Minister Faith Muthambi said the average time spent by HoDs in their positions was a performance indicator for the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).
The Acting Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) discussed the statistics for the average time spent by Heads of Department in the public service. The analysis of the period between 2004 and 2014 revealed that the average tenure of a director general in national and provinicial governments combined was 2.4 years. There were close to 160 departments in national and provincial government. When appointing an HoD, government invested in an individual so when the individual finished the five year term and left, the investment was lost. HoDs that left after their five year term despite their services being renewed and those that did not finish their terms, impacted on the plans of government. SA already had a well oiled policy approach but was lacking in implementation as exhibited by the numbers for the retention of HoDs.
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) presented a status report on the filing of Performance Agreements of Heads of Department for 2017/18. She also noted that the Public Service Commission evaluation of HoDs for 2015/16 had concluded that there was an urgent need for the PMDS. Uneven application had been a concern. Failure to respond had made monitoring of non-compliance impossible. The Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) for Senior Management Service (SMS) introducing uniform evaluation throughout national and provincial departments was still awaiting Cabinet approval. In the meantime, deviations had issued for 2013/14 and subsequent years on how evaluations should be conducted. The secretariat function had been moved from the PSC to DPME but PSC was to retain the oversight function. The Minister concluded performance agreements with HoDs in May of each financial year. These would be submitted to DPME for quality assurance in June. October is the mid-year review and the final evaluation between Minister and HoD would occur by December. DPME would monitor the evaluation and would report by March of the following year. The last step would be for the PSC to perform oversight over the PMDS.
The Public Service Commission Chairperson said that the Commission was extremely distressed that both DPSA and DPME had not finalized a process that was legitimate and transparent to evaluate HoDs in the public service. The deviations had been done without the consultation of the HoDs and the process had been chaotic with no monitoring done. There were HoDs that had not been evaluated for a three year period and one province still paid its HoDs bonuses after evaluation which was improper under the law. The PSC were calling on the two departments with the Committee to assist with the finalization of the PMDS.
The Committee asked:
How would the DPSA ensure that the deviations for evaluations did not affect HoD longevity of tenure?
What other tools were there for the weaker departments to improve assessments and performance?
Could the DPME assure the Committee that assessments would not be subjective?
What about evaluating acting HoDs and how long were they allowed to be in an acting postion?
Could the DPME speak to the deviations for managing the performance evaluations as it affected accountability and staff morale?
On the political-administrative interface, what had been done about special advisors to ministers who tended to butt heads with HoDs?
What was the exact deadline for finalisation of the evaluation policy for HoDs?
If only one province assessed and paid bonuses to its HoDs then surely there was extreme unhappiness from the other eight provinces?
Who was in charge of drafting performance agreements for accounting officers?
Could the Minister give an update on the public service wage bill?
Had DPSA checked what Northern and Western Cape did differently to retain their HoDs the longest?
What was happening at the national level in terms of HoD retention?
If the public service trained and invested in people, why could it not retain the talent it had developed?
The Committee Secretary announced the 11th and new member of the Committee, thereby making the Committee fully quorate. The Committee also had to elect a new Chairperson.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) nominated Mr Cassel Mathale to be the Chairperson and Ms P Adams (ANC) seconded the nomination.
The new Chairperson greeted the Committee.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) said she hoped that the Chairperson would continue to assist the Committee as the previous chairpersons in holding the Executive to account including the Minister, her Deputy and Director-General as the Department on Public Service and Administration/ Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPSA) was the lead department in setting the example of how to govern and do so well.
The Chairperson welcomed Minister Faith Muthambi and her entourage.
Minister Faith Muthambi said that the presentations were interlinked and quite similar. The one outlined the state of retention of heads of departments in the public service. The challenges were getting better or worse at the different spheres of government over the years though she thought government was getting better.
The average time spent by HoDs in their positions was an indicator for the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) which was comforting for DPSA. The Department had to be innovative so that it could increase the average retention period of HoDs as that was critical.
