SAPO on payment of services: SASSA progress report

Public Accounts (SCOPA)

15 August 2017
Chairperson: Mr T Godi (APC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received a briefing from the South African Social Security Agency (SASS) on progress made thus far with the South African Post Office (SAPO) regarding their intention to take over the payment of social security grants from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) when the 12-month period ended on 31 March 2018, as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

SASSA said that the Request for Proposal (RFP) that had been sent to SAPO was due on July 24, and the bid evaluation had begun on 14 August. The proof of concept/working model was due on 25 August, and the successful service provider would be officially appointed by November, with a three-month testing period until the end of January 2018 so that the service provider could be phased into the system, and any problems with the paying of grants to beneficiaries could be identified and dealt with before April 1.

Committee Members were not confident that SAPO would be ready by April, because the time frames provided by SASSA were too close and there was therefore not enough time to develop an effective model.

SASSA indicated that SAPO had developing their concept since a workshop with SASSA in May, and had reassured SASSA that they would be ready to present their working model to SASSA on the agreed deadline date of 25 August. They would not be able to determine which services SAPO would be able to provide until the RFP was fully evaluated and a working model had been submitted to them. Upon identifying which services SAPO would not be able to provide, SASSA would be embarking on an open tender procurement process to the public.

Committee Members argued that this would be a “back window” opening for CPS to return, since they would emerge as the only service provider that would have the capabilities to provide the service. They did not want CPS to return and they asked SASSA if they were reassuring the Committee that they were committed to working with SAPO. They also asked if the officials present at the meeting would be resigning should SASSA fail to meet the deadline set by the ConCourt.

The Chairperson requested that SASSA respond to the rest of the Committee’s questions in writing before their next meeting with the Committee on 5 September.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed all in attendance to the first meeting of the Committee for the third quarter, and said that an apology had been received from Ms Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Social Development, over the weekend, and he had accepted it.

The Chairperson said that during their last engagement with SASSA, following the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling, the Committee had requested to be kept up to date on the social grant payment process with regard to the transition from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the South African Post office (SAPO) by March 2018.

Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) said that even though the Minister was not present at the meeting, he had hoped that a briefing would be provided to the Committee with regard to the status of the leadership in the Department of Social Development (DSD) following recent resignations.

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA): Briefing

Ms Nelisiwe Vilakazi, Acting Director General (DG), Department of Social Development (DSD), said she was the Department’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), and was merely acting as DG until the position was filled following the resignation of the former DG in March 2017.

Ms Pearl Bengu, Acting CEO, SASSA said that the purpose of the meeting was to go back to the mandate following the ConCourt ruling, to ensure that SASSA paid SAPO for taking over from CPS from April 1 2018.

The SASSA Act established SASSA as the social security agency mandated to issue payments of grants to beneficiaries. SASSA was currently distributing grants to over 17 million people across South Africa, with most recipients being situated in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. The management and payment functions of grants were outsourced to a service provider.

In 2012 SASSA had issued a tender to CPS. The tender was later found to be invalid by the ConCourt and SASSA had been ordered to terminate the contract with CPS.

Mr M Booi (ANC) interjected to say that Ms Bengu needed to give facts and not vague information.

Ms Bengu said that SASSA would be using the same system and database of beneficiaries to carry out payments when the contract with CPS came to an end on 31 March 2018. SASSA had had a meeting with CPS following the ConCourt ruling to ensure that payments were paid every month until the contract ended.

SASSA had submitted its financial report.

Meetings were being held with the panel of experts that had been formed by the ConCourt, and it was reporting on the performance of SASSA to the Court and regularly visiting SASSA centres to ensure that the transition process was smooth.

The timeline for the procurement of services was very important, and SASSA would have an open procurement process. A new service provider would be appointed by November 2017 for the payment of grants to beneficiaries.

SASSA had conducted a workshop with SAPO, and had resolved that it would partner with SAPO on the payment of social grants. SASSA had provided a Request for Proposal (RFP) to SAPO so that it could determine what kind of efficient service SAPO would be able to provide. SASSA would be tendering out other services that SAPO could not provide to other qualified service providers.

