Deputy Minister on Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation 2012 Strategic Plan

Standing Committee on Appropriations

25 April 2012
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Deputy Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation noted that the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) represented a new system and function to assess state departments and state owned entities. The DPME monitored outcomes, guided by the government priorities of education, health, safety, economic development and rural development. The new function was being modelled after best practice of countries where performance monitoring and evaluation had been instituted, such as Mexico, USA, Canada, UK, Malaysia and Indonesia.

South Africa was a participant in an international monitoring and evaluation forum, and looked to countries with longer experience of this, for a suitable local model. The DPME made unannounced visits across the country, and compared the reality on the ground with what had been reported, to see if that report was a true reflection.

The briefing by the DPME stated that it formed part of a monitoring and evaluation system that included the Auditor General, Public Service Commission, National Treasury, and Departments of Cooperative Governance and Public Service and Administration. The DPME was situated in the Presidency, and hence was the custodian of monitoring and evaluation. The emphasis fell on measuring results and thereby producing change in government. There were interdepartmental and intergovernmental delivery agreements. A challenge was that legal frameworks favoured the silo approach. Frontline service delivery was monitored. There was planning for a citizen based monitoring system, and a Presidential Hotline.

A summary of DPME budget allocations per programme and per economic classification was provided.

Due to the parliamentary document store providing the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan of the previous year to members, there could not be discussion of the presentation.

Meeting report

Introduction by the Deputy Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)
Deputy Minister in the Presidency: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Obed Bapela, noted that the Annual Report of the Department focused on its challenges in fulfilling its mandate, as well as its spending and risk strategies. There was a revised five-year plan [which included the additional mandate of managing the Presidential Hotline, more emphasis on evaluations, refinements due to comments from internal auditors and Auditor-General as well as clarification of its mandate]. The Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) represented a new system and function to assess state departments and state owned entities. Provinces were working with the Department, and influence was being broadened at municipal level. Hitherto the focus had been mainly on the six metropolitan areas. The DPME monitored outcomes, guided by the five government priorities of education, health, crime reduction, and economic and rural development. Twelve outcomes had been identified by the Minister and an agreement had been signed. All departments responded to quarterly reports. It provided a platform for the assessment of Cabinet itself.

The Deputy Minister continued that visits had been undertaken to Mexico, USA, Canada, UK, Malaysia and Indonesia, where performance monitoring and evaluation had been instituted. Those countries had a long experience with the system and their functioning was examined to provide a perfect model. There were African countries that were considering introducing Performance Monitoring and Evaluation and they had visited South Africa for guidance. South Africa was a participant in an international forum.

He said that there had been initial reluctance to accept the system, which had perhaps been viewed as over-policing. However, it was important for the DPME to create working relations with departments and entities.

The Deputy Minister concluded that the Department made unannounced visits across the country. Those were to assess the reality on the ground. The DPME would look at how the real situation looked like compared to what had been reported.

DPME briefing on its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan for 2012/13
Dr Sean Phillips, DPME Director General, explained that the DPME formed part of a monitoring and evaluation system that included the Auditor General, Public Service Commission, National Treasury, and Departments of Cooperative Governance and Public Service and Administration. The DPME was located in the Presidency, and by virtue of that it was the custodian of a government-wide monitoring and evaluation policy framework. The Department was in the process of putting in place a range of monitoring and evaluation tools. The aim was to improve government performance by increasing the strategic focus of government.

There were interdepartmental and intergovernmental delivery agreements. The emphasis on measuring results was a catalyst for change in government. Challenges with delivery agreements included difficulty to keep them short and strategic. There was a tendency to have too many indicators. There was a focus on activities rather than outcomes and on process-indicators rather than actual improvements at output / outcomes level. Legal frameworks tended to favour the silo approach. Other challenges with delivery agreements was that i
nformation management systems to produce required data were not yet fully in place in many departments.
Also, although National Treasury required department strategic plans and annual performance plans to reflect commitments to delivery agreements, there were challenges in the translation of the delivery agreements into implementation programmes of the department. Further, it was difficult to ensure ownership by departments as opposed to mere compliance. Symptoms of compliance were: setting of low targets, reporting on processes rather than results, production of the reports delegated to low levels in the organisation, lack of top management focus on implementation, monitoring and reporting. To date, levels of ownership varied across departments / sectors.

A core set of measurable indicators defined for outputs, with targets, were being developed.

Focus areas for 2012/13 and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) included refinement of the management assessment tool and to document best practice. Frontline service delivery would be monitored with regard to experiences of citizens when obtaining services. The President and Ministers were visiting hospitals, schools, police stations and municipalities on an ongoing basis. The aim was to check whether service delivery standards were in place and being monitored, and whether minimum management systems were in place. The DPME was working on a plan to establish citizen-based monitoring of frontline service delivery. The DPME would work with civil society to develop monitoring instruments. A policy framework for a citizen based monitoring programme would be approved by March 2013.

The Presidential Hotline could serve as an important source of information for government-wide performance monitoring. Government could keep track of what the important issues for citizens were. The Hotline received 500 to 1000 calls per day.

The DPME had established a national forum for the heads of monitoring and evaluation in national departments.

Dr Phillips provided a summary of DPME budget allocations per programme, and budget allocations per economic classification.

Discussion
It emerged that Committee members had in fact received the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan of the preceding year, to study for the discussion. (It later turned out that the DPME had not been at fault).

The Chairperson suggested that the submission of the day be used as a basis for discussion.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) felt that members had been shortchanged on the Annual Performance Plan, because members had applied their minds to the wrong document, which was not the most recent APP.

The Deputy Minister noted that the matter was beyond the Department’s control. The right document had been delivered to Parliament, to the Speaker, on 15 March. It had been submitted on time. The people in the parliamentary document stores had erred.

The Chairperson agreed that it was beyond the control of the Department and the Committee what happened at the stores. The new document had not been noticed. It was not possible to engage intelligently in the meeting on the day.

The Chairperson and members discussed possibilities for another meeting soon, with Wednesday 2 May being agreed upon. The meeting was then adjourned.

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