Mid-term Review of government priorities by Department of Performance Monitoring & Evaluation

Standing Committee on Appropriations

20 August 2012
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) presented an overview of the progress made by government in improving performance on the 12 key government outcomes, as well as the five main priorities, as at November 2011, the mid-point of this government’s term of office. The summary and the full report presented the findings and recommendations into education and skills, health, crime and corruption, jobs, economic infrastructure, rural development, human settlements, local government and basic services, environmental assets, international relations, and achieving an efficient public service. It was emphasised that because this was focusing on the outcomes as identified in 2009, it did not address concepts or priorities that had been identified since then, and to that extent was not a complete summary of all government progress.

Members were generally appreciative of the presentation, noting that the detailed information in critical areas of government effectiveness would be extremely useful in Parliament’s monitoring work. Several members encouraged the Department to engage with other portfolio committees in Parliament, to improve their monitoring of the various departments, and to alert them to the main challenges. However, some members expressed scepticism about the accuracy of the data, particularly some of the more positive indicators that they felt were at odds with what the Committee had experienced on the ground. They queried the sources of data, asked what structures were in place for the DPME to perform independent monitoring, and encouraged that DPME develop its verification capacity further. They also queried what results could be expected from this research and wondered whether government departments would act on the information. They asked some specific questions, focusing largely on education and rural development.  DPME acknowledged some of the shortcomings but said that it was trying to improve the capacity of other departments to gather information and assess it, as well as its own processes. It agreed that it would be useful to meet with other committees, adding that the presence of the departments themselves would enhance the process.

Meeting report

 

Mid-Term Review of government priorities:  Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation briefing
Mr Sean Phillips, Director General, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, tabled the apology of the Minister, who had been assigned to monitor the Marikana tragedy, and the Deputy Minister, who was attending another meeting in Pretoria.

Mr Phillips explained that November 2011 was the mid-point between the 2009 and 2014 elections, and his presentation would give an overview of progress made under the current administration. The presentation sought to cover all of government’s 12 key outcomes, including the five main priorities, with a frank assessment of outcomes. He emphasised that the presentation would focus on the highlights, but further details were available in the report that the Department had distributed (see attached copies of both documents for more details).

Education
Ms Nolwazi Gasa, Deputy Director General: Outcomes Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, firstly outlined the slides on education and skills, and the level of improvements in quality of basic education. She specifically mentioned that the  number of children benefiting from early childhood development (ECD) was increasing, that Grade R enrolment had doubled from 2003 to 2010, and that workbooks were being developed. Grade 12 percentage passes increased in 2011, but the number of learners passing at bachelors level had decreased. 70% of learners were now in no-fee schools. In relation to the problem of unemployed and unskilled youth, she noted that there had been increased enrolment in adult basic education and training (ABET), increased enrolment at further education and training (FET) colleges, and a National Senior Certificate for Adults was introduced to meet university entry requirements. In relation to the provision of skills required by the economy, the number of unemployed learners and workers entering learnerships exceeded targets, as 11 335 artisan learners entered training against a target of 10 000, and the targets for new teachers, honours, masters and doctoral graduates would be met by 2014.

The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) had provided recommendations. In the field of basic education, these included strengthening the quality and coverage of early childhood development, improving literacy and numeracy levels in lower grades, supporting teachers to teach English as a second language at early levels, and addressing quality and performance in mathematics and physics earlier in the system. She also noted the importance of timely delivery of books and monitoring teacher attendance, and the problems concerned with under-expenditure of education infrastructure budgets. There was a need to assess the impact of teacher development initiatives with union engagement, to increase the number of learners passing at bachelor’s level, to make school results publicly available, to make targeted interventions in under-performing schools, and to strengthen school management in weak performing schools.

Skills
The recommendations to address problems of unemployed and unskilled youth included the fact that the quality of service provided by FET colleges must be improved. In addressing the skills requirement for the economy, enrolment and throughput rates must be improved at the tertiary level, especially in engineering and health science.

