DPSA, National School of Government, Centre for Public Service Innovation on Quarter 4 performance; with Minister

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

13 September 2017
Chairperson: Ms R Lesoma (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The National School of Government (NSG) briefed the Committee on its fourth quarter 2016/17 and first quarter 2017/18 performance. In the fourth quarter, it had achieved 41 of its 45 targets (91%), but overall performance had slipped to 88% in the first quarter this year. The annual training performance had improved significantly, with more than 64 000 learners being trained in the 2016/17 financial year. The NSG had embraced the use of Information Technology (IT) in the pursuit of training, and therefore had been able to deliver training simultaneously to recipients at different venues. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between the NSG and the University of South Africa (UNISA) in an endeavor to enhance cooperation in the field of research, and other capacity development initiatives.

Members raised questions about the NSG’s expenditure levels and sources of funding, and suggested that the training given to undergraduates was not leading to work opportunities. It was also recommended that there was a need for a remodeling of the NSG through the digital revolution, in order to assist public servants.

The Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) highlighted projects from the previous year’s awards programme which had been identified through an internal review process for replication. These included the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture farm mapping and Free State and Limpopo blood use optimisation projects. Four hospitals were implementing the “Saving Blood, Saving Lives” programme, while a high volume cataract project had been initiated to help reduce the current backlog of 4 000 cataract operations at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

Members asked what mechanisms were in place in other government departments to make sure that there was innovation in health projects. They observed that poor coordination within departments, or lack of interconnectedness, was the major problem, and digital attendance records were vital to control absenteeism.

The DPSA’s report focused mainly on compliance issues, and led to Members questioning the need for consultancies, why there had been a plan to restructure the civil service from the beginning of the year, but nothing had been done, and why the Department’s website was not being updated. The Minister assured the Committee that there was a follow up with departments through unannounced visits to ensure that there was efficiency and effectiveness in the civil service. She emphasised the need to retrain or reorient public servants, since they tended to need reminding of the duties impressed on them at their induction. The issue of restructuring was not part of her term of office, and it was the first time she had heard about it. She would investigate the matter.

Meeting report

National School of Government: Briefing

Prof Richard Levin, Principal, National School of Government (NSG), briefed the Committee on the Fourth Quarter (2016/17) and the First Quarter (2016/18) organisational performance report. After a comparative analysis with the previous quarters, the annual training performance had improved significantly, surpassing the annual training target by 123%. This had been the result of a concerted effort and commitment by the team. The performance on training during the first quarter was lower than the projected quarterly targets, bearing in mind that from historical data, the first quarter training uptake was generally low.

The NSG had amended its funding model, and acknowledgement of the School as a preferred provider of training had resulted in it gaining momentum with the change, which had been a result of engaging the National Treasury. The NSG embraced the use of Information Technology (IT) in the pursuit of training, and therefore had been able to deliver training simultaneously, with one training facilitator being able to train 13 remote training sites within the Free State from the Free State Department of Health.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between the NSG and the University of South Africa (UNISA) in an endeavor to enhance cooperation within the field of research and other capacity development initiatives. Through a workshop for 250 managers of the EThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, the school had provided training in professional ethics with regard to the legal frameworks which underpinned the discourse on supply chain management (SCM) and contract management. In line with performance targets and achievements, a total of 27 against 30 quarterly targets had been recorded, resulting in the achievement of 90% of fourth quarter targets.

Strategic partnerships remained central for the School in respect of the contemporary models of business and funding. MOUs had been signed with the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Human Settlements, Statistics South Africa, ARMSCOR and the Independent Development Trust (IDT). Engagements were also done with the following departments to improve course uptake: the SA Police Service (SAPS) in Mpumalanga and Gauteng, the Mpumalanga Office of the Accountant-General, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in  Mpumalanga, and the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs (DRDLA). The School had also finalised six training needs assessments reports for the Gauteng Department of Health.

The School had developed an e-learning programme for public servants at salary levels ranging from 6-12, and currently 22 courses were on offer through e-learning, including performance management, principles of accounts and financial delegations. Revision of the NSG funding model had been made, and all recommendations made had been taken on board in the revision of the funding model. Challenges on the revenue side of training had been noted, and it was observed that the problem was associated with the funding model.

In an endeavor to improve corporate governance, the NSG implemented an oversight and strategic risk assessment to ensure compliance and operational efficiency.

In his concluding remarks, Prof Levin said that the NSG had recorded some success stories in achieving its targets, and reaching a figure of more than 64 000 learners being trained in the 2016/17 financial year, was clear testimony to this effect. Economic development and social policy had been singled out as key ministerial priorities. The NSG was making greater strides in engaging with the local sphere of government, as well as with state-owned entities. On the international sphere, there was international support through the European Union and World Bank (WB) support programmes towards the work and initiatives of the NSG and the wider community. By continuing with these international partners, there were better chances of getting more WB support.

Discussion

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked what the rationale was behind R1.9 billion generating only R25 million? What were the reasons for the loss of R16.6 million in over one year? What was the NSG doing to get that money?

