The Committee was briefed by the CSIR on their 2017/18 Annual Report. The organisation had received a clean audit. The key achievements were that 45 unemployed youth were trained with the MICT-SETA; 13 employment offers were made to MICT-SETA interns; and 200 000 young people were reached. In the reporting period R150 million had been invested towards human capital development.
Members asked how the CSIR would finance their Campus Masterplan and what the key components of the plan was; what the funds as per the fruitless and wasteful expenditure was used for; why the Science Centre in Koppelwater was still incomplete; what criteria was used to select the seven Chief Researchers and if the CSIR had any plans to up their income.
The Committee was briefed by the Human Sciences Research Council on their Annual Report 2017/18. The organisation had achieved a clean audit. The issues identified in the review were IT governance findings and no material findings on the usefulness and reliability of performance information.
Members asked if the retention of researchers would have a negative effect on sustainability; if the implications of VAT deregistration had been considered; were there any developments with regard to securing a new building in Pretoria; why the targets for completed PhD levels were not met and if departments paid the HSRC for the services they rendered.
The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) briefed the Committee on their 2017/18 Annual Report. The organisation had received a clean audit. The Committee heard that even though the TIA was a very young organisation it had stimulated growth by supporting 11 350 Small Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises. Challenges regarding procurement issues were experienced by the organisation.
Members asked what the surplus it had received meant in terms of their budget; what the timeframe in terms of the development of new science technology innovation was and the role with regard to compliance of international organisations not registered with SARS.
The Committee was briefed by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). The main goal of ASSAf was to honour distinguished scholars. The organisation’s commitment to good governance and administration increased the visibility of their work.
Members asked if the ASSAf now complied with the PFMA; what the lack of a permanent home for the ASSAf meant; and if the ASSAf had discussed their limited budget with the DST.
The Committee was briefed by the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP). The SACNASP contributed to the deliverables of the DST as well as being in line with the NDP.
Members asked what the annual membership fee of the organisation was; if the funding allocation from the DST was only for three years what was the way forward after this; what was the average time taken to process an application and if the 52% of bad debts had been communicated to the Minister.
The Committee said that the issues relate to bad debts had been coming up constantly and needed to be taken up with the Minister. A way had to be established to ensuring that members that are registered via institutions such as the South African Council of Natural Scientific Professions paid their subscriptions fees.
Briefing by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on their Annual Report 2017/18
Professor Thokozani Majozi, Board Chairperson firstly reported that the organisation had received a clean audit from the Auditor-General. He said that the organisation covered several outputs including, publications, papers to patents as well as technology demonstrators which are now prototypes at a much higher level of maturity.
The Strategic objectives were:
- Build and transform human capital
- Conduct high-quality and relevant research and technological innovation to foster industrial and scientific development
- Maintain a financially sustainable and well-governed organisation
- 45 Qualified, unemployed youth trained with the MICT- SETA. Successfully partnered with sector education training authorities (SETAs) to address youth unemployment, among others, the Media, Information and Communication Technologies (MICT) SETA;
- 13 employment offers were made to MICT-SETA interns. Developed new apprenticeships with Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector SETA for the 4th industrial revolution: maintenance of solar photovoltaic systems and vehicle maintenance in informal settlements; and
- 200 000 young people were reached. Engaged the next generation of researchers through the outreach programme: Sasol TechnoX, Science Tube, Scifest, CSIR Career Day
- Build and Transform Human Capital
- Conduct High Quality and Relevant Research and Technological Innovation to Foster Industrial and Scientific Development
- Maintain a Financially Sustainable and Well-Governed Organisation
The total income for the previous year was just over R2.5billion including the Parliamentary grant allocated as well as contract research income generated through contract work the CSIR did for public, private, local and international clients. Contract Income was about R1.7billion which is 71% of total income. Royalty income was about 0.2% of total income of CSIR. The organisation also invests significantly in terms of building human capital through various programmes driven by the organisation and in partnership with other players within the national system of innovation, e.g. the Department of Science and Technology. In the reporting period, the Board Chairperson said the CSIR invested over R150 million towards human capital development.
On Financial Sustainability and Governance, as a result of the decline in public sector income the overall target for total income was not met. The investment in property, plant and equipment was slightly higher than the target with R144million versus a target of R103million. The decline in income had an impact on the net profit and the contributing factor to this included the cost structure of the CSIR (over 60% of the cost is fixed costs).The net loss of the previous year was R14million within organisation.
