The Minister for Finance, Mr. Charlie McCreevy TD, has today published draft legislation that will set up Ordnance Survey Ireland as a separate state body.
For most of its 176-year history the Ordnance Survey has operated - and remains structured - as a public service support office providing maps for the administrative and legislative functions of the state. In recent years, however, with the application of leading-edge technology, its role has expanded to providing a wide range of products and services to private commercial and industrial users. These technological advances have resulted in the emergence of many new opportunities for OSI, but have also resulted in continually increasing demands in the marketplace for new, improved and more up to date products.
The Minister for Finance, Mr Charlie McCreevy TD, said that the restrictions imposed by its civil service status limit Ordnance Survey Irelandís capacity to exploit these opportunities and to meet its customersí demands. It was therefore necessary, he said, to bring forward this legislation to transform Ordnance Survey Ireland into a separate state body with a commercial remit while, of course, still carrying out its traditional function of providing essential mapping services for the administrative, legislative and infrastructural functions of the state.
Apart from the changes in Ordnance Survey Irelandís status, the main features of the proposed legislation are as follows:
the establishment of a permanent Board for OSI to which a Chief Executive will report;
a requirement that OSI provide a return on the assets under its control;
a mechanism for service agreements between Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Minister that certain outputs will be required and standards met by OSI in return for a state subvention. These outputs, and the level of the subvention, will be determined in such a manner as to ensure that the commercial operations of OSI will not be cross-subsidised by the public purse;
a requirement that, taking the subvention into account, OSI will be required, at least, to break even, taking one year with another, and to minimise its cost base insofar as is consistent with appropriate quality and service levels.
The Minister also expressed his appreciation to the Interim Board of Ordnance Survey Ireland - which is chaired by Mr Kevin Bonner, former Secretary General of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment - for the valuable contribution that it has made in providing advice on the future role of OSI and he looks forward to the Interim Board successfully completing this task of overseeing OSIís change from a civil service office into a separate state body.
In conclusion, the Minister for Finance referred to the fact that, through continually adopting the latest mapping technology over many years, the staff of Ordnance Survey Ireland had achieved a complete transformation of all aspects of map-making in this country. As a result, they had also brought OSI to a point where it now has the potential for the expansion of, and improvement in, the range of products and services which it can provide to its customers. The achievement of this potential depends on the staff of OSI being as flexible and adaptable as heretofore and on their giving full support for the proposed new structures. The Minister is confident that, with consultation at all stages, this support will be forthcoming.
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