Department of Women performance: Department on Performance, Monitoring & Evaluation (DPME) MPAT briefing

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

28 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department on Performance, Monitoring & Evaluation (DPME) Department of Presidency Monitoring and Evaluation briefed the Committee on the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) used to assess departments. It noted the 2013 MPAT results for Department of Women. Some of these were:
- The Department of Women rated below the National Average in key performance areas, except in strategic management
- Overall the department scored the same between 2012 and 2013 in key priority areas
- There was regression in fraud prevention, internal auditing, cash flow
- The department scored above the National Average in strategic plan, auditing communication, Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) delegates, demand management, unauthorised expenditure.

Members asked if DPME monitored Chapter 9 institutions and when told that it did not, was asked why it did not. Multiple members inquired as to the mandate, relationship, and role of the department and the Auditor General. They commented that the criteria for assessing each level needed more explanation.

DPME noted that in choosing performance targets, departments often set easy-to-achieve targets because they fear the Auditor-General. It is the Portfolio Committee’s job to ensure that the targets are not set too low. The Annual Performance Plan (APP) and Parliament are in place to ensure that the targets being set take the department forward. Further, when standards are not met, the Portfolio Committee should contact the department to ensure that they account. DMPE confirmed that monitoring Chapter 9 institutions is beyond their mandate. The mandate allows the department to check management actions taken against compliance standards. The legislature is responsible for overseeing Chapter 9 institutions and also for making a department account for failure to take actions to achieve compliance. The Auditor-General merely tests compliance against the standard. Although, they do engage in data sharing, there are no overlapping functions. A detailed explanation of each level was provided and a comprehensive supplemental guide was referenced.

Meeting report

Mr Ismail Akalwaya, DPME Programme Manager: Institutional Performance Management, apologised for the absence of the Director-General who was currently abroad.

Mr Ismail Akalwaya provided background about the Department on Performance, Monitoring & Evaluation (DPME). DPME, together with the Offices of the Premier and transversal policy departments, had assessed the quality of management practices since 2011. Improvements have been evident from the 2012 results across most departments. However, some areas of management remain problematic. DPME has also documented good practices since 2011 to assist departments to improve their management practices

MPAT assesses the department’s inputs, such as people, equipment, and money versus the department’s management of these inputs in order to improve upon the overall service experience (outcomes and impacts). The department’s management is assessed according to the following:
- strategic management
- governance and accountability
- human resource development
- financial management.

The assessment process has three components: (1) Self-assessment and validation; (2) External moderation and feedback; (3) Improvement and monitoring practices. There are 4 performance levels:
1. Department is non-compliant with legal/regulatory requirements
2. Department is partially compliant with legal/regulatory requirements
3. Department is fully compliant with legal/regulatory requirements
4. Department is fully compliant with legal/regulatory requirements and is doing things smartly.

MPAT measures 31 standards in 4 KPAs. The following was the MPAT timeline for 2013:
- Analysis is based on state of management practice at the close of self-assessment period: 31 September 2013
- Moderated feedback to all departments: February 2014
- Engagement sessions held with department during March 2014
- Challenge window closed 31 March 2014
- MPAT 2013 reports were presented to Cabinet in July 2014 and published on the DPME website.

The following are some of the 2013 MPAT results for Department of Women:
- The Department of Women rated below the National Average in key performance areas, except in strategic management
- Overall the department scored the same between 2012 and 2013 in key priority areas
- There was regression in fraud prevention, internal auditing, cash flow
- The department scored ABOVE the National Average in strategic plan, auditing communication, Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) delegates, demand management, unauthorised expenditure.

Lessons from data analysis of all MPAT 2013 results include:
- Senior Management Service (SMS) stability (the proportion of DGs and DDGs in office for more than three years) correlated frequently across a range of MPAT standards
-The following standards correlate most with departments achieving their APP performance targets as measured by the Auditor General:
> Planning and monitoring under Strategy
> Integrity and risk management under Governance
> Good organisational design and planning under HR, plus administrative-level performance management
> Control of unauthorised expenditure under Finance.
Three MPAT 2013 case studies were provided.

Limitations of MPAT include:
- A department internally is functioning properly but not necessarily achieving what it is intended to do.
- Self-evaluation is done but evidence is needed
- Peer-monitoring process is done.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) said that the information is helpful for the Committee. She asked how often the DPME meets with the Department of Women in the Presidency. Risk management and fraud prevention are continual problems in the department. Normally, the AG meets with the department four times a year to address these issues. She asked if specific people are attached to each department. Lastly, she asked if the DPME has the capacity to assist provinces and municipalities in monitoring and evaluation because they have many challenges with implementation.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked if the DPME has the ability to uncover why reoccurring problems keep occurring because the departments have been unable to make these improvements.

Ms N Marchesi (DA) asked if the targets that the department sets hinder them from meeting their goals because they are inadequate. She asked if the DPME has any influence in setting these goals.

