Government's ability to deliver on the five key priority areas: Public Service Commission assessment

Standing Committee on Appropriations

15 May 2012
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson said it was important for heads of Chapter 9 institutions to assist Parliament. He noted the apology by the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC), but the Committee would have preferred to have him in Parliament.

The PSC was asked to prepare a presentation on the capacity of he state to deliver. PSC looked at all the departments' Annual Reports, and would give an assessment on how Government departments were delivering on the five key priority areas. The areas addressed were expenditure and performance; turnover and vacancy rates; critical skills shortage; performance management; and the use of consultants. The various sets of data would assist the Committee to answer the questions it had on the skills of Government to deliver on the main key priorities.

The Committee heard there was a lot of dirt in expenditure and departments had no grounds to disown the data if they were to be questioned. It had always been a challenge in the public service to achieve alignment between programmes and the budget. Most departments spent large portions of their budgets annually while virtually achieving less on the predetermined objectives.

Analysis of the data indicated there was disjuncture between performance and budget spent. Departments had identified objectives and specific outputs, but on many instances planned targets were not specific in clearly identifying the quality and required level of performance. Members sought clarity on the methodology used to get the information. The Committee needed to understand the methodology used and the credibility of the percentages that were presented. The implication was that departments asked for money and yet there were no tangible results. Where was the money going?

In July 2011, the Cabinet singled out the up scaling of work opportunities through the Community Works Programme to reach one million by 2013. had been amendments to the Procurement Policy Framework Act specified that the Minister of Trade and Industry could designate particular sectors for local procurement. This had employment spin-offs as well.

The time it took to fill vacant posts was a major concern at the Departments of Health, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Public Works and Transport. These departments took up to two years or more to fill vacant posts. There was a challenge of signing of performance agreements. There needed to be a link between achieving the predetermined objectives and compliance with performance agreements among senior staff. The Department of Police was among the highest achieving departments, and yet it paid no rewards. Moral and service delivery could be affected.

The Committee heard that high vacancy and turnover rates were indications that retention strategies were ineffective.
An IFP Member sought clarity on how PSC obtained the information. The Committee needed to understand the methodology used and the credibility of the percentages presented. The implication was that departments asked for money and yet there were no tangible results; where was the money going? A DA Member asked if the National Rural Youth Service Corps programme was part of the programmes of the National Youth Development Agency. ANC Members asked the PSC's view on the performance of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (recorded at 35%) and Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (recorded at 41%). He asked for further details on the R253 121 000 figure spent by the latter Department on consultants, what was the kind of feedback that the PSC got from its provincial officers,  if something was not wrong about the performance bonuses, and if there any guidelines that took into consideration performance of the individual. A COPE Member asked what impact the vacancy rate had on the ability of the departments to deliver.



Meeting report

Opening remarks
Mr Michael Seloane, PSC Commissioner: Gauteng, said that the PSC Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson were attending a plenary. The PSC was asked to prepare a presentation on the capacity of state to deliver. PSC looked at all the departments' Annual Reports, and would give an assessment on how Government departments were delivering on the five key priority areas.

The Chairperson welcomed PSC and said he expected that the Chairperson would be present. The apology was noted, but the Committee wanted to hear from the head of the PSC. It was important for senior staff who led Chapter 9 institutions to assist Parliament.

Members said that the absence of the Chairperson need not be an issue as the PSC Director-General, Prof  Richard Levin, was present.

Public Service Commission Capacity of Government 2010/11 Presentation
 Levin said the data contained in the presentation would give a general sense of the skills capacity in Government. The areas addressed were expenditure and performance; turnover and vacancy rates; critical skills shortage; performance management; and the use of consultants. The various sets of data would assist the Committee to answer its questions on the skills of Government to deliver on the main key priorities.

The sources of data included the 2010/11 Annual Reports, National Treasury (NT), the Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), and other PSC tools. Departments assembled the data analysed. There was a lot of dirt and departments had no grounds to disown the data if they were to be questioned.

