DPSA on their Annual Performance Plan

NCOP Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements

30 May 2017
Chairperson: Mr J Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee’s initial agenda included presentations from both the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), but the COGTA delegation was unable to attend as it had other commitments to attend to.

The DPSA presented their Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget allocation, stressing that their work was guided by Chapter 13 of the Constitution and various frameworks to guide them with their work on norms and standards for regulation purposes. The Public Administration Management Act (PAMA) assisted the Department with issues of mobility within the different spheres of government that had been a problem in the past. Disclosure of financial interests had been nonexistent in the past, but what the Act did was to allow a common approach for all spheres of government. This Act also assisted in disciplining management in the various levels of government.

Members commended the DSPA on their comprehensive presentation, but asked what intervention measures were being taken to make sure that disciplinary cases were finalised in the shortest period. Had there been an improvement in areas of the government where e-enabled services had been implemented, in terms of the accessibility, quality and speed of services received by people from the governments? Since the new public servants’ regulations barring state employees from having outside businesses at the same time, what changes had taken effect? What action had been taken against employees who had continued working for the state and had businesses, and how many of them were there?

The meeting concluded with remarks from the Chairperson, who outlined his concerns and recommendations based on the DPSA’s briefing. The Department had not established good implementation of integrated systems, which was crucial for addressing the challenges of the appraisals system. The DPSA must execute a crucial function of equity targets for people with disabilities, specifically with regard to compliance and oversight. The DPSA must report on all outstanding standards in respect of the Batho Pele standards, and on the transformation of the public service delivery. They had to provide a plan on how vacancies should be dealt with, taking into account service delivery measures. There was a need to monitor the graduate programmes and the jobs that were crucial in assessing where South Africa was in terms of skills and human development. 

Meeting report

There was a change in the agenda because the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) had excused themselves owing to a different commitment they had. the change in the minutes was proposed by the Acting Chairperson and seconded by Mr D Stock (ANC, Northern Cape). seconded the adoption of the agenda.

Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA): Annual Performance Plan

Mr Mashwahle Diphofa, Director General, Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) said the scope of the DPSA work was to play a major policy role in establishing norms and standards for the public service as a whole, whereby the national and provincial departments played a role. Through the Public Administration Management Act of 2014, which seeks to unite all spheres of government, they also had future work which affected municipalities as well to ensure all common norms and standards were reached at all government levels. The Department also provided the different spheres of government with tools for support, so that both the implementation and monitoring was integrated. The DPSA realised that the Public Administration Management Act of 2014 (PAMA) required regulations for implementation purposes, and in their work the Department ensured that they were in place in order to facilitate their programmes. The Department also stressed the development and issuing of guidelines and the provision of technical support to all the departments they worked with. If there were gaps in the norms and standards, they would continue to improve on that.

The DPSA’s work of aligning to the National Development Plan (NDP) translated into an implementation plan over a five-year period. Their work was not just informed by the NPD, but also by the constitution of the country -- specifically Chapter Ten, which illustrates the democratic values, ethics and principles that should govern public administration. The PAMA assists the Department with issues of mobility within the different spheres of government that had been a problem in the past. Disclosure of financial interests had been nonexistent in the past, but what the Act did was to allow a common approach for all spheres of government. This Act also assisted in disciplining management in the various levels of government.

Mr Diphofa said the first programme in the APP focused on administration, where the first mandate was to ensure that the Department reached their 38 planned annual targets while submitting quarterly targets for oversight purposes for audits, while reporting to various stakeholders for communication purposes. As per the PAMA, the DPSA had established rules and regulations to prohibit public servants from doing business with the state, which would soon be released for public opinion. The regulations would be looked into on an annual basis and the Department would ensure that they consulted with the different stakeholders during that time.

Their second programme looked into policy, research and analysis whereby norms and standards were established and developed. The Department would consult with the various spheres of government regarding the facilitation of norms and standards during the course of 2017. The Cabinet had recommended that they look into strengthening the coordinating role of the central government. This would involve strengthening the various roles between departments like the Department of Performance Management and Evaluation (DPME) in the central government. They would design a White Paper that sought to look into the social vision of the NDP. They would also look into approving the productivity measurement tool for the departments’ functionality and compliance with the regulations to be accessed.