At the moment, SASSA was not sure what service SAPO would be able to deliver, since the tender was still open. The contract would be allocated by November 2017, and SAPO would then transition into the system so that they could get familiar with the process before 1 April 2018, when the contract would come into full effect.

SASSA was looking at having an account with the KPMG accounting firm. It would be an ordinary account that would receive money from the DSD, and would pay beneficiaries directly instead of relying on the service provider to conduct a reconciliation to determine which beneficiaries were not receiving their grants. 

Direct transfers to beneficiaries using commercial banks would be maintained, irrespective of the challenges related to private accounts. The SASSA social bank account was incorporated in the RFP for a service provider to fulfil the payment of grants to beneficiaries.

There would a migration of beneficiary data to be stored in-house and not outsourced. 100% of biometric data had been migrated from CPS to SASSA in full. CPS was still using beneficiary data in order to issue grants. The database would be handed over to SASSA once a service provider had been appointed to take over from CPS.

Ms Bengu said that SASSA was on board with SAPO with regard to the procurement of payment services, and they would be going with a competitive bidding approach to appoint a service provider. Some services would be in-sourced, while others would be outsourced to service providers through procurement processes.

It was imperative for SASSA to phase out some processes and to phase in others, such as the extension of SASSA cards. This would be an arrangement for which the newly appointed service provider would be responsible.

Ms Bengu said that it was important to note the issues and risks involved in the migration process. If there were any unforeseen delays in the issuance of SASSA cards, the service provider would need to act speedily and ensure that all beneficiaries received their new cards, or extensions were offered, so that payments were received on time once a new service provider was appointed.

Once SASSA was aware of any problems that the beneficiaries might encounter, it would use the Geographic Information System (GIS) to locate those beneficiaries and offer help to get them on the system and ensure that they received their grants.

SASSA was mindful that it needed more staff to carry out its functions effectively as ordered by the ConCourt in respect of taking over the payment of grants itself in the near future.

Mr T Brauteseth (DA) said that he hoped SASSA would stick to its timelines and deliver on the mandates it had presented. Which individuals had been appointed to the panel of experts by the ConCourt? He asked what work was being done by the work streams and ministerial task teams, and whether SASSA was moving ahead and using them, because if it was not using them it would be considered as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Ms Bengu said that SASSA did have the list of names of people appointed to the panel of experts. She would not be able to tell the extent to which work streams were being used, but work streams were part of the process.

Mr Brauteseth asked if SASSA had asked SAPO to provide a proof of concept, i.e. a system that actually worked, and when SASSA would know if the proof of concept was workable.

Ms Bengu said that SASSA was currently evaluating what SAPO had presented and provided them with. The proof of concept would be delivered by 25 August 2017, in terms of the timeline they had provided.

Mr Brauteseth asked what Ms Bengu meant by an open procurement process.

Ms Bengu said that it would be open to the public for anyone to tender.

Mr Tsakenwa Chauke, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), SASSA, said that the process would be open for tendering to any company that wanted to bid for the contract.

Mr C Ross (DA) asked whether, in terms of the risk assessment, SASSA should have included the risk of not being able to meet the ConCourt’s deadline of 31 March 2018. He asked if SASSA had a legal expert in its department or if it had outsourced one, and which firm had been outsourced.

Ms Bengu said that they did not want to include the risk of not being able to pay beneficiaries by 1 April 2018. That was why there would be a testing period from November, when a service provider would be formally appointed until January so that if any problems arose they would have time to work on them before the deadline arrived.

She said that SASSA did have an in-house legal expert, as well as a state attorney.

Mr Ross asked if National Treasury was on board with SASSA’s timelines.

Ms Bengu replied that National Treasury was on board. SASSA had met with the DG of National Treasury, and they would be meeting with him again on 17 August 2017.

Mr Ross asked who had drawn up the RFP to SAPO, and whether it had been an outsourced expert.

Ms Bengu said that experts had been involved, and even more experts would be needed going forward. For the first time in SASSA’s history, it had created the position of a Cash Paymaster General to overlook payments.

Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) asked to whom the work streams had handed over their reports, in line with the exit management.

Ms Zodwa Mvulane, Executive Manager: Projects, SASSA said that the work streams had been given a formal letter to end their services on 10 July 2017. Business information had been contracted for eight months, and their reports had been concluded and first drafts submitted. The second work stream was the legal work stream, and their contract was for 18 months. The contract would end depending on which came first -- whether they achieved their deliverables before the 18 months, or when the contract ended after 18 months. Due to SASSA’s litigations, the legal work stream had ended up exhausting their budget before the 18 month period ended, and a close up report had been submitted. The last work stream was the local economic development work stream, and it had an 18 month contract that would end also depending on which came first -- either the deliverables had been achieved or the period ended. They had concluded their work on 10 July 2017 after receiving a letter of termination from SASSA. Out of six deliverables, only three deliverables had been achieved, and therefore the work stream had been compensated only for what it had delivered.

Mr Hlengwa asked if the DSD and SASSA had at that point in time the capability perform the functions of SASSA and meet the deadline of 1 April 2018 to have a new service provider carrying out the functions of paying beneficiaries, and also a process of skills and expertise transfer from CPS to SASSA.

Ms Mvulane said that SASSA did not have the skills to embark on such a move at that point in time, but they would accept Mr Ross’s recommendation to appoint experts.

Mr Hlengwa said that Ms Mvulane’s answer was problematic, because if the Committee had not asked SASSA to give a briefing, and if Mr Ross had not made his recommendation, then SASSA would not have had a plan of action in place to counter any risks. He asked what SASSA’s expectation was of SAPO to meet the scope of work in its entirety.

Ms Bengu said that currently SASSA had been awarded a contract to the value of R60 million for delivering its registered mails across the country, and this was its core business. SAPO did not have their banking licence as yet, and they had indicated that they would be using Standard Bank as their base for issuing payments should they be awarded the contract. SAPO would be upgrading their system to accommodate and deliver the new services that would be expected of them. SAPO had paid out SASSA grants before, and they were confident that they would be able to deliver to all of the 17 million beneficiaries.

Mr Hlengwa asked what the cost implications of the transition were. He wanted to understand what the road map was for the transition and the budgetary expenses that followed that transition.

Mr M Booi (ANC) said that CPS had cost them over R1 billion, and with a transitional element, it would be easy for SASSA to give the Committee a financial breakdown of how much the whole transition would cost.
Ms Bengu said it would perhaps be best to evaluate how much the new service provider would be charging SASSA per beneficiary before they were in a position to say how much the transition process would cost.

Ms N Mente (EFF) said her frustration was the fact that there was an element of delay between the date SASSA had met with SAPO for the workshop and the date that the RFP had been sent. It spoke volumes, and somehow CPS would be seen “through the back window.” SASSA had a tendency of waiting until the very last day to deal with issues, and it had therefore been late in submitting its report to National Treasury. Its excuse had been that 17 April 2017 was a public holiday and had therefore caused a delay, which had resulted in their submission of the report on 20 April 2017. She asked if SASSA had conducted a thorough assessment of its skills audit to ascertain that it did not have anyone in its department to undertake any of the areas of the task, and to implement some of the decisions that the ConCourt had instructed the Department to do.

Ms Bengu said that she was aware of the submission that had been sent late to National Treasury, and SASSA would work on that problem. SASSA had a standing committee that met on a weekly basis to ensure that it was in line for meeting its deadlines for payments on time.

There were skills audits that were conducted for internal processes only, but it did not conduct a skills audit for experts. However, there were people, such as the head of human resources (HR), who was working with HR experts, but this was a complicated and huge task and SASSA was not yet ready to take over that function alone, and therefore experts were necessary.

Ms Mente asked if SASSA was intending to outsource specialised skills such as IT service forever, because the IT industry was a complicated and sensitive area that required someone on hand at all times.

Ms Bengu said that SASSA needed to train people while it had an outsourced expert carrying out the work until it was in a position to have the skill in-sourced.

Ms Mente asked who had drafted the RFP, since SASSA was outsourcing experts.