The five key priorities were decent work and sustainable livelihoods; education; health; rural development; and fighting crime and corruption. Decent work had been prioritised above all others. It became important to look at a number of public service departments to fully grasp the issues around decent work.

The Department of Labour (DoL) was among those. The Department stated in its mission statement that the Department hoped to improve on efficiency, productivity as well as skills development and employment creation.

Other Departments that were directly and indirectly involved in employment creation included Trade and Industry (Dti), Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF); Mineral Resources (DMR); Energy; Transport; Public Works (DPW); Basic Education (DBE); Health; Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), Justice and Constitutional Development; and the Department of Police.

The direct employment in the public service was through employment of public servants, but there was also the employment creation schemes like the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), Community Works Programme (CPW), the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) and the internships and learnerships.

Mr M Swart (DA) wanted to know if NARYSEC programme was part of the programmes of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

Mr Levin replied that NARYSEC was a separate programme, initiated by the Department of Defence, but which had since been supported by DRDLR. This was where DRDLR was mobilising rural youth to generate rural working opportunities.

He said in July 2011, the Cabinet singled out the up scaling of work opportunities through the CWP to reach one million by 2013. Government impacted on the private sector as well, through the provision of goods and services, infrastructure and security services.

Government also provided the regulatory framework that affected the cost of productivity, labour, logistics and the investment climate. The departments chosen in the economic sector had an impact in terms of regulating the sectors. The procurement of goods and services was another way that Government could have an impact.

There had been amendments to the l Procurement Policy Framework Act 2000 (PPPFA) that specified that the Minister of Trade and Industry (Dr Rob Davies) could designate particular sectors for local procurement. This had employment spin-offs as well. He clarified that the 2010/11 information was obtained from Annual Reports, and the 2011/12 was obtained from the National Treasury (NT) website.

Prof Levin said analysis of the data indicated there was disjuncture between performance and budget spent. Departments had identified objectives and specific outputs, but on many instances planned targets were not specific in clearly identifying the quality and required level of performance. This made it difficult for PSC to establish the level of achievement.

There were issues in the public service around performance information and performance auditing that the Auditor-General (AG) was introducing. The AG was just auditing the 2011/12 information without yet casting an opinion. The results of the audits would only be known around August.

It had always been a challenge in the public service to achieve alignment between programmes and the budget. Most departments spent large portions of their budgets annually but while virtually achieving less on the predetermined objectives. This should mean something on how budgets were developed and how projects were implemented. There was disjuncture.

Prof Levin reiterated departments compiled the information upon which the analysis was carved. Departments could not disown this information; there could be contestations on how to implement the systems but the information was theirs.

When addressing the issue of performance, PSC had to look at planning, internal processes and capacity constraints. The central question was whether departments were fixated on process and not the outputs and the outcomes. Outputs and outcomes were part of the new monitoring system used by DPME. The Department was focused on achieving outcomes during a particular electoral term.

There were reasons departments gave on not achieving outcomes. DoL, for example, had advanced an argument about inadequate resources and the management structure. DAFF had advanced reasons of restructuring since it had been merged with fisheries and forestry. The Departments of Energy, Mineral Resources, and Transport gave reasons which included poor planning and capacity constraints. COGTA cited financial reasons and human resources; and DPW had issues with resources, processes and poor formulation of outputs and targets.

The Chairperson interjected and said Members could raise issues of clarity whilst the presentation was ongoing.

Mr N Singh (IFP) sought clarity on how PSC went about getting the information. The greatest area of what was being presented would be these figures. The Committee needed to understand the methodology used and the credibility of the percentages that were presented. The implication was that departments asked for money and yet there were no tangible results; where was the money going.

The Chairperson requested that this clarity be dealt with at the end of the presentation as it dealt with  “substantive” issues. He clarified that he meant clarity on simple issues like figures, but requested that the question be noted for the discussion.

Prof Levin replied departments were required to have outputs that were linked to specific targets by the new reporting requirement in the Annual Performance Plan (APP). Departments would then have to measure what they had achieved in terms of the APP. These were the numbers that the PSC relied on, so these were based on the both the strategic plans and the APPs.