State of retention of heads of departments (HoDs) in the public service
Mr Willie Vukela, DPSA Acting Director General, listed the 14 outcomes of the National Development Plan (NDP). He said that South Africa was praised internationally for policy making which underlay the Constitution and required that leadership be developed which could implement policies and legislation. There are close to 160 departments including national and provincial departments. There were HoDs that finished their five year term and their services were renewed but for those that did not finish their terms their leaving sometimes impacted the plans of government.
When appointing a HoD, government invested in an individual and if the individual finished the five year term and left, the investment would have been lost. There was a notion that the private sector was a better oiled machine. That was a myth as the private sector did not train nor invest in anybody; it was the public service that spent the resources in doing that. For example, the statistician-general had been in government for 17 years but at his exit, the private sector employed him and they would be clapping their hands that it had the best experts when it was government that had invested in these experts.
Mr Vukela said SA already had a well oiled policy approach but was lacking in implementation as exhibited by the statistics for the retention of HoDs (see fact sheet). He noted that hypothetically from the fact sheet public administrators could see where to move to in the provinces if they wanted to remain in the public service.
Performance Agreements of Heads of Department: DPME Status Report 2017/18
Ms Mpumi Mpofu, DPME Director General, provided background to the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) for Senior Management Service (SMS) and how evaluations were managed. In 2015 Cabinet had also approved the move of the secretariat function from the PSC to DPME but that the PSC was to retain the oversight function.
The Minister concluded performance agreements with HoDs in May of each financial year. These would be submitted to DPME for quality assurance in June. October is the mid-year review and the final evaluation between Minister and HoD would occur by December. DPME would monitor the evaluation and would report by March of the following year. The last step would be for the PSC to perform oversight over the PMDS.
Centrality of leadership
The performance of government required political and administrative leadership to build an accountable performance culture accompanied by strong consequence management for weak performance and a transparent reward system for outstanding performance. Similarly the transparent reward system had to be able to create interventions through development plans for those who have weak performance and the required training arrangements had to be put in place to improve their performance.
Evaluation of HoDs
Ms Mpofu said the PSC status report on evaluation of HoDs for 2015/16 had concluded that there was an urgent need for the PMDS. Uneven application had also been a concern. Failure to respond had made monitoring of non-compliance impossible. The evaluation of 2016/17 still had to be finalized between the Minister and HoDs by the end of December 2017. DPME had to report on compliance by May 2018. The latest arrangements for the HOD performance evaluation was 70% would be calculated on the performance of the individual and 30% based on the audit report of the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA). Therefore evaluations would be conducted after the finalization of the Annual Report and tabling of the audit report to facilitate the 30% assessment. As the Committee knows, Annual Reports are tabled on 30 September so the period for evaluations was between October and end of December 2017. The 2017/18 evaluations would be done by end of December 2018. Therefore there was a lag of almost a year between the performance of the individual and the finalisation of the evaluation. If the revised PMDS is implemented from 1 April 2018 then the first round of evaluations based on the revised policy would be concluded by end of December 2019.
The system of assessment of performance agreements was not simple as there were several HoDs that would require DPME to scrutinise their peculiar circumstances. The circumstances were brought about by particular legal arrangements in their specific sectors. DPME would consider the impact of ‘concurrent Acts’ which provided for a different system of evaluation, specifically the securocrat establishment. That could also apply to HoDs that were non-accounting officers, including those carrying out leadership responsibilities but not assigned accounting officer functions by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). In that category there were less than 10 HoDs where the HoDs were appointed through a different Act. For example, the Commissioner in Correctional Services was appointed in terms of the Correctional Services Act (CSA). The CSA said commissioners would be appointed according to the Public Service Act (PSA) but their terms of service would be determined by the CSA. DPME wanted to ensure that in such peculiarities, parallel and different systems to the PMDS could mean that the HoDs could not be measured through the PMDS but via their particular system; therefore some alignment that was needed. This was found generally at national level in the securocrat establishment and DPME had to be careful that it was not prejudicing the individual or overbearingly exerting unfair arrangements because of the duality of the accountability system.
