Short-list of interview candidates; interview scorecard; committee programme

Appointment of the Auditor General

27 August 2013
Chairperson: Prof L Ndabandaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Ad Hoc Committee met in order to establish a programme, interview scorecard and interview short-list for the position of Auditor General. It was noted that the initial deadline for applicants had been extended from 2 August to 23 August, resulting in over 90 applicants.

The selection committee, led by the Head of Parliament’s Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy, gave members a breakdown of the candidates. The A-list contained summarized CVs of all 90 applicants, while the B-list contained a short-list of six candidates that the selection committee believed to be the strongest applicants with the best qualifications. All applicants had to be South African and gender was taken into account.

Members asked if the B-list was in alphabetical order or in order of preference. Clarification was asked on how the six short-listed candidates on the B-list were arrived at and how one seemingly qualified individual had been excluded from that list.

The programme of the Committee was set out next and it was determined that the interviews would take place on Wednesday 4 September. The discussion of candidates and adoption of the report would occur the following Tuesday 10 September.  The timeframe had to be compressed due to the 20 September deadline for adoption of the recommendation by Parliament. It was suggested that out of fairness all interviews should have a time limit of 45 to 60 minutes.

The draft scorecard for the interviews was presented and interviewees would be marked on three categories: technical expertise, leadership qualities and behavioural aspects. It was noted that past work in auditing and in the financial sector was of the utmost importance and that bringing new ideas to the Office of the Auditor General was a necessity. The successful candidate must have strong leadership qualities and posses the ability to work at the head of a large team and manage offices across the country. The behavioural aspect of the scorecard was designed to ensure that the successful candidate was a person of high integrity with great interpersonal skills, as these tools would be used on a daily basis. The weighting of these categories was technical skills = 50%, leadership = 30% and behaviour = 20%.

Members reviewed the weighting as it was noted that to get to the interview stage, their technical had already been reviewed and determined to be well established. More emphasis should be placed upon the leadership and behaviour skills of the interviewee as they would prove to be the intangibles in making a candidate successful.

The Committee was pleased with the efficiency of the meeting and stated that it was an example of how they should work in future meetings, as it was important to act swiftly to achieve their deadlines.

Meeting report

The Chairperson commenced the meeting by noting the 20 September deadline they faced from Parliament.

Adoption of minutes
The late arrival of some MPs was noted and it was suggested that they go through the minutes first in order to give MPs more time to arrive as the meeting was of great importance and it would beneficial for everyone to be there. The Members agreed and proceeded to review the minutes themselves.

After five minutes the Chairperson noted that the election of the Chairperson was the main issue addressed at the last meeting and asked the Members if they had any comments on this issue or the minutes in general? They did not and the Chairperson proceeded to propose a programme in order to complete their work in a timely fashion. A draft interview scorecard was to be presented to the Committee and Members would be given a chance to comment on it and suggest changes.

The Chairperson then reviewed some of the previously covered issues including the advertising they had done for the position, the advertising was done in order to encourage ordinary South Africans with the relevant experience and qualifications to apply. The Committee believed it was necessary to make it an open nomination process as that way it ensured that nominations did not just come from organisations and institutions. This way the incumbent would realise that they are accountable to the people and not to an organisation.

The original deadline for applicants was a two-week span that ended on 2 August, but at the end of this timeframe they had only roughly 12 applicants. The Committee deemed this to be too few and that they needed to diversify their list, so it was decided to increase the pool of applicants by extending the advertising of the position until 23 August. After the extension, the number grew to 90 applicants. The Chairperson noted that they needed to formally recognize the date extension in a meeting setting retroactively for record purposes.

Ms K Moloto (ANC) moved to endorse this and Mr N Koornhof (COPE) seconded the motion.

Short-list of candidates for interviews
Ms Nonkosi Cetywayo, Head: Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy, then gave a more in-depth explanation of the nomination and short-listing process. The package which Members had received contained two lists, an A-list and a B-list. The A-list contained summarised versions of all 90 CVs that were received; CVs came from a wide range of people from a great deal of professions. The B-list was a list of the six candidates that the selection committee believed to be the most qualified. The qualifications for the position were set out in the advertisement. Applicants were required to be a chartered accountant or have an equivalent qualification, such as a Master’s degree in finance or auditing. Candidates were also required to have specialisation in public finances or public administration and a relevant number of years of work experience. Nationality and gender were also taken into account as the successful applicant had to be South African. Using these criteria, they came up with the B-list.

The Chairperson asked for clarification on how the A-list was created.