He said the AG was looking at whether departments were fully capacitated to comply with the new reporting framework that would enable the AG to cast an opinion on this performance information.

The focus at the moment was on building the capacity. Departments had set targets, outputs and outcomes, and they had to account on whether they had met those. It would be difficult to dispute the data, but there would be explanations as to why they had not been able to achieve. Reasons for not achieving could be that the planning was fundamentally flawed.

Prof Levin said the issue of turnover rate and vacancy rate was a vexed question. Turnover rate was very high in the Departments of Justice & Constitutional Development and Trade and Industry especially among the senior staff. Among junior staff this phenomenon was highest at the Department of Energy. Vacancy rate was high in the departments of Public Works, COGTA and Transport. It was extremely high in the Department of Health.

The time it took to fill vacant posts was a major concern at the departments of Health, COGTA, Public Works and Transport. These departments took up to two years or more to fill vacant posts. Contributing reasons on these vacancies were mainly resignations and expiry of contracts. In most of the departments the highest vacancies were in the administration service. These were the support services, human resources, information technology, finance and risk management. The highest vacancy was in public employment services. This was a concern given the imperative of decent work that Government championed.

He said at DRDLR there was also an issue of suspensions of staff with pay for long periods. The longest period was 759 days, amounting to two and half years. This threw a question around whether or not the organograms were fully funded. The AG was now paying attention to the alignment of the budget and the organogram. Good management practice would require an annual review of the organogram, to establish if there was a need to abolish certain posts.

Departments were unwilling to abolish posts, because they feared having to go through job evaluation processes. There was reluctance in abolishing certain posts and this might be a factor in the vacancy rate statistic. Out of this data, questions on whether there was a fully funded organogram or whether the management of the organogram was functional, emerged. There had to be very effective management over time because of changes linked to new Government priorities. There was a need to be dynamic in the organogram but also to manage it rigorously to always ensure that alignment was there.

In the area of critical skills shortages departments had identified various challenges. The common one across departments was the lack of engineers. Departments had cited certain elements why they failed to achieve certain outputs. Generally, technical skills were areas where departments struggled attracting professionals.

Prof Levin said the concentration of skills level was still in the lower ranks of the organograms. This was evident in the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD), Police, Public Works and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The bulk of employment in these departments was located in the lower or semi-skilled categories.

There was a challenge of signing of performance agreements (PAs). There needed to be a link between achieving the predetermined objectives and compliance with performance agreements among senior staff. A concern was when PSC analysed the performance rewards.

Rewards and departmental performance did not correlate. He cited an example of DMR which paid rewards to 60% of employees, whilst achieving 60% of predetermined objectives and a qualified audit opinion. The Department of Health paid rewards to over half of its employees and yet it achieved 37% of its objectives. It also received a qualified audit opinion.

The Police were among the highest achieving departments, and yet paid no rewards. Moral and service delivery could be affected. This was the department where one would want to incentivise employees. These were the people who worked in conditions that were strenuous than all other public servants. This was something that the Committee ought to think about.

The Department of Transport's not signing the performance agreements might impact on moral. The issue of internal transfers was given as reason by some departments why performance agreements were not concluded in time. Dti had indicated that disciplinary action had been taken in instances where valid reasons were not provided for not completing performance agreements. Whilst DoJ&CD said the PAs were signed but were delayed at the human resources section, DMR did not comply with the format of filling the PAs.

PSC also thought it would be useful to look at the issue of consultants. The tendency among departments was to use consultants once they sensed a lack of a certain skill. The cost of using consultants was very high at DPW, COGTA and DRDLR. The skills issue contributed immensely on the performance and effectiveness of Government. It resulted in high-level expenditure where performance was continually not reached. This indicated that resources were not effectively used and skills shortage was a key cause of that situation.

The high vacancy rate and turnover rate were indication that retention strategies were ineffective. There was a need to do more work to understand why the public service was loosing skilled people. The sustained use of consultants was evidence there was a need to build internal capacity. That need was not being adequately met. The issue of skills acquisition was often spoken about but was not being adequately addressed.

