Medium Term Strategic Framework/outcome 12 & NDP vision 2030 progress: DPSA briefing

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

24 October 2018
Chairperson: Mr J Maswanganyi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Medium term strategic framework /outcome 12 & NDP vision 2030 progress: DPSA briefing

Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning Monitoring and Evaluation report on the quarterly performance budget vote 10: department of public service and administration, dated 24 October 2018

Portfolio Committee on public service and administration as well as planning monitoring and evaluation report on the quarterly performance budget vote 8: department of planning, monitoring and evaluation, dated 24 October 2018

Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Report on the Quarterly Performance Budget Vote: 12 Statistical South Africa, Dated 24 October 2018

Meeting report

The Committee met for a briefing by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on progress with the implementation of deliverables contained in the medium term strategic framework (MTSF) Outcome 12 and the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030, where the main focus was on building an efficient, effective and development-oriented public service. The priorities included holding a stable political-administrative interface, developing a public service that was a career of choice, efficient and effective management and operations systems, procurement systems that deliver value for money, increased responsiveness of public servants and accountability to citizens, improved inter-departmental coordination and institutionalisation of long-term planning, and improved mechanisms to promote ethical behaviour in the public service.

The DPSA’s achievements included the Cabinet approval of the revised Performance Management Development System for heads of departments (HODs) and senior managers, improved support mechanisms in the development of skills needed in the public service, ensuring that the public sector workplace became a training space that included mentoring and peer support mechanisms for senior managers, and E-enabling in a number of departments. However, a major area of concern was the matter of invoices not being paid within 30 days, reported by both national and provincial departments. Although there were fewer invoices paid late, the rand value was very high. Some of the reasons for late or non-payment of invoices included issues around filing, misplaced or unrecorded invoices, inadequate budgets, inadequate internal capacity, poor internal controls, late authorisation of invoices, challenges experienced on the Central Supplier Database (CSD) by suppliers, information technology (IT) system challenges, and medico legal costs. This was resulting in small start-up businesses not getting paid and therefore not being able to sustain their businesses.

The DPSA and Members agreed that strong and effective consequence management was needed to ensure timeous payment of invoices. The Committee would consider making unannounced visits to provincial offices to check on how they were dealing with this challenge. Other issues raised by Members included the public service orientation programme, the placement of graduate interns, the filling of vacancies, encouraging departments to use the National School of Governance (NSG), and the impact of budget cuts on departments’ performance.

Meeting report

DPSA briefing on MTSF 12 and NDP vision 2030 progress

Prof Richard Levin, Director General (DG), Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) said that the main focus was on building an efficient, effective and development-oriented public service, which was Outcome 12 of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). He would give an overview of the achievements and challenges, while the Department would also be talking about the fact that there were seven sub-outcomes with impact indicators that would be discussed in detail

He described the priorities which were derived from chapters 13 and 14 of the National Development Plan (NDP). These were holding a stable political-administrative interface, developing a public service that was a career of choice, efficient and effective management and operations systems, procurement systems that deliver value for money, increased responsiveness of public servants and accountability to citizens, improved inter-departmental coordination and institutionalisation of long-term planning, and improved mechanisms to promote ethical behaviour in the public service.

After describing the key participating departments that were responsible for variable sub outcomes, Prof Levin referred to some of the achievements and challenges. The achievements included the Cabinet approval of the revised Performance Management Development System for heads of departments (HODs) and senior managers, improved support mechanisms in the development of skills needed in the public service, ensuring that the public sector workplace became a training space that included mentoring and peer support mechanisms for senior managers, and E-enabling in a number of departments. The DPSA had also done a comprehensive site assessment of Thusong Centres, and provided support for the implementation of the operations management framework to strengthen the ability of departments to manage their work better

The Department had also done work to improve the core process of departments to follow service delivery processes, like the business process that was seen in the work it had done with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and also at the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in the enforcement and implementation of occupational health and safety. There were the learner records of the National School of Governance, the processing of client enquiries, and training in logistics. Some pockets of quality in service delivery improvements were seen in both the national and provincial spheres.  The introduction of e-learning programmes and the introduction of the e-disclosure system had made it efficient and effective in terms of ensuring that public servants and managers in particular made disclosures with honestly and integrity.

