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Strategic Communications Unit

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 7 November 2017

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Questions (89, 95, 97, 99, 121, 122, 123, 124, 127)

Micheál Martin

Question:

89. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of times he has met the senior staff member of the strategic communications unit since it was set up. [46347/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

95. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when his attention was drawn to the director of the strategic communications unit addressing the PRII. [45690/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

97. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if an assessment has been carried out in his Department regarding the amount needed to invest in a one Government portal. [45693/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

99. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if each Department has been briefed in full regarding the intentions behind the strategic communications unit; the format these briefings took; if reservations were made; and if notes will be released. [45695/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

121. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if his departmental officials requested or sought information from their counterparts in the UK regarding its strategic communications unit or its equivalent and the cost of running it; and if they sought information regarding the costs of setting up a one-for-all Government website. [46501/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

122. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if his departmental officials requested or sought information from their counterparts in New Zealand regarding its strategic communications unit or its equivalent and the cost of running it; and if they sought information regarding the costs of setting up a one-for-all Government website. [46502/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

123. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if his departmental officials requested or sought information from their counterparts in the Netherlands regarding its strategic communications unit or its equivalent and the cost of running it; and if they sought information regarding the costs of setting up a one-for-all Government website. [46503/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

124. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if his departmental officials requested information from another country regarding its strategic communications unit or its equivalent and the cost of running it; and if they sought information regarding the costs of setting up a one-for-all Government website. [46504/17]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

127. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the research that was carried out in his Department regarding a strategic communications unit being set up; and if he will make this research available. [46507/17]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89, 95, 97, 99, 121 to 124, inclusive, and 127 together.

The Director of the Strategic Communications Unit informed the Secretary General of my Department that he was invited by the PRII to address its members.

As part of the Government's eGovernment strategy 2017- 2020 the Office of the Chief Information Officer has been working on the development of a Digital Service Gateway - a single digital point where citizens can easily access information about the Government services that are available to them. This work, which began at the beginning of this year is ongoing and will involve the rationalisation of existing Government websites and online services over time. The project will be managed and developed by existing resources within the civil service.

A series of meetings between the Director and Staff in the SCU with Ministers, Secretaries General and officials across departments have taken place over the past month.

At the meetings, it has been noted that the the Director of the SCU briefed the Minister and Secretaries General on the work of the Unit and the role it will play in improving effectiveness, efficiency and cross Government cooperation to foster and develop a whole of Government approach to communications.

I meet with the Director of the Strategic Communications Unit as part of a sub group of the Civil Service management board on a regular basis.

As part of the planning process in setting up The Strategic Communications Unit and to emulate international best practice the Director and staff of the Unit consulted with their counterparts in the UK, and the Netherlands to learn how those countries go about communicating the work of Government to their citizens in a cohesive and whole of Government way and will continue to consult with international counterparts to seek to adhere to international best practice.

The decision to set up the SCU was informed by a need to streamline how Government communicates with its citizens.

As an initial step, my Department conducted some research on existing communications activities, including the range of campaigns, brands and channels of communication used by different agencies, and which have built up over many years, under successive governments. This research is ongoing and will be used by civil service management to help frame the work plan for the new unit. The results of that research will be published upon completion.

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