Anti-Corruption initiatives: discussion with Public Service & Administration Minister, Public Service Commission & Auditor General

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

02 November 2010
Chairperson: Ms J Moloi-Moropa (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Public Service Commission and the Department of Public Service and Administration spoke about their anti-corruption initiatives. This was followed by a presentation from the Office of the Auditor General on the Public Finance Management Act audit outcomes for the 2009/10 financial year. Both the Minister and Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration attended the meeting. The Minister endorsed the cross-cutting approach of the Portfolio Committee as a coordinated approach was needed in the fight against corruption.

The Public Service Commission emphasized that non-compliance with the Code of Conduct constituted a disciplinary offence and members raised the issue of non-compliance many times in the ensuing discussions. A major area of non-compliance was the failure of senior managers to disclose their finanacial interests and the submission rate by due date had never been above 50% for the past three years. The statistics indicated that a 100% compliance rate was only achieved in the Western Cape for the 2009/2010 financial year. The PSC had established a National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) which empowered the public to report corruption in the public service confidentially and anonymously. The PSC was also instrumental in the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Forum in which business, civil society and the public sector were represented. The PSC had conducted an overview of financial misconduct in national and provincial departments for the year 2008/2009. Of the 1204 financial misconduct cases reported, 86% were found guilty. The cost to the State exceeded R100 million of which only R9,9 million was recovered. The PSC was promoting the idea of lifestyle audits to take the scrutiny process in the fight against fraud and corruption further. It also proposed the development of an Integrity Barometer for the Public service based on selected indicators and instruments designed to measure performance. The lack of investigative capacity at the PSC was highlighted.

The DPSA had identified many problems in dealing with corruption such as the delayed response from departments in managing conflict of interests, delays in initiating disciplinary action and officials suspended on full pay for months and sometimes years. The establishment of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in November 2010 would support departments on investigative and prosecutorial levels to ensure swift disciplinary responses. Other institutional mechanisms were the Inter-Ministerial Committee and the Coordinating Committee and the Multi-Agency Working Group. The Public Sector Integrity Framework was a further measure aimed at promoting ethical conduct in the public sector. 
 
The briefing on the national audit outcomes for 2009/2010 for government departments and entities provided detail on the areas of qualification identified by the Offoce of the Auditor General. The presenter highlighted that these were areas where corruption could potentially take place. Performance reporting was identified as an area of weakness and many departments and entities were not reporting at all or not at the required level. Irregular expenditure related to supply chain management was also a major area of concern.

Members raised questions about non-compliance and disciplinary action, lack of investigative capacity in the PSC, how the PSC report would be followed up, disclosure and Declaration of Interest forms, feedback on investigations, the role and competency of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and compliance with the Public Finance Management Act.


Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson stated that the scheduled discussion meeting would include a briefing by the AGSA which had not been included on the agenda. Parliament had started on a serious and focussed programme on anti-corruption and the meeting would consolidate what the PSC and other stakeholders were doing. The Parliamentary researchers had compiled a database relating to corruption from all other committees. There was going to be a continuous programme involving all committees which would improve their oversight role and Parliament would be embarking on strategies that would make a difference in the fight against corruption. The Chairperson welcomed the delegations from the PSC, the Auditor General and the Director-General and officials of the Department. The meeting was informed that the Minister, Richard Baloyi, was delayed as he was engaged in a radio interview at Parliament. An apology had been received from the Minister of Performance Management and Evaluation who was attending another meeting.

Presentation on anti-corruption by the Public Service Commission
Dr Ralph Mgijima, Chairperson of the PSC, welcomed the commitment of Parliament to the anti-corruption drive in the public service as it spoke to the principles of the PSC's mandate, most notably the maintenance of professional ethics. He introduced the delegation from the PSC including Ms Charmaine Julie, Director for the Western Cape and the Director General, Mr Mashwahle Diphofa.

