Ceisteanna — Questions. - Computerisation Programme.

John Bruton

Ceist:

4 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach whether the development of an IT system for the processing of Government documentation has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14420/98]

An IT database to assist in the processing of documentation relating to the Government meetings has been developed. It is due to begin testing in the next few weeks and, subject to the outcome of the tests, is expected to become fully operational during the summer period.

Will this mean the pink slips will be redundant?

I think it will be a while before that happens but the intention is to remove the enormous volume of paper used in Government memoranda and Government decisions. It will take some time to achieve that aim. It is hoped to build a database which in due course will hold most of the information and provide a more suitable treatment for the paper flow in Government decisions.

Will this mean that the Secretary to the Government will be tapping away at his computer at meetings?

His office will certainly be tapping away because the intention is that instead of everything being printed 25 times and circulated in the present manner, there will be a closer mechanism for dealing with it. There are technical and security considerations which are being worked on and which will create some difficulties. It is a good initiative. Deputy Bruton, Deputy Quinn and others who have been at the Cabinet table will be aware there is far too much paper. There is an enormous amount of paper that is rarely scrutinised — I will not say looked at — and it is not really necessary. The idea is to use IT processes to deal with Government memoranda at meetings in a more efficient way in the future.

I am looking forward to seeing this work at first hand.

Many sections of the public service are almost at the paperless stage. I would have thought ten years ago I would never see that, but it has happened.