At the 2011 Irish Internet Association Net Visionary Awards ceremony on Friday night (30 September 2011) the Arts Council won the award in the eGovernment category for its online services.
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan TD, has welcomed the award to the Arts Council - its second award in two years for its online services.
The system was also the winner of the ICT Excellence Award 2010 in the Public Service category.
The Council's provision of online services is an integral part of its ICT strategy and involves an online application process, and assessment and payments for artists and arts organisations who apply for funding support from the Arts Council. The Council now receives 100 per cent of applications and over 99 per cent of supporting materials online; all assessments and all payments are processed online.
The winning initiative, delivered in partnership with Deloitte, has seen the Arts Council go from dealing with thousands of paper-based grant application sheets - along with back-up supporting material such as music, pictures and video - to onscreen, electronic applications. The change has reduced by several weeks, the processing time of a grant, without compromising in any way the Council's rigorous assessment of the art work.
The Arts Council's Director of Operations, Aidan Burke, said: "We have undergone significant modernisation in recent years in the Arts Council to ensure that we are providing the best service possible to the public and to the arts sector in the most efficient manner. Through our online services the Arts Council is open for electronic business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Clients for example, can input their application online, check its status and grant recipients have the ability to request their payment and track the progress of that payment all online. Delivering an effective and efficient service to the public is key to this project."
Mr Burke also said that feedback from users to the online services has been "overwhelmingly positive," with clients finding the site "extremely user friendly, convenient and easy to use."
Aidan Burke added: "After the 2010 ICT Excellence award the Arts Council offered to assist other government agencies modernise and speed up their grants systems and we continue with that assistance on an ongoing basis. We are very pleased to share our experience with others in the public sector, particularly in this very practical area of work."
Congratulating the Arts Council, Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said: "I would like to extend my congratulations to the Arts Council on winning this eGovernment award. Through implementing its online services programme the Council has not only reduced its back office and administrative costs but it has also improved its service to those applying for funding support. It is a very good example of how a creative solution combined with team effort can benefit everyone."
Mr Burke paid tribute to all of those who "work to ensure that the Arts Council's online services continues to be a success."