Mr Mashwahle Diphofa, PSC Director General, emphasised the key elements of professional conduct necessary for public servants in the performance of their duties and in relation to the public, which were honesty, integrity and courtesy. The PSC promoted transparency, accountability and integrity in the public service and the presentation dealt with the various initiatives it was undertaking to further these objectives. Issues dealt with in his presentation were the Code of Conduct for the public service, managing 'conflict of interest', the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) and the National Anti-Corruption Forum (NACF). He addressed the challenges in preventing and combating corruption and concluded with future initiatives the PSC would be undertaking.

Mr Diphofa stated that the Code of Conduct formed the cornerstone of the Public Service's integrity framework as it set the standards for ethical conduct. The Code had been incorporated as a Chapter in the Public Service Regulations. Non-compliance with its provisions constituted a disciplinary offence. Attention had to be given to the induction of staff on the Code of Conduct to enhance the professional ethos amongst staff. Research had shown that the Code of Conduct was not as highly regarded as it should be and the PSC had recommended that it be reviewed and that the revised Code of Conduct be linked to an ethics training programme.

In terms of the Financial Disclosure Framework developed by the PSC, senior managers were required to disclose their financial interests. Managing conflict of interest has been problematic and the submission rate by due date for the past three financial years had never been more than 50%. The national and provincial statistics on the number of disclosure forms received for the 2009/10 financial year indicated that many senior managers had not submitted disclosure forms. According to the regulations they should be charged with misconduct. A further problem was that departments submitted the disclosure forms without verifying the information supplied. The PSC proposed the establishment of a Conflicts of Interest System which would prevent conflicts of interest before they occurred. This had been taken on board by the DPSA and a conflict of interest policy framework had been submitted to Cabinet.

Since its inception in 2004, the NACH, whereby the public could report corruption in the Public Service, had proved highly effective and the successful investigation of cases resulted in the recovery of R100 million from perpetrators. Challenges to the effectiveness of the NACH were that departments had poor or no investigative capabilities making feedback slow and this impacted negatively on the credibility of the Hotline.

The NACF, comprised of business, civil society and the public sector, co-ordinated sectoral strategies against corruption and advised Government and stakeholders on strategies to combat corruption. Since its inception in 2001, the NACF had struggled to build itself as a sustainable and effective coalition and a task team had been appointed to address this.

An overview of financial misconduct for the year 2008/09 was released by the PSC in September 2010. The report revealed that financial misconduct was found at all levels and in the cases reported, 86% were found guilty. Criminal procedures were instituted against 32%. The cost to the state exceeded R100 million of which only R9.9 million was recovered.

Some of the challenges identified by the PSC included the limited anti-corruption capability in departments and the inexperience of officials where capability existed.

Future initiatives of the PSC were the promotion of lifestyle audits and the development of an Integrity Barometer for the Public Service.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked the DG for the presentation and asked if Dr Mgijima wished to add anything.

Dr Mgijima said that one area the PSC reported on was performance management and evaluation but they also ran the transversal monitoring and evaluation system which contained indicators that were very helpful in combating corruption. They had looked at how departments complied with policies, at human resources and skills and control measures in terms of opportunities where corruption could take place. He noted that throughout the presentation the issue of capacity had been alluded to and he reiterated that the PSC was feeling the effect of lack of capacity acutely. The Code of Conduct for instance required that it became a living document and not just filed away. In order for it to become a living document it was necessary to continually engage with public servants through workshops and other interactions. In the area of managing conflicts of interests, it was not a matter of collecting disclosure forms and filing them away, it was a question of scrutinising them and engaging with the results. At present only 30% of disclosure forms were scrutinised because of lack of capacity and this had to be improved. This lack of capacity also affected the efficacy of the NACH. The PSC was verifying the validity of returns from various departments at present and they needed staff to engage with the departments.

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and Deputy Minister of the DPSA who had joined the meeting and brought them up to speed on the agenda.

Ms A Dreyer (DA) said the presentation was enlightening but it painted a bleak picture. She said there were a few positives and referred to the Western Cape where 100% of financial disclosure forms were received for the 2009/10 financial year. She asked why one province could achieve that when the national average was 77% and she asked what the critical factors were that influenced this.

