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Minister Coveney welcomes excellent progress on capacity and efficiency in his Department

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed the publication of the Progress Report on Implementation of the Organisational Review Programme (ORP). "My Department participated in the first phase of the Programme and I am pleased and encouraged that the progress report has found that excellent progress has been made overall".

The detailed assessment of the Department's progress found that, among other things:

  • Very significant progress has been made in terms of its efficiency agenda with some 15 business units reviewed to date achieving synergies, business process improvements, changes in the ways schemes are managed and better use of information technology. 
  • A comprehensive restructuring programme has taken place resulting in the local office network being reduced from 58 to 16 offices, yielding an overall reduction of 400 staff and estimated savings of some €30m per annum. The Independent Review by Dr. Richard Boyle, included in the Progress Report, commented that this programme was an example of good practice, which could be of interest to the civil service generally.
  • The Department has continued to perform impressively in the development and implementation of policy and strategy, and considerable resources were invested to enable it to perform strongly at EU level and manage the Presidency effectively. Also a major review of the sector was undertaken resulting in the development of the 'Food Harvest 2020' strategy. 
  • It has put sustained effort into improving its customer service delivery systems with a number of online services developed.

As a result of implementation of the efficiency agenda, the Department has reduced its staffing levels from 4,800 in 2005 to fewer than 3,600 currently, a reduction of over 25%. The cost of running the Department has fallen substantially since 2008, by some €60million or approximately 20%.

The Minister commented that the drive for efficiency will continue with the implementation of the Department's Action Plan under the Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement, and participation in initiatives arising from the Government's recently published Public Sector Reform Plan.

Note for Editors

The purpose of the Organisational Review Programme is to review the capacities of individual Government Departments and major Offices and the Department was part of the first phase of reviews. In response to the findings of the review, each Department had to develop an 'Action Plan'. A 'look back' process began last year that involved the Department reporting on its progress in implementing that Action Plan.

Date Released: 27 January 2012