Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (367, 368)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

367. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of work by his Department to improve its IT infrastructure and upgrade IT systems in order to enhance the capacity for ready retrieval of information, including specific progress on a unified data model designed to rationalise, standardise and unify his Department’s main data holdings, so as to provide a solid foundation on which to build new systems including details of available financial, human and IT resources. [32115/13]

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Charlie McConalogue

Question:

368. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if work is being progressed by his Department to improve its IT infrastructure and upgrade IT systems in order to enhance the capacity for ready retrieval of information includes the provision for the electronic return and management of data from schools. [32116/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 367 and 368 together.

My Department has implemented a number of IT Infrastructure and IT Systems improvements in recent years. The main highlights are:

1. Bandwidth improvements to the telecommunications infrastructure between the three main offices (Dublin, Athlone and Tullamore) has facilitated improved resilience between these locations. Increased bandwidth has also been rolled out to 31 local/regional offices.

2. Over the last 3 years, network storage has been consolidated, resulting in the reduction of the number of computer servers from 100 to approximately 10. This has resulted in a reduction in the associated maintenance and running costs of the provision of network storage.

3. A major PC upgrade programme is currently underway, in the three main offices, along with an upgrade to Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2013 and rollout of Unified Communications.

4. A major project to upgrade the hardware (servers and Storage Area Network) and database software architecture underlying the department's main datasets will commence shortly.

5. A single, central repository of school and pupil data has been delivered through the Unified Data Model (UDM) project.

6. Building on UDM, the PPOD (Post-Primary Online Data) project which is scheduled to be delivered in October 2013, will provide an online system to facilitate the updating of pupil and school data by Post-Primary schools.

7. There are ongoing enhancements to the Online Claims System, used by schools to input school employee absences and casual/non-casual appointments. There are also online systems to capture aggregate literacy and numeracy data from primary schools and accommodation details from primary and post-primary schools.

8. Business Intelligence solutions have been implemented on a number of existing datasets, for some business areas and work is continuing to broaden its use.

My Department's IT Unit currently has a staffing complement of 54 and a budget of €4.63 million.