Ms D van der Walt (DA) asked what the government policy to keep quality was. Was it really numbers or quality? What was the number of retired civil servants? Why was there no elaboration of who owed the ministry?

Ms Z Dlamini-Dubazana (ANC) started by recommending the need for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was a binding document, and also went beyond the MOUs in addressing scarce resources and human capital.

Mr M Ntombela (ANC) said that the training given to undergraduates was not leading to work opportunities, and asked what government policy was under way to alleviate such problems.

The Chairperson interrupted and said there was no training for officials and spare time for training. She asked also about the human resources file, in line with people living with disabilities. She recommended that there was a need for remodeling of the NSG through the digital revolution in order to assist public servants.

DPME’s response

Ms Faith Muthambi, Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, admitted that there had been revenue under-collection compared to the projected budget, and the Department was working with the National Treasury to address the associated problems. She based her comments on Section 4 of the Public Service Act.

Prof Levin said that with training, there was a need to develop a career path. There were online programmes to address problems of ethical conduct and ethical dilemmas. The NSG was focusing on a reorientation programme, which was a re-induction for civil servants to remind them of their duties. Proper procurement, coupled with value chain management and professional ethics, was also encouraged.

Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI): Fourth quarter performance

Minister Muthambi said that this report on the organisation’s progress in the fourth quarter of the 2016/2017 financial year had been compiled by the executive members of the CPSI, based on the analysis of the progress from the work streams. She listed the case studies related to service delivery innovations which had been finalised and approved, which were the Revenue Information Management System, the Diepsloot community alarms project and “Foresight for Development in Southern Africa.”

Two innovative solutions selected from the 2015 Innovation Awards Finalistshad also been replicated. One involved the Far East Rand, Leratong, Tembisa and Chris Hani Baragwanath hospitals implementing the “Saving Blood, Saving Lives” programme. The other was the high volume cataract project which had been initiated for replication at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital. This had been meant to reduce the current backlog of 4 000 cataract operations at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and as a contingency, patients would now be operated on at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital.

The CPSI, in collaboration with Bertha Gxowa Hospital, Groote Schuur Hospital, the University of Cape Town (UCT) Bertha Centre and Netcare, had created an innovation hub at the hospital in an effort to address service delivery challenges through innovation. Some of the initiatives already initiated by the hub included systems and initiatives, such as further optimisation of the patient flow system and the creation of a dedicated discharge lounge in each ward. These initiatives had improved efficiency and beds now became available within two hours of a patient being discharged, compared to six hours in the past. Vol 7 Issue 2 of “Ideas that Work”: the South African Public Sector Innovation Journal, was published and disseminated.

During the 2016/17 financial year, the CPSI had had one vacant post -- Deputy Director: Financial Management and Administration -- which had resulted in under-spending of R241 000. The process of filling the post had been at an advanced stage at the end of the 2016/17 financial year, and had been filled in the 2017/18 financial year. An amount of R72 000 had been unspent at year end due to uniforms which were ordered for security and cleaning personnel, but not delivered by 31 March 2017. These were delivered and paid for only in April. Reasons for under-spending in Programme 2 (Public Service Innovation) were provided.

CPSI: First quarter performance report  

Minister Muthambi said that during the first quarter of the 2017/18 financial year, all 18 of the organisation’s targets were achieved, giving an assurance that the full year targets would also be achieved.

One challenge had been identified on the use of electronic document management in government, and was investigated. A report on feasible solutions was proffered in order to guide the digitization of document workflows. Two projects from the previous year’s awards programme had been identified through an internal review process for replication. These projects were the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture farm mapping and Free State and Limpopo blood use optimisation.

She highlighted the efforts by the Department on measures to address the issues of litigation, such as an active case management review process to minimise litigation at the Bertha Gxowa Hospital Innovation Hub. This entailed adhering to the required protocols, procedures and guiding standards. There was now a constant staff briefing for learning purposes, to understand the implications of litigation and to prevent future incidents. However, without mentioning the reasons, she said that for various reasons, theatres were underutilised. As a counter strategy, a theatre use optimisation solution was identified for piloting at Tembisa Hospital and stakeholders had been engaged, coupled with risk analysis and project planning.

The Helen Joseph energy efficiency project had been concluded and a model to reduce the energy use in hospitals had been developed. Two additional projects had been identified for possible piloting --the Home Affairs front line service delivery reporting tool and an automated pharmacy for Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. In line with the Multi Media Innovation Centre (MMIC), 78 officials and other partners had accessed and used the tools and repositories in the MMIC for process improvement. The CPSI had also exhibited the mobile MMIC at the 2017 Continental Africa Public Service Day celebration in Rwanda, which had attracted a lot of interest from delegates. Global best practices in this regard were explored. The 2017 Public Sector Innovation Programme was officially launched in KZN on 6 April 2017 and the session was attended by representatives from all spheres of government to ensure awareness and citizen dispersion.

Furthermore, as a way to explore best global/international practices, the Southern African Development Community-United Nations Public Administration Network (SADC-UNPAN) workshop was hosted on 28-29 June 2017, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and was attended by representatives from 13 SADC countries. A number of successfully implemented innovative solutions were shared amongst SADC countries as thought leadership contributions towards achieving the national development plans (NDPs), sustainable development goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063.