Mr A Williams (ANC) asked who monitored disclosures and what the process followed was. He asked what the post levels were of the 27% of persons who had not submitted their disclosure forms. He also wished to know if the PSC had followed up on what happened to a whistleblower to see if there was victimization or anything of that nature. Referring to the NACF, he asked whether big business was getting involved as corruption involved a corrupter and a corruptee. The corruption that happened in government around tenders for example, involved business and he wanted to know if business supported the anti-corruption initiative.

Ms M Mohale (ANC) asked what happened in the cases of non-compliance and whether suspended officials faced the consequences. She wanted to know more about the recovery of money such as the R100 million recovered from perpetrators.

Mrs H van Schalkwyk (DA) stated that the Business School of Stellenbosch was offering a course in anti-corruption from next year. She asked if the DG was aware of this and if they encouraged their staff to do such courses

Ms Mohale referred to the DG's statement that departments had poor or no investigative capabilities and she asked what the PSC was doing to assist departments in this regard.

Ms J Maluleke (ANC) asked if the PSC went back to the departments to investigate non-compliance on the submission of disclosure forms.

Dr Mgijima responded on the issue of the financial disclosure forms. He said the Western Cape was not the only province that had done very well and the critical factor was good management. He said that the public service had a problem with record-keeping and compliance with statutes.

He stated that Stellenbosch was not the only university offering anti-corruption courses. The PSC had been working very closely with the University of Pretoria who had a good longstanding course that was being run there and public servants were definitely encouraged to undertake courses in anti-corruption.

On the investigative capacity of departments, Dr Mgijima said he had indicated that this was a crisis. The PSC handpicked cases that they thought would have the most impact in the fight against corruption. They did not have enough capacity to take on all the cases and departments had the same problem. In the PSC Report on the State of the Public Service which had just been released, suggestions were made on how things could be improved but there was no replacement for capacity and in the long-term, capacity had to be created. In the short term, capacity could be created in the Offices of the Premier to deal with some of the cases.

In response to what the PSC was doing now that compliance was decreasing, he stated that they had approached the departments and executive authorities and asked what disciplinary measures were being instituted as compliance was a legal requirement for elected representatives and managers.

The Chairperson noted that before they received the presentation from the DPSA, they would be addressed by the Minister.

Minister Richard Baloyi said the main issue of the moment was the fight against corruption as corruption frustrated all the efforts to ensure that there was good governance. The PSC was the custodian of good governance through their role in monitoring and evaluation and the Chapter 9 institutions supported constitutional democracy. Together with the DPSA, the Executive and the President, they all had a role to play in ensuring good governance and in fighting corruption.

He commented that, as was stated by a previous speaker, there was a corrupter and a corruptee but the environment could create the conditions leading to corruption and the environment had to be conducive to a ‘zero tolerance of corruption’ approach. He said that the perception amongst some public servants that it was 'business as usual' to conduct themselves unethically had to be eradicated. There were good policies, including international treaties, in place and what was needed was help on the practical implementation level and coordination. The capacitation of the anti corruption unit which would be officially launched on the 25 November was being finalised and there would be clear cut arrangements about how the DPSA related to other institutions to take the fight forward against corruption.

Department of Public Service and Administration on Public Service Anti-corruption Programmes
Mr Kenny Govender, Acting DG of the DPSA, said that the DPSA's presentation was comprehensive and included perspectives from the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation and the National Treasury. They had consulted broadly to ensure that it was a coordinated response. He introduced Dr Ellen Kornegay, the Deputy Director General on Governance in the DPSA.

Mr Govender delineated the problems identified by the DPSA in dealing with corruption such as the delayed response from departments in managing conflict of interests, the delays in initiating disciplinary action, officials suspended on full pay for months or sometimes years, inconsistencies in the type of sanctions applied and the lack of investigative capacity in departments. DPSA had undertaken anti-corruption programmes to step-up the prevention, detection investigation and adjudication capacity of departments and most notably it was establishing the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in November 2010 at an operational level. It would ensure that gaps in the existing ant-corruption regulatory framework were covered. It would support departments in implementing guidelines and facilitate the provision of investigative and prosecutorial capacity to ensure swift and appropriate disciplinary responses.
 