Health
Ms Gasa moved on to the area of health, noting the key statistics in combating HIV and AIDS and TB, including the stabilisation of the number of people living with HIV. There had been a reduction in mother to child transmission from 8% in 2008, to 3.5% in 2011, which protected more than 30 000 infants from infection. 19.9 million people were tested for HIV since April 2010, and 1.7 million people were receiving antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, whilst the costs of ARV drugs had halved. 8 million people had been tested for TB and the cure rate had improved to 70% in 2010.

She described the initiatives for improving maternal and child health. The 70% level of immunisation coverage for diarrhoea and pneumonia had been achieved since implementing the programme in 2009. An increased percentage of mothers and babies were presenting themselves for care within 6 days of birth, and cervical cancer screening rates increased from 40% in 2009, to 57% in 2011. 

Progress had been made towards establishing the National Health Insurance (NHI) system. She also noted progress towards establishing the Office of Health Standards Compliance. 75% of health facilities had had service quality audits and improvement plans were then drawn. A human resource strategy had been developed, training plans for hospital managers were now in place, and there was progress in primary healthcare (PHC) re-engineering and deployment of health teams to communities. 122 nursing colleges had been audited and 45 of the targeted 105 had been refurbished.

The DPME recommended, in respect of health, that a comprehensive information management system for ARV treatment must be implemented, that HIV and AIDS and TB prevention services must be intensified, and non-communicable diseases such as heart conditions addressed, and the focus on child nutrition must be strengthened to meet the 90% target of deliveries in facilities. Ms Gasa also noted the proposals that service quality improvement plans must be designed following quality audits. The Departments of Health, Higher Education and academic institutions must train medical practitioners, and funding should be moved from central hospitals to national levels. There was a need still to improve performance of the National Health Laboratory Services, to address under-expenditure on health infrastructure grants, and to address financial and supply chain management challenges in health departments. The momentum for turnaround improvements must be kept up, to address the challenges.

Crime and corruption
In relation to crime and corruption, Ms Gasa outlined the improvements overall in levels of serious crimes. These included a decrease of crime incidents from  3 872 to 3 680 per 100 000 of the population, decreases in incidents of murder, attempted murder, car-jackings and house robberies, and an improvement in perceptions of the management of crime amongst citizens. There had been improved effectiveness in the crime and justice sector, with the detection rates for contact and trio crime increasing and case backlogs  decreasing. In relation to victim support, there had been progress in establishing Thuthuzela Care Centres/Victim Support Rooms at police stations.

She then outlined the figures for cases of corruption. Across the departments, 1 529 people had been investigated, 192 were charged, 86 convicted and 296 were departmentally charged between April and September 2011. 56 suspects with illegally obtained assets of more than R5 million were investigated, and 26 of these had appeared in court but there had been no convictions as yet. Assets worth R580 million had been placed under restraint.

DPME recommended that targets be increased for improvements in the criminal justice system. It also recommended better alignment and integration of ICT systems, so that departments increase their efficiency, and to speed up finalisation of cases. The investigative capacity of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and prosecutorial capacity of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) must be increased.

In relation to the monitoring of parolee re-offending and rehabilitation, there should be increased involvement of perpetrators of serious crimes in rehabilitation, those re-offending should be tracked more carefully, and there should be increased victim involvement in parole hearings. It was also recommended that more victims should attend parole hearings. The quality of service of care centres and support rooms must be improved.

The DPE recommended, in relation to combating corruption, that the quality and number of prosecutors and forensic and financial investigators in the Anti-Corruption Task Team must be improved and there should be a single coordination point for existing anti-corruption structures.

Employment
Ms Gasa then outlined the findings in relation to jobs. DPME noted that there had been advances in coordination around growth strategies, including the New Growth Path (NGP), stakeholder agreements and the National Development Plan. Progress had been made in promoting labour absorbing growth, especially in manufacturing and mineral products and through the Jobs Fund. Progress had also been made in improving competitiveness and reducing costs. The business case for expanding the Community Work Programme to one million  per annum had been prepared.