In the Offices of the Premier, a greater role had to be played by the Premier to facilitate and centralise the responsibilities on performance agreements as well as assisting in the assessments of the HoDs to improve compliance and quality documentation which was to be submitted to DPME. Admittedly most provinces were doing well but when analysing some of the qualitative issues in the submissions, the submissions would not necessarily be the best. The intention was to assess provinces to improve the quality of submissions according to the standards required. The HoD PMDS trajectory had to place emphasis on quality and less on compliance. The findings from the quality assurance process had indicated that a range of inconsistencies were present in the regulatory framework.
DPME would develop draft guidelines based on the proposed revised PMDS and capacity development would be undertaken for HoDs and Offices of the Premiers. Work was underway in developing tools for the institutional monitoring of the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) by government entities, Executive Authorities (Executive Authorities), accounting officers. DPME wanted to conclude with the matter of the HoDs and deal with the entire SMS. DPME was planning on considering other managerial strengthening initiatives to help it to strengthen leadership qualities within government.
Political-Administrative Interface Challenges and Interventions: Public Service Commission (PSC)
Adv Richard Sizani, PSC Chairperson, said the PSC was extremely distressed that both the DPSA and DPME had not finalized a process that was legitimate and transparent to evaluate HoDs in the public service. Even before the current leadership of the two departments, PSC had indicated at the time of the deviations that the deviations had been done without the consultation of the HoDs and the process had been chaotic with no monitoring done. There were HoDs that had not been evaluated for three years but there were also certain provinces which had ignored the deviation and one province still paid its HoDs bonuses after evaluation quite improperly under the law. A number of HoDs under the deviation were evaluated only to get progression. PSC had raised the matter with its Executive Authority and DPME and were calling on the two departments with the Committee to assist with the finalization of the PMDS. PSC had long been asking for that and it had noticed that there had been no implementation and other ministers had asked PSC to chair panels and Adv Sizani had chaired a few but had advised that there was no need for moderation as evaluations could be finalized and the marks agreed upon with HoDs could be used for progression without bonuses which was unlawful. It was also distressing to hear that another period of deviations was forthcoming as it was causing instability in the public service and Adv Sizani blamed department officials.
Ms Irene Mathenjwa, PSC Deputy Director-General: Monitoring & Evaluation, went through the presentation with the Committee (see document).
PSCs understanding of the challenges and impact
PSC had noted that since August 2014 the Minister for Public Service and Administration had issued a directive on public administration management and in that area there had been progress in compliance with that directive. In the first year of implementation of that directive, national and provincial departments had 44% compliance and as of 31 March 2017, there was 63% compliance with the directive.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said she did not foresee the PMDS revision succeeding in time as at a previous briefing the Committee had recommended that Executive Authorities should be inducted from time to time so that they could have a better appreciation of administration processes and policies that needed to be adhered to. She proposed that the Minister ensure consideration of legacy reports for the incoming administration to ensure foundations were laid about systems. Could the Minister take the Committee into confidence over what was in the print media about changes at the DPSA and how those would affect the Department’s pre-determined objectives? How would the DPSA ensure that the deviations in evaluation did not affect HoD longevity of tenure in their positions? The turnover of HoDs did affect service delivery.
What other tools were there for the weaker performing departments to improve on assessments and performance agreements; could the DPME assure the Committee the assessments would not be subjective but rather what had been agreed upon with HoDs? What could Executive Authorities use for evaluating acting HoDs? She believed that DPSA did have a bloated structure which stifled service delivery in other instances. Ms Lesoma wanted DPSA to brief the Committee during its Quarter 2 report about the financials as during the previous financial year R74 million was spent on Human Resources (HR) related matters including internal relations (IR) and labour related matters. What value addition had been derived from such allocations and what had stopped such allocations if no value addition had been derived? Could DPME speak to why Executive Authorities opted for deviations in managing the performance of departments and what caused such preferences as that affected accountability and staff morale?