The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) had recently introduced the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) that had helped; however, internal movements and transfers indicated there were issues with the salaries of skilled professionals in the public service. The PSC would argue that skills were a factor in poor performance by Government but there were other factors.

Prof Levin said managerial and supervisory systems were flawed especially in the areas of human resources and finance management. There were also inappropriate institutional arrangements, and a range of other institutional issues that impacted on Government's ability to deliver. He said outcomes and impact were neglected by officials, and yet this was where the effectiveness of Government was measured.

He said the system that had been developed by DPME would hopefully address the balance between achieving outcomes and the processes. Programmes were not achieving the intended results. The PSC believed that personal values (professional ethics) and organisational culture were important for the state to achieve results. The Commission believed Government was too tolerant and lenient on non-performance. There should be consequences, even if it was not necessarily firing.

It was concerning when non-performance was rewarded. There was very high proportion of rewards in an environment where departments were generally failing. This would always lead to overall slackness that had to be addressed. He described the system as a skewed incentive structure. By the mere fact of performing duty, officials expected to be rewarded; they did not look to be outstanding. The way the system worked it did not support that culture.

Performance and development were fundamental. There was a need to see development of public servants that would include non-financial incentives. The PSC was also concerned by the issue of citizen participation. The relationship between the people and the state was fundamental in achieving the outcomes.

Public servants needed to create the systems to engage with the public. This was important in the area of economics, where there was a range of opportunities for communities. The view was that public servants spent too much time in the office, and not engaging with the communities to understand how programmes could be used as basis for mobilisation. Government should not create the sense of entitlement and expectation around service delivery. There was a need for participation of citizens and active mobilisation.

Discussion
Mr Swart said the presentation was very informative but disconcerting as well. He asked if the PSC could avail information on performance payment per department. He wanted to know the specific details on those suspended with pay. The departments had spent full budget for the year, but performance achievements were scary. If one took transfers and subsidies that figure went down considerably. He wanted to know how transfers and subsidies affected expenditure.

Prof Levin replied that the PSC could be able to provide information on individual employees on the monetary figures received as reward.

Prof Levin said the Committee would be given the presentation done at the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the suspensions with pay. PSC conducted a project where it took a sample of departments. He said the information also was extracted from the Annual Report, but Members would find the qualitative analysis of the information interesting.

Mr P Gelderblom (ANC) wanted to know the view on the performance of the DAFF (recorded at 35%) and DRDLR (recorded at 41%). He asked for further details on the R253 121 000 figure spent by DRDLR on consultants.

Prof Levin said commercial farmers produced the bulk of the local produce; the Department was not responsible for food production, but providing an environment that was conducive to commercial farmers. It was difficult to say whether the Department was negatively impacted in terms of the matters that the PSC looked at. In the New Growth Path the Department was expected to provide for 5 000 small-holder farmers by 2015. This was very good for food production. He said there was a Zero Hunger Campaign, and other related activities linked to commercial farming and manufacturing by the DAFF.

DRDLA was getting it programmes underway, and would have an impact on livelihoods. The programmes - Comprehensive Rural Development, Land Restitution, and War on Poverty – might have been impacted on by the figures presented, as these were new.

Prof Levin said there was information on the Rural Development consultants available. The expenditure on core functions struck the PSC, because at DRDLR expenditure was high on project management, advice from the state attorney, and financial management. Much of this money was on core functions; there were new projects and obviously the Department brought in consultants to assist with management of those.

Mr Seloane replied that the figures of 2010/11 were extracted from the Annual Reports and had been audited. The 2011/12 financial year had ended and the information had been submitted to Treasury and the AG; these figures had not been audited. But departments submitted monthly performance progress to Treasury.

Mr Gelderblom asked what was the kind of feedback that the PSC got from its provincial officers.

Mr Seloane replied that PSC had not looked at provinces, as the request indicated that it look at national departments and if they had capacity to deliver on the five key priority areas. At a later stage it would be interesting to look at the information from provinces.

Mr Gelderblom asked if something was not wrong about the performance bonuses. What would the PSC do about this information.

