The Public Service Commission briefed by the Committee on the Commission’s State of the Public Service Report 2010. The Commission provided a summary of areas of professional ethics and anti-corruption measures, and said that coordinating the efforts of departments, spheres of Government and other institutions to achieve outcomes was key. Government had put in place clear planning frameworks that enhanced coordination. These included the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, the National Spatial Development Perspective, Provincial Growth and Development Strategies and local Integrated Development Plans.
Members expressed concern that they had not received copes of the State of the Public Service Report 2010 in a timely manner and had learnt about it through the media first. They also stressed that the presentation needed to be more detailed, especially with regard to Government departments that were non-compliant with protocol. Members were concerned about the inability of the Public Service Commission to address issues at local government level, which they considered to be in dire need of assistance.
The Public Service Commission vowed to provide Members with more details on the specific areas that they required and said that it would return to the Committee to make another presentation. It stated that the problem in addressing local government levels was one of capacity. The Committee stated that it would try to assist the Public Service Commission in improving its capacity by making a submission to the National Assembly.
Public Service Commission presentation on the State of the Public Service Report 2010
Mr Indran Naidoo, Deputy Director-General: Monitoring and Evaluation, Public Service Commission (PSC), presented on the State of the Public Service Report 2010.
With regards to professional ethics, corruption was a challenge that knew no boundaries and should be addressed in a coordinated manner by all sectors of society. Structures, like the National Anti-Corruption Forum (NACF), the Anti-Corruption Coordinating Committee (ACCC), the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee and anti-corruption fora at provincial level had been established to promote the coordination of anti-corruption efforts. Important work had been done under the auspices of these structures. The ACCC had completed an audit of minimum anti-corruption capacity in departments and established an Anti-corruption Learning Network, which would help to integrate and co-ordinate anti-corruption efforts. The NACF had managed to bring together a cross-section of stakeholders to focus on a common set of priorities.
Whilst it remained an important multi-sector anti-corruption body, the NACF had not been able to function optimally. However, during 2010 there had been renewed efforts and commitment to strengthen this.
However, effective coordination remained a challenge. The ACCC had not been able to achieve its objective of co-ordinating measures to build minimum anti-corruption capacity in departments. Such capacity was necessary for addressing allegations of corruption referred to it. This was reflected in the low feedback rate by departments on cases from the NACH referred to it, which stood at a concerning 36%. Centralized capacity needed to be created. The Minister for Public Service and Administration had moved in this direction and created an Anti-Corruption Unit.
A key challenge in addressing corruption was that due to the lack of coordination of data on implicated officials, many staff members resigned before disciplinary hearings and accepted appointments in other departments. With regard to financial disclosures, the compliance rate had improved from 62% in 2004/05to 79% in 2008/09. Scrutiny of a sample of forms through a partnering with the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) and working with the Deeds Office had revealed non-disclosures, pointing to the benefit of working in a co-ordinated manner.
Coordinating the efforts of departments, spheres of Government and other institutions to achieve outcomes was key. Government had put in place clear planning frameworks that enhanced coordination. These included the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the National Spatial Development Perspective (NSDP), Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDS) and local Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).
Promoting lasting development required multiple, targeted and effectively coordinated interventions. Some interventions had worked well but others had not. Recipients of social grants had increased from 4 million in 2001/02 to 13 million in 2008/09, and would increase to 16 million in 2013. Access to water had increased from 62% in 1996 to 88% in 2007. The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) was implemented across departmental boundaries, and created 613,498 job opportunities in 2009/10.
The provision of quality education required an integrated approach, involving safety and security (safer schools), health (nutrition, immunization), and parental involvement, amongst others. In terms of health, with tuberculosis (TB)-HIV co-infection becoming a growing threat, an integrated approach was required that pulled together TB and HIV/AIDS programmes. Consequently, the Minister of Health announced the adoption of a new policy on HIV/AIDS and TB whereby the two conditions were regarded as one disease and HIV/AIDS and TB treatment facilities were integrated.
Fairness and equity needed to be experienced evenly by citizens irrespective of their geographic location, which required effective coordination so that norms and standards were evenly applied. Good practice in one part of the system could be undone by failures in another part, and it was critical that collective action be promoted between state organs, business and civil society. The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act
(PAJA) 2000, provided standards of fairness in decisions affecting the rights of people, but departments’ compliance with the Act showed a marginal improvement to 57% in the 2008/9 cycles. The principle of equity required that citizens could expect the same minimum service standards across the country, which had been set by national departments. However, due to resource and performance differences, levels of service sometimes differed.
With regard to public participation in policy making, there were several initiatives that sought to maintain an effective link between citizens and communities, and these would be more successful if there was improved cooperation between the institutions involved. In terms of accountability, the outcomes approach of the
Presidency had a sharpened focus on responsibilities, but required much coordination between the different levels responsible for an outcome. Transparency meant that the management of information on the attainment of outcomes was critical to ensure its coherence and consistency, so that different departments and entities did not report potentially contradictory things about the same outcomes. Effective coordination of service delivery relied on the role played by public officials.