Mr S Motau (DA) agreed with DPSA that government needed to professionalize the public service and performance was critical. Why was government lacking implementation? The public service trained and invested in people but why could it not retain the talent it had developed? The private sector did in fact train as they had trained Mr Motau. Indeed the Statistician-General had to retire as he had a replacement and his 17 years of public service was what government had to be striving for. He had listened to a banking sector presentation recently and had heard how the particular bank trained, such that it had become the best bank in SA in five years and retained its staff. What had made departments not to respond which affected DPME’s monitoring of non-compliance of HoD evaluations? What had DPME done as an intervention for that? What legislation was DPME considering because Mr Motau‘s hope was that it involved consequence management. On the political-administrative interface, what had been done about special advisors to ministers who tended to butt heads with HoDs of departments.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) suggested that in future when reporting on statistics the national average should be shown at the bottom for easy referencing. The period that acting DGs stay in their positions was shocking especially for Limpopo as it was 0.8 months, certainly that would have had an extremely adverse effect on service delivery, training and staff morale in a provincial department. What were the exact deadlines for finalisation of evaluation policies for HoDs and Executive Authorities? If in indeed only one province assessed and paid bonuses to its HoDs then there surely was extreme unhappiness from the remaining eight provinces HoDs. Who was in charge of drafting performance agreements for accounting officers? She gave the example of if there was a DG vacancy at National Treasury and she applied and was appointed there; when the Minister of Finance moved to the Department of Health, the DG would also move with the Minister. Was that not also destabilising Treasury? Could Minister Muthambi tell the Committee when the DPSA would brief the Committee on the public service wage bill?
Mr D Khosa (ANC) said that several factors affected stability in a department including proper recruitment and placement and a retention strategy. To what extent was DPSA adhering to the latter factor? Had DPSA checked what the Northern and Western Cape were doing differently to retain their HoDs the longest? What was happening nationally in HoD retention?
He needed clarity from the DPME on assessments as the medium review was in October 2017 but the final evaluation would be in December 2018? What were the causes of non-submission of performance agreements and the consequences thereof and what interventions were there to minimise that or to completely eradicate that? To what extent were DPME interventions successful between Executive Authority disciplinary measures and the mediation done by PSC?
Ms S Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) agreed with Mr Khosa that if the medium review was in October 2017 but the final evaluation was in December 2018; then certainly there was an improvement in performance for provinces if one read the DPSA statistics but if the evaluation was in 2018 December how did DPME evaluate what happened between the medium review and the final evaluation? If the trajectory of submission to review to final evaluation was followed then how did DPME prevent HoDs from leaving the position in between if they experienced challenges? Did PSC not oversee DPME during the submission-review-final assessment trajectory at each stage; why was it only overseeing the end result?
Having heard that HoDs were in charge of training of staff she wanted to know where the National School of Government (NSG) fitted into that picture? What role did DPME play in improving retention of HoDs at provincial level apart from reporting on statistics? When last was the SMS handbook updated and why was it not continually updated? In cases similar to long serving public servants such as the Statistician-General, did skills transfer occur as part of the exit plan?
Ms M Mokause (EFF) asked what DPME was doing about acting positions in provinces. What was the legally acceptable length of an acting position, could a SMS individual stay in an acting capacity? How was DPSA dealing with the challenges brought about by the delegation policy between an EA and HoD?
Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked what provision there was for Acting HoDs who acted for lengthy periods as that surely affected service delivery. There seemed to be a lot of tension between Executive Authorities and HoDs judging from the current litigation on this. What effect did court action have on service delivery and what was the average length of such court proceedings?
Ms Lesoma asked that in future each department’s turnover of HoDs should be shown and not only the number in a particular province; that would assist the Committee to identify serial offenders in SMS staff turnover. PSC had said the circular for assessment of DGs had been changed or abandoned. Was there a plan from DPME to either revive that or to ensure the memoranda DPME issued were uniform in terms of the duration of the circular across the board for provincial and national departments?
The Chairperson said he would allow Adv Sizani to respond before exiting the proceedings.