Ms Gasa stressed that in the future it was important that the New Growth Path and other related strategies be implemented. The costs and reliability of electricity and transport must be reduced, decisions on youth employment programmes must be made and implemented urgently, and research and development must be supported. There should also be increased impact from Small, Micro and Medium Enterprise (SMME) support programmes, more monitoring of implementation of microeconomic reforms, improved implementation of the business case for Community Work Programmes, and improved coordination of jobs initiatives across departments, whilst there should also be a greater focus on preparation for the risk of slow global growth.

Economic Infrastructure
In relation to economic infrastructure, Ms Gasa noted that the creation of an Independent Systems Market Operator (ISMO) was under way, which would allow for the participation of Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The construction of the Medupi power plant was behind schedule, but Kusile was ahead of schedule, and there would be deficits until these plants were generating electricity.

In relation to roads, rail and ports, Transnet was moving freight to rail, with 206 megatonnes achieved by the end of 2011/12. There had been progress on container terminals, locomotive acquisition was on track, and progress had been made with national tolls, although there were challenges with toll affordability. Progress with Water Augmentation schemes had been made. There had been decreases in ICT costs, including a 73% drop in wholesale broadband prices. The coordination of infrastructure building had improved through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.

DPME recommended that, during the remainder of the term, the establishment of the ISMO must be completed. The construction of Medupi must be monitored. In relation to logistics, port productivity must be improved and road tolls made more affordable. Progress must be made on equitable water pricing, ICT connections should be strengthened, and new institutional mechanisms must be put in place to sequence and coordinate the delivery of strategic integrated projects.

Rural development
Ms Gasa said that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) had established a ‘champion’ for rural development. There had been development in appropriate service delivery models but these must be rolled out more widely. The Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) had reached 80 wards, but at a high cost per household. In the area of agrarian reform, land acquisition and redistribution, there was a target of 823 300 hectares, impacting 20 290 beneficiaries between 2009 and 2011. In the area of rural job creation, the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) had trained 5 340 youth in 2010, but overall rural employment levels had decreased from 2009.

The DPME recommended that in moving forward, both the policy and strategy must be strengthened around rural development. The Comprehensive Rural Development Programme pilot must be monitored, rural local government must be strengthened, and coordination and integration of different departments’ work in rural areas must be improved. Agrarian reform should result in expedited restitution and land transfer processes, increased post-settlement support to smallholders, promotion of subsistence agriculture amongst more people, and high food prices must be addressed. In regard to rural job creation, there should be an expanded focus on agro-processing, mineral beneficiation, tourism, local purchasing, and environmental services. The Community Works Programme must be expanded.

Human settlements
In relation to human settlements, DPME reported that 83 000 serviced sites had been delivered by provinces by September 2011, but the target of having 400 000 households supported by 2014 may not be met. In the area of rental housing, 15 469 units had been built, with good project pipelines. Well-located state land had been made available for integrated housing delivery, with 1 329 hectares of land being transferred to the Housing Development Agency and 1 066 transferred to municipalities. There had been improvements in making finance available in the affordable housing market, with 122 000 loans made through Housing Development Finance Institutions (HDFI), although there had not been any tracking done on private banks, which made it more difficult to track whether targets would be met.

Ms Gasa tabled the recommendations in this area, which included the acceleration of integrated housing delivery, and an increase in the national support being given to provinces around informal settlement upgrade plans. Well located state land, supporting higher population densities, must be made available. There should be improvements made to the affordable ‘gap’ housing markets, through rationalisation of Housing Development Finance Institutions, support to mixed income and mixed use projects, and increased monitoring and engagement with private banks.

Local government services
In relation to local government and basic services, Ms Gasa noted that, overall, access to water was at 94.5%, which was on target, but the rate of delivery of water infrastructure was slowing. Basic levels of refuse removal had risen to 72%, which was on target, but non-permitted land-fill sites were a constraint. Access to electricity had improved, but not at the rate required to meet targets.