Ms L Yengeni (ANC) wanted to know who decided on the rewards at the departments. How was this done; were there any guidelines that took into consideration performance of the individual?

The Chairperson wanted to know if there departmental guidelines on how to pay out rewards.

Mr Seloane replied that the role of PSC was to promote the value as enshrined in the Constitution. PSC did that work through research, monitoring and evaluation, and auditing departments whether they were implementing those values. PSC did that work in order to provide information to Parliament that it could use to exercise oversight on departments. PSC simply assisted Parliament to do oversight.

Prof Levin replied when deciding on performance rewards there should be a performance plan, submitted on quarterly basis to NT and Parliament. The Annual Performance Plan (APP) should be the performance contract of the Director-General (DG), and it needed to cascade downwards. As it did there would more activities and outputs and would expand to the lower levels of the organisation. It ought to align individual performance with institutional performance. Over time this would raise question on the performance management outcomes of heads of departments.

The system was regulated by the DPSA; there were clear guidelines. There should be quarterly meetings between supervisors and individual employees. The meetings as part of the reward should identify areas of excellence and those that needed intervention. This was sometimes referred to as the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS). The development part of the PMDS programme was seriously lacking; it was just about scores and rewards. It was the development side that needed to be pushed. If there were skills deficits and gaps, Government needed to work with what it had.

He said there was no one solution to the challenges that the public service grappled with. The performance reward should not exceed 1.5% of the total compensation, but there was discretion for the Executive authority to have a deviation. Ideally this process should be linked to the performance plan and the targets that were set. He said there were major problems with performance rewards and managers should take responsibility.

Mr Singh said the information was depressing but not entirely unexpected. Following the presentation there was no point asking departments why things were going wrong. He sought clarity on the R226 million used on consultants by DPW.

Mr Singh wanted to know if the presentation was availed to Cabinet or individual ministers or other Portfolio Committees. He asked what should happen now; who was responsible for the mess at the departments. He said it would be depressing to know the information and yet nothing became of it.

Prof Levin replied that the presentation had not been forwarded to either Government or individual ministers. Hopefully over a period of time the barometer that was developed would be put to the clusters and the ministers. It would throw up this information for discussion.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) sought clarity on the appropriated and donor funding. She said money could easily be lost if it came from donors. She wanted to know how reliable and transparent were the funds obtained through donors. It was important for Parliament to know before appropriations if there were funds from somewhere. This would make it easy to trace and police funding.

The Chairperson said the issue of donor funding was accounting. How could the Committee see these funds? Where was that money accounted for?

Prof Levin replied that donor-funding figures were separate at the time of appropriation bill, but were part of the final financial statements.

National  Treasury replied that donor funding was reported in the estimates of expenditure so that foreign funds were recorded, as well as the projects they were earmarked for. Donor funding was not appropriated by Parliament. The General Budget Support Unit had been created by NT to coordinate the receipt of donor funds. This was where and how donor funding was accounted for. Previously Departments used to deal with donor funds. NT could arrange for the Unit to come to Parliament and address the committee on its work. NT ensured there was no duplication of funding; projects funded were guarded from receiving through Parliament.

Ms Mashigo pointed out that COGTA had told the Committee about training of staff done by the Swedes and the Germans and the money used did not reflect anywhere on the figures on the presentation.

The Chairperson said the presentation was interesting. He wanted to know about the relationship between PSC and monitoring other departments.

Mr Levin said PSC could provide information on this and could include other departments. The departments could be looked at and analysed according to all the indicators looked at. He said this would be more effective once the public service barometer started functioning.

Mr Gelderbloom requested that the Department of Correctional Services be added to that analysis.

Mr Levin said he would engage the NT's DG (Mr Lungisa Fuzile) on the issues of departments spending on and yet achieved poor performance. Government needed to get the value for money and understand how budgets flowed in different kinds of functions.

Ms Yengeni wanted to know how Members could address the gap between expenditure of departments and the predetermined objectives. She said there was DPME, PSC and Treasury who all monitored the departments. Who was failing Parliament?