Adv Richard Sizani, PSC Chairperson, replied that the advisors of ministers were appointed in terms of section 12 of the Public Service Act (PSA) where it was made clear that they were not employees but people chosen to advise the minister because of their competence and their salary was set up by the Ministry of Public Service and Administration (MPSA). The rules clarified that such individuals were to work with the minister and were not supposed to interfere with operations of the department and therefore could not act as HoDs in the departments. However, ministers had allowed and continued allowing advisors to act as HoDs and PSC had produced a report in 2014 in that regard. PSC had undertaken a tour to explain to national ministers and members of the executive councils (MECs) about the report. Therefore there was no longer any excuse for advisors to be made acting officials of departments. Part of the tension in departments was cause by such occurrences which concerned PSC greatly.
Adv Sizani replied to the question on the success of DPME interventions between an Executive Authority’s disciplinary measures and PSC mediation, if likened to the weather, he would say the weather was partly cloudy and mild. That is there was a genuine legal challenge in streamlining disciplinary processes vis-a-vis the powers of the President in section 12 and what was delegated to ministers as to precautionary suspension. PSC had lobbied both Minister Muthambi and the Department in the Presidency that the delegation to discipline had to be streamlined so that a minister’s role was clear because to date the disciplinary process only delegated precautionary suspension to ministers. For disciplining and sanctioning, ministers had to get the approval of the President. It had to notify the MPSA for precautionary suspension and therein was the mist as to what role the MPSA played after receiving notification of precautionary suspension. Additionally, ministers seemed unable to understand how to move from precautionary suspension to getting the approval of the President for them to discipline HoDs. The litigation before the court between HoDs and Executive Authorities were cases that PSC was happy about as it had lobbied that they had to be allowed to conclude so that a precedent could be set legally. This had occurred with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) matter.
Adv Sizani said that PSC had had measured successes in mediation where it had gotten some DGs and ministers agreeing. Where PSC had failed, the challenge generally was that disagreements became personal between Executive Authorities and their HoDs. A matter PSC had raised with Minister Muthambi which it needed the Committee’s assistance with was the involvement of lawyers when disciplinary processes were unfolding between a minister and a HoD because PSC had found that the department tended to use Senior Counsel to chair disciplinary panels. Lawyers transformed a hearing into a court situation where the departments ended up paying exorbitant amounts for these services.
PSC did not observe any adverse effects when legal opinions were sought where HoDs had been treated unfairly in a department. Additionally, there were matters which were not provided for or unclear even to government, which needed litigation. However, PSC was unhappy about the instances where actions were unjustified. For example, where HoDs were instructed to carry out unlawful actions and when they refused their Executive Authority would discipline them. Alternatively, there were situations where the public servant undermined the Executive Authority and acted in pursuance of own interests using the HOD position and procurement role. In such instances PSC agreed that ministers were authorised to take action in such matters but certainly the management of discipline in the public service, and how the rules had been applied, had cost the state a lot of money. This was why PSC had lobbied DPSA to review all of that and streamline the rules to cut out the role of lawyers and using discipline as a method of forcing people to do things that were not proper.
Ms Jongbloed asked if PSC could quantify the average litigation amount for a disciplinary process.
Adv Sizani replied that PSC did not have an average as there had not been many cases between Executive Authorities and HoDs. What concerned PSC was that government lost seven out of 10 cases statistically.
Minister Muthambi replied that the public service salary negotiations were done through a protocol were there was a panel of ministers responsible for that work including the Ministers of Finance, Basic Education, Defence, Police, Justice and any other minister that Cabinet designated in terms of section 2 of the PSA including the Ministers of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Health, Higher Education and Training, Home Affairs, Social Development, State Security, the Presidency. There was also a negotiating team comprised of the chief negotiator and a technical expert from DPSA and Treasury and any other nominated representative from the ministries.
The matters which DPME and PSC had raised were entirely due to lack of leadership by DPSA. As the new administration at DPSA, her leadership had consulted DPME, PSC and all provincial administrations including labour unions. The impression from those consultations was that DPSA was not functioning properly as it had been carrying out its mandate in an uncoordinated manner. Emphatically, the fact that DPSA was not leading had created the impression that it had lost its role as a driver of efficiency and effectiveness which was expected in the centre of government.