The administrative expenditures proved to be lower than originally projected, as the invoices from the Department of Public Works (DPW) for June 2017 were not submitted in time for payment.  The projection relating to payment for the Auditor General (AG) was lower than anticipated, following a revised audit methodology which resulted in reduced costs.  The CPSI had identified key and strategic areas within the organisation which would be funded from these savings. Under public sector innovation, projected expenditure for the hosting of the annual Public Service Innovation Conference was deferred to the second quarter of the financial year.

Discussion

Ms Van der Walt asked what mechanisms were in place in other departments to make sure that there was innovation in health projects.

Mr Khosa asked if there were any measures related to fires.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana said that poor coordination within departments, or lack of interconnectedness, was the major problem, and recommended that digital attendance records in schools and other parts of the civil service was vital to control absenteeism. This implied an interconnected system of e-government.

In the light of fires, the Minister said that disaster management was still a proposal. She also acknowledged that most of the projects were mainly in KZN, but assured the Committee that it would spread to other provinces in due course. She admitted that the uptake was very slow in Limpopo.

DPSA quarterly performance: Briefing

Mr Mashwahle Diphosa, Director General (DG), Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) presented the fourth quarter performance report, where 41 of the 45 targets had been achieved.  He focused on compliance issues, like the submission of quarterly reports on the implementation of the 2015/16 and 2016/17 annual performance plans (APPs), and the submission of the 2015/16 APP to the National Treasury, the DPME and Parliament, by the due date. There had also been the submission and presentation of the third quarter internal audit and fourth quarter risk management reports, and the fourth quarter report on the DPSA’s compliance to internal and external human resources (HR) and labour relations policy prescripts and procedures to the relevant authorities.

The draft of the second phase of the Public Administration Management regulations had been submitted to the Minister to approve for public comment in March 2017. The assessment report of the current status quo in relation to how departments were adhering to corporate governance in the area of the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS), HR development and HR planning had been completed and submitted to the Deputy Director General: Policy, Research and Analysis, in March 2017. A report and fact sheet on the compliance with the financial disclosure framework had been approved by the Minister in the second quarter of the financial year. A report on compliance with section 30 of the Public Service Act, based on the financial disclosure framework was also approved by the Minister in January 2017.

The DPSA’s 2017/18 APP was guided by the motto: “An efficient, effective and development-oriented public service,” which was aligned to Chapters 13 and 14 of the NDP. The report had been audited by the Department’s internal audit unit and submitted to the Minister, National Treasury and the DPME on 31 July. A progress report on the targets not achieved during the first quarter was provided.  The proposed corrective measures were monitored on a monthly basis to ensure implementation.

Compliance in terms of reporting and submitting procedures was also a recurrent feature in this report. A report on the DPSA’s attendance and participation at the South Africa – Canada annual consultations held in South Africa in April was produced. A report on its attendance at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) meeting on ‘governing better through evidence-informed policymaking,’ held in France in June, was submitted, as was a report on its participation at the 10th RSA - Democratic Republic of Congo Bi-national Commission held in June  in Pretoria.

The first draft strategic framework on public administration norms and standards was developed in April. The DG had approved the appointment of chief directors as chairpersons of technical committees of public administration norms and standards in May. The Forum of Chief Directors was held in May to discuss the draft strategic framework and the compendium on public administration norms and standards. There had been implementation of the e-Registration for registering for senior certificate examinations, e-Remark for queries on the outcome of the examinations, and e-Certificate for requesting the re-issuing of certificates, for the Department of Basic Education. The integrated person-related information system meant to eliminate the duplication of information in the criminal justice system for the South African Police Service (SAPS) was compiled in April 2017.

In conclusion, the DG commented that the public service in general was experiencing budget cuts which in turn were derailing the smooth implementation of its policies and programmes.

Discussion

Mr S Motau (DA) asked why consultancies were needed.

Ms Van der Walt asked why there was a big difference between the first and second quarter reports.  Why had there been a plan to restructure the civil service from the beginning of the year, but nothing was done?

Ms M Mokause (EFF) asked why the Department was failing to manage the fiscus appropriately.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana wanted to know why the website was not being updated, and how long the Committee would have to lobby for that

DPSA’s response.

The Minister said there was a follow up with departments through unannounced visits to ensure that there was efficiency and effectiveness in the civil service. She emphasised the need to retrain or reorient public servants, since they tended to need reminding of the duties impressed on them at their induction.

She said the matter of restructuring was not part of her term of office, and it was the first time she had heard about it. She would investigate the matter.

In response to the website issue, she admitted that nothing recent was on their website. She said the lack of requisite information technology (IT) skills in the civil service personnel was to blame.

The DG said that the DPSA approached departments to give annual reports, and these were all combined to make a national report on organisational performance.

Responding to the question about why there was a failure to manage the fiscus appropriately, he said there was need to understand expenditure versus budget first, before posing such questions.

The meeting was adjourned.

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