been introduced regarding the examination system.
The OECD will acknowledge that these reforms measure up to the best on offer elsewhere. Ireland does not need to look to the example of any other country as regards how it operates its systems. Compliance with Revenue stands at 94% and there are very few queries relating to the 1 million plus people on social welfare. Our systems are as good as any that exist elsewhere and Singapore might be our only competitor as regards many of them.
There are other areas in respect of which, for a number of reasons, reforms have not been introduced. We have, therefore, asked the OECD to benchmark our levels of performance in certain areas, particularly in terms of the disconnect. We have not been good at cross-departmental and cross-agency co-operation. Traditionally, civil servants have been viewed as working for particular Departments and Ministers and, as a result, the co-operation to which I refer did not exist. The main reason for the OECD's work is to discover how connections can be made and how people can work for the system rather than for individual Departments or agencies. The record of other countries in this regard is better than ours.
The OECD's review will concentrate, in particular, on the aspect to which I refer. It is, however, not the only aspect involved. People from the private sector are assisting the OECD in its work and individuals from the latter's head office in Paris have been engaged for most of the year in examining this matter. We will consider the OECD's recommendations and we will, it is hoped, learn something from them.
On the broader issue of our own charters, the Deputy is correct that what has shown up in surveys in new areas is that people would like to get information faster and want clear guidance. This applies to the Garda Síochána and other areas. In the customer charters, every Department, tying in civil servants across the system, is to work out what it is prepared to do as a service and benchmark itself against whether it can deliver this.
In respect of the Civil Service and its trade unions and staff associations, we are at a stage where most of the reports from the Departments, if they are not finished, will be finished by the end of this month. These reports will set out for the period from 2008 to 2010 the next challenges they are trying to deal with as Departments. That is being overseen by Ministers and probably the management advisory committees in every Department. It is the next level of how we can make our Departments more user and customer friendly.
This issue comes up all the time. When we are talking about reform of the public service, we tend to be marvellous at bringing it down to the telephone system. Many of these systems have come from the great and the good of the private sector where everyone believes that if one follows the most efficient parts of the private sector, everything will work and all one has to do is press this button or that button. The old Shanks' mare of the Civil Service was perhaps better. I was here five years ago answering questions about why we could not use the great technology in some parts of the private sector which would allow people to press buttons rather than having to explain themselves to various people. Now that we have all the buttons, everyone wants to go back to the old system. I agree that in life, one sometimes goes around the merry bush and then goes back to the way it was. That is where that came from.