Their third programme was based on their mandate to monitor vacancy rates in the public service. In accordance with the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), the target for vacant posts on the Personnel Administration System (PERSAL) was a maximum of 10%, and it could never be zero because people had to apply and go through the recruitment process. They reported to the ministers and the Cabinet on the labour relations targets. This year they were also seeking to provide support and guidance to the national and provincial governments for the Senior Management Service (SMS) performance and development system

The DPSA had also looked at the policy framework around the Graduate Recruitment Scheme, to create mechanisms between departments and pre-employment institutions to provide a bridge for the students and prepare them for public service work. They were also required to monitor at least 20 000 youths who must be placed in workplaces, increase their performance for the average number of days taken to resolve disciplinary cases, develop salary negotiations and continue submitting implementation reports on housing loans.

The fourth programme deals with creating an environment whereby departments are encouraged to e-enable their services and to use the most efficient ways to provide their services to the public. Together with the State Information Technology Agency, they consider how departments can use technology to better their services. Their role as a department would be to ensure that the norms and standards in this case were properly applied and issue guidelines after approval.

Programme five focused on service delivery support and the issue raised by the Auditor General (AG) on how departments lacked basic administration services to comply with standard operating procedures. Thus the DPSA had developed tools for standard operating processes and then monitored the results. There had been progress in improving basic operating processes where the tool had been used in various departments. Their concern was that the Batho Pele principles had not been effectively implemented, and they had identified various governments to assist them in this regard.

Programme six aimed at the governance of public administration that dealt with the issue of improving the political administration interface. Delegation had been an issue, and the NDP had recommended that there be a process of facilitating delegation from executives to accounting officers, as centralisation had not worked in the past. The DPSA’s target was the extent to which there was delegation, and the last report had shown that just over 60% had made an improvement in delegation. There had also been the issue of the average time spent by heads of department in a post, where their target had been four years, and this had not been reached. They also took the responsibility of assisting departments with their human resources.

A weakness had been identified in the public service regulations in that they required only senior managers to disclose their financial interests, so the Minister had been authorised to identify other categories of employees who were required to disclose, which included middle managers and other categories that they may need to identify. They had set that as a target for 2017/18. The disclosure process had also moved from manual to electronic by the end of May 2017, for public managers to disclose their interest in companies, and work that they get paid for outside their work, properties and vehicles, as well as the loans they have. When there was remunerative work, the people could not use state resources and there should not be a conflict of interests, so whatever work they did outside could not interfere with their government work.

The DPSA budget allocation for 2017/18 to 2019/20 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) was R2.85. For the 2017/18 period, the total allocation was R897.1 million for the four entities -- the DPSA, the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), the National School of Government (NSG) and the Public Service Commission (PSC). On the total vote allocation, the amount that was increasing took into account the rising cost of living. The total allocation for transfers referred to the amounts that went to entities other than the department. For example, in 2017/18, the PSC received R 245.7 million, the NSG received R160.5 million and the CPSI received the least, at R34.1 million.

Discussion

Mr Stock said that he had found the presentation very comprehensive, clear and detailed, and had only one issue with regard to the new public servants’ regulations which came into effect on 1 February. Mr Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who had been the DPSA Minister at that time, had made an announcement that public servants who worked for the state and had businesses were going to be given a week to resign. Since the new public servants’ regulations came in from February, although there may not have been many improvements, what changes had taken effect? What challenges and good stories had come from implementing these regulations? What actions had been taken against employees who work for the state and had businesses, and how many of them were there?

Mr M Monakedi (ANC, Limpopo) thanked the DPSA for a comprehensive presentation, and asked it to check on the issue of the number of days it took to monitor and finalise disciplinary cases. What intervention measures were taken to make sure the cases were finalised in the shortest period, and what intervention measures were there instead of just monitoring? On the average time that the heads of departments spent in their posts, had the DPSA identified the contributing factors? What would the DPSA do about these factors? With regard to the introduction of e-enabled government services, had there been an improvement in areas of the government where this had been implemented, in terms of accessibility, quality and speed of services received by the people from the government?

