Performance Targets in DEA Strategic Plan: methodology of Department of Environmental Affairs

Water and Sanitation

19 February 2013
Chairperson: Mr J de Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

 The Department of Environmental Affairs provided an explanation of the methodology used in arriving at its Strategic and Annual Performance Plans, showing the approach used in developing the plans for both the Department and its entities, specifically highlighting treasury guidelines, the planning framework, the DEA planning process, development of performance indicators and setting of targets. These are instrumental in measuring performance, driving desired behaviour and giving individuals direction.

The Committee was briefed specifically on the Strategic and Annual Performance Plans for each of the seven DEA Programmes and for SANParks. 

The Department entertained questions from the Committee on rhino poaching, landfill licensing and the general statistical layout of the presentation. The Chairperson stressed the importance of presenting figures from a broad perspective in order for the Committee to compare and contrast the material, rather than from an isolated view that hinders efficient deliberations and feedback. Overall, great emphasis was placed on integrating the Committee, the Department, its various entities and the National Treasury to create a proficient process of exchange and dialogue in drawing up strategic plans. 

The Chairperson said the briefing had been useful but suggested that the DEA needed to revise their indicators because many appeared to be guesstimates rather than specific figures. The Department must illustrate the baseline figures to enable the Committee to efficiently compare and contrast the figures.

Meeting report

Introduction by Chairperson
The Chairperson yearned for a realistic overview to emanate from the Department, not fragmented input from the various entities. He stressed that the Committee did not hold this forum to intrude on the prerogative of the department, but rather to attain a better understanding of the Department’s thought process, and, consequently, to improve the Committee’s ability to asses the Department on an annual basis. He admitted that the forum would also force the Department to interact with its entities and should ultimately prove to be beneficial for the Committee, the Department and the various entities.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) panel present to respond to questions and concerns raised by members was comprised of Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General;
Ms Limpho Makotoko, Chief Director: Business Performance and Risk Management; Ms Lize McCourt, Chief Operating Officer; Mr Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director General: Environmental Quality and Protection; Ms Judy Beaumont, Deputy Director-General: Climate Change and Air Quality; Mr Guy Preston, Deputy Director-General: Environmental Programmes, and Mr Obed Baloyi, Chief Director: Waste Policy and Information Management.

Presentation on the Approach for Development of Strategic and Annual Performance Plans
Ms Limpho Makotoko, Chief Director: Business Performance and Risk Management, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to meet. The presentation essentially explained the approach in developing the strategic plans for both the Department and its entities. It was structured into five sections: treasury guidelines, planning framework, the DEA planning process, development of indicators and setting targets. In developing plans, the Department is guided by treasury guidelines, which stipulates that the strategy plans should only reflect five year targets, and any alterations are limited to revisions related to significant policy shifts or changes. The strategic planning process consecutively consists of a mission, the formulation of a plan, with the desired objectives and results, resource allocation and, lastly, implementation. The planning framework is comprised of outcomes, outputs, indicators, targets and activities.

Strategic goals identify areas of performance that are critical to attain the desired results. They focus on the impact and outcomes, and must challenge the Department and the entities, yet be realistic and achievable. Strategic objectives are very clear statements of what the Department will do to achieve the defined strategic goals. Each strategic objective must directly, or indirectly, contribute to achieving one or more of the goals.

Performance indicators are linked to the strategic objective and are employed to measure performance. Indicators function as tools to drive desired behaviour, give individuals direction, (in terms of what they need to accomplish), and test the organisational progress in achieving strategic objectives. Selecting an indicator is based on two criteria: whether it is repeatable and reliable, and whether it can be frequently updated. There are two types of indicators; Lag (Outcome) KPI indicators assess the final performance results, while Lead (Driver) KPI indicators measure immediate processes, activities and behaviours.

In order to set a target, a baseline, a target (medium term, annual and quarterly) and evidence must be considered. A baseline is the current performance status in relation to a particular indicator. A target must be linked to each strategic objective and performance indicator. All performance information must be supported by evidence. During the annual performance planning process, means of verification should be identified for each annual and quarterly target.

Ms M Wenger (DA) asked if there was any flexibility within the Treasury to readjust funding.

Ms Lize McCourt, Chief Operating Officer, DEA, replied that there is flexibility. In the formal process, there is a provision for emergency funding called the adjustment estimation process which grants additional funding for unforeseen matters that have emerged. Alternatively, the Department can receive approval to reprioritise current funding. 

Ms J Manganye stated that she was happy to hear the Department’s report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Overview of the DEA Strategic and Annual Performance Plan    
The seven DEA programmes were outlined according to their purpose, strategic objectives, performance indicators and targets for 2013/14 and 2017/18:

Ms Lize McCourt, Chief Operating Officer, presented the DEA Administration programme, explaining that it provides leadership, and executive support, while also facilitating effective cooperative governance, international relations and environmental education and awareness.

Mr Ishaam Abader, DDG: Environmental Quality and Protection, presented on the legal, authorisation and compliance programme, stating that it is a licensing system that promotes enforcement and compliance.

Dr Monde Mayekiso, DDG: Oceans and Coasts, gave a briefing on the Oceans And Coasts programme, which manages and provides strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation.

Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG: Climate Change and Air Quality, articulated the climate change and air quality management programme’s aim of improving air and atmospheric quality by leading, informing, and monitoring international, national, provincial and local responses to climate change.

Mr Fundisile Mketeni, DDG: Biodiversity and Conservation : presented on the biodiversity and conservation programme and asserted that it oversees the regulation and management of all biodiversity, heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development.

Mr Guy Preston, DDG: Environmental Programmes, DEA, said that the purpose of the environmental programmes is to implement public works and green economy projects in the environmental sector.

Mr Obed Baloyi, Chief Director:
Waste Policy and Information Management, DEA, reported on the
chemicals and waste management programme and explained that it ensures that chemicals and waste management legislation is implemented and enforced in compliance with chemical and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements.

The Chairperson asked if there were any plans to implement additional monitoring systems for the ocean.

A member of the DEA replied that it is currently working to employ 12 additional monitors.

The Chairperson noted that there was clearly a misunderstanding between the Committee and the Department, explaining that the previous presentation illustrated the inputs that should be reflected during the budget hearing. The Committee simply wished to ascertain a general understanding of the performance targets and indicators.

South African National Parks (SANParks)
Ms Lize McCourt explained SANParks’ mission is to develop, manage and promote a system of national parks that represent biodiversity and heritage assets by applying the best practices and environmental justice, while their “transformation mission” is to ensure effective transformation within SANPArks and the broader society and economy through the implementation of a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) programme in support of the Constitution of South Africa. SANParks’ constitutional mandate is to protect the environment through reasonable legislation and measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation, promotes conservation, and secures ecologically sustainable development, while also promoting justifiable economic and social development.

Ms Lize McCourt outlined the performance indicators, the baseline, 2013/14 and 2017/18 targets of the financial, customer, and internal processes, specifically highlighting areas such as revenue, corporate governance and human capital. She also offered insights into tourism, rhino poaching and flooding. The presentation concluded with a detailed perspective of the 2011/12 financial performance (see document).

The Chairperson underscored the importance of local participation, in regards to tourism, stating that it is not captured under the broad tourist demographics and asked what SANParks was doing to attract local participation.

Dr Mabunda, CEO of SANParks, replied that it had established several programmes designed to attract local participation, including the annual event—National Park Week—which allows all South Africans to explore their local national park for free. There are also three open weekends that have similar offers.

The Chairperson commented that he was not completely satisfied with the presentation. He acknowledged that the presentation was an experiment by the Committee to assess the Department’s work, a process that would undoubtedly require additional fine-tuning. Moreover, the purpose of the briefing was to examine how the Department exercised their powers under the Money Bill. He instructed the Department to revise the format of their presentation, especially the performance indicators, and not to set unrealistic targets. He was regretful that the Treasury and Auditor-General could not be present in the meeting because he wished to engage them on these matters, and rhetorically enquired how to merge the Department, the Committee, the Treasury and the Auditor-General together in a process that allows the latter three entities to understand the Department reasoning behind its decisions.
Mr S Huang (ANC) asked how the Department could have a 0% incident rate for rhino poaching for the 2013/14 and 2017/18 target dates. He also sought clarity on the strategic objective, which facilitated socio-economic development, starting at a baseline of 378 per annum, with R60 million being spent, could fall to 280 per annum in 2013/14, yet rise to 1,566 per annum in 2017/18, with R368 million being spent.

A member of the DEA responded to Mr Huang on rhino poaching, stating that this figure is only representative of Kruger National Park. He explained that “0%” equates to a 0% percent increase in poaching (from the 560 baseline), not a 0% percent poaching incident rate.

Mr Ishaam Abader clarified Mr Huang’s second question, stating the 280 per annum for 2013/14, is informed by the budget, and the 1,566 per annum for 2017/18 is a cumulative number projected for the following five years.

Ms Wenger commended the DEA for its great work and enquired how the target number for licensed landfill sites reached 15 in the 2013/14, and subsequently 341 in the 2017/18, with no baseline figure to compare it to.

Mr Obed Baloyi replied that the Department conducted the survey for the 2009/10 fiscal year and concluded that there were 341 unlicensed landfill sites. The 2011/12 fiscal year survey deduced that there were 116 licensed landfill sites. The Department is currently licensing 56 landfills sites. Starting next year, the Department will be conducting more elaborate surveys that require the full extent of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which is why the number (56) is so low.

Director General Nosipho Ngcaba added that although the presentation did not reflect the baseline, the document the committee would receive later on would show it.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) commended the Department for its great work. He stressed that it is the provincial and local governments that are exposed to the issue of rhino poaching, not the national government. If all three levels of government could collaborate and work together on a practical level, South Africa could eradicate, if not greatly minimise, rhino poaching.

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba thanked the Members for their inputs and said the Department would make refinements accordingly.

The Chairperson thanked the Department and found the hearing to be a good exercise, but one that undoubtedly needed refinement. Conceptually speaking, the Department needed to revise their indicators because many appeared to be guesstimates rather than specific figures. The Department must illustrate the baseline figures to enable the Committee to efficiently compare and contrast the figures.

The meeting was adjourned.

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