The DPSA was also involved in other institutional mechanisms such as the Inter-Ministerial and Coordinating Committees and the Multi-Agency Working Group. To improve capacity to fight corruption, the DPSA and PALAMA developed the Public Sector Anti-corruption Capacity Building Programme. This was a five year training initiative aimed at building and strengthening competencies to prevent, detect, investigate, prosecute and monitor corruption in the public sector.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Mr Govender for the presentation especially the focus on collaboration in the work of government as, even though Minister Chabane was not present, part of that department’s work had been integrated into the presentation.

Mr Williams commented that the PSC had identified that there was a problem with compliance on disclosure of interests and he asked when there would be a 100% compliance rate. He asked if the Department was going to look into lifestyle audits of officials.

Ms Dreyer stated that Directors General were appointed on contract for five years and it was imperative that their Declaration of Interest forms should be submitted on time and Performance Agreements signed. She wanted to know how many DGs and HoDs had been placed on terms for non-compliance with their contracts.

Ms Maluleke asked what steps the Department was taking after they received the report from the PSC. She also wanted to know if there were timeframes when they referred cases to other departments.

Ms F Bikani (ANC) directed her questions at the challenges faced by the
Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), and what their highs and lows were and also what the timeframes for the establishment of the coordinating committee were.
She wanted to know at which particular point the PSC checked on progress and how successful the anti-corruption initiative was. She asked questions on the ICT development and how involved the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) was in anti-corruption practices. In terms of improving capacity, she referred to the training mentioned by Mr Govender and queried the effectiveness of training which had not received accreditation. She asked how well training was coordinated with stakeholders such as the Police and the judiciary.

Ms van Schalkwyk asked if the reconstituted SITA board had the necessary skills to investigate corruption in the ICT field.

Mr L Suka (ANC) said the Department had to move with speed in developing policies as time was running out and they were not dealing with ordinary crime only but white collar crime that was always a step ahead. He was worried about people who had to do five year training and also managed departments. He said there were tools to fight corruption but they had to be assessed to see if they were effective. He referred to non-compliance with the PFMA and asked to what extent it had been implemented to the letter and how they were enforcing it in terms of resorting to legal action. On the DPSA's plan to improve capacity to fight corruption, he referred to the note on the Public Sector Integrity Framework which said it had been established and was undergoing consultations. He wanted to know what the timeframes were for that consultation. On the Multi-Agency Working Group, he referred to the objective of developing an approach and methodology to combat fraud and corruption in the Supply Chain Management (SCM) processes. There was a need to streamline and move ahead with speed and not to get bogged down in paperwork.

Ms Mohale directed her question to the DPSA and referred to the statement made in their presentation which stated that the Code of Conduct for public servants was not as highly regarded as it ought to be and she wanted clarity on that.

Mr Govender responded to the questions on compliance with the declaration of interest forms by officials and said it was handled in a collaborative way and they worked closely with the PSA and they looked at their reports, analysis and outcomes. They started a process through the Minister's office and executive authorities to focus on the non-compliance of HoD's and to see that they took the necessary steps against defaulting managers. They would do a follow up on the process. The Department for Preformance Management and Evaluation was putting in place an institutional assessment tool which was being piloted and it was going to look at all the compliance areas in relation to the contracts of officials. This would give a clear indication of the levels of compliance and disciplinary steps that had been taken on non-compliance.

On the lifestyle audits, he said they were going to be undertaken by the Public Service Association (PSA) or DPSA. The focus of the anti-corruption unit would be on the disciplinary process in the short term.

On the DG contracts he said that the new performance assessment tools would identify all the relevant factors.

Mr Govender said that the Department studied all the reports of the PSA and their feedback would be incorporated into the anti-corruption strategies of the DPSA. There was an alignment between the PSA and the DPSA. With regards to timeframes, he said the Department’s communications always included a date and timeframe and the DPSA had to take these response times more seriously in the future. The coordinating committee was in the process of being set up and officials had met on two occasions.

