The White Paper recommendation for an integrated personnel management plan, or system, and other related White Paper recommendations are now enshrined in the programme for Government of June 2002.
Under the programme, we are committed to, among other things, the introduction of an integrated personnel management system, known as the IPMS, for the Defence Forces which will deal with the broad range of human resources management and development issues. These include, manpower policy and planning, equality of opportunity and treatment and the right to dignity at work, recruitment, terms of enlistment, induction, training, education and development, physical and medical fitness, career planning and guidance, promotion, the regulatory framework, retirement, and pensions. In effect, what is envisaged is the development and implementation of a fully comprehensive human resources strategy for the Defence Forces — Army, Naval Service and Air Corps. I am pleased to say that we have made very good progress.
Initial proposals for an IPMS were developed by the military authorities and then referred to the top level civil-military strategic management committee for further development. Some of the key proposals were then put to the associations representing officers and enlisted personnel late last year in the context of the negotiations on the application to the Defence Forces of Sustaining Progress. Those negotiations also involved the preparation of an action plan covering the development and implementation of a range of modernisation elements, including key IPMS elements. I am pleased to say that the negotiations were successful in the period before Christmas and that both associations signed up to Sustaining Progress and to the implementation of the action plan over the period to mid-2005. The implementation process is now under way.