Moving to some of the outcomes and sub outcomes, the idea of a stable political–administrative was really to ensure senior managers had the delegation they required in order to effectively manage public administration, which included the human resource management practices needed to effectively strengthen public service performance. There had been a directive issued regarding the delegations framework, and compliance was in region of 63%, which meant 99 out of the 158 departments had complied with the directive. At the national level, compliance was at 55%

The second action in the political administrative interface was to develop improved administrative processes run by the Director General (DG) in the Presidency. Chapter 13 of the NDP refers to the establishment of an administrative head of the public service, which had not been put into effect yet. It had been deferred to the next MTSF in the next administration,

Compliance with the submission of performance agreements on time showed that only 72% of managers did so, and a detailed breakdown per province and national compliance with the submission of performance agreements indicated that the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State had performed exceptionally well. Nationally, compliance stands at 83%.

The second sub-outcome refers to making the public service a career of choice. This was a long term approach to develop a professional ethos that would underpin a development-oriented public service and ensure that the public service produced the skills that it needed. The focus in measuring this was on recruitment systems, the way departments were able to access appropriate training to get the required skills for their staff and to ensure the public service departments became training spaces and improved the opportunities for career development. This could lead to capacity development training in education in skills development, and also lead to the public service becoming increasingly people-centered and conscientious. The DPSA also want to see that there is a reduced reliance on outsourcing, because it was known that there were a lot of consultants who were used by the public service, and it did not always improve the areas in which they were hired and deployed.

The graduate recruitment programme was an important programme to get young people into the public service, to give them a development opportunity. It also allowed departments to place them into available jobs if required, and to waive some of the previous experience requirements. There was also a mentoring and peer support system for senior managers that had been developed which included an executive coaching programme. It was a work in progress, some of which needed to be strengthened, particularly to secure greater responsiveness from departments to utilize the coaching service that was provided by the National School of Governance (NSG). The NSG also provided training to over 2 000 unemployed youths in public service orientation, which was called the “Breaking Barriers to Entry” -- a programme that tried to help young people to access jobs in the public service.

The DPSA had looked at some of the challenges in trying to utilize the full potential that it had in the form of resources that had been put aside. It was hoping that through various interventions such as graduate interns, learner apprentices and various youth programmes, that it would have 5% of staff establishments which it could recruit through, which would have amounted to 57 357. However, it had been able to see only 21 131 across the board. There had to be more awareness created. The Department was moving into a pilot phase of the graduate recruitment scheme, where there would be two tracks for departments that wanted to develop staff and put them into development programmes, as well as those that wanted to recruit straight into permanent positions

Sub-outcome three was really talking about the efficient and effective management of operations systems which would reduce budgetary costs across the board and ensure that managers focused on their operations in greater detail, and that more functional work places were created both in the front of the office for interface with the citizenry, as well as in support to the core functional areas of departments. The Department also looked at reducing the number of leases within the security cluster. There had been some progress in the reduction in the number of leases in the current strategic framework. For example, in the Telkom tower, the leases had been reduced from private to state owned by at least 12, and the National Commissioner had moved into that facility.

Other important work here was the e-enablement of services. There was a target of five services to be e-enabled, and these included the e-matric system, the electronic integrated justice system to provide accurate and timely management of information, and compensation filing in the Department of Labour. There had been some progress in terms of the targets, but the DPSA was hoping to see an improved organisation of government services going forward.

Sub-outcome four looked at procurement systems that delivered value for money. There were a lot of opportunities in procurement, including the empowerment of companies that had been historically excluded from various sectors of the economy, this included the local content requirement of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the procurement of various services -- for example, in correctional services both In terms of uniform and food. This was to ensure that the government got value for money, and the supply chain management (SCM) system could sometimes militate against this because there was no negotiation – one took the lowest quote, but could not negotiate a better price. It was hoped that over time the Department would be able to deal with this, but certainly there had been progress which was seen in the establishment of the Office of Chief Procurement Officer and the new SCM framework which had been developed and was to be finalised. This would be known as the Public Procurement Bill, which would strengthen statutory regulation, modernisation and transformation of public procurement.  It would regulate preferential targeting and set aside policies to achieve more radical economic equity, job creation and local industrialisation through public procurement, at the same time trying to simplify, standardise and automate procurement activities across all spheres of government. The modernisation of the SCM technology and its intelligent use, as well as developing supply chain management, were all part of the endeavours in this regard

Sub-outcome five was about the increased responsiveness of public servants and accountability to citizens, and there were a number of departments were Batho-Pele standards were piloted. Departments likeBasic Education, Health, Human Settlements, Labour, Social Development and Transport were showing progress. For example, the frontline staff in the Department of Labour had been capacitated to deal more effectively with the users of their services by treating them with greater respect, and ensuring that they all wore name tags so if there were problems, those who had dealt with the officials were able to identify them in order to make complaints. Responding to those complaints was also very important. In Transport, driver and learner training centres had been established, Human Settlements was in the process of establishing a department-wide structure to ensure that Batho-Pele principles permeate the entire department, and Health was continuing with their ideal clinics in the midst of numerous challenges, such as staff shortages

Sub-outcome six dealt with improved inter-departmental coordination and the institutionalisation of long-term planning. There were moves afoot by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), which was working on an integrated planning bill.