Mr Seloane replied that on monthly basis departments had to provide information on expenditure to Treasury; on quarterly basis that information was submitted to Parliament; and annually the information was audited. Portfolio Committees should be monitoring those on a quarterly basis. At the end of the quarter it was assumed that 25% should have been spent and that needed to equal the 25% of the performance on predetermined objectives. When that information came it was the role of the Portfolio Committee to ask questions. If that kind of monitoring was not happening on regular basis, at the end of a financial year it would be too late to ask questions. There would be collaboration between NT, the relevant department and the Portfolio Committee.

Mr Levin replied the focus on DPME was part of the priorities of Government.

Mr G Snell (ANC) said the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) was based on annual plans. PMDS was modelled to encourage departments to strive for success and identify training needs. But this had been used to payout bonuses instead of adding to the capacity of departments. It was virtually impossible for departments to achieve the APPs if the performance was so weak. He said he would like to hear the opinion of the Commission on how to improve this situation.

Prof Levin replied that Treasury was best placed to say whether Government got value for money. This was a huge question that needed to be answered; the performance monitoring systems were not addressing the question.

Mr Snell said there was a developing trend where departments outsourced their work to implementing agents like the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), Coega Development Corporation and the Independent Development Trust (IDT). These institutions were hiring consultants to undertake work on behalf of the departments. This distorted the figures provided today. He asked if the PSC had undertaken a study to understand consultants who were employed by implementing agents.

Prof Levin replied that there was data that the PSC was looking at. The PSC wanted to understand trends on transfers on the budget, but more time was needed to study it further. The implication of this reliance on agencies was that the institutional capacity of the public service was limited compared to these agencies. This was a big debate in public management around appropriateness of institutions for delivery. The creation of institutions within the economic development portfolios was a favoured method, to speed up alternative service delivery institutions that could be more effective in achieving the goals of Government. There was nothing unique about the use of these agencies; it was a global trend.

The Chairperson said the disjuncture between expenditure and performance was critical for the Committee. Most departments would be at 50% expenditure at the end of the third quarter, and yet when the financial year ended departments would report 100% expenditure. He said there was reason to suspect that money did not go to the set objectives. How accurate was the information on expenditure percentages?

National Treasury replied that it was committed to promote value for money. The NT took into account financial and non-financial performance of departments. As a result of this, budgets had been cut in-year and in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) especially if the departments were not performing satisfactorily. Sometimes it was necessary to give more money to a department even if it had been performing poorly, just to increase capacity to deliver better.

The Chairperson asked the relationship between departments and the AG. He said whilst the AG would proclaim an unqualified audit opinion when compiling reports, people on the ground would be protesting for the lack of services.

The Chairperson wanted to know the role of Parliament given the figures that were provided in presentations. He said Members did not have access to the figures so it could follow the figures and seek answers. He asked if the numbers were computerised.

Prof Levin replied that PSC responded to a request from the Committee and compiled information from the Annual Reports and Treasury. Departments were not consulted. The PSC was, however, putting a system known as the Public Service Barometer. The system would use the same methodology; would use official information as generated by departments and was contained on Annual Reports, Treasury monitoring systems and on Persal [an integrated transversal system for the administration of human resource transactions and payment of salary for Government at national and provincial spheres]. This information would have other indicators that were pertinent to the mandate of the PSC including corruption. The PSC was in the process of putting that system together.

He said there challenges with the information whether audited or not. The key conclusion on the information at hand was the disjuncture between performance information and the spend on the budget. There was a need to look at the relationship between all the aspects of information provided in order to understand the apparatus of Government. Any government used administrative apparatus to achieve objectives.

There were issues that would be raised on another platform, on the relationship between the Executive and Administration and the relative autonomy or lack thereof. The way in which performance auditing was introduced needed to be confronted urgently. This was a major lesson from the presentation. He said there were issues departments would seek to explain, especially on those objectives which were partially achieved, that could not be accommodated in the report. One could not compute partial achievements.

