As I stated in reply to a similar question from Deputy McCormack, Question No. 153 of 21 October 2003, the review of financial and audit requirements to which the Deputy refers is one of the outputs specified in my Department's Strategy Statement 2003-05. This underpins a strategic approach to achieve greater coherence across the range of structures, processes and schemes supporting local and community development. Effective decision-making and proper financial control are critical to advancing this agenda.
The first phase of the review, involving a survey of the criteria and processes used across a range of schemes operated by my Department, has been completed. The next phase, developing, as part of a number of wider processes going forward, best practice templates appropriate to the diverse programmes operated or funded by my Department is in progress. The Deputy will be aware, from my replies to earlier questions today, that the Government has taken a number of decisions arising from the review of local and community development structures.
As part of my Department's developing IT strategy, a number of projects have been identified which will facilitate more effective decision making and control.
The strengthened financial management controls over the schemes and programmes funded by my Department, as outlined in the previous reply, have continued to be implemented.Also, the evaluation of the systems of internal financial control in my Department, which was carried out in line with the recommendationsof the Working Group on the Accountabilityof Secretaries General and Accounting Officers — Mullarkey Report — has just been completed.
Further progress has also been made on the implementation of the management information framework, MIF, in line with the strategic management initiative, SMI, in the public service. Contracts have been placed for the project, which involves the installation of a new financial management system that will facilitate better financial and general management across the Department. The project is progressing on schedule, with full completion due by next November.
So as to deepen the ethos of financial control and value for money, a systems audit of the community development support programme, CDSP, has commenced and is nearing completion. A review of expenditure in relation to the local drugs task forces is also due to commence in the coming months.
In light of the progress to date I believe that the work under way will lead to best practices across the Department and deliver on the agenda for change as set out in the strategy statement.