Sub-outcome seven focused on improved mechanisms to promote ethical behaviour in the public service. It was part of the fight against corruption and aimed to limit the scope for conflicts of interest, which included preventing public servants from being involved in companies that did business with the government. There was the public service integrity management framework adopted by Cabinet in 2013, which provided the framework and guidelines for departments in managing conflicts of interest, including gifts, hospitality and other benefits which were offered to public servants.

A comparison of the number of submissions of financial disclosures over the past two years showed that compliance had increased from 94% in 2017, to 96% in 2018, with good performances from the Western Cape, Northern Cape, KZN, Gauteng, Free State, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the national departments as well, so overall compliance showed a lot of progress

Prof Levin said one of the impact indicators involved the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) which was a self-assessment tool developed by the DPME to focus on compliance with the public service framework, including public administration and public finance management. It was important to note the number of standards checked had been reduced because ten standard checks were shown to be effectively institutionalised within departments, so there was no point in monitoring those and greater focus could be put on the others.

For the funded vacancy rate, the DPSA had a target of 10%, which meant that departments should not carry more than 10% of vacancies. In the third quarter of 2017, the figure had been 9,98% -- in other words, the target had been realised across the board. This may have plateaued now because of budget constraints. In fact, numbers for the first quarter of this financial year indicated that departments were using the full 25% available for the compensation of employees    

For every 100 people in South Africa, three were public servants. Japan had 3.7, Morocco had 2.7, Brazil 5.1, Botswana 6.1, France had 9.8, Russia had 10.2, and Norway 15.6. These figures indicated that it was not really the head count of the public servants which was the problem, but the problem was in the wages.

Another important impact indicator was the average number of days taken to resolve disciplinary cases by all national and provincial departments, which this was reported in the DPSA’s own annual report. It was taking around 95 days, which was an improvement, but there was room for further improvement and a focus by management. There were also precautionary suspensions which were not resolved, and it costs the departments to have people on leave and paying their salaries, and also spending money on legal fees to pay for cases.

Regarding the number of qualified, adverse and disclaimer annual audit reports, unfortunately there was still room for a lot of improvement. The target was not met because of the number of departments that had received financially qualified audits, but 128 departments had still received a financially unqualified audit opinion, whilst 34 departments were qualified and two departments received an adverse opinion. This was an area of ongoing focus which the Department needed to pay attention to through the various Committee structures

The target for the management of the anti-corruption hotline was 75% closure of cases, and at the moment it stood at 68%, which was 127 out of 186. The Public Service Commission (PSC) manages this hotline and there is an area where improvement is required in terms of managing and closing cases. A large number of cases came from complaints from the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) relating to social grant fraud and the misuse of grants.

On the retention of HODs, the aim was for them to spend at least four of their five year contracts, and there had been an improvement. Currently at the national and provincial level there was an average of three years.

The final area was the matter of invoices not being paid within 30 days, reported by both national and provincial departments. The number of invoices paid after 30 days had reduced a little compared to the previous year, so there was improvement. However, although there were fewer invoices paid late, the rand value was very high. There were 14 departments that were effectively managing to pay on time

Some of the reasons for late or non-payment of invoices include issues around filing, misplaced or unrecorded invoices, inadequate budgets, inadequate internal capacity, poor internal controls, late authorisation of invoices, challenges experienced on the Central Supplier Database (CSD) by suppliers, information technology (IT) system challenges, and medico legal costs.

This was an area of concern, because small start-up businesses did not get paid and therefore could not sustain the business. Some recommendations had been made which included consequence management against officials who failed to comply with the requirements of the legislation and who undermined systems of internal controls. There was a need for Accounting Officers to take effective and appropriate steps to ensure that information required in terms of Treasury Instruction Note No. 34 was duly signed off and submitted to the relevant treasury, in accordance with the timeframe, to ensure that internal control processes were in place  

Prof Levin said there were a number of areas the Department was focusing on and these were very important areas of work. It was important to improve on the achievements going into the future.

