Department of Public Service & Administration Strategic Plans & Budget

NCOP Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements

25 June 2009
Chairperson: Mr M Mokgobi (ANC, Limpopo Province)
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Meeting Summary

The Deputy Minister of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs presented an introduction to the briefing by the Department of Public Service and Administration.  The medium-term strategy of the Department was developed in line with Government’s five key priorities, as outlined by the President in the recent State of the Nation address.

The Director-General of the Department of Public Service and Administration briefed the Committee on the Department of Public Service and Administration’s medium-term strategy for the period 2009 to 2012.  He presented an overview of the Ministry, the establishment of the DPSA, the governance and administration cluster, the DPSA’s vision and mission statement and mandate, the requirements outlined in Section 195(1) of the Constitution, the manifesto of the African National Congress, the macro organisation of the State, the pertinent aspects of the President’s State of the Nation address, the medium-term strategic framework and plan of action of the governance and administration cluster, the legislative mandates of the DPSA, the six programmes of the Department, the medium term priority projects within the programmes and the recent achievements of the DPSA.  The major challenges faced by the Department included non-compliance to policies and frameworks by Government Departments, inadequate maintenance of the PERSAL payroll system with the result that vacancies in the public sector cannot be accurately determined and non-adherence to job evaluation standards across Departments.  The DPSA had an extensive legislative programme in place to address the challenges and planned to accelerate the implementation of the Single Public Service concept.  A summary of the DPSA’s medium-term budget for each of the six programmes was submitted.  The total budget for 2009/10 amounted to R355 million, increasing to R417 million for the 2011/12 financial year.

Members asked questions about measures taken to ensure compliance by Government Departments, the benefits of implementing the Single Public Service, the monitoring and evaluation function of the DPSA, the role played by the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy, the evaluation of the competence and compliance to job requirements of public office bearers, the existence of “ghost workers” in the public service, the implementation of Occupation Specific Dispensation agreements in the public sector, the number of vacancies in Government Departments, the effectiveness and evaluation of Community Development Workers, the measures taken to increase the employment of disabled persons in the public sector, the standardisation of skill requirements for positions in the public service, the measurement of the effectiveness and understanding of the Batho Pele principles, the disparity between the remuneration of interns in public service and private enterprises and the basis used to determine the Department’s budget.

The Department was requested to provide written responses to Members’ questions, details of the support required from the Committee, conferences and summits and to submit quarterly reports on achievements.

Meeting report

The Chairperson requested that the presentation from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) was limited to an overview of the most important issues as the Committee planned to engage in in-depth discussions at the meeting scheduled for the following week.

The Deputy Minister of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Honourable R Padayachie, extended the apologies of the Minister, who was unable to attend the meeting.  He gave the assurance that both the ministry and the officials from the Department were committed to being available to the Select and the Portfolio Committees whenever required.  The President had outlined five key priorities for Government in his recent State of the Nation address.  In order to give effect to Government’s priorities, the DPSA had developed ten major thrusts to its medium-term strategy.  The Department’s mission and vision had been more clearly defined to reflect the focus on delivering effective governmental functions to the nation.  The DPSA planned to improve the standard of service delivery by the public service by developing a culture of honesty, transparency and hard work in public servants.  The right to effective Government was enshrined in Chapter 11 of the Constitution and the DPSA needed to ensure that the constitutional principles were fully expressed in the functioning of the State.  The challenge for the Department was to build an effective, responsive, participative and caring Government.

Briefing by Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)

Prof Richard Levin (Director-General, DPSA) briefed the Committee on the Department’s medium-term strategy for the period 2009 to 2012 (see attached document).

The presentation included an overview of the Ministry, the establishment of the DPSA, the governance and administration cluster, the DPSA’s vision and mission statement and mandate, the requirements outlined in Section 195(1) of the Constitution, the manifesto of the African National Congress, the macro organisation of the State, the pertinent aspects of the President’s State of the Nation address, the medium-term strategic framework and plan of action of the governance and administration cluster, the legislative mandates of the DPSA, the six programmes of the Department, the medium term priority projects within the programmes and the recent achievements of the DPSA.

Prof Levin explained that the DPSA was the central Department responsible for the formulation of Government policy but the responsibility for compliance with the framework rested with the executives of the various national and provincial Government Departments.  The DPSA had identified issues of compliance as a major challenge.  The DPSA’s monitoring and evaluation activities provided details of the lack of compliance by specific Departments, for example where minimum requirements for the implementation of anti-corruption measures were not implemented.  Another problem area was the inability of Departments to properly maintain the PERSAL payroll system, which resulted in inaccurate information being provided for vacancies in the public sector.  There was a need for strict compliance with the requirements for the maintenance of the information on the PERSAL system.  The job evaluation standards were not adhered to, with the result that the public service experienced much movement of personnel between positions offering higher job rates.  The Single Public Service (SPS) concept was mooted in 2002 and the DPSA had an extensive legislative programme for the realisation of the SPS, for which the support of the Parliamentary Committees was required.

Prof Levin presented a summary of the DPSA’s medium-term budget, broken down per programme.  The total budget for 2009/10 amounted to R355 million, increasing to R417 million for the 2011/12 financial year.

Discussion
Mr T Chaane (ANC, North West Province) asked how the Department planned to address issues related to non-compliance with Government policy.

A Member from the Committee Section asked for an update on the SPS and for further details on the implementation of the remuneration policy.  He asked how the work done in the monitoring and evaluation programme of the DPSA was synergized with the Planning Ministry in the Office of the President.  He wanted to know what role was played by the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) in the provinces.