Ms M Chueu (ANC) asked what the unauthorised expenditure means for the department and what number would be assigned to the department’s performance. What standards are the departments being compared against? She asked which MPAT issues should the Committee raise with the Department of Women. Additionally, she asked for clarity on the term ‘demand management’.

The Chairperson asked which aspects of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) are not finished. Which issues were raised and should be addressed?

Ms Chueu asked if the capacity of the department was evaluated prior to establishing its targets. She noted that the DPME did not present on their challenges.

The Chairperson asked what measures are in place to ensure that victimisation does not occur, in terms of negative evaluations for personal reasons.

Ms M Matshoba (ANC) asked how the maximum score on the MPAT is assessed.

Mr Akalwaya replied that the departments meet biannually on process, standard explanations, good practices, moderation results, identifying concerns, and concerns to be addressed. However, the assessment is based on existing policies. The policy holders: Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) (service), DPME (strategic planning), and National Treasury (funding), should be contacted for problems in those areas. DPME has adapted the tool for use at the municipality level; the tool is currently being piloted in about 20 municipalities in the country. It is piloted on behalf of the Department of Cooperative Governance (COGTA), but DPME hopes that COGTA institutionalises it for further use. A limitation for consideration is that national and provincial departments cannot be compared equally. The nine provinces can be compared; however, the sample is too small to represent the entire province. All of the municipalities provide the same services so they can be equally judged based on capability and performance. If need be, COGTA can present to the Committee about the pilot.

Mr Akalwaya said each level has four conditions. For example, if the department operates at Level 4 but one criterion is missed, deadlines, then the department is assessed at a Level 2. It is not impossible to achieve Level 4, there is a department at Level 4 for each standard, but there is room for restructuring around this. Case studies have been written up to explain how to improve. Some departments believe that there is a problem with the legislation / regulations and DPME is working with DPSA and the Treasury on this. In areas like Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) where more than 50% of departments are non-compliant, the Department of Justice should review the policy or provide support. On criteria such as management of diversity,  Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) is the only department that ranked at Level 4, and only two departments ranked Level 3.

On the choosing of targets, Mr Akalwaya said DPME often finds that departments set easy to achieve targets because they fear the Auditor-General (AG), and it is the Portfolio Committee’s job to ensure that the targets are not set too low. On unauthorised expenditure, the departments are judged on whether or not there are effective and efficient processes to prevent and detect unauthorised, wasteful and fruitless expenditure. At Level 3 (compliance level), such expenditure is reported internally, someone found responsible and reported to the proper officials, disciplinary action is taken, and this expenditure is addressed. At Level 4 correctional action has been taken and consequences have also been dealt out. When all departments are at Level 4, then South Africa will have a state capable of providing all the necessary services; DPME expects Level 4.

Regarding demand management, Level 3 requires that the department procures goods and services based on a needs assessment linked to the budget, the procurement plan must be submitted to Treasury on time. Level 4 includes a demand management plan, procurement plan reports review, and a sourcing strategy that is implemented, monitored, and evaluated. In 2013, the Department of Women was at Level 3 but in 2014 the department was Level 1 for unauthorised expenditure.

Regarding the APP standard, the Department of Women is at Level 2. Its APP complies with Treasury guidelines and links to the strategic plan; however, quarterly performance reports are submitted to the proper offices on time. The APP complies with regulations in respect of analysis based on external factors, operations, service delivery, strategic objectives, targets that conform to the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) principle. When standards are not met, the Portfolio Committee should contact the department to ensure that they account. The department’s capacity is not taken into account when monitoring because the standards are based on laws with which all departments need to comply. Departments believe that policy should be focused on, but policy should only be the focus once departments are at least in compliance. The DPME wants to see continued baseline improvement. The line management, corporate services, and the head of department meet to discuss when levels of judgment are unreasonable. Line management and strong internal audit units are meant to point out any unrealistic expectations. DPME checks to ensure that the department’s self-assessment is aligned with its actual score. Good departments are those that score themselves close to their actual score because they understand the problems. DPME believes that Level 4 is attainable if the department takes actions to correct the identified problems and compliance is non-negotiable. Quality management practices are essential to delivery of a department’s mandate.

Ms Chueu disagreed. She insisted that departments can improve at the same time because the employees are qualified. She believes that the root of underperformance is the lack of punitive measures against non-performance. Directors General are educated and simply do not want to perform. DGs that do not perform should not be recycled. DGs have been recycled for 20 years and maybe this is why government fails. For DGs to be re-employed, they should be required to meet a certain standard.

Mr Akalwaya believed that Ms Chueu was correct; however, new departments take some time to develop and older departments usually perform better. New DGs who take over departments with disclaimers are not expected to reach a qualified audit the following year. It is important to recognise that they are doing well if they advance above a disclaimer. It is relative. The scores are linked with the heads of the departments. There are amendments in process to take this into account. There are plans for a Head of the Public Service to be put into place this term that will have a lot more autonomy and authority. This evaluation information is given to the Executive and the Legislature on behalf of the DPME. The executive must act and the legislature must ensure there is accountability.

The Chairperson asked how the AG’s action plan for a department linked with the DPME’s improvement plan and how the DPME and the AG link to make department improvements.

Ms Marchesi noted that the DTI and the Department of Science and Technology are doing well but not all targets are met. For example, the Department of Health did not meet their research targets. Job creation is a Committee concern.

Mr Akalwaya responded that the DPME works closely with the AG, in terms of data sharing, but that these are separate roles. The self-assessment is done in September, so the AG knows what to expect when they do their audit. Although the department does not have a comprehensive assessment plan for improvement by the next monitoring period, but the department is attempting to find a solution to this problem. Again, the policy and targets being set dictate the departments’ results. The wrong things can be done correctly. The APP and Parliament are in place to make sure that the targets being set take the department forward. It is not just about a clean audit. If the department does not meet their outcomes, the National Development Plan comes into play. Then policies and services must be analysed in order to meet the established demands.

The Chairperson believes that biannual meetings may not be enough to monitor and curb regression.

Mr Akalwaya argued that over-monitoring could then occur. This is a cycle. It is a continuous process. The self-assessment tool is always available for the department to test themselves continually. Every April, DPME gives the departments the standards; however, departments should start planning for the MPAT as soon as the last one is finished. There have only been four rounds of assessment done thus far. More data and a timeline will help identify progress and regression. It may still be early. There are colleagues in Canada who remarked that it took about five years to see improvements.

Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP) asked if DPME monitors Chapter 9 institutions.

Mr Akalwaya answered that at this point, the Department's analysis and monitoring referred only to national and provincial departments. The DPME had a tool to assess municipalities; however, they monitored how departments complied with Chapter 9 institutions through the Forum for South African Directors General (FOSAD). DPME assessed whether departments responded to the Public Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission etc. They looked at the implementation of their findings, which was a separate process.

The Chairperson asked again if DPME monitors Chapter 9 institutions or not.

Mr Akalwaya responded that they did not.

The Chairperson asked why they do not.

Mr Akalwaya was not sure if it in the DPME mandate or if it is applicable for the Executive to assess Chapter 9 institutions. That issue warrants further discussion.

Ms D Robinson (DA) noted that it is the parliamentary committee’s role to monitor Chapter 9 institutions. That is a parliamentary oversight role.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee is focused on women, and not all Chapter 9s.

Ms Robinson explained that the Committee does not focus on the number of institutions but rather their outcomes and people who are subjected to abuse.

The Chairperson agreed.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) spoke through a translator. She asked if financial management is the work of the AG. If so, she asked why is the DPME doing it.

Mr Akalwaya noted that the AG only checks compliance, whereas, the DPME checks that management acts against non-compliance. They do not duplicate what the AG does.

The Chairperson’s secretary asked where the DPME reports.

Ms Tseke stated that the Department of Women in the Presidency also does monitoring and evaluation. There is still no monitoring tool in place. If it seems the department is struggling, can the department come to the DPME for information on best practice.

Mr Akalwaya said that the DPME accounts to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration. Departments cannot monitor themselves; they are assessed like any other department. The full report for all departments is on that website. There is a lead table of all national departments. The Department of Women did not rank high on this table. Colleagues from the Department of Women have met with the DPME to discuss monitoring. Collaboration on the expanding of standards as far as information sharing with the two departments is feasible.

The Chairperson asked where the department currently stands compared to the other departments and if the annual results are completed.

Mr Akalwaya responded that at the moment, the self-assessment is available but the moderation portion is not yet complete. The full report will be done by February next year before it is submitted to Cabinet. There are 30 standards. Management of diversity is the most challenging criteria for departments to overcome. Only two departments have reached Level 3 and only the GCIS has reached Level 4. It would be interesting to inquire as to why.

Ms Robinson asked which departments were at Level 3.

Mr Akalwaya was not sure but he can provide that information at a later date.

Ms Van der Merwe asked for clarity whether a progress report is required regarding the identified problem areas

Mr Akalwaya clarified that the implementation is not checked, but plans for improvement must be submitted to the DPME. Implementation is checked during the next year.

Committee business
The Chairperson thanked the Committee for their diligence and hard work. She thanked Ms Tseke for acting in the Chairperson’s absence. The Chairperson asked for amendments to minutes.

The minutes for the month of September and October were adopted.

The Committee programme was confirmed as: 4 November reviewing the BRRR; 11 November CGE will present on its annual report; 18 November Department will report on its international commitments; in the last week of November there will be oversight in terms of economics

Ms Marchesi wondered where the department was in terms of its transition.

The Chairperson answered that the department will remain as is until a transition path is created.

Ms Tseke added that there should be a meeting on the department’s transition process.

The Chairperson agreed and closed the meeting.

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