Prof Levin said there was trend. Once there was a trend in the numbers there would be an overall concern. With performance auditing there needed to be some careful thought in the future. This was where the AG, NT, and the PSC came in. The PSC interacted with other stakeholders and was collaborating with other institutions and central departments on issues of data. There was a formal Memorandum of Agreement with the AG to collaborate on investigations and other processes. He said the question to answer on performance auditing needed to be whether an auditor had performance auditing skills or that skill was linked more with DPME. The performance auditing should not be set up to fail; Parliament needed to engage with the matter.

The Chairperson wanted to know if the vacancy rate was a question of absent skills. He asked what the real issues were with the vacancy rate and if the vacancies were advertised.

Prof Levin replied that the figures that were highlighted pointed to certain links between the vacancy rate and delivery. This was something that departments should take responsibility for. There was an issue of skill among the senior managers and it was inhibiting the filling of vacancies. There also was a very high level of mobility. The India model was something to copy where one wrote an examination to either enter the public service or get a promotion. This would force people to attain experience and add value in another part of the system.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) wanted to know the impact vacancy rate had on the ability of the departments to deliver. What had gone wrong, and how could that be corrected. What role should Parliament play? He wanted to know the relevance of skill, as there were officials who had skills unmatched to what they were doing.

Prof  Levin replied that the figures indicating the time it took to hire people in Government were averages. He said the organograms had to be managed effectively and accurately. The management of an organogram was a strategic and technical function. This was really about understanding the human resources and how they changed, and the turnover rate. He said all of this had to factored into the rigorous management of the organogram, especially that Government had changing priorities.

The organogram must not be taken lightly. It needed dynamism as changing priorities required different personnel. The ability to manage that rapidly and dynamically was one of the key problems Government had. That was why it sat with the issue of vacancies. The real vacancy situation was the fundamental question. The official figures were not accurate enough. This was the case with skills as well. He said everyone agreed that skills were the problem without understanding the extent of the problem. In this regard the DPSA had developed a system called human resources (HR) Connect System, over a number of years. This was where the skills profile of every public servant was developed. When this system came online there would be extremely valuable information on skills.

Prof Levin said the PSC was not directly involved in training for the Community Works Programme (CPW) but PALAMA was responsible with training in the public service and was in the process of establishing a national school of governance. A separate school would be needed on training as the national school was meant to deal with systemic issues. PALAMA had been doing this job over the years.

The Chairperson wanted to know about departments who had not reported on performance agreements. Where was this information received, and what was the role of the PSC in cases where people had not divulged information?

Prof  Levin replied that performance management information came from annual reports but one could do time series analysis and the PSC had put together what it could for the Committee within the time limitations.

The Chairperson asked if the usage of consultants was as a result of a skill that was not there at departments and, if so, if there was a requirement of transfer skill when the consultants were hired.

Prof  Levin replied that in every contract signed with the consultants there was a clause that specified the transfer of skills, but it was not taken seriously. On the work-plan the PSC was busy on a programme on outsourcing. It was hoped that the deep question would be answered once the programme was operational.

Mr Ramatlakane said the PSC was the custodian of the PAs. He said the PSC should know why some departments did not submit their PAs. How much of a problem was this when it came to departments not complying with the performance agreements?

Mr Seloane replied that the PAs were filed with the PSC and would therefore had information on who had not concluded them. The PSC reported on financial misconduct, and checked the financial misconduct taking place at departments. Also the PSC did reports on disclosure forms to identify risks on potential on conflict of interests. That information was made available to the Committees concerned with recommendations. The recommendations were sent to the relevant Executive Authority for implementation.

Closing remarks
Seloane said the request by the Committee to assess the capacity of Government to deliver had been interesting. He said the gaps were glaring, and would be interesting if the same analysis was done on provinces and municipalities. If the PSC could be afforded time, there was much it could come up with in assisting the Committee on its oversight work.

The Chairperson said the presentation was useful, and would have been worthwhile if other Committees were invited. This was an important issue especially the expenditure vis-a-vis performance. The Committee would surely make use of the information that was availed. The Committee would like to have PSC back for another presentation. Hopefully, outstanding issues had been taken note of.
The meeting was adjourned.

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