Ms Bengu said that the RFP to SAPO had been done in-house. SASSA already had experience from the first tender which had been done in 2012, and its supply chain management (SCM) had the documents and knew the requirements for the RFP. Other tenders that would be advertised after the SAPO RFP would also be compiled in-house.

Ms Mente asked if the former CEO had been involved in the process of drafting the RFP, and which other officials had been involved.

Ms Mvulane said that the specifications committee had been appointed in-house, and was headed by herself as the project leader, the Chief Information Officer (CIO), and the senior manager from Grants.

Ms Mente asked if anyone from the work streams was involved.

Ms Mvulane said that the work streams were not involved, but they utilised the documents that the work streams had provided.

Ms Mente asked again if the former CEO had been involved in any way.

Ms Mvulane said “no.” She was the chairperson of the specifications committee as the project leader, and the former CEO had not been involved in developing the specifications.

Ms Mente said that the answer confused her. With Ms Mvulane as the chairperson, the former CEO had written a letter of intention to utilise the services of SAPO. Ms Mente asked how the former CEO had been able to do so when he did not know the contents of the RFP, because he could not have arrived at that decision on his own.

Ms Mvulane said that she did not know what could have informed the contents of the letter per se. The SASSA executive had taken a decision to utilise the services of SAPO, and that had to be taken through a procurement process that would be followed like any other procurement.

Mr Abraham Mahlangu, Chief Information Officer (CIO), SASSA, said that the CEO had been part of the entire workshop when SAPO had first presented their capabilities to SASSA. The next phase was formalising their capabilities through a response in the form of the RFP which they had drafted and sent to SAPO.

Ms Mente asked if the contents of the RFP had been shared with the former CEO.

Mr Mahlangu said they had not been. The CEO had not been part of the RFP development process nor had he received the contents. The job had been delegated to the specification committee, and after the RFP had been developed it was put through a bid adjudication committee and then released to SAPO as a prospective service provider.

Ms Mente said she was still not satisfied that the in-house specification committee had the capacity to draft the RFP, assisted by reports from the work stream and then presented to the SASSA executives for approval, leading to the decision to write the letter with the intention to utilise SAPO. She could not grasp that there was no skill within SASSA, when there were clearly people to draft specifications with the assistance of outsourced people. Work streams could have been involved indirectly. If there was no outside help, how could SASSA have determined in the RFP what they required when they had claimed that they lacked skills capacity within their department?

Mr Chauke said that this was not the first time that SASSA had issued an RFP. The skills that officials were talking about in the presentation were with regard to in-sourced requirements, which required banking skills.

SASSA had not awarded anything to SAPO as yet. They had requested SAPO to respond to the RFP.

Ms Mente said Mr Chauke was indicating a worrisome factor by saying SASSA had not awarded anything to SAPO, which was quite true. What would happen if SAPO was not able to meet the standard of work that SASSA required?

Mr Chauke said SASSA had taken a decision to have a government to government collaboration with SAPO, and in the instance that SAPO was not able to be the preferred service provider on other elements, then SASSA would advertise those elements through the tender bulletin for another service provider to bid on. Their hope was that SAPO would be able to handle every element of the RFP.

Ms Mente asked if SASSA had shared its current pay points with SAPO so that they could determine how they would be able to cover the ground in order to meet the number of SASSA’s current pay points.

Ms Bengu said that they had indicated to SAPO at the workshop that they had 10 000 pay points around South Africa. When they were counting how many pay points SAPO had, it had been established that they had around 2 800 pay points. SAPO was aware that in order to reach all the needs of SASSA they would have to expand on their number of pay points.

Ms Mente said that SASSA and SAPO needed to collaborate and assist each other. She asked if there was an arrangement in place to cover all aspects of the RFP so that should SAPO be the awarded service provider contract, they would be able expand to at least two-thirds of the amount of pay points SASSA had, and whether SASSA had anything in place to cover the ground that would be remaining, should SAPO not be able to cover everything.

Ms Bengu said that they were aware that at the moment SAPO could not cover all the areas. This was why they were saying that from 1 April 2018 they would like to have the payment system remain as it currently was by using a lot of supermarkets and some banks in areas where there were no SASSA pay points.

