Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities briefing on its quarterly reports for 2012/13

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

19 June 2013
Chairperson: Ms D Ramodibe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) met with the Committee to present its quarterly reports for 2012-13.  Members expressed their frustration over the Department’s late submission of documents to the Committee.  Because of the large volume of the documents submitted, Members ruled that the Department should present only the reports on administration.  The rest of the programmes would be presented to the Committee at a later date. Members argued that the late submission of the quarterly reports made it difficult for them to engage the Department meaningfully, and made it a challenge for them to conduct their oversight work.  For the Department to present its 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter reports at such a late stage would be a a waste of time, because the Committee would not be able to make any meaningful contributions to work that had already been completed.  The Department was also encouraged to keep its documents to a reasonable and concise length.

Members argued that the capacity challenges highlighted by the Department throughput its presentations could have been addressed and adequate solutions provided, if the reports had been submitted to the Committee in the quarter when they were due.  Most of the non-achieved targets were highlighted as human resource shortages, financial constraints and Information Technology (IT) challenges.

The Department agreed to meet the Committee again on 27 July 2013 for a more meaningful discussion.   The Department would also present its Vacancy Management Plan and Skills Audit to the Committee. 

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and the team from the Department, but said that the Committee had met before the meeting began in order to discuss how to structure the meeting, as the Committee had been sent the large piles of documents only the previous day.  The Committee had decided it would allow a presentation only on Programme 1, Administration because the volume of the documents could not be tackled during one meeting. She also raised a concern that the documents did not have detailed outlines on expenditure. The Department was supposed to have been submitting its performance reports on a quarterly basis, and this had not taken place. Instead, reports for all four quarters were being presented to the Committee all at once. This was not acceptable. She wondered whether the Department was deliberately trying to confuse the Committee. It was proposed that the Department present all the outstanding reports on 27 June 2013.

Ms Lulama Xingwana, Minister, DWCPD, accepted the decision made by the Committee that the presentation would only be focusing on Programme 1, Administration.  However, she said the Department had sent the documents much earlier. She added that in Pretoria, the Department had dealt with quarters 1, 2 and 3, and only quarter 4 had not been finalised at the time. It was agreed that the Department would present quarter 4 to the Committee.

The Chairperson said in Pretoria, the Committee had proposed that the Department should not present the completed quarterly reports, and that all four quarterly reports should be presented to the Committee all at once. This meant that no quarterly reports had been presented to the Committee to date. She quoted the former Acting Director-General as having informed the Committee that the Department could not make any quarterly reports available to the Committee, as they would be used for the Department’s turnaround strategy.

Ms Xingwana said all four reports were ready, and the Department was ready to present these reports to the Committee.

Ms Veliswa Baduza, Director General, DWCPD, agreed that the Department was ready to present all its quarterly reports to the Committee. The electronic copies of all reports had been submitted on 7 June 2013 to the Committee, and a hard copy had been couriered to the Chairperson as well. There were a number of sub-programmes under Programme 1, and the Programme had since been consolidated into one to reduce the volume of the documents. The Department acknowledged that the documents mad up a huge volume, and so the targets for all the quarters -- achieved and not achieved – had been summarised. The challenges faced in each quarter, as well as the financial implications which had arisen as a result, had also been summarised in the documents. 

Presentation: DWCPD – Quarter 1: Corporate Management
Branch - Communications
Ms Thandeka Mxenge, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Management, DWCPD, presented the 1st quarter report, which dated from April to June 2012.

Unit: Communications
The objectives of the programme were to communicate the mandate and programmes of the Department, to communicate the progress, achievements and challenges of the Department and to render communication and media liaison services for the Department. Some of the Department’s main achievements had been the carrying out of the Departments’ responsibility with no budget, the successful implementation of the Child Protection Week Communication, the National Disability Machinery Communication and the successful delivery of budget speeches. Some of the Unit’s main challenges were in budget and staff constraints.