In terms of transformation; 47% are female bursary holders, 59% are Africans in general, 46% studentships (people employed by CSIR and pursuing further qualifications) and 55% internships. The CSIR has outreach programmes, working with the SETAs to address youth unemployment. They had 45 interns of which they managed to employ 13.
Ms Zanele Ngwepe. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) outlined the income situation of the organisation as follows: 70% of income comes from contract income and 30% from the Parliamentary grant. Contract Income is further broken down between public sector income (899), private sector income and international income. Total income has shown a growth of 2% in the past 10years, however the past 2 years has seen a sharp decline mainly because of the decrease in public sector income.
CSIR was not profitable in the financial year of 2017/18 mainly due to the rapid decline in public sector revenue and a high manpower cost base. Remedial action has been implemented to respond to the declining income. The remedial action was as follows: Extensive cost containment measures have been implemented, a review process is currently underway for all non-sustainable operating units and improvements to internal processes have been implemented over income declaration, customer contracting and work at risk.
Ms A Tuck (ANC) wanted to know how the CSIR would finance their Campus Masterplan and what are the key components of the plan
Ms Esmee Kennedy Group Executive: Legal, Compliance and Business Enablement said that the Campus Masterplan was an attempt to address certain issues in the short and long term of the organisation.
Ms C King (DA) wanted to know about the fruitless and wasteful expenditure and exactly what the funds were used for. She was happy with the presentation but said she didn’t remember any mention being made of the Campus Masterplan and just like Honourable Tuck she wanted to know how it would be financed and the proposed date of completion. The Science centre in Koppelwater was to be completed in March 2018, however it was not, so she needed to know why.
Ms Zanele Ngwepe, said that the incorrect supplier was appointed during the contracting phase and they incurred cancellation costs. Dr Molefe Mutuku addressed the science centre question and said it was a partnership with other organisations and he said the project could not proceed without all the contractual arrangements being in place. They are on board and will be looking forward to fast tracking the building of the centre.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC) wanted to know what new programmes and initiatives have been implemented to communicate the work of the CSIR to the public, and if the impact of initiatives have been assessed. Which criteria were used to select the seven earmarked Chief Researchers?
Dr Molefi Mutuku, Group Executive: Research, Development and Innovation, said they had looked at criteria development and race (black chief researcher as there was not many in South Africa) for selected seven Chief Researchers. Dr Thulani Dlamini said they communicate to the public through various radio stations and researchers spoke about what they are doing in vernacular languages. They also did media briefings.
Mr N Koornhof said his worry and concern was the loss and if it was not for the cancellation by the National Treasury there would not have been a loss, but in terms of the National Treasury’s new regulations there is now a tender process. Would this mean that the public sector found a different service provider for the jobs to be done by the CSIR or was the CSIR too expensive to use? He wanted to know if the CSIR had any plans to up their income in terms of the private sector. In terms of staff base targets, since they did not meet their targets, if they had, would it not have affected them financially?
Dr Thulani Dlamini, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), CSIR said it would not be easy to compete with the private sector because they are created by the state and for the state. With regard to the National Treasury no one wins, organisations must somehow compete and with that said, their costs are somewhat competitive. With regard to private sector expansion, the whole initiative around industrial development will create opportunities to work closer with the private sector. He agreed with the statement about the set base target.
The Chairperson congratulated the CSIR for receiving a clean audit and thanked them for the presentation.
Briefing by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)on their Annual Report 2017/18
Professor Mvuyo Thom, Chairperson, HSRC Board Council, introduced the team from their organisation. He said the organisation is a committed research organisation, with a mission to advance social sciences and humanities for public use. The HSRC started a review for the organisation which will shape the future of the HSRC and this is to be released in 2019. They mostly focused on poverty, equality and unemployment.
Professor Crain Soudien, CEO, HSRC, outlined the six goals:
- Knowledge Advancement
- Contribution to Development
- Enhanced Skills
- Preserved Data and Knowledge
- Financial Sustainability
Professor Simbai said the organisation achieved a score of 70% for their performance, and of the six goals they met five. With regard to Academic Excellence they had set a target of 0.8 in Peer-reviewed journal articles, and they achieved 1.10. With Scholarly Books Published they had a set target of 15 and they achieved 16. With Scholarly Book Chapters Published they had a set target of 54; however they missed it and had a target of 42. The organisation met their targets in Research Seminars convened and Policy Briefs, they stayed on the same level when it came to Review Publications.
