Departments of Public Service and Administration & Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs: Strategic Plan and budget briefings

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Meeting Summary

The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) briefed the Committee on the Medium Term Strategic Plan of the Department and the Budget Vote No: 11. The presentation established the revised mission for the Department followed by its legislative mandate.  A comparison was then given of the achievements which the Department had presented to the Committee last year and what had been achieved since then. The achievements included a review of the structure of government, the implementation of the new macro-structure of the State, the legal and technical work which was required to effect name changes and the successful team work of the DPSA, National Treasury and the Department of Public Works to ensure positive and successful establishment of new departments. Each of the programmes’ work was then outlined, with a list of the respective challenges faced. Reduced budgets due to the introduction of new entities impacted on the reprioritisation of projects. The restructuring of departments in 2009 was not foreseen by the DPSA, which resulted in restructuring of priorities and the bringing forward of others. Another challenge which the DPSA faced was the re-organisation of its own Department, and the staff deployments after the elections which included internal departmental deployments. The Department then described its priority projects, under the themes of education, health, creation of decent work, rural development, food security and land reform and the fight against crime and corruption. The manifestos and medium term strategic framework was translated into 12 key outcomes, of which the greatest emphasis was placed on achieving an efficient, effective and developmental oriented public service. 10 public service strategic priorities were then linked to performance outcomes. Members asked how the Department would ensure that Batho Pele principles were implemented, questioned the effectiveness of the anti-corruption campaign, and the reduction in the budget, which had not been specifically commented upon. Members enquired how effective the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy was, whether the Department’s own HR strategy was up to date, the reason why there were still so many “acting” posts, and how effective implementation would be.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) then briefed the Committee on its business plan and Budget. The Department said its values were derived from the spirit of ubuntu, and incorporated professionalism, an activist approach, goal orientation, participation and collectivism and service excellence. Its vision was based on those five values. Each of its programme entities would have a specific business plan, and in some cases the unit work would cover various strategic priorities. These priorities included building a developmental state in National, Provincial and Local Government, that was efficient, effective and responsive, strengthening accountability and clean government, accelerating service delivery and supporting the vulnerable, improving the developmental capacity of the institution of traditional leadership and fostering development partnerships, social cohesion and community mobilisation. The total budget allocation for the Department was R43.9 billion for the financial year 2010-2011, and a breakdown was provided. Members enquired about the targeting of 230 municipalities for credible financial statements, asked how the objectives would be implemented, and enquired about the Department’s own qualified audit report. They enquired about the “Operation Clean Audit” and whether this had commenced. Members felt that perhaps the business plan was not properly thought through, and said that it seemed that some items had been cut and pasted from the previous plans, and that perhaps there were still problems in implementation. The Department disputed this and suggested that a further presentation be given once the Annual Report had been completed.

Meeting report

Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Strategic Plan and Budget 2010 - 2014
Ms Colette Clark, Acting Director General, Department of Public Service and Administration, said that her presentation would focus on the progress made since the last presentation to the Committee on 26 June 2009, and the challenges faced. She had also been requested by the Committee to share the Department’s response to plans which were based on Outcome 12.

Ms Clark informed the Members that whilst the vision of the DPSA from the previous year remained, the DPSA had gone through a review process to look at Outcome 12, endorsed by Cabinet in January 2010, which related to improving government performance by implementing measurable performance and accountability delivery. The DPSA must therefore ensure that there was an efficient, effective and development-oriented public service. The vision now included that focus.

DPSA’s mandate entrusted it with the responsibility of leading the modernisation of the public service by assisting government departments to implement their management policies, systems, structures and governance arrangements within a generally applicable framework of norms and standards, in order to improve service delivery to the citizen.  DPSA had to transform and modernise the public service, oversee changes to the structure of the public service and establish norms and standards for Human Resource and Development, conditions of service, labour relations, Information Technology and service delivery as a whole. The Department also had to formulate the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and exercise oversight over the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).

Since 1994, the Public Service had undergone a rationalisation phase of existing departments, followed by a second phase of modernisation and implementation of policy. In the current phase, the DPSA was accelerating implementation, functionality and improving utility of services throughout the public service.

Ms Clark informed members that she would compare the achievements last year with the highlights of the current year. She noted that the Department was given the task of overseeing the macro organisation of the State. After the elections in May 2009 the Department had to review the structure of government, and had to ensure that the 16 departments that were either affected by creation of new departments, or a split in existing departments, or transfers of function, were managed through legislative promulgations, both for the departments and ministries. It then had to establish those departments and their organisational structures, including getting them into buildings, in conjunction with the Department of Public Works (DPW). It also had to work with National Treasury (NT) to get budgets and Estimates of National Expenditure for the current financial year. DPSA further had to deal with personnel, labour, higher education, and environmental issues. Quite a number of changes of mandate were quite difficult. Overall, however, this major project had been successfully concluded.

