Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation & National Youth Development Agency: Analysis of Annual Performance Plans

Standing Committee on Appropriations

15 April 2013
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

There was a need for more people with specialised skills to be employed by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in order to consolidate the implementation of policies, systems and capacity building programmes in other government departments. This was one of the issues raised following an analysis of the Department’s Annual Performance Plan for 2013-14. It was also pointed out that the internal audit unit had only one permanent employee, and the rest of the task was carried out by consultants, while the Information Technology Support sub-programme, which was responsible for IT matters relating to infrastructure, government departmental support and monitoring and evaluation, had a staff complement of only twelve.

The Results Bill, described as an “elephant in the house”, had been initiated in order to formalise the mandate of the DPME as a custodian of government-wide monitoring and evaluation. It was supposed to have been submitted to Cabinet for approval by March 2013, to Parliament by March 2014, and passed into law by 2015. However, there was no reference to the Bill anywhere in the Annual Performance Plan. Considering its importance in the context of the DPME’s work, it was felt the Committee should find out what progress had been made with the Bill.

Analysis of the National Youth Development Agency’s Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan identified a wide range of issues. These included the security of the Agency’s funding, the use of 2011 census results on youth issues, inconsistencies in the presentation of information, the Agency’s role in job creation, the lack of clarity on entrepreneurship programmes, the small number of youths set to benefit from technical training programmes, and inadequate promotion of the Matric rewrite programme.

Members of the Committee commented on the need to shift the focus from job creation to entrepreneurship, and to align NYDA programmes with those of other government departments. .
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed members of the Committee and the two committee researchers responsible for the analysis, and commented that their presentations were an important factor in ensuring that the Committee was able to engage properly in its oversight role with the entities involved.

Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluations: Annual Performance Plan analysis
Mr Phelelani Dlomo, researcher, explained the difficulty in analysing the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), as it did not have a “front line” service delivery programme where one could, for instance, measure performance by the numbers of schools or hospitals to be built within a particular time frame. Furthermore, the DPME was a new department, and was still in the process of developing policies and guidelines.

Unlike other departments, which employed an outcomes-based approach, the DPME did not have its own outcomes, but rather monitored the 12 prioritised outcomes which concentrated on increasing the strategic focus of the government and on implementing the constitutional imperatives for cooperative government. This was done through the development of Ministerial Performance Agreements and inter-departmental and inter-governmental delivery agreements, with the intention of changing the culture of focusing on activities, instead of on results.

There had been no policy shifts in the Department, although there had been some streamlining, reallocation and integration to ensure effective and efficient delivery in the Department. However, of the DPME’s 12 prioritised outcomes, it had established data forums and terms of reference for only ten. It was therefore important to find out of there were any plans to establish data forums for the remaining two and, if so, what budgets and timeframes were proposed.

There were currently 25 vacant positions which were supposed to have been filled during the past year, and with the funded establishment expected to increase from the present level of 197 posts to 236 by 2015-16, the DPME needed to explain how and when it intended filling these posts. There was also a misalignment between the capital expenditure budget, which was declining, and the personnel budget, which was increasing, as the demand for capital expenditure items such as computers, furniture and office accommodation should presumably increase when more people were employed.

Mr Dlomo highlighted the fact that the internal audit unit had only one permanent employee, and the rest of the task was carried out by consultants. This led not only to higher costs, but posed the risk of losing “memory” within the Department, as consultants came and went. The Information Technology Support sub-programme, which was responsible for IT matters relating to infrastructure, government departmental support and monitoring and evaluation, had a staff complement of only 12. Was this sufficient, bearing in mind it had to support all the national and provincial government departments with IT monitoring and evaluation? Were four provincial workshops, and one national workshop, on M & E IT guidelines in the current year sufficient to ensure that all government departments understood the guidelines?

There needed to be a plan to develop the DPME’s capacity to provide outcomes support. Because different department’s outcomes were often inter-linked, more people with different skills were required to monitor the outcomes. The M & E Policy and Capacity Building sub-programme had a staff complement of only seven, and this might be insufficient considering its main function, which was to coordinate the implementation of policies, systems and capacity building programmes in other departments.  Specialists were needed to deal with the requirements of different departments.

The proposed Results Bill was an “elephant in the house.”  It had been initiated in order to formalise the mandate of the DPME as a custodian of government-wide monitoring and evaluation. It was supposed to have been submitted to Cabinet for approval by March 2013, to Parliament by March 2014, and passed into law by 2015. However, there was no reference to the Bill anywhere in the APP. Considering its importance in the context of the DPME’s work, the Committee should find out what progress had been made with the Bill.