Ms Crystal Abdoll, Group Executive Shared Services and CFO, HSRC said they achieved a clean audit. She said there were issues identified during the review and these were:
- IT governance findings – ICT Steercom, IT Policies and User Access Management
- No material findings on the usefulness and reliability of performance information- APR misstatements subsequently corrected.
Both the issues identified had been addressed. She also spoke of some of the organisation’s success stories, and these were:
- Good project audit outcomes
- Several multi-year projects and funders
- Good debtor management (67 days compared to 76 days in 2017)
- Good payment of suppliers (15 days as opposed to PFMA 30 day requirement timeframes)
- Good cash flow management (R40 million budget cut over two financial years)
The Parliamentary grant comprised of 49% at R267million, while the research external income was at 45% largely due to the survey concluded in the previous financial year. The external income target increased by 49% and this is largely due to efforts of the research team. Financial statements reflected a cash balance of R44 million and their receivables were at R45 million. The organisation had restricted current assets/ liability of 1.2:1 which meant that they are able to settle their liabilities.
Prof Soudien addressed the Transformation issue. He said of the 434 staff they had 326 were Africans. They are struggling at the senior level with a target of 56% senior African researchers as they only managed to get 33%. They are trying to grow the organisation from the bottom up to rectify this issue, because the bulk of young people hired were African and female. He said the HSRC had two main challenges that hindered them reaching their transformation targets. The challenges are: a small pool of resources versus a big competitive market. Most HSRC researchers accepted alternative employment because of:
- The constant “treadmill” of trying to secure income for research
- Pressure to perform
- Contract appointments, resulting in less job security than permanent appointments.
Ms King (DA) congratulated the HSRC on their clean audit. She firstly wanted to know with reference to the retention of researchers, would it not affect sustainability in the long term because they would not have the right people to do the publications etcetera. She also wanted to know what their vacancy rate was. She asked further if the HSRC had considered the implications that VAT deregistration might have on the organisation.
Prof Soudin said that they understood they were an incubator but they would also like to keep people at the HSRC. He said if they are going to fill all the vacancies they have they would be in financial difficulty.
Ms Abdoll said the HSRC has a low vacancy rate at less than 10%. She said there is a team currently doing a feasibility study to see the pros and cons of VAT deregistration and they have not concluded the study yet.
Ms Tuck (ANC) asked if they were any alternative measures being considered to mitigate against the continued non achievement of performance targets. She also wanted to know if there were any developments in securing a new building in Pretoria.
Ms Abdoll said there are plans in place and they are looking to relocate to a new building as most of their attempts to try to make a profit from it were declined.
Ms Ndongeni (ANC) said she needed clarity on the completed PhD levels as the target was not met so she needed to know what the problem was. She asked if there are any discussions/plans to revaluate the funding model of the HSRC to make it less dependent on external income.
Prof Soudin said that having a PhD puts you in the range for a qualification but it is not simply the fact of having it which allows you to step into a job. He said it is a range of other things. The former chairperson said that the time for completion of PhDs in SA is considerably high and people that come in to the organisation have other responsibilities and were therefore doing it part-time.
As a response to the question about funding, Prof Tom said they should be primarily funded by the state because of the nature of the organisation. He also spoke about transformation and said that the transformation process could be addressed through Employment Equity (with benchmarking done by the Department of Labour). He said the research being done by the organisation should be research that promoted transformation in South Africa.
The Chairperson said the organisation must comprehend that they produced good people that are being taken away so they ended up becoming a training ground, although this was not such a bad thing. On increase of research cost, she wanted to know if other departments paid the HSRC for the services they rendered, and which critical positions were there that they were unable to fill. She congratulated them for obtaining a clean audit.
The former chairperson spoke of the role of HSRC in training. She said the organisation expects the people they take in to go into other departments and organisations to complete the role of research as they do not have the vacancies to take them in.
Prof Soudien said that other departments did make use of their services and they would like to make themselves more prominent.
The Chairperson said they will keep advocating for more funding and other departments to utilise the HSRC. She thanked them for their presentation.
Briefing by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) on their Annual Report 2017/18
The Chairperson welcomed the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). In her opening remarks Ms Fuzlin Levy-Hassen, the Chairperson of TIA who is also a Board Member, introduced the rest of her team.
Mr Barlow Manilal, CEO, TIA, said that TIA is still very young and is still growing. The current budget that TIA has is very low as compared to that of the 2010/11 budget. Staff numbers have also been reduced over time. The TIA values having a controlled environment through governance. The TIA has been efficient and effective over the years even though it is still in transition. Over a five-year period, the TIA has stimulated growth by supporting 11 350 Small Medium and Micro-Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) and the employment of 16 298 people. The TIA has spent a hefty amount to strengthen high end infrastructure but needs a constant upgrade. The TIA supports research on diseases such as TB through their health portfolio. They worked on improving the quality of education. The TIA supports the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST’s) hydrogen programme through environment protection. In 2015/16 they supported 2 000 SMME’s, this number rose to 2 261 in 2016/17 and to 2 800 in 2017/18. Some of the challenges include procurement issues. This comes from big firms and international companies, as there are minimal partners available in South Africa, but the TIA is working on this. The TIA pays its vendors within three days. The TIA is not happy with their health portfolio targets as the results took long to come. Through their agriculture portfolio, they are happy and producing good results. Industrial-biotech is the TIA’s biggest focus and a specialist has been appointed for this, but it is still to take-off. The TIA has moved from the GAAP accounting principle to Generally Recognized Accounting Principles (GRAP). The TIA is now more visible and media coverage has been positive. The current organisation targets are being met at 85%.
Mr Werner van Merwe, CFO, TIA said that they need to manage their cash resources more carefully. An income of R4.89 million is a low figure. The TIA is working on how to increase their revenue. Employee costs are being managed carefully. The TIA received a royalty income of R1.8 million and received interest from loans of R1.3 million which played an important role in boosting income. There was a surplus income. The TIA received a clean audit for the fourth year in a row. They have controlled both their irregular and fruitless expenditure.
Mr Barlow Manilal, CEO, TIA said that the organisation was looking at focusing more on their health portfolio. They are targeting service delivery innovation. The technology works well with SMMEs.
The Chairperson thanked the TIA for the good presentation.
Ms A Mfulo (ANC) asked what the surplus meant in terms of their budget. Did they not spend it or is it because they got funding from somewhere else?
Ms Tuck (ANC) asked what the timeframe in terms of the development of new science technology innovation was?
Ms King (DA) asked about the role of international organisations not registered with SARS turning into a compliance issue. Does Africa Free Trade have an impact on TIA? For example in Europe, countries are pulling out from their trade association.
Mr Koornhof (ANC) congratulated the TIA and said that the surplus being referred to is in fact a good trait and not a negative trait.
Mr van Merwe said that the surplus was more of a blessing as a way of being sustainable. It was a source of income and TIA also received funding.
Mr Manilal said that he does not believe in the African Free Trade notion. He highlighted that South Africa should not lose its comparative advantage. The TIA has education programmes through innovation and technology; they just need to create the best partnerships. The TIA does not have a national footprint and cannot service the whole country. They are working on being more accessible. All funding that TIA is involved in is that of technology.
Ms Levy-Hassen said that she is very proud of what they have done to date.
Mr Manilal held that technology should not be determined by boarders. A continental engagement is much needed in terms of Africa Free Trade.
The Chairperson said that TIA needs to focus on being involved in programmes based on value for money. She congratulated TIA once again for the clean audit.
Briefing by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) on their Annual Report 2017/18
In his opening remarks, Professor Evance Kalula, an advisor of the Council of ASSAf, apologised on behalf of Professor Jonathan Jansen for his absence. He introduced his colleagues. He said that it is the last presentation from the Executive Officer who will be going into retirement.
Professor Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer, ASSAf in her opening remarks especially highlighted that the main goal of ASSAf is to honour distinguished scholars. Governance and administration work increased the visibility of ASSAf. Media release targets have been met. The Scholarly Publication Programme is expected to increase visibility. Planned targets were zero because of the reshuffling of the programme. However, through reprioritisation of funds, more journal titles were added. ASSAf now has 541 members and 41 new members were elected in the past financial year. ASSAf has the challenge of extending outside of the metro-areas but has managed to move outside of the traditional norms. It produces various workshop reports and evidence-based reports that are available on their website, such as a report on Science Business and the Shell Case. Another important consensus report was on revitalising agriculture in a scientific context in South Africa. Some of the matters of concern include financial sustainability as the budget is very low, and they try to raise external funding but there is no guarantee from year to year. The need for permanent premises is being investigated. Transformation of membership is a challenge that is being looked at. The value of ASSAf across all state Departments is still a key issue.