Ms Mente asked if SASSA was giving the Committee an assurance that CPS would not be contracted to cover other areas that SAPO would not be able to extend itself to, and if only SASSA would be taking over those areas.

Ms Bengu said that if SAPO was not able to reach certain areas, SASSA would be going on an open tender for those services.

Ms Mente said that this would be the “back window” that CPS would use to come back into the picture because no other service provider would emerge that would be able to fill the gap.

She said that the timeframe from 17 April 2017 when the workshop was held with SAPO until the time that communication was sent to National Treasury was too long. Any move, deviation or go ahead was supposed to be informed by authority from National Treasury. What had taken them so long to go to National Treasury after being satisifed that SAPO was aware and there would be a new process to be undertaken?

Ms Bengu said this had been because they had been discussing six payment models presented by the work streams. They had been trying to see which model they could implement in a short period of time, and they had to consider scenarios.

Ms Mente said that SASSA could not carry on outsourcing services forever, and the Committee did not want CPS to come back.

Mr Chauke said that when engagements with SAPO were held, part of the discussions had been about looking at the immediate areas that would need to be in-sourced by SASSA. The drafting of the RFP had then taken some time because they had had to identify which areas they would be in-sourcing.

Mr Booi, on a point of order, asked that SASSA be factual with their answers as to how much the transition would cost, as well as why SASSA had taken so long before engaging with National Treasury.
He asserted that Mr Chauke was misleading Parliament and not giving a proper sequence of events about a process that he had been involved in himself. He wanted to respect the Acting CEO, but he would not be respecting her at the expense of the people.

Mr Chauke said he would need protection from the Chairperson as he responded.

Mr Booi said Mr Chauke should not be seeking protection for lying.

Mr Chauke said that when approaching National Treasury for a deviation, this was a procurement process, and that there was work to be done before arriving at a procurement decision.

Mr Booi interjected, and said that SASSA had applied for a deviation in advance. Mr Thokozani Magwaza, its former CEO, had presented to the Committee on the deviation before he resigned.

Ms Mente said that if she was doing her calculations correctly, SASSA had held the workshop with SAPO on 17 May 2017, and on 24 July 2017 they had applied to National Treasury. That was a two-month period, and the processes that Mr Chauke was talking about could not have taken two months. The procurement process should have taken a week at most. If this issue was not resolved, then CPS would be returning in the next financial year. SASSA was not assisting SAPO or giving them an assurance that they would be using them to issue the grants.

Ms T Chiloane (ANC) asked how long it would take for SASSA to go on an open tender and do the adjudication in terms of the processes outlined by National Treasury.

Ms Bengu said that 8 September had been set aside to allow for due diligence of the adjucation and awarding to SAPO before any new processes were commenced.

Ms Chiloane asked if this would be for work that would be contracted to other bidders because SAPO would not be able to do it.

Ms Bengu said this was correct. Only work that SAPO had indicated they were not able to fulfil would be contracted to other bidders.

Ms Chiloane asked if SASSA had communicated with all the bidders attached on the RFP with regard to those who would be tendering.

Ms Bengu said that they had not spoken to anyone. The tender would be open to anyone.

Ms Chiloane asked if SASSA would be violating any conditions with respect to other bidders they had done business with.

Ms Bengu said SASSA would not be violating any conditions by having an open tender available to everyone who wished to bid.

Ms Chiloane asked if the Committee could get the content of the workshops that SASSA and SAPO had in terms of going ahead.

Ms Bengu said that they were aware of the timelines, but SASSA had to wait for the evaluation of bids first before advertising any other bids.

Ms Chiloane asked if all the data from CPS would be handed back to SASSA without any hassles, or if there would be payments involved for the transfer of the data files from CPS.

Ms Bengu said that they were confident they would receive all the data when the contract ended.

Ms Chiloane said that all the data was sensitive information about South African citizens that should not be in the hands of a private contractor. SASSA needed to get the information back.

Ms N Khunou (ANC) said that she was not convinced that the work streams were being dissolved. The Committee was getting different answers from SASSA officials. She asked how many people were employed by SASSA.