On the role of SITA in anti-corruption, he referred to the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) and the HR module where capacity was being built to electronically capture disclosure forms and this would enable disclosure forms to be submitted electronically. Links were also being created between that system and other institutions like the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) and thus it would be possible to electronically monitor and track the information supplied by officials. This was in the process of being rolled out. Modules on procurement and asset management were also being added and it would be possible to monitor employees, procurement, financial information and link to CIPRO from a single database.

The Multi-agency Workgroup was in place and was fully functional and the next
Inter-Ministerial Committee would receive a comprehensive report in terms of the number of cases identified and the steps that had been taken.

In terms of the accreditation of training he said that it was meant to build ethical capacity as ideally there should be no disciplinary action relating to unethical behaviour in the public service. The other training related to building investigative capacity. Two training programmes had been developed and one had received accreditation and the other was in the process of being accredited.

Mr Govender said that the responsibility of the PFMA rested with the National Treasury and departments had a direct responsibility to comply with the PFMA. The DPSA were looking into enforcement and the implementation of disciplinary action.

He said the DPSA noted the comments by members urging implementation and the focus going forward would be on implementation and they hoped to come to the committee with concrete facts and outcomes in the future.

On the question relating to the Public Sector Integrity framework, Mr Govender said that it had been developed but there was a need for an extensive consultative framework up to cabinet level. One of the outcomes being looked for was the conclusion of integrity pledges.

On the Code of Conduct not being highly regarded, he said that there was the perception that the level of corruption in the public service was very high but the vast majority of public servants were ethical. The focus was to ensure that action was taken against the small percentage who were unethical.

The Minister responded to the question of compliance with declarations. He stated that they were modelling their interventions along the lines of what they had in Parliament which was the Register of Members which was an institutional arrangement with the results of the register being published every year so that non-compliance was not perpetuated.

On the issue of non-compliance with the Code of Conduct, the Minister stated that there were three things that needed to be looked at. Firstly, the code of conduct. Secondly, what would be required attributes of public servants and this related to the eight principles of the integrity framework that was being developed. Finally, there were standards that already existed such as the Batho Pele principles. When it came to the question of performance assessment of public servants, they were hoping for people who would perform more than 100% and upholding the best attributes of the Batho Pele principles.

The Minister said that lifestyle audits should be conducted at the entry level and continually and should go beyond what was contained in the person's CV.

On the highs and the lows of the
Inter-Ministerial Committee, the Minister stated that the IMC was a structure of Ministers and they had technical support from Directors General and their work was a coordinated effort.

On the role of SITA, the Minister said they were looking at the fight against corruption using SARS eFiling and databases. From this it should be possible to check if a particular company in a database was linked to other companies. It had happened that companies had been blacklisted and it should be possible through IDs to pick it up. Information technology could be key in dealing with such problems.

On the appointments to the SITA Board, the Minister said that they had advanced skills and thorough checks were made during the recruitment process. They had looked for expertise and excellence in all fields. The majority of the board were new and they needed a lot of support in dealing with the turnaround strategy and other challenges at SITA. The portfolio committee was also keeping check in their oversight role over SITA .

The Chairperson said they were doing budgetary reviews on the entities and SITA was one of the first that came to the committee's attention. There was an amount of R124,000 which had been incurred because of delayed payment and which needed clearance. There were other matters that also required the Department’s attention, such as the PSC report.

The Minister said they would address the issues in relation to SITA as they had identified the problems before and removed the board. The key instructions that had been given to the new board were that they had to prioritise their financial management and their key clients had to be identified and informed that there was to be a turnaround in understanding with them. He commented that problems at SITA had been so deep-rooted that they regarded irregular practices as normal.

The Minister said the issue of the PSC Report was a very serious matter and there would be a round table on their findings.