Ms Clark noted that her presentation on the different programmes set out what the Department aimed to do and what it had achieved.

DPSA had come up with an Integrated Health Risk Assessment and Management System (OHASIS) collaboratively with Columbia University in Canada. This system was piloted at the Department of Health in the Free State and it was currently under evaluation. Once this had been done, it would be applicable to all public service environments from a health and a safety perspective. She noted that in relation to human resources practitioners, the DPSA was due to present a policy shared with the Committee in 2009, but it had worked with the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) to design a curriculum, based on all the strategic frameworks for the Human Resource Management and Development area, but the costing was still under way. The policy would be taken to Cabinet for approval once costed.

Ms Clark said that in the last year the DPSA had outlined to the Committee the roll out of the strategic framework for persons with disability, the jobACCESS strategy. DPSA had designed learning material in the past year with PALAMA, and were reviewing the reasonable accommodation handbook that had been launched in 2007. A number of issues were superceded by international United Nations instruments signed in 2009, which had necessitated the review.

Ms Clark said that DPSA had also indicated that it would be implementing the competency assessment. It had concluded the extensive validation study, which was run with 300 senior managers within the public service. The revised competency assessment had been disaggregated for all the senior manager levels, and a new instrument was proposed after the pilot, which, once validated and concluded as being reliable and fair, would be submitted for approval.

Ms Clark was happy to report that all the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) matters that were outstanding in 2009 had been finalised and signed off, except for that relating to medical therapeutic services, since the DPSA wished the doctors’ OSDs to be implemented first, to ensure that there was fairness. Once this was through, the process would be concluded.

being put on the table but that was at the tail end of conclusion.

The Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) was a major project that involved everyone in the human resource (HR) domain. There were 13 work streams under the Human Resource module. The blueprint had been completed and was being piloted in the Free State DPSA.

DPSA indicated last year that it would come up with a prototype general service counter, in terms of Information and Technology Management, and had developed this. Although it had aimed to develop 56 Thusong Service Centres it only managed to connect 46 Thusong Service Centres. Its target for connecting 43 new General Service Counters was not reached, as it managed to connect 39. There was a challenge as there was a need for a terrestrial infrastructure for connectivity, but in a number of rural areas there were no terrestrial lines, so the Department had to ask for a deviation.

The Auditor-General (AG) had requested that the DPSA look at the ICT spend within government, and this was done, with an extensive report being issued. DPSA had circulated the report to provinces to validate what had been said, and once all departments had commented, the report would be finalised.

Ms Clark described the priority projects which had been concluded, as set out in the DPSA’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). DPSA had looked at the ANC’s election manifesto’s five strategic priorities, of education, health, creation of decent work, rural development, food security and land reform, and the fight against crime and corruption. Each one of them had 12 Outcomes. DPSA was directly responsible for the first portion of Outcome 12: creating an efficient, effective and development oriented public service. That had been the DPSA’s main area of focus in its new plans. In the medium term, DPSA came up with ten priorities to achieve this public service, had aligned them with the President’s State of the Nation Address and then determined its strategic priorities, and its plans to achieve these priorities (see attached document).

Ms Clark tabled the budget. She noted that there had been a change in expenditure, with the inclusion of the budget for the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Public Services Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) and PALAMA. The diagram on page 26 gave members an indication of the budget allocation breakdown. The economic classification still reflected this as a transfer payment to the various bodies.

Ms Clark concluded that she believed the DPSA, both in management and supportive roles, was equal to delivering on the task at hand.

Mr M Makhubela (ANC, Limpopo) asked how the Department ensured that the Batho Pele principles were implemented throughout the Department.

Ms Clark said that the DPSA did have a Batho Pele change management engagement programme. Batho Pele in many ways was subjective because it had to do with how people behaved and what their attitudes were. It was extremely difficult to measure how a person changed his or her attitudes. The impact engagement was designed to get the citizen, who was the recipient of service delivery improvement plans, to actually tell the Department about the service standards that each line department had formulated, and whether these were in line with expectations. Every department must submit its Service Delivery Improvement Plans (SDIPs) to DPSA. Line departments were supposed to put out citizen surveys to measure whether the service standards and service delivery agreed upon with their communities, was being delivered (although they had not always been doing so). Embedded in these standards were the eight Batho Pele principles around how services needed to be delivered.

Mr Makhubela wanted to know how effective the anti-corruption campaign was, pointing out that corruption seemed to be on the increase.

Ms Clark said there were challenges in linking the public service and the broader public. The DPSA measured the public servants, including those doing business in the private sector, and instances where ethics might be compromised through the actions of public servants, specifically in relation to State tenders. DPSA’s focus lay in coming up with a corruption management information system on corrupt public servants. The Department’s broader role was to deal with anti-corruption collaboratively with civil society and with business, to ensure that public servants were not party to aspects of corruption.  