Discussion
Mr G Snell (ANC) thanked the researcher for enriching the Committee’s understanding of what was in the documentation, as this would enable it to interact with the Department at an informed level.  Unless there was something fundamentally different in the APP from what had been presented, there would be no point in raising any issues.

Mr M Swart (DA) agreed with this view, saying that the analysis had provided pointers towards the issues which needed to be raised with the DPME.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) said there needed to be more clarity on the question of whether it was more cost effective to make use of consultants or permanent employees, bearing in mind the view that different skills were needed to deal with the specific needs of different departments.

Mr Dlomo said this exercise would require a cost-benefit analysis.

Ms A Mfulo (ANC) said monitoring and evaluation should not be a once-off event, but a process. Consultants came in, and then they vanished. They also apparently had proprietary rights to hold on to information which they had developed in their consultancy roles. This needed to be clarified.

The Chairperson said the Committee would engage with the DPME on the issues which had been raised.

National Youth Development Agency (NYDA): Analysis of Strategic Plan and APP
Mr Musa Zamisa, Committee Researcher, said it was important to know what the plans for the youth were, as the future belonged to the young. The strategic performance outcomes included improved sustainable livelihood opportunities for young people, an enhanced enabling environment that promoted youth development, enhanced sustainable social capital, and the maintenance of an accountable, prudent and efficient centre for youth development.  The strategic plan sought to address all these outcomes.

The budget of the NYDA had declined from R385.9m in 2011-12, to R376m in 2012-13. The increases over the next three years were marginal, so the Agency needed to indicate whether the budget would be sufficient to underpin all their strategic performance outcomes. It had other sources of income which, when added to an allocation transferred from the Presidency, resulted in a consolidated budget of R432.4m in 2013-14, rising to R498.3m by 2016-17. However, the question had been asked as to whether the “other sources of income” were definite, or merely projections. The strategic plans had been based on the consolidated budget, so what would happen to them if the funds were not forthcoming?

Mr Zamisa said he had no problem with the structure of the budget, as 52.6% was allocated to project disbursements, compared to 19.1% for employee costs. The formulation and presentation of the strategic plan and APP conformed to the guidelines of the National Treasury.

Several issues needed to be addressed:

●          Would the allocated budget for 2013-14 enable the NYDA to carry out its mandate and priority outcomes?  If not, the Committee should find out why, and what could be done to mitigate this.

●          Did the strategic plan take into account the results of the 2011 in respect of youth issues?

●          What had triggered the changes resulting in inconsistencies in the presentation of information, as consistency was required to allow for effective analysis?

●          Job creation was a key mandate and featured prominently in the strategic plan, but there was no identification of where the 1 200 jobs facilitated through job placement would be located, or whether rural communities would benefit.

●          What was the difference between “facilitation” and “creation” in relation to job targets? What was regarded as a job created, in terms of remuneration and period – a day, a week, a month?  And what was the average sustainability level?

●          Entrepreneurship was critical to job creation, but it was not clear what the provincial spread of the 40 000 youths supported was, how many were from rural areas, what the 2 500 business vouchers to be provided entailed, or where the green economy projects – supporting 100 youths – were located.

●          Only 2 000 youths were to benefit from technical training programmes in 2013-14, and only 6 620 over the next three years. Why was this number so small, given the demand for technical skills?  And with R7.5m allocated to facilitating technical programmes just for 2013-14, why was the cost so high?

●          The lack of publicity surrounding the Matric rewrite programme meant that only those youths close to NYDA offices in town and with access to the internet, could make use of these opportunities.

●          Finally, there was a need to identify the NYDA’s role in relation to rural youth.

Discussion
Mr J Gelderblom (ANC) said the Agency’s focus on job creation needed to be shifted, as entrepreneurs were essential for creating new and sustainable jobs. However, only 2% of the budget had been allocated to developing entrepreneurship. There were simply no jobs available in the rural areas, so the only way to resolve the situation was for the unemployed to start their own businesses, and this meant more training was required.

Ms Mfulo said the NYDA did not seem to have a clear plan. Some of their programmes cut across those of other departments, and there needed to be an alignment, particularly in areas such as education and job creation. In her view, the Agency’s role should be facilitating and monitoring, not job creation itself, as job creation was not its responsibility.  She also expressed doubts regarding the functionality of the provincial offices of the NYDA.

Mr Zamisa agreed that the provincial offices were lacking in personnel, and this created problems in remote rural areas. As far as the Agency’s role was concerned, the Act stated that it was to facilitate, coordinate and implement. However, the Act was in the process of being amended.

The Chairperson commented that although the rationale for changing the presentation of information was not clear, it was apparent that the programmes were nevertheless in line with the previous ones.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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