DPME recommended that national institutional arrangements must be put in place to coordinate delivery of basic services, and there should be improved basic service norms, and plans developed for the 22 districts with the highest backlogs. Appropriate planning, financing and support to different categories of municipalities must be implemented. The Community Works Programme should increase to one million jobs. Ward committees should be strengthened to implement service delivery plans, and focused interventions in the weakest municipalities must be made. Municipalities should fill senior posts with capable staff and there had to be a greater focus by provincial governments to support, monitor and intervene in municipalities.

Environmental assets
DMPE noted, in relation to environmental assets and natural resources, that water use efficiency targets had been set for the agriculture sector, and the water use licensing backlog had reduced. 66 water supply systems were awarded Blue Drop certification for 2010/11, an increase of 74%, and the number of waste-water treatment works that scored more than 50% in the Green Drop assessment increased from 216 in 2009, to 460 in 2011. The Accelerated Community Infrastructure Programme achieved 63 million cubic metres of water savings against the planned 3 million cubic metres. Plans for addressing Acid Mine Drainage were in place, with an emergency scheme set to start in the Western Basin by March 2012.

The National Air Quality Indicator showed improvement in air quality. The Integrated Resource Plans included 42% renewable energy, and to this end, 200 000 solar heaters had been installed, of which 70% were in rural areas. A biosphere reserve was established in the Gouritz Cluster. 307 731 work opportunities and 74 114 full-time jobs were created in the Environment and Culture Sector.

The DPME outlined its recommendations for the future. The Blue Drop and Green Drop programmes should be expanded, and Acid Mine Drainage plans should be put in place to monitor mine compliance. Solid fuel burning and vehicle emissions should be reduced, and the projects of the South Africa Renewable Initiative (SARI) should be implemented. Amendments should be implemented to building regulations, to promote energy efficiency. A simplified Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for small and medium enterprises should be implemented. There was a need to strengthen the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit, and the conservation estate must be consolidated.

International Relations
In the field of international relations, DPME noted progress in consolidating the African Agenda, including the integration of the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) into African Union (AU) structures, and progress on key NEPAD infrastructure projects. South Africa’s election to the AU Peace and Security Council and its attainment to the non-permanent UN Security Council seat were noted. The SADC Free Trade Agreement had been consolidated, for regional integration.

In relation to reforming global governance institutions, an Executive Director position at the World Bank was created for South Africa, Nigeria and Angola. South Africa supported the G20 agreement to reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

DPME recommended that the regional and continental structures should be strengthened, and the African impact on international platforms should be increased. The SADC Free Trade Agreement should be further consolidated and industrial development be supported in SADC countries. Further advances should be made in reforming global governance institutions, and in increasing inward foreign direct investment. 

Efficient public service
Ms Gasa said that there had been progress in developing an efficient and effective public service. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had reduced the waiting time for ID documents from 127 to 45 days, social grants processing by the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) had reduced from 30 days to 9 days, and SAPS reaction times for serious crimes had reduced from 50 to 18 minutes. On average, less than 3% of funded posts were vacant, but there were still shortages of some professional and technical skills. The time taken to fill posts had reduced from nine to six months.

Standardised financial and human resources management delegations had been developed. New regulations for monitoring supply chain management were in place, and payment to suppliers was targeted at 30 days. 74% of national departments received unqualified audits in 2010/11, an improvement on the 66% in 2009/10. The DPME, National Treasury, Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and Offices of the Premiers were assessing the quality of management practices in departments, with monitoring and improvement plans being put in place.

DPME noted that the issue of a single public service must be resolved. It would be necessary to improve service delivery, drawing lessons from best practices in departments, such as from DHA, and ensuring that all departments had service standards and improvement plans in place, as presently only 78% of departments complied on this front. There should be a focus on recruiting of professional and technical staff. All senior managers must be required to disclose their private interests. Suppliers must be paid within 30 days. Deteriorating provincial audit results should be addressed, and cases that were reported to the Anti-Corruption Hotline should be dealt with more promptly.