In achieving the objective of a representative Public Service, an integrated approach was necessary, otherwise the private and public sector would just poach from each other. The Public Service had exceeded the representation targets for black people at senior management level but lagged behind with regard to women’s representation at senior management level and the representation of people with disabilities in the public service.
On 04 November 2010, the PSC held a round table discussion with various Government entities and other stakeholders on the State of the Public Service 2010 Report. The report was rated positively, and much of the discussion revolved around how the PSC could implement change around the issues raised in the Report.
Mr A Williams (ANC) asked for more details around non-compliance with PAJA and performance agreements. He said that director-general cluster meetings were only attended 35 % of the time. He said that
Members needed to know exactly which departments were not complying.
Mr Mashwahle Diphofa, Director-General, PSC, replied that, with regard to performance agreements, there was a process where the ministers and the President formed a Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Task team on which the PSC sat to evaluate the problems.
Ms H van Schalkwyk (DA) asked why officials who faced misconduct charges evaded these charges and found employment with other departments. There was legislation to prevent this. The Report summary mentioned a round-table discussion with various public services. She asked whether Members had been invited to this round-table discussion. She added that last year the Committee did not know when the Report was going to be made available to the public and that they only knew about it after reading about it in the newspapers. She felt that the Committee should have been amongst the first to see the Report.
Mr Diphofa said that the Committee had been invited to the round-table discussion and that he remembered a Member being present.
Mr L Suka (ANC) asked whether the document handed out was a really comprehensive report on the state of public services in the country or if it was an executive summary taken from the Report. He got the sense that there was more information than presented. He stated that surely the Committee should get the full report.
With reference to the non-attendance of directors-general at cluster meeting, he asked whether there were regular meetings or if they were impromptu. He asked what corrective measure were in pace to deal with the low attendance rates.
Mr Suka also asked what vacancy rates were as it seemed as if a lot of people were resigning and running away from charges being brought against them. The presentation gave him the sense that was a gap of two years in the Report, especially on delivery as the last report on this was from 2007. He asked what happened in 2008 and 2009. On page 7 of the presentation document it said that access to water had increased to 88% in 2007 and he asked what had happened in 2008 and 2009. He asked why expenditure on roads was so little. There was a comment on page 11 of the presentation document on ward committees and he asked if there was an audit of ward committees so that Members could get a clear picture on them as many were not up to scratch. He added that while there was marked improvement on Batho Pele principle targets, the targets being set seemed low. He asked if there was a programme to ensure clean audits as the PSC had said that 43 departments had received qualified audits. With regard to corruption, he said that the system seemed to lack synergy – thus feeding corruption.
Ms J Maluleke (ANC) said that the Report gave Members the information and that the only thing left was the recommendations from the PSC to address the challenges raised.
Ms P Tengeni, Deputy Chairperson, PSC, replied that it was a matter of process and that in terms of the
Constitution the PSC followed very specific lines of reporting. She added that when the PSC briefed the
Committee it came with detailed reports and fact sheets and that the intention was that the Committee pick up on information in the reports and use it. The PSC’s individual reports did come with recommendations. In terms of the PSC's not adequately applying monitoring and evaluation tools at a local government level, it was a matter of resources. The PSC was currently only able to focus on provincial and national levels with the resources that it currently had. It was very aware that the principals applied to all spheres of Government.
It had the expertise, but not the capacity.
Mr M Malahlele, Commissioner, PSC, added that the PSC was presenting the Report, which was tabled in
Parliament last year, which also coincided with a media report. Essentially every Member of Parliament should have received the Report. The presentation was not a thumb-suck as it was form the Report.
The PSC had done a sampling of local government but did not have the resources to do more. Employees of the PSC were not even half of the number of the Office of the Auditor-General's staff members in the
Mr Diphofa said that with regards to the Director-General cluster meetings a study had been done on the cluster system by the Presidency. The Presidency had commissioned a unit in National Treasury to do the study. One of the critical things that the PSC had found from its report was that directors-general did not find the cluster meetings valuable. During the process of the report there was a review of the cluster system. With regard to gaps for 2008 and 2009, he said that the reasons for the gap years were different and that in the case of water and basic service the PSC had relied on other entities' information and all that was available ran up until 2007. The evaluation of department heads was always a year behind because the annual report had to first be tabled in Parliament and the PSC could only start its evaluation after that process had been completed.
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) referred to page 4 and asked if there was supplementary information on resignations during disciplinary hearings to avoid disciplinary action. The whole debate around a unified public service was in order to address these challenges. He cited he example of the former director-general of Labour, Mr Jimmy Manyi, who was suspended and then moved to another post. There seemed to be a lack of commitment to dealing with senior state officials. The poor attendance at directors-general meetings suggested that there was a deficiency in the functioning of the cluster approach. He requested more information on the matter. With reference to page 10 and the compliance aspect of the law, he asked for more information on departmental non-compliance. He also requested more information on repeat offenders, so that the Committee could determine how to deal with them. There seemed to be no consequences for senior state officials in terms being held accountable. He asked whether there was a recommendation that the Committee could take to Parliament.
The Chairperson said that even financial disclosures by senior state officials were not 100%, which made her wonder about disclosures at lower levels being even worse.