Mr A Matila (ANC, Gauteng Province) asked when the training of public servants by PALAMA was introduced.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape Province) asked how the competence and compliance to job requirements of public office bearers were evaluated.

Mr D Bloem (COPE, Free State Province) requested more information on the implementation of Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) agreements for Correctional Services and medical professional personnel.  He noted that non-compliance with the implementation of Government policy was cited as a major challenge by the DPSA and wanted to know what the reasons were for such non-compliance as the necessary legislation was in place.  He requested a breakdown of the vacancies in each Department.

Mr Blade Nzimande (ANC, KwaZulu Natal Province) asked what progress had been made in the standardisation, training and evaluation of Community Development Workers (CDW’s), particularly in the rural areas.  He wanted to know what strategy the DPSA had in place to encourage the appointment of disabled persons to positions in the public service and what practical steps had been taken to influence human resource managers to appoint disabled persons.  He asked how the concept of providing reasonable accommodation had been implemented.  He wanted to know what progress had been made in the rationalisation of the skills required for positions advertised.

Mr M Makhubela (COPE, Limpopo Province) asked if the introduction of the SPS would eliminate the movement of personnel within the public service.  He asked if there were any “ghost workers” in South Africa.  He asked if the principle of Batho Pele had been applied as the entire country continued to complain about the lack of service delivery by the public service.

Mr Matila remarked that the issue of vacancies had also been raised in the Select Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the Portfolio Committee on Sport.  The issue of the implementation of the OSD was applicable in the Department of Transport as well.  He said that there was disparity between the remuneration of interns employed by the Department of Public Works and the salaries paid to the interns when they were deployed to contracting companies.  He asked if such disparity in the wage scales would not result in future problems being created for Government.

Mr B Nesi (ANC, Eastern Cape Province) asked if the monitoring and evaluation function was able to measure the impact made by CDW’s and the progress made in linking up the services offered by the various Government Departments.  During oversight visits, Members found little understanding of the principles of Batho Pele.  He wanted to know if the DPSA had monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in place to measure the extent of the understanding of the principles of Batho Pele by public servants.  He asked if the DPSA determined its budget in accordance with the strategy or tailored the strategy in accordance with the budget.

The Chairperson requested a written response from the DPSA on the comments made and questions asked by the Members.  He asked the Department to submit a report detailing the assistance required from the Committee, in particular where the Committee can follow up to ensure compliance with the frameworks and policies developed by the DPSA.  He asked for a list of conferences and summits arranged by the DPSA and requested that invitations to these events be issued to the Committee.  He asked for quarterly reports on the achievements of the DPSA to be submitted to the Committee in future.

The Chairperson commented that the challenges listed by the Director-General of the DPSA concerned the Ministry as well.  He asked the Deputy Minister whether the executives of the Government Departments had the authority to implement Government policy.  He said that the recent strikes by employees in the public service over the non-implementation of wage negotiation agreements reflected negatively on the DPSA.  The perception amongst employees in the public sector was that Government had reneged on the agreements reached with organised labour.  The commitment of the DPSA to deliver on wage negotiation agreements was required.  He requested that a report on the implementation of the OSD was submitted to the Committee, including the measures implemented to prevent any problems from occurring in future.

The Chairperson asked the DPSA to specify what legislative constraints existed that prevented the implementation of policy by Government Departments and what interventions were required from the Committee.

The Hon Padayachie suggested that the issues raised by Members were included in the agenda for discussion at a future meeting with the Department.  He explained that the executive authority to implement policy was vested in the presidential mandate given to the executives of Departments.

With regard to the matter of the implementation of OSD, the Hon Padayachie said that the labour movement had criticized Government as the employer for failing to implement the OSD policy adopted in 2007.  The resolution taken in 2007 dealt with the nature of the relationship between the employer and organised labour on the matter of OSD’s and the implementation of the agreement over a four-year period.  In terms of the agreement, the increase in remuneration packages for 2008 and 2009 would be CPIX plus 1% but the increases for the following two years would be agreed through the collective bargaining process.  He admitted that the implementation of the OSD by Government had been tardy and said that the main problem was the decentralisation of the implementation of the agreement.  Decentralising implementation resulted in large discrepancies, especially in the Departments of Health and Education where the OSD was confused with the general annual increases.  The intention of the OSD was the retention of scarce skills in the public sector.  In particular, the incorrect application of the OSD in the health sector resulted in substantial increases for nurses but doctors were adversely affected.  He advised that Government and organised labour had agreed on a framework to address the backlog in implementing the OSD agreements and to remove the obstacles to implementation.  The target date agreed was the end of June 2009.  Currently, negotiations in the different sectors were taking place.  He explained that different bargaining chambers existed in the different sectors and the agreements reached had to be endorsed by the centralised chamber for implementation.  Government had given the assurance that there were sufficient resources to implement the OSD agreements.  A proposal for health workers had been tabled and the response was awaited.  The agreement for correctional services personnel had been finalised.  He said that the reports in the media did not clarify the distinction between the OSD and general increases.  The parties concerned were currently in the process of entering negotiations on the general wage increases.  A proposal from organised labour had been tabled and Government was in the process of considering the proposal.  He said that there was convergence of thought by both parties on the issue and gave the assurance that Government was committed and dedicated to resolving the issue.

The Chairperson regretted that time constraints prevented the Director-General from responding to questions during the meeting.  He agreed with Prof Levin that the Committee will receive his written response by Monday, 28th June 2009.  Both the DPSA and the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs were scheduled to appear before the Committee for further discussions on the Budget Vote 26.  He remarked that much still needed to be done and thanked the attendees for their participation in the meeting.


The meeting was adjourned.

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