DPSA was the issuer of directives to government and that responsibility meant that directives had to accurate without any legal challenges, and they had to be implemented as directed. There were instances where PSC could attest how government had failed to implement arbitration and labour awards. Most of the cases where government was currently forced to pay money were due to inconsistent directives from DPSA or DPSA’s failure to give directives. For example, current engagement by MEC for Human Settlements and Co-operative Governance in Gauteng, Paul Mashatile, with the MPSA was that if DPSA did not respond to him within 30 days he would presume that DPSA had approved his organogram submission. Minister Muthambi said currently she was still dealing with correspondence backdated to 2015 and 2016. When she enquired why there had been such delays, the response was that there had been lack of capacity. R16.6 million had been returned to Treasury by DPSA because the department had been unable to fill vacancies.
DPSA critical programmes of had simply been discontinued, such as the employee satisfaction survey, which spoke to the low morale in the entire public sector. The client satisfaction survey had also been discontinued. For those surveys conducted to date, the results were never published as they were not in favour of DPSA. Minister Muthambi asked how DPSA was to improve on its deliverables if it hid the most important information on how its services were perceived.
Minister Muthambi had found that DPSA had many branches. She agreed with Ms Lesoma about DPSA’s bloated structure. She had found a chief directorate that had more than six chief directors (CDs) without subordinate staff. Since the new leadership had been in office for six months, no submission had come from those chief directors to show what work they were doing.
Indeed personal issues trumped everything in the department where people would just get shifted without consideration of their skills set. For example, the Organisational Design (OD) branch was important as it dealt with all structures of government across the spheres. There had been a case where four deputy directors had been moved from there as their supervisor was not wanted by one member of the Executive Committee (EXCO). They were moved to Performance and Monitoring which did not even fall within their training. Currently the OD team were battling with organograms which related to the correspondence she had alluded to earlier. From that correspondence it was apparent that departments could not fill their vacancies as DPSA had not yet approved their structures and eventually such departments also lost money back to the fiscus in that way. Indeed DPSA was quite top heavy as there were chief directors without directorates or support staff. Yet DPSA was expected to lead others and advise government bureaucracy on their establishments as required by law.
There had been no link between DPSA and the entities reporting to it, specifically the NSG. For example, one would find on the same international trip that the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), DPSA and NSG would have each brought six delegates to attend to the same matters. Had there been links the delegation could have been minimized.
In an ideal functional environment, senior managers and CDs had to have authority to make decisions which was why the delegation of powers had been withdrawn because there could not be a director managing a component in a department yet the director could not even authorise a trip for one official – as everything had to be done by a CD. That was why the new leadership had agreed to have a review of delegation of powers as senior managers had to be empowered as they were the actual engine of the DPSA. The non delegation of power to senior managers slowed down work progress because should a CD be off sick, everything had to grind to a halt.
An example of conflicting decisions and directives from DPSA was for members to check the Employee Health and Wellness Policy on DPSA website where one found grammatical and spelling errors.
As PSC had reported, there were employees that had not been assessed for quite some time and possibly this had affected pay progression, potential bonuses and morale.
The DPSA would present a turnaround strategy when reporting on its Quarter 2 performance as Ms Lesoma and Mr Khosa had requested.
Extraordinary performance would be rewarded in the PMDS document, which had been awaiting Cabinet approval. A requirement of every DG and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was to ensure a department received a clean audit. Matters of compliance were an expectation embedded in performance contracts of SMS staff. There was a template performance agreement for all departments to follow but the template had to be reviewed as well.
The SMS handbook had last been updated in 2007 when so much had changed in labour law, collective agreements and that included the Executive protocol which was why government kept being dragged to court by HoDs and DGs. The protocol had been enacted in the third administration and had never been reviewed.
In 2014 for example, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) Act was transferred from the Presidency to DPSA but not the functions of information management and electronic government in the public service. Minister Muthambi did not recall the Committee ever being briefed on that. Had the Committee ever seen the revised government strategy on electronic government?