Unit: Legal Services
The objectives of the programme were to review, develop and draft legislation relevant to the mandate of the Department, to draft and scrutinize agreements involving the Department and to render legal support and advice to the Department. Most of the Unit’s targets had not been achieved due to capacity and budgetary limitations. The Department had also been unable to identify clear support needs in order to enable effective planning and accurate budgeting. Some of the Department’s main achievements had been the development of the Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Draft Bill, the adoption of the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) Amendment Bill by Cabinet, and the development of protocol on legislative drafting.

Branch – Resource Management
The objective of the programme was to provide effective leadership, management and administrative support services, to provide corporate services to the Department and to provide safe, healthy and accessible accommodation for the Department. The main achievements included the successful presentation on protocol by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), which a number of senior management service (SMS) members and employees of the Ministry had attended.  An inventory of required policies and procedures had also been developed. Some of the challenges were the lack of adequate funding for the remuneration of employees and payment of bonuses.  There were also challenges with the implementation of the New Minimum Human Resource Delegations for the Public Service, and the drafting of human resource policies.

Unit: Financial Management
The objectives of the programme were to provide effective leadership, management and administrative support services to the Department and to provide sound financial management as a support function to line programmes. Once again, the main challenges with the unit were human resource constraints. There had also been no financial control unit responsible for document control and safekeeping, and this had been a major risk for audit purposes. Some of the main achievements included the monthly reporting on In Year Monitoring (IYM) to National Treasury, and the establishment of Bid Committees.

Unit: Research and Policy Development
The objectives of the programme were to provide research support and advisory services, to ensure effective Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) Services, and to render policy development coordination and support services.  Some of the main achievements had been the organisation and holding of the National Research Indaba, the rendering of support to the draft Rural Projects Proposals by Women for the Minister’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Projects Funding, and convening a study on Violence Against Children, and a drafting team.

Unit: Inter-sectoral and International Coordination
The objectives of the programme were to develop, implement and evaluate strategies for stakeholder coordination, collaboration and participation for the three sectors, including HIV and AIDS, to develop and strengthen partnerships with regional, international and bi-lateral partners, and to facilitate compliance within regional, continental and international partners on HIV and AIDS issues.

One of the main achievements within the units had been the development and implementation of the draft plan of action for national and international commemoration events.

Unit: Strategic Management
The objective of the programme was to provide efficient executive and administrative support to the Minister and the Director General. Some of the main achievements included the development of the draft institutional monitoring and evaluation (M&E) policy, the development of the draft institutional M&E framework and the development and submission of the first draft of the annual report.

Unit: Internal Audit
The objectives of the programme were to provide effective leadership, management and administrative support, to provide sound financial and Supply Chain Management (SCM), to provide the Secretariat with support for the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence, and to provide the Department with internal audit services. Once again, the main challenges experienced within the unit were that of capacity shortages.

Presentation: DWCPD – Quarter 2: Corporate Management
Ms Mxenge presented the report for the second quarter for 2013/13 (July to September 2012). The objective of the programme was to provide effective leadership, management and administrative support services. The presentation focused on the following sub-programmes:

Sub-programme: Communications
Some of the progress made by the Department under this sub-programme was that media engagements, speeches and branding were implemented in accordance with the communication strategy. The communication strategy, media plan and key messages were also developed for women’s month. In addition, 25 media statements had been drafted, 49 articles were published by the print media, and 25 online articles were published.

Sub-programme:  Legal Services
The reason why the sub-programme had so many “partially achieved” targets was because the Department did not have enough staff capacity to meet and exceed all its targets.

Sub-programme: Resource Management
Once again, staff shortages were cited as the reason for the high number of targets not achieved. Also approval had not yet been attained for the appointment of HR Planning Committees, and for Service Delivery Improvement Plans (SDIP) Committees. Another challenge was that the training budget was inadequate. One of the main achievements within the sub-programme was that the Minister had approved the structure of the Office of the Deputy Minister on 21 September 2012.   A provisional SDIP Plan had also been acknowledged by the Department of Public Service and Administration.

Sub-programme: Financial Management
Some of the partial achievements of the Department were that the 30-day payment deadline for suppliers had been implemented.  However, there had been certain instances where banking details had not been on the Department’s system, and that had delayed some payment processes. Other achievements included the hosting of the National Women’s Day, supporting the hosting of the Tributes Awards for disabled people and the successful printing of the annual report.