National PFMA 2009/10 Outcomes by Auditor General South Africa (AGSA
)
Mr Jan van Schalkwyk, Office of the AGSA, said that the results of the National PFMA audit cycle of government departments and entities spoke to factors in the environment conducive to corruption. Corruption could be looked at in two ways: firstly, actions that prevented it and secondly, actions that detected it and the presentation would address the symptoms and underlying factors of corruption. The Auditor General declared an opinion not only on the financial statements of government departments and entities but also had other legal reporting responsibilities on predetermined objectives and compliance with laws and regulations. Predetemined objectives referred to performance management and entailed evaluating how they had achieved in terms of their mandates. A comparison of audit outcomes for government departments and public entities between the financial years 20008/09 and 2009/10 (see Annexure 1 in presentation) reflected little improvement and indicated areas of stagnation. He identified three key drivers for improved audit outcomes which were the basics that had to be in place to prevent corruption. These were leadership, financial and performance management and governance. The basics required under leadership included the provision of adequately skilled staff to implement the financial reporting framework and ensuring that proper actions were taken to address audit findings.

Referring to the financial statement qualification areas of departments, he said these indicated areas under pressure for corruption. One of these areas were capital assets and Mr van Schalkwyk stated that government had only recently started to account for assets in its financial statements and adding value to them. It also highlighted an area prone to corruption as assets disappeared from departments. The statistics for qualification due to problems with capital assets for the 2009/10 financial year was 64%.

Another less visible indicator of factors conducive to corruption was the amount of work and cleaning that had to be done in the audit process to get to the stage to where the Auditor General could start reporting. Mr van Schalkwyk referred to the statistics indicating transversal material misstatements corrected at Departments and stated that major adjustments had to be done at 72% of National Departments. This was a reflection that the basic systems and controls were not in place. High incidences of adjustments had to be done in terms of 'other disclosure matters' dealt with commitments to future dates in supply chain management. Another problem area was unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Mr Van Schalkwyk stated that there were two levels of reporting required by the Auditors Act i.e. financial and on performance. The latter had to be interpreted in conjunction with the financial statements and budget of the respective departments and entities for the AG to complete the audit process and express an opinion i.e. unqualified, qualified or a disclaimer on performance. The findings on reporting on predetermined objectives were that many of the departments had not stabilised sufficiently to report on performance as required. Non-compliance with regulations occurred in 56% of departments. For example, this could be not submitting strategic plans on time or there was a realignment of priorities for which approval had not been sought. Other findings were that the reported information was not useful or reliable or it was not submitted by the due date. Vague and unquantifiable reporting of information and lack of documentation and substantial evidence were also identified. Mr van Schalkwyk emphasized that reporting on how well ones budget was spent was not sufficient if one could not account for where the money was utilized and this was also where corruption could occur.
 
On compliance with laws and regulations, Mr van Schalkwyk identified the top category of non-compliance as supply chain management issues. Procurement and contract management resulting in irregular expenditure showed that the basics of supply chain management had not been complied with. On the extent of irregular expenditure, Mr van Schalkwyk stated that R4 billion of irregular expenditure had occurred as indicated in Annexure 4 of the presentation. This included irregular expenditure that was disclosed upfront by departments and entities and irregular expenditure that was identified during the audit.

The findings of the human resource management audit revealed that a significant percentage of departments did not have a human resource plan and that performance agreements of senior managers were not signed. Other findings were that positions at Senior Management and in the Finance Division were vacant for more than 12 months in a significant number of departments. No improvement in overall vacancy rates and at Senior Management level, was also recorded in many departments. Mr van Schalkwyk commented that these findings indicated an environment that was not solid enough to curb corruption.

The findings of the Information Systems audit (Annexure 5) were also cause for concern. Mr van Schalkwyk explained that 85% to 93 % of Departments were at risk due to a lack of controls. This related to factors such as access controls and whether anybody could get into the system to corrupt and manipulate it, data loss and whether there was a good disaster recovery plan if the system crashed.

In conclusion Mr van Schalkwyk said he hoped he had been able to indicate areas where the potential for corruption existed. He said that the Auditor General was now endeavouring to make four visits to Departments per year for audit health checks. He also hoped to work with the committee and supply it with regular updates.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Mr Van Schalkwyk for his detailed reports and said the Committee would definitely have to organise a programme around the issues raised.