Unions had raised issues at the bargaining chamber such as collective agreements where DPSA in the last negotiations had achieved a multiyear agreement. The unions were currently saying because government had not implemented what had been agreed upon and had taken advantage of that, the unions were withdrawing from that multiyear agreement and would prefer to negotiate annually.
The PMDS would cost government but DPSA had put mechanisms in place to have a PMDS to respond to challenges in the public sector and it would enable retention of SMS staff.
Ms Mpumi Mpofu, DPME Director General, replied that to help Executive Authorities understand their roles and limitations, the NSG had developed an executive induction programme which DPME hoped would focus orientation and induction of senior leaders in the public service including DGs.
DPME had suggested that part of the challenge in compliance with performance agreements was that originally it seemed to have been that in an operational way the responsibility had been left purely to the HoD and the Executive Authority to conclude a performance agreement. In practice, nothing in government ever worked on the basis of individuals. Therefore DPME had indicated in its presentation there was a requirement to have a very well administered process and to grow the capacity of the HR function, the Office of the HoD, including the Office of the Executive Authority. The two candidates DPME had referred to who were party to the performance agreement were the subjects of the performance agreement. However, other people had to administer the process as it was about the Executive Authority and the HoD and not their work. The elements that went into the performance agreement included the Annual Performance Plan (APP), Strategic Plan (SP), State of the Nation Address (SoNA) and Minister’s budget speech as key areas of performance, amongst others, of the HoD. Therefore it was important to standardise that across for all HoDs.
Lack of signing a performance agreement definitely had the potential of very high risk to particular service delivery objectives not being met. More importantly, in cases where performance agreements were not signed, DPME’s assessment had been that not signing a performance agreement meant the HoDs forego pay progression and bonuses. In retrospect possibly DPME was being nice because the absence of a contract meant termination of services; and in future, DPME would possibly have to consider that if a performance agreement was the more binding document versus a letter of appointment, the absence of the performance agreement could mean that one was not supposed to be paid a salary. DPME’s understanding was that the four national departments that had not signed performance agreements were because the Executive Authorities were discussing with their DGs about the finalisation of the performance agreements. DPME had done all it can in that regard but it was still awaiting responses. She would respond later to what hampered DPME from enforcing compliance.
In the instance where performance agreements had been filed, other tools that could be used to improve performance included the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT), and other instruments but DPME in the entire space would have to focus on ensuring that the performance agreement elements became 100% compliance matters at the beginning of the process.
On how long people were allowed to act in acting positions was six months, Ms Mpofu replied that generally the practice of extending acting capacity for the same individuals was discouraged. Therefore, deputy directors general (DDGs) would line up six months each to act whilst a permanent DG was sought. In certain exceptions, that rotational culture was abandoned.
Ms Mpofu replied that DPME had said in its presentation that the absence of a PMDS had meant that special arrangements had to be put in place until such time that a formal policy was in place and supported by detailed implementation guidelines for which DPME was responsible. DPSA would produce the policy and DPME would provide the guidelines that support it to operationalise the policy. When those two instruments were in place by definition the deviation would fall away; but what the deviation said to date was that it allowed for a process to proceed where there was no requirement for a panel. That meant that assessment between the EA and the HoD could proceed and once agreed, that there was no bonus to be paid but pay progression had to be applied. She thought what PSC had been indicating that in certain provinces the deviation had been ignored or applied differently. That was certainly a matter for DPME to investigate because certainly as Ms Jongbloed had indicated bonuses being paid in even a small part of the system would make the entire system unfair and a lot of people unhappy. Ms Mpofu agreed that the sooner the deviations were ended, the better so that people could be assessed and evaluated properly and compensated accordingly.
DPME would submit the balance of the information with its Quarter 2 report. Accompanying DPME’s report, which the presentation had been based on, had been a status report detailing the submission of each individual department at national and provincial level and the status on whether they were late, somebody was acting and instances were filing had been on time.
Realistically the institutionalization of planning, monitoring and evaluation across government would be an important step for government to take. As had been required before, DPME was proposing legislation which it would be dealing with in 2018. One of the elements of the law was to ensure that DPME actions would be provided for in a legislative framework because currently DPME was governed only by a proclamation. Currently consequence management from DPME were cordial letters to colleagues rather than making non-compliance a legal matter.