Sub-programme: Research and Policy Development
Most targets under this programme had not been achieved. The main reason for this was that the post of Knowledge Management Specialist had not been filled.

Sub-programme: Inter-sectoral and International Coordination
Some of the achievements in the sub-programme were the facilitation and finalisation of the memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with  Nigeria, Ghana, UNAIDS  and  Africa Decade, the participation at the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) stakeholder indaba in Johannesburg, and the facilitation of the finalisation of the stakeholder coordination framework through the German Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) support .

Sub-programme: Strategic Management
Among the main achievements within the sub-programme were that planning, monitoring and reporting policies had been developed, the annual report 2011/12 had been printed and submitted to National Treasury, and the first draft of the 2013/14 annual performance plan had been completed.

Sub-programme: Internal Audit
Some of the achievements of the sub-programme were the finalisation of the Draft Internal Audit Charter, the Draft Fraud Prevention policy and the Draft Risk Management Committee Charter.

Presentation: DWCPD – Quarter 3: Corporate Management
Ms Mxenge presented the 3rd quarter report (October to December 2012).

All targets for the programme had been achieved. Main achievements were the heightened communication of the Sixteen Days campaign, the effective use of broadcast and print media, and the drafting of all requested speeches – a total of 28 speeches had been drafted in the quarter. Also the target for online editions of newsflash had been met and exceeded. There were some challenges which had needed intervention, however. These were inadequate human resources, the lack of basic working tools, inadequate budget allocation, inadequate appreciation of the strategic role of communication, and the limited profiling space within the Department.

Sub-programme: Legal Services
The WEGE Bill had been given priority over other targets, and the target had been successfully achieved. The reason for the reprioritisation was that there was a lack of capacity in the legal services. Some targets had been carried over to the fourth quarter.

Sub-programme: Resource Management
The main reason for the high number of non-achieved targets was that the Service Delivery Improvement Plan (SDIP) Committee had not yet been established. Human resource planning committees had also not been established. Some of the main achievements were the maintenance of a stable network, and that all relevant State Information Technology Agency (SITA) service level agreements (SLAs) had been signed. Uninterrupted power supply devices had been installed in all the switch cabinets to prevent power spikes. One of the main challenges had been the lack of funding to enhance the information technology environment.

Sub-programme: Financial Management
Main achievements included the tabling of the Study on Violence Against Children, which took place at a launch ceremony attended by a number of department’s, NGO’s and donor agencies. A research forum had been hosted by the Department, with the support of Save the Children UK.  An audit of special schools had not been achieved, however; data capturing would commence in January 2013.

Sub-programme: Inter-sectoral and International Coordination
Targets included the development of the Beneficial Stakeholder Coordination Framework, which was awaiting approval, and the implementation of the plan of cction for National and International Commemoration events. The Department had participated in all scheduled international and multilateral engagements. A stakeholder database management system had also been developed and would be continuously updated. The Department announced that it had achieved all its targets for the sub-programme. One of the main achievements had been its participation at the Nigeria Bi-national Committee in Nigeria.

Sub-programme: Strategic Management
The Strategic plan had been approved, and would run for a five-year cycle. However the target of implementing it had been deferred to the next financial year, because the plan would be reviewed as part of the turn-around strategy of the Department. The annual performance plan had been partially achieved; however, the final phase of the turn-around strategy would be implemented in December 2012. A functional monitoring and evaluation system had not been developed or implemented. The Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) had also not been finalised.

Sub-programme: Internal audit
The Committee was advised that most targets in this sub-programme had not been achieved because of human capacity constraints.