Mr Diphofa replied on the announcement that Mr Ramatlhodi had made with regard to prohibiting public servants from doing business with the state. Public servants had been allowed between last year and February 2017 to make a decision on whether they stayed working for the state and did their businesses, or resigned from the state or company they were associated with. The DPSA then decided to work with National Treasury, which had a national database of registered businesses and through this database they had been able to cross check names and identity numbers of the people who owned businesses with the PERSAL data. The initial assessment showed that there were 11 000 state employees registered, and immediately after this had been introduced, about 2 000 had resigned. The DPSA and National Treasury had also taken proactive measures, whereby when a company got registered they immediately did a cross check with PERSAL. If they detected that owners of companies at the time they registered belonged in the public service realm, they had an expectation that the company would not be registered as it would go against the clause. The DPSA still felt that there was a bit of more work they could do in this regard.

One of the challenges was that public servants would argue that the outside business they did was in line with their state work, and would therefore enhance their productivity. An example was when teachers went for the marking of scripts, they could argue that they had the expertise for this type of work and the DPSA could not stop this from happening, as it would cause more harm than good. Moreover, when public servants went to teach in their area of expertise, they would argue that the teaching assisted them in their area of training.

On monitoring and interventions, in some of the areas the Department did ensure interventions. For example, the delays in resolving disciplinary cases was not necessarily caused by an employee lacking the capacity to draft charges, but rather that there might not be a person in the department capable of being the presiding officer. Therefore, the DPSA had approached heads of departments to assist them in assigning presiding officers for disciplinary cases. Poor reporting processes and a lack of updates on cases had also been a concern, so the DPSA would have a section on the management of disciplinary cases in PERSAL, making it compulsory for that the field to be filled in so that it gets audited and improves the quality of information for monitoring purposes.

Dealing with the average time spent in a position by heads of departments was somewhat difficult. The approach they used to intervene was to report the situation to the Cabinet so that the DPSA would be aware of what else still needed to be done. For example, the challenge of delegation amongst the spheres of government was one of the interventions, because what had come to their attention was that tension arises between the “my role versus your role” mentality. Other interventions outside the DPSA in the Presidency included written formal delegations between the ministers to deputy ministers to be submitted to the President, instead of just agreeing amongst themselves. The DPSA dealt with the challenges with monitoring and interventions within the scope of their competency, and the Cabinet and Presidency intervened with their authority should DPSA not have the competency

With regards to e-enabled services, e-disclosure was part of this process. This had been a manual process previously with a lot of paper work, and since the online option had become available, the disclosures had increased, and now monitoring of these disclosures had also been made easy. The interface of cross checking had become very easy. Turnaround times in the functioning of departments had been the improvement.

The Chairperson raised concerns he had from the DPSA’s presentation. He said that good implementation of integrated systems was crucial for addressing the challenges of the appraisal system, and this had not yet been done by the DPSA. Closed monitoring should be considered, with the provision of technical advice on delegations as they already were. Parliament should ensure oversight of the integrated financial management system. With regard to compliance, it was essential that all processes were integrated urgently. The DPSA must also execute a crucial function of equity targets for people with disabilities, specifically on compliance and oversight. It must report on all outstanding standards in respect of the Batho Pele standards and the transformation of the public service delivery. On the monitoring of employment rates in the public service, the Department must develop a plan on how the questions of vacancies should be dealt with, and take into account service delivery measures. There was a need to monitor the graduate programmes and the jobs that were crucial in assessing where South Africa was in terms of skills and human development.

Mr T Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked that the graphs in the presentation include the specific internships and jobs offered to graduates.

Mr Diphofa replied that the DPSA would make the information available at the micro level for the programmes at branches where there was a director general who was in charge of the programme. The DPSA had enough jobs, but the management of vacancies was based on whether they disestablished a post or not, based on the financial cuts.

The meeting was adjourned.

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