Mr Phillips concluded by reminding Members that the statistical references related to November 2011, which was the mid point of this Presidential term.

He wanted to add, in relation to water infrastructure, that although there was increased access to infrastructure, the quality was uneven.

Finally, Mr Phillips noted that this review was performed against targets set at the start of the term, and therefore it had limitations as it did not include newer issues. For instance, the National Planning Commission had since raised new issues, such as a stronger role for the Public Service Commission, that were not addressed in this review, which focused on issues identified in 2009.

Discussion
The Chairperson noted that time was limited, as the presentation had taken longer than expected. The presentation was important, and it was important also for the Committee to consider how to manage these in future. The intention of this meeting was not to deal with every department in detail, but to address the presentation as a whole.

Dr M van Dyk (DA) noted that a vast number of issues were covered by the presentation, and in some areas there was overall satisfaction, whilst others still noted challenges. He had expected more recommendations on those challenges listed. He asked how it was intended to deal with the DPME’s recommendations, covering such a wide range of departments, and whether this was merely a technical or academic exercise, or whether real results could be expected.

Mr M Swart (DA) thanked the Department for the enlightening presentation, and felt that the findings could not be disputed. He asked whether the DPME would be interacting with the relevant Portfolio Committees on the departmental issues.

Mr Swart wished to raise an objection to the notion of a single public service, given the experiences of the Department of Basic Education in Limpopo.

Mr Swart commented that departmental officials who engaged in other businesses were still receiving contracts from the state, and this led to corruption. He asked for comment on this from the DPME.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) thought that a more detailed discussion would be needed to do justice to the presentation, given its scope. He also felt that more narrative background was needed to contextualise the points, to enable members to agree or disagree. For example, he noted that progress was noted as at November 2011, and the different emphasis in the recommendations. He also commented that some of the findings appeared to differ from what the Committee had observed, on the ground, and questioned whether the figures could be completely trusted. The issues would probably be referred on to the departments reviewed. He commended DPME, however, for compiling and organising so much information so effectively.

Mr G Snell (ANC) also asked how coordination with the respective Portfolio Committees would be achieved, and recommended that this be emphasised. He noted the discussions around a mechanism by which the national government could step in to support provincial area, saying that the main challenge at the moment was that there was a complete collapse before intervention steps were taken. He asked how the DPME intended to address this.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) noted that new departments could sometimes threaten existing departments, and there were challenges in managing relationships between them. She thought that DPME’s work would improve the situation as it could provide information on the results achieved from different programmes and expenditure, and that, in turn, would help this Committee. She thought the work in education and local government was particularly useful.

Mr J Gelderblom (ANC) asked where the focus would be for the next ten years. He also wanted to know whether there had been any particular focus on mining, noting that the communities around the mines faced huge challenges, and urged that mining issues be addressed. He also noted that South Africa did have a number of individuals with high skills, and asked if there was a central database to track their skills and link them to needs.

Ms L Yengeni (ANC) noted the immense challenges in education and skills development, and asked how those would, in practice, be addressed, so that targets were met. She wanted to see a clear plan for achieving progress.

Ms Yengeni was not certain as to how some of the figures were obtained, saying that, for instance, a police station in the townships was not likely to be able to respond to calls within the time that was quoted in the presentation. She encouraged DPME to develop its capacity to interrogate and test the figures submitted to it by the departments that it was monitoring.

Ms Yengeni felt that the actual spending on increasing access to water was unlikely to agree with the figures indicated by the Department. The difficulty in presenting overall statistics was that they did not indicate what the achievement levels were in the under-serviced communities, and in this regard she pointed out that service protests were increasing. She emphasised the importance of DPME developing in-house mechanisms for ascertaining the accuracy of the figures, and said that the Committee itself would be well served if it increased its own research capacity, to do justice to its aims.