Presentation: DWCPD – Quarter 4: Corporate Management
Ms Mxenge concluded the presentations with the quarterly report for the fourth quarter (January to March 2013). The Department had shown a vast improvement in all its sub-programmes compared to the poor performance in the first three quarters, especially in the internal audit unit. The annual financial statements would be compiled only during April and May 2013, however, and interim financial statements for the fourth quarter should be compiled in April 2013.  The approval of the KIM Specialist position had been deferred to the 2013/14 financial year. The challenges of inadequate human resources and the lack of basic working tools were still a concern.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentations. She said that due to time constraints, Members would not be able to engage the presentations well. They could not do justice to the information that had been presented to the Committee.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) thanked the Department for the presentation and proposed that the engagement with the Department be left to the following week. There was no real value in the Committee going through the reports for the first three quarters, because the Department had already completed its work. She commended the Department for the improvement it had shown in the internal audit programme. In the first quarter, the Department had not achieved most of its targets, and its performance had shown a vast improvement in the fourth quarter.

Ms P Peterson-Maduna (ANC) said everything presented by the Department had been unclear. She wondered whether the Department was deliberately trying to confuse the Members. She supported the proposal that the Committee engage the Department the following week.

Ms E More (DA) agreed that the presentations had been very confusing., and that it was a waste of time to discuss the performance reports of the first three quarters because there was not much that the Committee could do about the performance. However, the performance reports for the 1st and 4th quarters had been very important because they told a story.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) said it was of pivotal importance that the Department made it a priority to deliver quarterly reports on time, because late reports made it difficult for the Committee to conduct meaningful oversight work. Quarterly reports were supposed to be submitted to the Committee every three months. The non-achieved targets were highlighted as a concern.

The Chairperson said some of the non-achieved objectives had been because of the late reports; if the Committee had received the reports on time, they could have been of great assistance to the Department.

Ms Xingwana agreed with the Members that the information presented had been a lot to process. She said the Committee had on previous occasions indicated that the information presented did not have enough information. She then asked the Committee to indicate the number of slides which it would like the Department to present on. She accepted the proposal that the Department meet with the Committee at a later date for a more meaningful discussion.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) said it would not help to put a cap on the number of slides.   What was important was that the Department should submit monthly or quarterly performance reports to the Committee. The presentations should be issue-driven, and not determined by the number of slides.

Ms More agreed that the Department’s concerns should not be about the number of slides to present to the Committee. Quarterly reports needed to be submitted on time. The Committee also needed to look into its administration, because the Department had indicated that the documents had been submitted to the Committee on 7 June, yet Members had received them late.

Ms Van der Merwe agreed with the Members that the concern should not be about the number of slides to be presented to the Committee -- it was about the Department submitting reports on time. If targets were not met, the Department needed to inform the Committee about its new timeframes so that the Committee could hold the Department accountable. The problem with the Department was either a lack of requisite skills, or simply a lack of skills.  The Department should outline exactly what the capacity constraints were, preferably at a workshop.

Ms Lamoela said the Department should indicate what financial resources they needed in order to meet their targets, since financial constraints had also been indicated as a concern.

The Chairperson asked that the Committee agree on a meeting date.

Ms Lamoela asked that the Department also indicate outcomes achieved at the next meeting.

Ms Baduza thanked the Members for their input. She said the Department was mandated to submit quarterly reports to National Treasury. She agreed that at the end of every quarter, reports must be submitted to the Committee.  The Department would also be presenting its Vacancy Management Plan and Skills Audit.  In terms of achievements, the Department would develop an outcomes approach.

Ms Xingwana explained that in other committees, the Department was requested to submit a minimum of 12 slides, or else they would be kicked out. This was why she had asked the Committee for a cap on slides. She repeated that there were capacity problems in the areas of IT, recruitment and finance. These constraints hampered the Department’s ability to meet its targets. The Ministry of Finance would be approached and engaged in this regard, however.  Despite these capacity constraints, the Department had shown vast improvement from the first to the last quarter.

Mr Kekana said the Department needed to present concise information to the Committee.  It was not necessary to produce heavy information with which the Committee could not engage.  That was a waste of time.  If the Department was experiencing any delays, it needed to keep the Committee informed.

The Chairperson said each and every report which the Department produced needed to be shared with the Committee. The Committee, like National Treasury, had a right to these reports.  The Committee would be meeting with the Department for further engagement on 27 July 2013. She urged the Department to consolidate its presentations, as it was not necessary to present huge documents to the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.


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