Mr Morakeng Chiloane, Financial Manager, ASSAf said that they will only present on the financial performance, but Members of the Portfolio Committee were free to ask any questions outside of this. Government grants are the key source of funding of ASSAf and they also got contract funding, but this is minimal. They had a surplus of R174 000 and this amount was unspent as part of external funding. They had an unqualified audit opinion. ASSAf incurred irregular expenditure when for example they placed an advert in the Mail & Guardian, but the number of quotations that were set to be solicited did not add up. However ASSAf did benefit from the advert. Fruitless expenditure also took place when a delegate from overseas cancelled on an event and this resulted in wasteful expenditure as expenses for this had already been paid. He thanked the Chairperson and the Portfolio Committee for their support to ASSAf.
Ms King asked if ASSAf now complies with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), as in the previous year they were not compliant. Has consultation taken place with the Minister and the National Treasury? ASSAf makes use of an external auditor and does not report on everything.
Ms Ndongeni (ANC) asked about the issue of a lack of a permanent home for the academy. She asked what this meant?
The Chairperson asked if ASSAf has discussed with the DST because their limited budget was supposed to be housed by DST. What has been done about this?
Professor Diab said that they are doing well in terms of compliance with the PFMA. Their rentals are quite high and thus they are trying to find a building that is more sustainable. ASSAf has a good relationship with the DST and they have gotten much support from the DST but also understand that budgets can be tight.
Mr Chiloane said that the PFMA compliance requirements are being met.
The Chairperson said that on the 9th of November 2018 there will be a summit on the White Paper and hoped that it covers ASSAf’s challenges.
The Chairperson thanked ASSAf for their presentation. She wished Professor Diab well as she is going into retirement.
Briefing by the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) on their Annual Report 2017/18
Dr Pradish Rampersadh, Executive Director, SACNASP in his opening remarks explained their role in Parliament and their vision. They have 51 voluntary associations. The SACNASP contributes to the deliverables of the DST as well as being in line with the National Development Plan (NDP); They also work with various state departments on their candidate development programmes. The organisation works closely with the Human Sciences Research Council. They need to register 25 000 scientists by 2022 because the current target for the year was 12 000 and they managed to register 12 964 scientists. In terms of the budget they were three percent over the budget. They received an unqualified audit. Gender equality of recruitments is very close in terms of both males and females. The SACNASP acts against a member who does not act in accordance with the instructions of the President.
Mr Terrence Mangalana, Finance Manager, SACNASP said that most of the funds are obtained through the registration of professionals. They do receive funds from the DST and to date they have received R12 million. Revenue has increased by 15 percent. There was a surplus for the year of R560 000. Bad debts have increased by 52% because of the SACNASP membership fees not being paid.
Dr Rampersadh said that there are many scientists practicing without being registered. The SACNASP is reaching out to those who are not registered to register. Public awareness of this is increasing. Strict management of finances is being worked on. Staff training is taking place within the SACNASP.
The Chairperson thanked the SACNASP for their presentation.
Mr Koornhof asked what the annual membership fee of SACNASP is. If the allocation of funding from the DST is only for three years, what is the way forward after this?
Ms Ndongeni asked how the SACNASP deals with malpractice. She also asked about the average time it takes to process an application.
Mr N Khubisa (NFP) asked at what level it takes for the SACNASP to qualify someone to be a scientist. What does the SACNASP do to register PhD candidates who have taken up teaching for instance because of a lack of registration.
The Chairperson asked about the 52% bad debts as it was a cause for concern. She asked if this issue had been communicated to the Minister.
Dr Rampersadh responded that the registration fee per annum is R1 280 for a professional registered scientist, R792 for a certified scientist and R490 for a candidate. They have applied for more funding from the DST and the Department is coming forth with assistance in terms of additional funding. A lot more work needs to be done in terms of protecting the public from malpractice from scientists through public awareness of the SACNASP. An application process takes three to six months to be processed. Qualifications are assessed by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) at times. Some challenges include failing to contact referees of applicants. A scientist is so-called because of qualifications and experience.
Dr Gerda Botha, Chairperson of SACNASP in her concluding remarks said that the organisation works closely with other entities to try and have a similar strategy of operation, such as the Chartered Accountant board.
The Chairperson thanked the SACNASP team. She said that she will highlight to the Minister issues of registration and bad debt.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Academy of Science of South Africa - Annual Report 2017/2018 presentation
- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - Annual Report 2017/2018 presentation
- Human Sciences Research Council - Annual Report 2017/2018 presentation
- South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions - Annual Report 2017/2018 presentation
- Technology Innovation Agency - Annual Report 2017/2018 presentation