Ms Bengu said over 9 000 employees were employed by SASSA.

Ms Khunou asked how many employees were required, according to the organogram of SASSA.

Ms Bengu said SASSA was supposed to have 18 000 employees.

Ms Khunou commented that SASSA was well short of 18 000.

Ms Bengu said that the reason for their low numbers was that they were only fulfilling half of their mandate. The other half was currently outsourced to CPS, and CPS had its own staff.

Ms Khunou asked SASSA to explain the work streams, and what each of them did.

Ms Mvulane said there were supposed to be five work streams -- business information and payment, legal and regulations, human resources (HR), communication and change management, and local economic development. Only three of the five work streams had been appointed, however. These were the business information and payment, local economic development, and legal and regulations work streams. The business information and payment work stream was mainly involved in assisting SASSA to move into the digital workspace to process payments, and also to recommend spaces that SASSA could move into. Their close up report was divided into giving SASSA a transition programme to replace CPS without disruption.

Because SASSA had ended up not having an HR work stream, they had not looked into other processes, but had focused only on payments.

The legal and regulatory work stream looked at the Finance Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) and finance regulations when SASSA enrolled a new service provider. SASSA was not currently heading this function -- CPS officials were. As an agency, SASSA needed to have skilled in-sourced people handling this function.

Ms Khunou said that there were thousands of unemployed qualified graduates looking for work who could be employed instead of outsourcing services.

Ms Khunou asked if there had been any transfer of skills to SASSA officials during the duration of the work streams.

Ms Mvulane said that the work streams had been cancelled and services were now in-house. Skills transfer would occur only during the transition period.

Ms Khunou asked if there was anyone dealing with risk assessment at SASSA.

Ms Bengu replied that they had an internal auditor.

The Chairperson said the Committee should ask whether SASSA was going to meet the ConCourt’s deadline.

Ms Khunou asked how due diligence would be possible in the space of a week.

Ms Bengu said that due diligence would be done only on the specifications that SAPO indicated they would be able to offer.

Ms Khunou asked when SASSA would be able to resolve all their uncertainties mentioned on page 16.

Ms Bengu said that the panel had been appointed by the Court, and SASSA had given them focus areas of where they were having problems. The panel had been assisting SASSA even more than just reporting to the Court.

Ms Khunou asked how long it would take SASSA to receive the data of beneficiaries from CPS.

Ms Bengu said all of the biometric data had been taken over by SASSA already. The other data that CPS was using was for payments, which it received from SASSA’s Social Security Pension (SOCPEN) system. The only data that SASSA did not receive was knowing which individuals were receiving their grants, and which had not.

Ms Khunou asked when SASSA would be doing road shows, because information was key.

Ms Bengu said that SASSA had indicated the communication to beneficiaries as being a risk, because they were aware that some sensitive talks would make beneficiaries panic over whether they would continue to receive their grants.

Mr Booi asked what SASSA meant by a “well-managed exit from CPS,” and when they would be getting the data from CPS.

Ms Bengu said that SASSA did have some data with them, but other data they did not have because CPS needed it for paying grants to beneficiaries until the contract was concluded.

Mr Booi asked how much the transition from CPS would cost, because Mr Chauke had previously failed to answer.

Ms Bengu said the exact amount would be determined after the evaluation of service providers that had bid, in order to determine how much the appointed service provider would be charging SASSA.

Ms Bengu said that the baseline per beneficiary was currently R16.44, and they were waiting to evaluate how much the new service provider would be charging.

Mr Booi said that Ms Bengu did not have a letter to explain how CPS was exiting the system. All she had provided the Committee with was a story of how she, or SASSA, envisioned CPS exiting.

Ms Bengu said she did not have the letter, but the phase-in and phase-out processes had been initiated.

She said that if SASSA wanted to be the paymaster-general, like the SASSA Act stated, then the holding account needed to be under SASSA and they needed someone to underwrite the cards.

Mr Booi asked if SASSA was happy with the instructions of the ConCourt, and with the panel that had then been appointed by the Court.

