Budget and Work Plan for Public Service Commission: briefing

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JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTOFORLIO COMMITTEE

LOCAL GOVERNMENT SELECT COMMITTEE
9 June, 2003
BUDGET AND WORK PLAN FOR PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr. Mkhaliphi (ANC)

Documents handed out
Public Service Commision Budget Presentation
SAMDI Budget Presentation
SAMDI's Mandate Briefing
Public Service Commission Home Page

SUMMARY
The Public Service Commission informed the Committee that one of its mandate is to provide regular, useful and timely information to relevant stakeholders on service delivery improvement. The Committee heard that the Public Service Commission systematically monitored and evaluated the state of the public service in terms of the constitutional values governing public administration. The Director-General of the South African Management Development Institute asked the Committee to apply its mind on the reluctance by most departments to fully implement the existing law on the skill development, which some departments considered discretionary and yet it was not. The law obligated all departments to spend one percent of their annual budget on skills development but this was not happening. He appealed to the Committee to tighten the law to ensure a uniform development system.

MINUTES
Public Service Commission (PSC) Briefing
Prof. Levin, Acting Director-General (PSC) informed the Committee that the organisational structure of the PSC was designed around its strategic objectives and consequently its functional areas. The executive and legislature advised on the status of the professional ethical standards in public administration and strategies for intervention. Areas in public administration vulnerable to corruption had been identified and selected corruption cases resolved. Regular, useful and timely information was provided to relevant stakeholders on service delivery improvement. The state of the public service was systematically monitored and evaluated in terms of the constitutional values governing public administration. Sound practices on human resource management were promoted in particular in areas of human resource procurement, utilisation and development. PSC also provided general and financial management, personnel and provisioning administration, legal and other support services to the public service.

Discussion
Mr Khalane (ANC) asked why the PSC was top heavy in that most of the personnel were in the top management which he noted was the reason for the huge personnel expenditure.

Prof. Levin replied that the PSC was a knowledge management institution which was research based and hence required people with writing and reporting skills. He added that unskilled or semi-skilled personnel would not add value to the kind of work expected of the Commission.

Mr Khalane asked why there was such huge fluctuations in expenditure trends whereby by considerable sums of money were expended within shorter periods of time whilst in some cases not much was spent for a long period of time.

Prof. Levin explained that fluctuations in the expenditure bill were caused by both planned and unplanned programs noting that between February and March there was a huge pay-out in terms of a performance bonus which explained the huge bill for that period.

Prince Zulu asked why the many vacancies in the Commission remained unfilled for a long period of time.

Prof. Levin said that the government had slammed a moratorium on hiring in the public service, which had since been lifted and so the Commission looks forward to filling the vacancies.

Prince Zulu noted that the Commission had done a survey on people engaging in remunerative work outside the public service in the Gauteng province and yet this was a general problem in the entire country, which he blamed on a poor salary package.

Prof. Levin admitted that indeed moonlighting was a countrywide problem but explained that the Gauteng survey was a pilot project meant to inform the Commission on how best to intervene and rectify the situation.

Prince Zulu asked if there was a ceiling on the amount of money the provincial tender committee could award or if it was an open-ended exercise noting that this was an area rife with corruption.

Prof. Levin concurred that tendering was indeed a risk area for corruption and revealed that the Treasury had increased the delegation of tender committees noting that some of them had an open-ended mandate whilst others were purely advisory.

Mr Kgoshi (ANC) asked if the PSC monitors key performance areas in the public service.

Prof. Levin replied in the negative noting that the PSC was only concerned with the co-ordination of the public service whilst senior managers in various departments were mandated to provide the monitoring mechanisms.

South African Management Development Institute (SAMDI) briefing
Mr Soobrayan, Director General - SAMDI, informed the Committee that SAMDI's operational objectives were focused on service delivery outcomes, which assigned managerial responsibility for results and for resources applied in achieving outputs. He identified the key challenges in the public service as combating corruption and mal-administration, improving service delivery and developing human resources in addition to improved monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Priority areas within the public service were government business processes, hard skills in policy analysis, maturing institutions, policies, move to performance budgeting, indicators and priority to improve probity.

Mr Khalane noted that SAMDI's revenue allocations kept going down steadily every year. Why was this the case?

Mr Soobrayan explained that the nature of SAMDI's revenue allocation was far different from that of departments in that SAMDI was expected - in due course - to generate its own revenue and be self sustaining and that was why the revenue allocation bill is on a downward trend.

The Chair wanted to know whether SAMDI receives full co-operation from the Local Government establishment in the rollout of its programs.
Mr Soobrayan replied that the Local Government is the next frontier after SAMDI has set up its institutions elsewhere in government departments.

The Chair asked if SAMDI worked in partnership with other service providers like the SETAS.

Mr Soobrayan replied that links with other service providers like SETAS had made substantial progress but noted that most of these institutions were new and hence busy with setting themselves up in that matters of collaborative work become secondary.

The Chair asked if SAMDI had established initiatives with tertiary institutions.

Mr Soobrayan noted that SAMDI effectively collaborated with tertiary institutions to mobilise them into its delivery system and inform the content of their curriculum.

Mr Matthee asked if SAMDI was aware of any legislative intervention it would require in the facilitation of its work.

Mr Soobrayan welcomed the question from Mr Matthee and asked the Committee to apply its mind on the reluctance by most departments to fully implement the existing law on the skill development, which some departments thought was discretionary and yet it was not. He lamented the fact that the law obligated all departments to spend one percent of their annual budget on skills development but this was not happening. He decried the fact that people in government did not take human development seriously and appealed to the Committee to tighten the law to ensure a uniform development system.

The meeting was adjourned.

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