Ms Dreyer thanked the Office of the AGSA for the input and said the Committee should take up the offer of future meetings. She requested that the report be made available in colour as it was more effective than the black and white copies circulated in the meeting.

Ms Bikani said she was impressed by the report and she reiterated the request for the copies to be made in colour and asked how soon it could be done. She said that there should be a relationship between the PSC, the AGSA, the DPSA. A major paradigm shift was needed in terms of the work that they were doing as parliamentarians and there should be a clear vision and direction on anti-corruption and perhaps a debate or public hearings should be held.

Mr Williams echoed the previous speakers in expressing his appreciation for the presentation. He referred to the audit findings on predetermined objectives for departments and observed that there had been an increase in non-compliance in some categories which was a move backwards. He said more detail should be supplied and it was time to name and shame departments or things would not change.

Prof C Msimang (IFP) asked how departments were explaining their non-compliance because these were basic things they were not doing. He asked if they gave convincing remedies for a turnaround plan and he agreed with Mr Williams that it seemed as if things were going backwards.

The Chairperson said that performance management had been a concern in terms of government's outcomes based management and that measurement was critical. She agreed that a cross cutting sector could not be avoided and that it was important to get the coordination right.

Mr van Schalkwyk thanked the Committee for their positive response to his presentation. He stated that a conference of international Auditors General was to be held in South Africa soon and performance management reporting was one the themes.

He said that the Auditors General's formalised report would be available in colour in November.

Answering the question on whether enough had been done, he said a lot of work still had to be done but things were beginning to move in the right direction. He noted the comments on the movement backwards for reporting on predetermined objectives in the past financial year. He said it was the area in which the building blocks were still being laid down. The Auditor General had also called for an audit of the readiness of departments to implement performance management. The Auditor General also wanted to determine the cause of the move backwards to see if it was a lack of will or other factors.

On the question of non-compliance and the response from departments he said they often said they needed cooperation from other entities to enable them. He said that frequently the departments knew what to do and had the action plans but implementation was the problem.

Ms Dreyer referred to the 100% compliance in the Western Cape but said that they should also look nationally at departments which were getting it right and identify the successful ingredients and learn from their example.

Mr van Schalkwyk agreed that it was necessary to keep on asking that question.

Mr K Lachman of the Office of the AGSA said that whenever they engaged with departments and entities on areas of non-compliance, they focussed on that specific area when they should direct their attention to the control environment. Often they would send documentation on the area that had been identified in the audits and neglected other areas. Their action plans had to focus on all aspects of the control environment and the systems they used to report on the controls. Another important factor was what the Auditor General referred to as the tone that was set by the leadership to ensure compliance. What was happening currently was a narrow tunnel vision addressing only the issues identified.
 
The Chairperson commented that there should be consistency in compliance. In the cross-cutting collaboration between the AGSA, the PSC, the DPSA and the committee they should address the areas that had been highlighted one by one as that was the kind of oversight that would make a difference.

Ms Bikani said she was interested in knowing how many males and females there were in the AG's Office.

Mr Lachman commented on the material changes in the financial statements during the audit process and the corrections allowed by the AGSA. He said that the AG only audited after the event and correct decision making was critical in preventing potential financial problems.

The Chairperson called on the Deputy Minister to comment on the issues raised.

Deputy Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said that greater consistency was needed from the AGSA and cautioned that sometimes it was difficult to get a true reflection of the successes and failures of departments. She was positive about the initiatives that had emerged from the meeting and said that all stakeholders had to work together to improve the status quo.

The Chairperson thanked the participants at the meeting and stated that they would be looking at the area of methodology and research and how to measure outcomes. The Committee would continually engage with the PSC on ant-corruption. There would be an interdepartmental meeting with the governance sector and other committees on the 17 November 2010 to strengthen the parliamentary anti-corruption initiative. As announced by the Minister, the launch of the anti-corruption unit would take place on the 25 November 2010. She outlined the Committee's programme for its following meetings and said the Committee would be involved with the African Peer Review mechanism which would commence on the 19 November 2010.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: