SASSA weekly report; Social Development Quarter 2 performance & new organogram, with Deputy Minister

Social Development

08 March 2017
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

SASSA provided a weekly progress report on the 1 April grant payments. SASSA and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) had engaged in negotiations which took place from 1 to 3 March 2017. An in-principle agreement was reached where CPS indicated willingness to work with SASSA. Terms and conditions will be made public once the procurement process has been finalised. In terms of the procurement process, a letter requesting deviation to enter into a new contract with CPS was sent to National Treasury on 7 March 2017. SASSA also met with the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) on the same date to discuss the

implementation of other parallel processes involving mainly the request for information (RFI). National Treasury responded indicating that it will consider the request favourably only if the Constitutional Court accedes to SASSA’s request.

SASSA compiled and tabled a supplementary progress report on 3 March 2017 to the Constitutional Court. It has strengthened its communication. There is an urgent application lodged in the Constitutional Court by Black Sash joined by the Democratic Alliance, Right to Know and Freedom under Law. All organisations have filed their papers. The court hearing will be on 15 March 2017

Members were appreciative of the perceived progress which was better than the previous week’s report.

The Department of Social Development led by the Deputy Minister presented on its Quarter 2 (July-September 2016) performance. Overall the Department spent 48% of its budget. In Quarter 2, 80% of the planned targets were achieved as compared to only 66% in Quarter 1.

Partially achieved targets decreased by 12% from 19% in the Quarter 1 to 7% in Quarter 2. Similarly, unmet targets decreased from 15% in the Quarter 1 to 13% in Quarter 2.

Reasons for non-achievement of targets included lack of capacity, lack of funding, failure to meet deadlines by service providers, non-submission of competent evidence and incomplete evidence, delays in appointment of service providers.

A new organisational structure has been submitted to the Department of Public Service and Administration. The new structure has seven branches instead of ten in the old structure. Social Policy, NPO and Disability branches were removed from the new structure. There is still a 14% vacancy rate due to budget cuts for compensation of employees. These vacant posts are not likely to be filled for this reason.

Members expressed great dissatisfaction about the removal of the Disability branch in the new structure. Disability is not being addressed properly in the country. The Administration branch was now top heavy. DSD was told to come and present this in more detail.

Meeting report

An apology was received from the Minister who was attending a cabinet meeting. The Deputy Minister

SASSA weekly report on progress on payment on social grants
Ms Dianne Dunkerley, SASSA Executive Manager: Grants, briefed the Committee on the progress made by the agency in the past week.

SASSA had sent an exploration letter to CPS to request a meeting for engagement. SASSA and CPS engaged in negotiations which took place on 1 to 3 March 2017. An in-principle agreement was reached between the teams where CPS indicated willingness to work with SASSA. Terms and conditions will be outlined in the contract and the service level agreement that will be signed once the procurement process has been completed. Terms and conditions will also be made public once the procurement process has been finalised.

In terms of the procurement process, a letter requesting deviation to enter into new contract with CPS was sent to National Treasury on 7 March 2017. SASSA team also met with the OCPO staff on the same date to discuss the process and implementation of other parallel processes involving mainly the RFI. National Treasury (OCPO) responded indicating that it will consider request favourably only if the Constitutional Court accedes to SASSA request. Internal SASSA processes are being implemented.

SASSA compiled and tabled a supplementary progress report to the Constitutional Court on 3 March 2017.

SASSA has strengthened its communication using all forms of media to inform people that their money will be paid on 1 April 2017 and that their SASSA cards will work. Effective from 5 March 2017, the Minister together with SASSA has enhanced communication to beneficiaries targeting community radio stations, publication in local newspapers and briefings with critical stakeholders.

There is an urgent application lodged in the Constitutional by Black SASH joined by the Democratic Alliance, Right to Know and Freedom under Law. All organisations have filed their papers. The court hearing will be on 15 March 2017.

Discussion
The Chairperson said that the issue is no longer one for only Social Development and its entity SASSA but a national matter. This is why the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) is playing its role which is appreciated by the Committee. SASSA should ensure that the Committee is updated daily because at some point the Committee was blamed for stifling the presentation. The Minister is currently engaged in another stakeholder meeting and the Committee will await progress from that side.

The Committee did not know about the litigation so the information is very much welcomed. As said in the news, there is going to be a potential big march in Pretoria organised by a DA member in the Committee. It seems that members are using other strategies to drive this process forward.

In all honesty, this is affecting the Committee in terms of oversight because members have to be at different places. ANC voted the budget for 17 million and the agency has not said the money is missing. The issue holding the Committee relates to tender processes.

Ms E Wilson (DA) thanked SASSA for the report. Where is the CEO today?

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) thanked SASSA for the presentation and for listening to the Committee on the recommendation, and comments it made. The report is better than the last one. The Committee should be made aware of the details of the litigation since this is a matter it has been dealing with for a long time.

Ms B Masango (DA) thanked SASSA for the report. The march is in the spirit of the fact that the matter is a national issue and beyond the Department.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) thanked SASSA for the report.

Deputy Minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, said the CEO is still on sick leave until 14 March 2017.

Ms Tsoleli said that the date on page 2 of the report should be changed from 7 February to 7 March 2017.

Department of Social Development quarterly performance report July-September 2016
Mr Thabani Buthelezi, Deputy Director General, DSD, said by mid-financial year DSD had spent 48% of its budget. In Quarter 2, 80% of the planned targets were achieved as compared to only 66% in Quarter 1.

Partially achieved targets decreased by 12% from 19% in the Quarter 1 to 7% in Quarter 2. Similarly, unmet targets decreased from 15% in the Quarter 1 to 13% in Quarter 2.

Reasons for non-achievement of targets included lack of capacity, lack of funding, failure to meet deadlines by service providers, non-submission of competent evidence and incomplete evidence, delays in appointment of service providers.

A new organisational structure has been submitted to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). The new structure has seven branches instead of ten in the old structure. Social Policy, NPO and Disability branches were removed from the new structure. There is still a 14% vacancy rate in the Department and the reason is due to budget cuts for compensation of employees. These vacant posts are not likely to be filled for this reason.


Programme 1: Administration
58% of the allocated budget to this programme was spent. The high expenditure on Ministry related to the additional staff requirements in the Ministry and Deputy Ministry Office. Overspending on goods and services relate to mandatory costs for DSD in terms of upgrading and maintaining DSD IT infrastructure, State Information Technology Agency (SITA) services, Department GG vehicle fleet services, Auditor-General fees, cleaning and security services and leasing agreement for office accommodation.

Programme 2: Social Assistance
48.9% of the allocated budget was spent. The high expenditure on war veterans was due to the increased number of war veterans claiming benefits. 162 were targeted but 207 claimed benefits. High spending in grant-in-aid was due to more grant beneficiaries applying for grant-in-aid than anticipated: 134 494 was the target but 152 070 claimed.

Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration
46.8% of the allocated budget was spent. Low spending on social security development was due to the delay in the following projects: study to explore the use of the tax system for the financing and delivering of the Child Support Grant (CSG) and conducting a feasibility study in linking CSG to child related services, low spending on appeals adjudication was due to late invoice from state attorney which is awaited for litigation cases in terms of social assistance grants.

Membership payment to a foreign organisation was influenced by the exchange rate and approval was granted by National Treasury for the increased payment required and will be corrected in the 2016/17 Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure (AENE) process.
 
Programme 4: Welfare services policy development and administration
31.6% of the allocated budget for this programme was spent. The low spending on substance abuse was due to invoices not submitted by the construction companies constructing the substance abuse centres in the Northern Cape and Free State in terms of the conditional grants allocation of R85 million for 2016/17. Low spending on older persons was due to the planned activities scheduled for the 3rd and 4th quarter of the financial year. The low spending on youth was due to the planned activated scheduled for the 3rd and 4th quarter of the financial year. Low spending on HIV/Aids was due to the payment for HIV/AIDS transfers which is scheduled for release in the 3rd and 4th quarter.

Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery
High spending on community development was due to the funding to the food relief agents in provinces for the food relief programme. 60% has been paid to the National Development Agency in terms of the agreement.

Discussion
Mr Mabilo said some of the targets were not met and the consistent reason given by DSD is lack of capacity. The question that follows is what measures are in place to capacitate the staff. What is the outcome of the workshops organised by DSD? How many graduates were mentored in the graduate mentoring programme?

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) asked how DSD set its target on war veterans if it is based on survivors.

Ms Masango asked what the high expenditure on social assistance, grant-in-aid and war veterans can be attributed to. The presentation is more quantitative than qualitative in terms of performance. Some targets were exceeded; it seems DSD set low targets. Has there been a reworking of actual baseline? Did the low spending on substance abuse due to construction companies not submitting invoices affect the actual work?

Mr Clifford Appel, DSD CFO, replied that even though targets were exceeded no baseline is affected, some of the targets are achieved within provinces as such it uses the combination of provincial and national funding. No other programme has been compromised because of this.

On workshops, Mr Peter Netshipale, DSD DDG: Integrated Community Development, replied that after developing an integrated food and nutrition security plan for the country, each department is supposed to have consultations with its own stakeholders. Stakeholders here mean all nine provinces, the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Rural Development, and local government. As part and parcel of the second quarter, they met with them to present the plan and agree on how the country will implement the integrated plan. During the joint Portfolio Committee meeting, there was a discussion to develop an integrated plan that was sent to Cabinet last year September. Part of the plan speaks to the market point of view, which means that in delivering the food, what support does the Department of Agriculture, Health, Rural Development and local government offer?

The Chairperson asked what the infrastructure development relates to.

Mr Brenton van Vrede, DSD Acting DDG: Comprehensive Social Security, replied that target for war veteran grants refers only to the beneficiaries and not their families. No new applications are taken on this grant. These existing beneficiaries have been there since World War 2. Politely, he stated that DSD projects how far in the future these beneficiaries are going to die. As such 162 was the set target but more than that claimed. The added number does not have a significant impact on the budget because it is small. It only creates a huge deviation.

The Chairperson said that care for the war veterans should become holistic while the route of universalisation has not been utilised. This is because an older person can be referred to as having a disability, because as one grows older there are chores that one can no longer do. DSD should also consider grants that can enable the lives of these people as the number becomes smaller. The Child Support Grant stops as soon as a child turns 18 years old. However, these children need this money for their education and other things. There have been a lot of complaints on this matter. The Director General said the age is increased for those under foster care but not for child support grant recipients. More clarity is needed on this.

The Deputy Minister replied that the DSD brought amendments to the Children’s Act to the Committee. A person is a child up to the age of 18. The Amendment Act speaks to regularising the different ages. The foster care matter has been resolved but with a condition. The condition is that the person must be in school even as a foster child. There needs to be evidence that the child is in school.

On the child support grant age limit, she said the Minister has presented the matter for discussion. It goes through internal processes for approval because there is a huge cost in terms of budget, administration and the conditions. As it is now, when a child turns 18, the child no longer gets the grant. This is still a policy discussion at different levels on comprehensive social security. DSD is not at the stage where the grant can be increased. The discussion document on it has been developed.

The Chairperson stated that a child is a child. There should be universalisation. How can one who is a foster child have a better life than one who is being looked after by parents who are also dependent on government grants? The Committee should intervene, because many times these children cannot get school uniform. There are a lot of things these children are exposed to, and that is why they drop out, because they cannot continue to go to school hungry. This is a policy matter; the Deputy Minister must have answers in the next meeting. There have been complaints from parents that their children have been staying close to school in an informal arrangement and without food. There should not be discrimination because of the assumption that children with parents are supposed to be looked after more than those in foster homes.

Mr van Vrede said that policy positions have been drafted on many of these matters. Evidence shows that children who have come off the grant are not performing well. The policy positions will be considered for the best option.

The Chairperson said that a debate on this matter will be considered. On another note, food is badly done. Access to food is difficult. Food is very much in demand. There have been complaints. The person doing the counting seems to leave some people out and this breeds corruption. The vendors also change prices on the day grants being paid. There is dishonesty in serving these people. Even the food is sometimes not fresh. The inspectorate department should consider this. There should be inspection of where people are buying food. On oversight the Committee will ambush these vendors.

Department of Social Development new organisational structure
Mr Devan Chinnappan, DSD Chief Director: Human Capital Management, presented the organisational structure of the Department. DSD has been operating on its current structure as approved on 29 May 2015 through the National Macro Organization of State Project (NMOS). Subsequently there was the announcement of budget cuts and cost containment measures which had a huge impact on the compensation of employees. This announcement forced DSD to look at the optimisation of efficiencies in the structure. The process of prioritisation was managed by the EXCO of the Department. The Minister approved the new structure on 8 December 2016.

The new structure is reduced from ten branches to seven. The Social Policy, NPO and Disability branches were removed. There was also a reduction in the span of control of the DG, because the DG was overloaded in the current structure. DSD has also looked at relocation and appropriate placement of certain units.

The Office of the DG has a chief directorate: Executive support and Intergovernmental Relations. It also has two directorates for administration, cabinet and parliamentary support, and cluster coordination and secretariat support. The two directorates here are new and there is no intention to fill them because there is no money. Only 9 posts were prioritised for funding. The vacancy rate has remained consistent at 14% because the posts cannot be filled. DSD has a total of 863 posts, 704 have been filled and 159 posts are still vacant. These posts are likely not to be filled because of the cut on compensation of employees.

The vacancy issue is managed by the executives. The principle agreement is that only the 9 posts will be filled. Decisions on the other vacant posts will be taken by line programme managers considering operational requirements.

For critical posts that need to be filled, DSD is looking at options for funding the posts. The options include early retirement between the ages of 55-60 years. The structure approved by the Minister in December has been submitted to DPSA for concurrence. Consultation with branches is also taking place about information on changes and prioritisation of posts. Implementation of the structure will on 1 April 2017.

Discussion
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) said since the structure has been submitted to DPSA, it is uncertain whether input of the Committee is necessary. Was there any team that dealt with change management especially from the Department of Labour? The strike of National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) is also because of change management. The new structure buried alive certain DSD employees. The change management process is not a good one. Why is DSD killing the Disability branch by removing it from its structure? The Department is not doing well on disability. Why is the CFO a branch on its own? Corporate Support Services killed the Social Policy branch. Was the structure costed? Disability is not being addressed properly in the country.

Ms Abrahams asked how DSD will operate without critical posts being filled. People with disabilities should have their own branch. How does converting and having new posts impact on costs?

Ms Masango asked why the posts would not be filled. Would not reducing the branches to seven put pressure on staff?

Mr Mabilo asked if the vacancy rate is acceptable to DSD at this stage?

Ms Tsoleli said that disability is a national issue. The Disability branch should not be compromised. The structure for Administration is huge. Government should not be made an employment agency. The Portfolio Committee on Social Development is not only available for oversight but also for advice to its department. The new structure has duplication of work that should be done by one person, and this looks suspicious. For example, the chief directorate on gender should handle women empowerment and the gender focal point instead of having another directorate take the responsibility.

The Chairperson said the Committee is not unable to invite DPSA for a meeting. Given this structure, DSD is set to fail. This organogram is great concern. The Department should return on an agreed date to discuss how the views of the Committee can be taken on board about the new structure. The Department should return with clearer presentation since the Committee was not aware of the new structure before its submission to DPSA. NEHAWU will also be invited to listen to its grievances.

Ms Mogotsi asked if there has been any feedback from DPSA.

Mr Chinnappan said DSD acknowledges that the structure is not a perfect one. Experts will be involved to look into the structure. DSD has engaged with DPSA since 2015. More clarity will be given on the matter as suggested by the Chairperson.

The Chairperson thanked DSD for the presentation.
 
The First Term Committee Programme was adopted and the meeting was adjourned.

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