Ms M Mafolo (ANC) sought clarity on the role of the DPME. She asked that the key facts uncovered by the Department be related clearly, in addition to giving an overview. In relation to the comment that teachers should be teaching English better, at earlier levels, she commented that some reports had indicated that many pupils learned better in their home language, and thus questioned the recommendations to improve teaching of English as a second language. In relation to ABET, she commented that many of the ABET participants felt that they were being taught as if they were in elementary school, and were not interested in engaging further with this teaching. She also urged increased linkages between the Department of Health and Basic Education.

Ms Mafolo wondered how the DPME recommended that communities could be brought on board to combat corruption.

Ms Mafolo questioned how many of the jobs created were long-term jobs. She asked, in relation to the figures on human settlements, how houses were allowed to be built without providing for basic needs such as a garden. She also noted her perception, in relation to basic services, that the government would not address the challenges until faced with protests.

The Chairperson noted that the main themes of the Members’ questions were the capacity of the DPME to verify the figures that were submitted to it, as well as the future strategy of the DPME for engagement with Portfolio Committees. He added his own concerns that there should be clear strategies set for rural development.

Mr Phillips first sought to clarify the process by which the DPME engaged with other departments. All departments were offered the opportunity to comment on the DPME’s findings, and this process had also added value. If reports alone were taken, a less frank set of findings would have been produced. These findings were taken to Cabinet, and it was agreed that departments would have to address their challenges. There had been varied responses from departments in addressing the challenges identified but some had already reconfigured their work and priorities to address those indicators that were behind target. In relation to rural development, he noted that the DPME had incorporated many comments and had thereby started emphasising the need for greater integration across government interventions in rural areas.

Mr Phillips agreed with suggestions that there must be engagement with other portfolio committees to maximise the impact of the findings. The DPME would gladly attend if invited, and he added that the presence of relevant departments would make these sessions even more valuable.

In response to the queries about data sources, Mr Phillips noted that data was collected from a variety of sources, and not exclusively from the departments. The full report noted the many sources of data. In addition the DPME’s capacity to verify data would be improved over time, and that it would soon be auditing the information systems of various departments, to assess their reliability.

Mr Phillips said, in relation to the question on the mining issues, that there was a sense that because government had previously attempted to focus on a myriad of issues, it had actually lowered the impact of its work in each area. That was why this report had focused on the priority outcomes, and had not attempted to address every issue specifically.

Mr Phillips felt that Constitutional interventions should only occur in extreme scenarios, but agreed that increased monitoring was needed to better understand the position of municipalities and provinces. Provincial departments and municipalities would, in future, be monitored more, with an emphasis being placed on those who had the worst audit results. All these steps would support a more effective monitoring of the situation so that major problems could be addressed at an earlier stage.

Ms Yengeni expressed that there was not much to be gained from being defensive. There were clear indicators on the ground of significant problems with service delivery. She questioned again whether the figures for access to water could possibly be correct, and made a comment that the portfolio committees would have no reservations in questioning the reviews.

Ms Gasa detailed the many sources of data used by the Department, but did note the increased difficulties in reaching a final figure for people who still lacked access to services, as they were in the most remote areas that were difficult to access. She said that the figures reflected infrastructure, and it was possible that if the infrastructure was faulty, some people might remain without access. The DPME was working on improving its tracking. It was also investigating new methods of verifying data, in light of the ARV shortages in Gauteng and book shortages in Limpopo and elsewhere. DPME would report back on these.

The Chairperson noted that the presentation had been very educational, and that the report would be a good source for the Committee. He wanted to emphasise the need for all departments to make their payments to creditors within 30 days, as failure to do so had a huge impact on small businesses.

Mr Phillips confirmed that the DPME was working closely with National Treasury and the Economic Development Department to monitor payments.

The Chairperson noted that the parts of this presentation could be given in the future, and said that he would take up the issue of DPME giving briefings to other committees at the next Committee Chairpersons’ meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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