Mr Diphofa said that in the past the PSC had tabled 400 copies of their report in Parliament, but that this time there was a new protocol, which called for 100 copies. This may have been where the lack of copies may have arisen. The presentation was based on a detailed report. During the year the PSC engaged with various researchers on issues. The Report was a summary of all the individual research reports; the details were in the individual reports. There was a detailed financial disclosures report, about which the PSC had talked to the Committee. The PSC could provide the detailed breakdown. The State of the Public Service Report was a summary that not only used PSC reports; the PSC also used data from the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and other entities.
Mr Diphofa said that the PSC needed guidance, as the Report was an overview of many different reports. If
Members wanted more information on areas, they needed to tell the PSC so that it could go to the source report and provide the Committee with a detailed breakdown.
Mr Williams said that the PSC needed to understand that he had not seen the 2010 Report that was being referred to. He wanted to know the details in the Report and stressed that it was important that
Members knew the details, as general “stuff” did not help in any way.
Mr E Nyekembe (ANC) said that is was unfortunate that when the PSC tabled the Report he was not a member of the Committee and did not get a copy. He said that as much as the PSC had tabled the Report in 2010, what the PSC had done today was to summarise the Report. He had expected that the PSC would come and say that given the various problems the PSC recommended the following interventions and then state how far the PSC had got in implementing corrective measures.
Ms Tengeni replied that in terms of possible solutions, perhaps Members should continue highlighting to them if Members needed more detail on PAJA compliance. The Committee needed to stipulate exactly on which areas Members required specific information and the PSC would come back and give it to them. In terms of recommendations, the PSC had a system in that every report that went out with recommendations was logged and tracked. The PSC was not in a position to repeat recommendations in other reports. The PSC could work with the Members' requests.
Mr C Msimang (IFP) said that some of the responses were of great concern, especially the lack of resources to service the local government sphere. Local government was exactly the level that needed to be focused on as this was the level where there was the most dissatisfaction. Perhaps the PSC needed to prioritise local government instead of the national and provincial spheres. Even though the Report was a summary, it still did not talk to full issues.
Mr Malahlela replied that Members also needed to help the PSC and tell it what they wanted to be briefed on. He said that Members had said that the Report was not detailed enough, but he would appreciate being told how much detail they needed and on what. He added that the PSC also did not want to rehash the entire Report. He added that there was some work done on local government and that the PSC should probably come back and brief the Committee on the work that it had been able to do in this sphere.
Mr Diphofa said that the PSC had included work on local government in its 2010/11 work plan and there were specific plans that related to local government. The PSC could come back to the Committee and give a presentation on the PSC's local government plans. While the focus of the work plan was on provincial and national levels, the PSC was trying to make inroads in to local government.
Mr Suka said that he understood the responses from the PSC in reference to the presentation document that it had presented, but stressed that the main issue was the forward thrust. The reality of the matter was that there was a gap form 2008 to 2009 and that the Committee was pressurised by time to execute its objectives. Apart from this he was satisfied with the responses.
The Chairperson said that the Job Access Strategy for People with Disabilities had been sitting at 2% since
2004. She asked whether the PSC saw any improvement in the matter.
Mr Malahlela replied that there was a 2008 report on people with disabilities that it would share with the Committee.
Mr Diphofa said that there had clearly been a process problem in the dissemination of the Report and that the PSC would have to retrace its steps to ensure that it did not have a repeat of the current situation. There was an assumption on the PSC’s part that Members already had copies of the Report after it was tabled in Parliament last year. He said that in terms of EPWP, people had acquired skills, but sustaining the jobs was problematic. With regard to the Job Access Strategy for People with Disabilities, the strategy was useful, but implementing it in real life was much harder to implement. There were practical issues raised that needed to be addressed.
Mr Williams said that the detail that he was looking for was on the specific departments that were at fault and on any trends in non-compliance that had been observed.
Mr Nyekembe said that the issue of capacity that made it difficult for the PSC to implement its mandate was an important issue. It was important for the PSC at least to find time to present on the kind of work it had at the local government level. If the Department of Public Service and Administration did not provide the PSC with enough resources, it needed to say so, after which it would be the responsibility of the Committee to follow up with the Department.
The Chairperson said that it was up to the Committee to ensure that the PSC was properly resourced. This was a problem that Members had been dealing with since last year. The PSC needed to be independent from the Department and should have its own budget. Members needed to deal with this so that the PSC could deal with local government. The Committee would draft a report from everything that had been discussed and make recommendations to the National Assembly. This was the correct manner in which to ensure that the PSC had enough resources.
Mr Malahlela agreed wholeheartedly with the Chairperson’s summation. He addled that it was also important to note that when it came to sourcing funding the PSC had a handicap as it dealt with intangible things that could not be measured physically. This impeded the ability to get funding from Treasury.
Ms Tengeni said that the PSC could make available to the Committee the fact sheets on performance agreements and the filing thereof.
The Chairperson thanked the PSC for its presentation and its offers to provide more information. She added that it seemed that the good working relationship that Members and the PSC had enjoyed would continue this year.
The meeting was adjourned.
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