Mr Makhubela noted that there was a reduction in the budget. He wanted to know the reason for that, in view of the fact that DPSA should be running many programmes and asked why this reduced budget had not been commented upon.

Ms Clark said that she had raised this issue, under the challenges faced by departments. She pointed out that National Treasury had to cut down on all budgets, to fund the new departments. There were five brand new departments that required funding, as well as splitting of some others, who then required new entities. DPSA understood that this was done in the context of strengthening government with the new departments.  

Mr A Matila (ANC, Gauteng) wanted to know how effective the work of PALAMA was.

Ms Clark said that the Department and PALAMA worked very closely together. In 2008 they had developed human resource development plans, PALAMA had designed programmes around that, and the Department worked collaboratively with PALAMA on the curriculum for the capacity development initiatives, and all other issues for institutional development and support, and the governance issues, which included the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) and higher education.

Mr Matila said that a lot was said about the Human Resource plans and the DPSA was assisting other departments by making sure that their HR system was up to date. He was however not sure as to how up to date the DPSA’s own HR strategy was. He wanted to know how the DPSA could assist other departments when it did not have a strategy plan itself.

Ms Clark said that the HR plan was a three year plan for all departments. DPSA had integrated its employment equity plan with its HR plan, which the AG had not liked. This was why the issue had not been pursued, and the two would be separated in the next financial year. DPSA had endorsed a strategic plan for human resource planning across the public service. The DPSA provided the training, the modules, and the compliance issues, and clearly was on track in terms of its legal obligation of support given to the line departments in relation to HR.  

Mr Matila wanted to know why so many officials were in acting positions, and how long they would be holding these posts. Ms Clark had expressed confidence in the work being done, and he asked that if this was so, surely those people could be appointed permanently.

Ms Clark responded that the previous Director-General of DPSA had been transferred, on 1 February 2010, to the Department of Economic Development. That position had been advertised two weeks later and interviews took place on 26 March. Competency assessments had been done for the recommended candidates, and it was likely, in line with the Cabinet schedule, that appointments would be finalised soon. There were about 16 other acting posts in the DPSA. A role reorganisation exercise had been undertaken, and DPSA could not advertise the posts that were linked to the restructuring, which was why it was important to fill the posts with acting officials during the process. Under the new performance monitoring and evaluation delivery model, certain aspects around the review of government’s focus would be addressed by the alignment of departments. DPSA was revisiting this in its organisational restructuring.

Mr J Bekker (DA, Western Cape) congratulated Ms Clark on her excellent briefing. However, although she clearly knew what she was talking about, he was worried as to how the system was to be implemented, and asked how successful the DPSA thought it would be on this aspect.

Ms Clark said that DPSA  had put an extensive process in place. Every department had to report against their signing of their performance agreement and the compliance in relation to what the performance agreement had to include. The Department then went through an extensive process with Cabinet who endorsed that any manager who had not signed a performance agreement by 30 September would not qualify for a pay progression or any merit awards. However, since then there had been an adjustment by way of a Delivery Agreement, which was now included in the performance monitoring and evaluation framework, where each of the Ministers was responsible for an Outcome. The Minister of Public Service and Administration was responsible for Outcome 12.

Mr B Nesi (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that he heard Ms Clark speak of pensions and enquired about the current position of those former public service employees who had been asked to move from government houses once they had retired.

Ms Clark said that the issue of housing was usually linked to what was called “tools of trade”, which were normally only granted to a public servant during the time of employment. However, she noted the question and said that this was an interesting issue that the DPSA would look into further.

Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Strategic Plan and budget 2011-2104: Briefing
Ms Tumi Mketi, Deputy Director General, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), said that in 2009, following the elections, the Department developed a strategic plan for 2011-2014 and that strategic plan was distributed to the members. That document comprised the work of the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCG) and the work of the Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA). There were currently two departments under the one Minister. The first part of her presentation dealt with the mandate, the vision and the mission statements as contained in the strategic plan of the DCG. The latter part of the presentation dealt with the business plan. The business plan of the DCG dominated the presentation, because it had been in existence for quite and the planning processes could be done quite early. The DTA, on the other hand, was still under establishment. An Acting Director General had recently been appointed, but was unable to be present in this meeting. The DTA requested that once the process of developing the business plan of the DTA was complete, this department be allowed to give more detail.

The vision statement focused on integration, responsiveness and a highly effective governance system to achieve sustainable development and improve service delivery. The Department’s values, which guided the conduct of officials in the departments, were based on the spirit of ubuntu. They stressed professionalism in the conduct of officials, and adopting an activist approach. The DCG was spending a lot of time on local government because that was what the Minister emphasised, and it would mostly comprise giving the necessary support to municipalities. The third value was goal orientation, which would ensure that whatever was planned and included in the strategic plan would be successfully achieved. Participation and collectivism was the fourth value, with the fifth being providing service excellence.