Discussion

The Committee expressed concern about the high number of invoices in the provinces being paid after 30 days – 37 000 in Gauteng and 24 000 in the Eastern Cape – and asked what actions were being taken to address the matter as this was crippling people who were trying to participate in the economy.

It was noticed that 2 000 unemployed graduates underwent the public service orientation programme, and the Department was asked what happened after the orientation programme. Did the Department recruit all of them or were they supplied to other departments and placed in a data base? The programme created high expectations that graduates would be employed.

Ms D van der Walt (DA) spoke about inadequate internal capacity to deal with the 30-day payments, and asked if this was influenced by the vacancy rate or not. If there was a vacancy, it should be prioritised and filled, as it affected the economy and jobs. Was it the intention that the provinces should give full reports on what was outstanding and why, and also to come up with proposals on what action was to be taken, including paying the outstanding invoices and disciplinary action against people who delay payment? People did not understand what was happening on the ground and action had to be taken against those who do not do their job.

Members referred to consequence management and urged and that the Department’s recommended disciplinary action, which had been discussed with the DPME and the Public Service Commission (PSC) be implemented to make sure that there was no regression.

Mr S Motau (DA) asked about serial offenders, and mentioned that usually these people were located in one department. He had seen a slight improvement, which indicated a good effort, but he encouraged the DPSA to press harder in order to deal with serial offenders.

Mr D Khoza (ANC) spoke about the payment of service providers, and said he had expected the Department to talk about consequence management. The money to pay service providers was there, but it was not being given to those who deserved it.  Was there management when it came to the payment of service providers? If so, what were the responsibilities of those who were supposed to manage the situation? Were the managers responsible getting performance bonuses? He asked about the extent to which internships assisted the Department to find competent employees to fill vacancies.

Ms Van der Walt commented that in the past, the reason given for late payment of invoices had been bad invoices. She asked how many late payments were due to an inadequate budget, because one could not allocate work if there was an inadequate budget. Why would there be an inadequate budget? Was the main reason lack of internal controls, lack of money, insufficient hardworking staff or the customer, because this would indicate some kind of trend that would enable the problem to be addressed.

DPSA’s response

Prof Levin replied that the Department was trying to establish ethics and integrity, and a decentralised function that could provide managers with the power to improve service deliveries was required. The Department had to create a supply of accredited officials who could handle cases, and had 200 officials who could be deployed. He agreed that the departments require effective consequence management. This had begun with matters relating to ethics and financial disclosures, involving processes being set up by the Department to ensure there was better consequence management. It needed to test centrally what could be done to strengthen the system.

The “Breaking Barriers to Entry” programme was a very good programme to teach unemployed graduates about the public service and job opportunities. The problem was the cost recovery model of the programme, as the Department could not charge interns for their participation. However, it was trying to obtain Cabinet approval to make it compulsory for departments to pay for all interns to join the programme. The weakness of the graduate programme was that interns ended up making tea and photocopies instead of being empowered with knowledge.

The Department also had discussed with the Minister about a pilot with Thusong centres and learning laboratories through a public-private partnership, whereby a network infrastructure could be set in place and get connectivity through the big four South African cellular networks. Hopefully the NSG would train graduates to become accredited trainers and then reach out to the “Yes Initiative” to pay the graduates stipends in order to put this programme and the active citizenry and the entrepreneurship programmes together, and create a hub of learning. Thusong centres had a high potential, but their goals were not achieved because of administrative challenges.

He said that Treasury would probably have information on the breakdown of non-payment. He signs a document every month to Treasury about how many invoices were not paid on time. It was not impossible to pay on time -- there was just a need for consequence management. In public administration, one had to keep pushing in order to get managers to comply, and put in place managing mechanisms that put pressure on the department.

Prof Levin said he was sure there were innovative ways to strengthen the Post Office. He gave an example of the Kenyans, who had set up an sms system that notified people when they had a letter at their post boxes. The Department needed to learn from other parts of the continent.

He concluded by saying that serial offenders must be dealt with in a supportive way.                         

The Chairperson asked if it was possible to get the provinces to come and account for unpaid invoices. He mentioned that in a rental park located in Tshwane, six shops had closed down and he had wondered what had happened to the people who had worked there, and if a government department was responsible. He was worried about the amount of money the departments owed.

Ms Z Dlamini-Dubazana (ANC) suggested that rather than calling the provinces, the Committee should just go to the procurement divisions and ask why invoices had not been paid and where the problem was. She said she was sure by the time the Committee left, a number of invoices would have been paid.

