Department of Agriculture scores a hat trick

27 Jan 2006

The Department of Agriculture and Food scooped three awards at this year’s Innovation Through Technology Awards for deploying IT systems that include calculating payments for farmers, e-enabling declarations by exporters and rolling out the animal health computer system.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD, who presented the awards last night, said the deployment of IT as a means of boosting public sector was vital. He told some 200 representative from across the public sector: “You are the people who are at the forefront of change across the public service. Through that change you are providing better access to public services, you are improving efficiencies and you are driving synergies between the public and private sectors. That is what is at the heart of public sector innovation today.”

Eight awards were presented last night. A special award was introduced to recognise key individuals within the public sector who have established themselves as leaders in the promotion and practice of innovation. That award went to Colm Butler, director of the Information Society Policy Unit at the Department of the Taoiseach and also a regular columnist with Knowledge Ireland.

Innovator of the Year Award went to Joe Horan, county manager for South Dublin County Council, who spearheaded IT innovation for the council in delivering improved services for customers and in driving business efficiencies for the organisation. Horan is a former chairman of the Local Government Computer Services Board.

The Government to Government Award went to the Department of the Taoiseach for the e-Cabinet project. The project has implemented a secure system for the electronic circulation of all documents related to the Cabinet decision-making process, supporting some 25,000 document transmissions and dramatically reducing the amount of time and paper needed for consultation.

The Government to Citizen Award went to Donegal County Council for its e-planning system. The newly developed system allows the public to view planning applications over the web.

The Government to Business Award went to Department of Agriculture and Food for the single farm payment IT system. This application is designed to support the accurate calculation of farmers’ single farm payment entitlement.

The award for Best Project Within An Organisation Award went to Houses of the Oireachtas for the Oireachtas Translation Aid Project. The project has developed an application tool to facilitate the process of developing official translations of primary legislation.

The Best Partnership Project award went to the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Revenue Commissioners for the e-SAD Project. The project uses the Reach Public Services Broker to let exporters submit declarations to the Revenue and to the Department.

The Innovative Organisation of the Year award went to the Department of Agriculture and Food. The Department has deployed a number of impressive technology-based solutions including the delivery of the Single Farm Payment system and rolling out the Animal Health Computer System.

Also speaking at the awards last night was Eircom chief executive Dr Philip Nolan, whose company was lead sponsor of the awards. Underlining the importance of innovation in the public sector, Dr Nolan said: “Tonight we have recognised seven remarkable achievements in innovation that have demonstrated how technology can deliver efficient, high-quality and useful services to Government agencies, to the public and to business.”

By John Kennedy