DPME replied that at some point the time spent by DGs in their position had been a five year contract. However; there had come a time in about 2003/04 where the contracts had been reduced to three year contracts. The prevailing view had been that the term was too long and that ministers had no opportunity to terminate a contract if the relationship was not going well. The period had been reversed back to five years when it was realised that three years was too short. The analysis of the period between 2004 and 2014 would probably reveal that the average of 2.4 years for a DG was not such a terrible story to tell, considering there had been that three-year contract period. There had been a general trend for provinces to do shorter HoD contracts compared to national departments. Probably when DPME did the entire trend analysis for both national and provincial, the contract period differences would have to be factored in to allow the Committee to engage on the stipulated contract period and the average time HoDs stayed in their positions. The information could be provided when DPME gave its Quarter 2 report.
The cycle started in April of the financial year and the half year ended at end of September. A midterm assessment was done in October. After that first evaluation the cycle would go again until the end of the financial year when the second cycle would be completed. Immediately in April of the second financial year HoDs would be engaged with auditing of the lapsed year. The audit would last from April to July of the second financial year where AGSA would issue a report. In August HoDs would be preparing the Annual Report, which was rebuttal and response to the AGSA audit report. That Annual Report would be tabled in September and because the Annual Report and the AGSA audit report constituted 30%, their assessment would be done only after those had been tabled. From that period with a closing date of 30 December, HoDs would be assessed. DPME would return to the Committee to report on that work from January until March which was the final quarter of the second financial year.
An acting official invariably had a contract with the same department in another job where they still had to be evaluated and therefore an acting official could essentially not be evaluated where they were acting. As acting officials generally were DDGs, they still had to be evaluated for the DDG function in the same period. Therefore they could not sign another performance agreement within the same or a different government institution as that was illegal. Acting officials received acting allowances for doing someone else’s job.
DPME had lost about R25 million in unused funds in vacancies because of negotiations with DPSA.
Ms Irene Mathenjwa, PSC Deputy Director-General: Monitoring & Evaluation, replied that over and above the PSC provincial commissioners responsible for administration and for interacting with all provincial departments and their Executive Authorities and HoDs, there were national commissioner allocated to clusters where departments were grouped. PSC had a tool, amongst which, the performance agreement was one indicator that it used. The indicator looked at public administration values from high standard of professional ethics and accountability. From that tool, PSC produced departmental performance profiles – which PSC then engaged ministers on.
Ms Van der Walt asked again how contracts worked if a DG moved with a minister during a reshuffle in the middle of the first appointment. Was a new performance agreement signed at the new department with the HoD?
Minister Muthambi replied that DPSA had simply reviewed delegation of powers. DPSA was still seized with the matter of DGs moving with ministers, as that affected stability and institutional expertise. It could be there was mutual agreement when a minister moved that the HoD moved to the new department as well if the current DG was retiring or the contract was terminating. Then the minister could move with his or her DG. An example was Director General Vusumuzi Madonsela who had moved from COGTA to Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. There was provision for an extension for DGs but not more than three years.
Public Service Commission Amendment Bill [B21-2015]
The Committee went through the Amendment Bill and prepared to adopt it. Ms van der Walt pointed out a substantive amendment had been proposed by the Committee that the President be the designator of a commissioner to act as the PSC Chairperson whenever both the chairperson and the deputy chairperson are absent and unable to act as chairperson.
Ms Noluthando Mpikashe, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, replied that this amendment had been considered at length and the conclusion had been that the clause had to remain as originally drafted.
The Committee adopted the Bill and its Committee Report on the Bill with the DA and EFF reserving its right to vote in the National Assembly after caucusing their parties.
- Committee report on Public Service Commission Amendment Bill [B21-2015] 31 October 2017
- Committee report on Public Service Commission Amendment Bill [B21-2015]
- DPME Status Report on Filing of Performance Agreements of Heads of Department for 2017/18
- Public Service Commission on Political-Administrative Interface Challenges & Intervention
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