Ms Mketi said that the turnaround strategy developed by CoGTA focused on developing municipal-specific turn around strategies, giving rise to specific visions for 2010-11, namely to significantly reduce the number of complaints from communities, and ensure that the Ward Committee systems were given the necessary power and assistance to enable them to undertake their work. Reducing instances of fraud and corruption in municipalities, ensuring a reformed regime of remuneration and the provision for tools and trade for councillors, Ward Committees and Community Development Workers (CDWs) were also included in that list. The imperatives of the 2014 millennium goals were also taken into account. A local government ten-point plan informed the local government turnaround strategy. The performance plan was effectively the business plan for the Department for 2010-2011. Each unit in the Department was assisted to develop its own specific business plan, and all the information was then aggregated into the business plan of the Department.

Ms Mketi then went through each priority of the Department (see attached presentation for full details).

Mr Masilo Makhuraa, Acting Chief Financial Officer, CoGTA, noted that the total budget allocation for both departments was R43.9 billion, which also included the amounts to be transferred to local government for the Municipal Improvement Grant (MIG), the Municipal Systems Infrastructure Grant (MSIG) and Equitable share. Public entities were also covered in this. The total budget was set to increase to R57.2 billion in 2012-2013.

The Department was running seven programmes but the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) only reflected five programmes, because when the process was finalised the Department had still been busy with its organisational structure. The last two programmes were therefore for the moment included under Programme 3: Governance and intergovernmental relations, which had the largest budget allocation. 

Mr T Chaane (ANC, North West) wanted clarity as to why the Department had targeted only 230 municipalities to submit credible financial statements, instead of all municipalities.

Mr Chaane referred to page 54, bullet number 3.16, asking how the Department was going to implement that objective, and what type of support cooperatives would be given once established.

Mr Makhubela wanted to know what was the rationale for the review of municipalities in terms of the Property Rates Act.

Mr Makhubela said that the Department received a qualified audit report. He asked whether there were measures in place to address those audit findings.

Ms Mketi said that the work of the internal audit was regulated. This internal audit should be developing strategies, and internal audit practitioners were expected to develop an expected audit plan which would inform members on the work of the next financial year. That plan had to be finalised by March, so that when the new financial year began in April the implementation could start

Mr Makhubela said that the Minister had briefed the Committee on the “Operation Clean Audit” campaign and asked whether this had already commenced.

Mr Makhura responded that a logical plan had been formulated for implementation of this campaign. The Department, at provincial level, had managed to get all the provinces to implement a standard programme, and assist the municipalities. It was important for the Department to ascertain what issues were causing negative reports. In the provinces, there was training taking place of staff who would work under the Chief Financial Officers, as it was clear that these officers alone could not do all the work.

Mr Matila referred back to the business plan, noting that almost all milestones were set for completion around 31 March 2011. He felt that the Department had “cut and paste” much of the plan, without really addressing the issues, and he did not think it reflected proper planning. He said that the Department should not come up with new ideas and projects if it was not able to or had not completed previous projects.

Mr Bekker said that the plans looked good on paper, but the situation on the ground was not so good. He felt that the managers who were supposed the mistake was and what went wrong. He felt that it was the managers, the people who supposed to implement the plans were not doing a proper job, despite the fact that they were receiving large salaries and hefty bonuses. He felt that something needed to be done to address the situation immediately.

Mr Makhura said that the issue was around the minimum requirements for the appointment of a senior manager. In the past, for instance, a traffic officer was appointed as a municipal manager, and people who had no financial qualifications were appointed to financial positions. The Department was therefore trying to enforce minimum requirements at local government for appointments of municipal senior managers.

Ms Mketi referred to the general concerns about performance, and the comment that the plan seemed to have involved “cut and paste”. She disagreed that this had happened. Firstly, she pointed out that the Department had been managing organisational performance quarterly. An Annual Report was presented to Parliament, on time, and the only shortcoming reported in that had related to asset management. However, the overall feedback from all offices was that the Department had performed well. The Department was currently preparing its Annual Report for 2009/10, and the Department would brief Members on this, once finalised, which would indicate what had and had not been achieved, and the reasons. In preparing the business plan for 2010-2011, the Department took into consideration its performance review from the previous financial year.

Specifically in relation to the observation that the business plan seemed to use “cut and paste”, Ms Mketi said that last year the Department had assessed 283 municipalities, and had held a summit which then led to the approval of the turnaround strategy. The Department was now working with the 283 municipalities to support them and help them develop their municipal turn-around strategies.

The meeting was adjourned.

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