The Committee agreed with Ms Dlamini-Dubaza, and agreed that this visit should be done without any notification given to the provinces.

Ms Van der Walt asked about an outstanding meeting with the DPW. The Committee once had a meeting with Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin, and it had been decided that there would be a follow up meeting on various matters.

Quarterly performance budget vote 10: DPSA

The Committee went through the document page by page.

The Chairperson made a comment on the pie chart on page 8, and said that it should represent the percentages

Mr Julius Ngoepe, Committee Content Advisor, responded that the chart did represent the percentages, and that he could elaborate further.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana said the Committee should have its own recommendations, and recommended the departments should use modules provided by the School of Governance, whether it be for induction or for anything else. The departments did not support the NSG and used other sources and the schools, and therefore ended up having a financial deficit. Secondly, the DPSA needed to monitor the implementation of consequence management to ensure compliance.

Ms Van der Walt replied that it was difficult to support that recommendation because departments could not be forced -- only encouraged -- to use the NSG. Because of capacity and finance, the NSG could not accommodate 30 departments at once. The departments’ needs should be studied by the NSG in order to train staff, and those needs should be prioritised.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana agreed that departments should be encouraged.

The Chairperson agreed that departments should be encouraged, but that they could also collaborate with other sources.

Mr M Ntombela (ANC) said he understood “encourage,” but the Committee should not postpone the effectiveness of the NSG. Encouraging meant that there were better options, and he did not believe this was so. The NSG needed to be placed at the centre of education and planning for policy, and provided with the necessary support for implementation.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana agreed, and said departments ended up going to the public sector.

The Chairperson suggested that recommendations should be drafted in a way that supported development in that area, and indicated that public universities could complement the NSG.

Ms Dlamini-Dubaza proposed that the portfolio Committee be consistent with the oversight to ensure implementation of Batho-Pele. The Department needed to do “walk about” management, and see that people did what they were supposed to do.

Ms D Van der Walt argued that now was not the time to be putting recommendations in the report that were not recommendations related to the set discussion. The Committee had a role to do oversight, and it was standard procedure for Members of Parliament and the Portfolio Committee.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana responded that every Member had the right to raise a proposal and others could suggest how to formulate it, and not just criticise what was being said.

Ms Van der Walt said she reserved the right to support what had been added to the report, and that she would reconsider anything else that was added.

Mr Ngoepe explained that recommendations were included in the quarterly report, but rather observations. The reason for this was because there was space for recommendations in the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) throughout the year.

Mr Y Cassim (DA) said that he was confused and concerned about the principle. If the Committee should not be making recommendations, then the observations should be what was observed from the interactions. In the future, any Member could make a proposal related to the report and the Committee could decide whether to support it or not.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana agreed with Mr Cassim, and suggested that maybe the word “recommendations” could be changed to “observations.”

The Chairperson said that the Committee could accommodate the issues of the Members, but also stick to the standard template when it came to compiling the report. However, the Committee should not clamp down on Members’ observations

The Members agreed.

Mr Khoza moved the adoption of the report.

Quarterly performance budget vote 8: DPSA

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana referred to page 2 of the document under programme 1, and suggested that the line that said “to achieve an unqualified opinion on financial statement to, hire, develop…” should be changed to “achieve an efficient financial management as required by the DPSA,” and that the word “hire” should be replaced with “employ,” and the word “people” should be changed to “human resources.”

The Committee had a discussion about the meaning of “unqualified audit.”

Mr Cassim pointed out that the information on page 9 under section 5.2 was incorrect, and that the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) did not have offices in every district, only in every district municipality in KZN. He was also concerned about the rise in administrative costs and the decrease in funding for programmes 1 and 2.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana  moved the adoption of the report, and Mr Cassim seconded.

Quarterly performance budget vote 12: Statistics South Africa

Mr Cassim said the Committee could not fold its hands while Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) was being starved of funding, and that there was need for a joint committee that would be able to discuss this as an urgent priority.

The Chairperson suggested the Committee write to the Minister of Finance with regard to StatsSA, and that the Minister could even meet with the Committee.

Mr  Cassim responded that the Committee always writes to the Minister, and that it needed to play a major role and meet with the Appropriations Committee and Cabinet to address problems facing StatsSA.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana agreed with Mr Cassim that there should be a joint meeting with the National Treasury and the Standing Committee on Appropriations.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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