Ms Bengu said she was happy with the decision of the ConCourt, and she was meeting with the panel of experts regularly. There would be a follow up with the panel of experts.

The Chairperson said three dates had been mentioned in the presentation for the commencement of the evaluation. He asked which one was the exact date on which the evaluation would commence.

Ms Bengu said evaluation had commenced on 14 August 2017.

The Chairperson asked who was doing the technical evaluation, since SASSA was not able to do the evaluation themselves.

Ms Bengu said SASSA had appointed a company.

The Chairperson asked what the name of the company was.

The SASSA officials gazed at one another, and Mr Chauke finally responded that a company had actually not been appointed, but they were in the process of appointing one.

The Chairperson asked which companies had tendered for the contract to do the technical evaluation.

Ms Mvulane said the companies had been Gartner, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Vukile, and another one that she could not recall. SASSA could not conclude the process, however, because all the suppliers had submitted their bids after the 4pm deadline.

The Chairperson asked what the implications of not having a technical evaluator were, with the deadline being 25 August 2017.

Ms Mvulane said that there was an implication, but SASSA was working on it. It had sent a submission to the Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC) to allow them to do a deviation in relation to doing a procurement for government to government relations.

The Chairperson asked which government institution SASSA was looking to approach.

Ms Mvulane said they were looking to approach both the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the CSIR.

The Chairperson said that SITA had been a failure for such a long time, and they were therefore guaranteeing failure by using them.

He said that he found it odd that all four suppliers had submitted late, and asked if there was a way to establish at what time the bids had been submitted. Did SASSA have a record of when the suppliers submitted their bids?

Ms Mvulane said that there was a website where bidders had submitted their bids, and time stamps could be made available to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that if SASSA was not in a position to meet the ConCourt’s deadline, then there was no need for the meeting to have occurred, because the Committee was interested in the progress that SASSA was making towards achieving that deadline. While SASSA had been presenting, he had not got a sense that SASSA was enthusiastic about SAPO working with them. They had been of the opinion that SAPO would not be able to supply on all the specifications. He was worried that SASSA had already decided on the elements that they wanted to outsource.

Mr E Kekana (ANC) said that the purpose of the discussion was for SASSA to give the Committee a report on their readiness with regard to the ConCourt ruling, but the Committee had ended up discussing other issues. It was very clear that there was no commitment from SASSA to work with SAPO and ensure that SAPO emerged successful. He wanted to get a commitment from SASSA to the SAPO process so that Parliament could hold them accountable if they did not live up to their commitment.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that the Committee needed a firm commitment from SASSA that they would be working with SAPO.

Mr Brauteseth said that bids had been received from 18 different companies bidding for the same work that SAPO would be doing, and they would now find out devastatingly that they would not receive the work. He asked if Mr Patrick Monyeki was involved in any of the adjudicating or awarding panels of SASSA.

Mr Ross asked why the Minister was not at the meeting, because political leadership or guidance would have been needed.

Mr Hlengwa asked if the leadership of SASSA present at the meeting would resign if the deadline arrived and none of the ConCourt rulings and instructions had been implemented. He asked the Chairperson to call on the Minister to give the Committee answers to their questions, because the officials were withholding information and if they were not careful, CPS would be returning next year.

Ms Chiloane asked if the Committee could get proof of minutes for the meeting between SASSA and SAPO, beside the workshop that had been held, and whether SASSA and SAPO could both present to Parliament on what they had agreed upon.

Ms Mente asked if the Department had made mistakes with their time frames.

Mr Booi said that the Acting DG and the Acting CEO of SASSA needed to get their houses in order before they dragged the Minister into the Committee.

Ms Vilakazi said that on the side DSD, they were monitoring the compliance of SASSA to the ConCourt’s ruling. It had come up with an oversight framework to monitor SASSA so that there were no challenges as had been experienced in the past.

The Chairperson said that SASSA should submit their responses to the Committee in writing before their next briefing to the Committee on 5 September 2017.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation for taking the time to brief the Committee, and said that it was better that they fight now and make sure everything was in place, rather than have fruitless expenditure.

The meeting was adjourned.


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