Ms Cetywayo explained that the A-list was a reflection of all the applicants and their qualifications, regardless of whether they had the proper skills and experience.

Mr Koornhof requested clarity on why the B-list was not presented alphabetically, was it instead presented in order of preference? When looking at the A-list, Mr Koornhof believed that candidate #62 Mr Kumaran Pather had the necessary qualifications. Was there a particular reason that he was not on the B-list?

Ms Cetywayo stated that the B-list was indeed in the order of preference as suggested by Mr Koornhof. Candidate #62 did not meet the criteria for years of work experience and it was also worth noting that he was the CFO of the Eskom Pension Fund and not the whole company, this was a misleading title.

Ms J Moloi-Moropa (ANC) asked what kind of work was put in to identify the candidates on the B-list, and noted the importance of Mr Koornhof’s question, as it was necessary for the Committee to know small details such as the reasoning for the order of the listing of candidates.

The Chairperson stated the Committee must work with an open mind as the B-list was based on the thoughts of the selection committee. Members agreed with the short-list presented and wished to proceed with these candidates.

Committee Programme
The Committee Secretary stated that the next scheduled meeting was Wednesday 4 September. This date was the proposed date for short-listed candidate interviews, the following Tuesday 10 September would be the discussion of candidates and the adoption of the report itself. The reason that they needed to work quickly was Parliament had a 20 September deadline to complete its recommendation. What with the constituency fortnight and the impending rising of Parliament, the Committee must stick to the schedule if it wished to complete its tasks.

Mr Koornhof voiced his displeasure at conducting the interviews only on 4 September as he believed the interview process should start on the Tuesday 3 September in case the Committee needed more time to deliberate. He suggested doing four interviews on Tuesday and two on Wednesday followed by discussions. Doing six interviews in one day could be taxing due to the serious nature of the position. He would not be able to attend any meetings on 5 September if required, which he had previously indicated.

Ms Moloi-Moropa suggested enforcing a time limit for interviews out of fairness and commencing the interviews at eight in the morning.

Mr Koornhof suggested 45 minute interviews.

The Chairperson noted that this was a high level post and they should make the timeslots 45 to 60 minutes long. The Members agreed. He noted the importance of quickly finding common understanding as they did not have time to waste.

Mr Koornhof noted that the Committee would need to take breaks after interviews in order to reflect.

The Chairperson agreed with this proposal and noted that some Members would be required to stay in Cape Town the evening before. He suggested moving on to look at the proposed draft scorecard.

Interview scorecard
Ms Cetywayo stated that the interview panel would be testing all candidates for competency, and this would be achieved by looking at three key areas: Technical expertise; Leadership qualities, Behavioural.

With technical expertise they would be looking at educational and work qualifications, as well as their history in working with finances and how it would relate to their success in this position. Their budgeting capabilities would also be taken into account as would their ability to give advice on funding models to be used in the Office of the Auditor General Office.

Leadership qualities were important because the Auditor General was responsible for managing all the auditors as well as the ten offices spread throughout the country, resulting in a large scope of operations. The successful candidate would have to guide the team in regards to internal planning as well as ensuring that they are well linked on a global level.

Behaviour was of great importance as an Auditor General of high integrity was needed. The successful applicant would need great interpersonal skills as they were required to interact with all stakeholders as well as Parliament and any other supporting institutions.

The weighting of these three areas on the scorecard was: technical skills = 50%, leadership = 30% and behaviour 20%.

Mr J Steenhuizen (DA) believed a key element missing was impartiality and independence, as these were essential to a successful Auditor General. He wondered whether this would fit under leadership or behaviour.

The Chairperson stated that it would fall under leadership.

Ms J Tshabalala (ANC) thanked Ms Cetywayo for her work. She noted that the term “working with peers” could be subject to interpretation and perhaps teamwork would be better language.

Mr D George (DA) expressed concern at the weighting of the sections. At this point of the process those who had made the interview, had already established their technical qualifications and more focus should be put on the intangibles such as their behaviour and leadership abilities.

The Chairperson asked if any other Members had suggestions or additions to the scorecard for the secretary so that a new one could be drafted.

Ms Cetywayo stated that they would change the weighting to address the concerns of the Committee and suggested a weighting of 40 points for leadership, 30 points for behaviour and 30 points for technical aspects.

With this the Chairperson noted that the meeting had been efficient and covered much necessary ground. He noted that they could use the meeting as an example of the efficiency they must continue to strive for in this process. They had started on a good note and by working as a team they would get a team product.

Meeting adjourned.


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