A key issue raised was that the Committee needs to make an assessment of how the budget translates into service delivery, determine what value government receives, and determine what the impact of government spending on the budget’s developmental objectives are. The Department’s presentation lacked necessary information and only spoke to targets, whereas the Committee wants to understand the impact of the spending.
The Committee said perhaps it must better articulate what it wants, so the Department can better understand what to present.
The researchers and Committee Secretariat were tasked to prepare a document to guide the Department on what the Committee expects, and to organise a workshop with the Department.
The Department apologised for the presentation not assessing the impact of programs and its value for money. It addressed the new guidelines for the preparation of the Quarterly Performance Reports, strategic plans and Annual Performance Plans (APPs) which aim to make it more results-oriented. The performance dialogues are an attempt to understand why departments did not achieve. It was done through structured discussions between program managers, the Department, and Treasury.
The Committee said the Department’s current approach lowered its mandate to ‘advising’ departments, but as it resides in the Office of the Presidency, it is responsible for the departments, and it must play an active role in departments attaining objectives.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) stood in as Acting Chairperson as the Chairperson was ill.
Mr Qayiso said the Committee wants to make an assessment of how the budget translates into service delivery, determine what value government receives, and determine what the impact of government spending on the budget’s developmental objectives are. The presentation must connect to this, and at the last meeting with the Department it did not. This was a key concern the Committee raised at the previous meeting.
Mr Sifiso Magagula, Committee Content Advisor, said the Committee felt strongly about the Department’s presentation giving more detail on the impact a department has on service delivery and how efficiently the Department’s work is done. The Department was not helping the Committee to do its work by not talking about critical issues. The presentation before the Committee only spoke to the targets, whereas the Committee needs to understand the impact of the spending.
The Minister and Deputy Minister were absent and sent apologies. Ms N Ntlangwini (EFF) asked why the officials were not present. It was critical for them to attend because the Department presented a substandard report at the last meeting with the Committee.
Mr Stanley Ntakumba, Acting Director General: Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), said the Minister and Deputy Minister were absent because they were busy with the work of Cabinet. The Department did its best to align to the questions asked. The last part of the presentation sought to address the contextual questions raised by the Committee. The Department engaged with the strategic plans of departments in different ways. It looked at the strategic plan an annual performance plan (APP) and its alignment with both the National Development Plan (NDP) and the priorities of government.
Mr Z Mlenzana (ANC) interrupted, saying he thought the Department would by now know what the Committee expected from the presentation. The Committee received the figures in the presentation from Treasury. What the Committee wants is an impact assessment from the Department. The presentation did not give the Committee what it wants from the Department.
Ms D Peters (ANC) said performances are monitored, but not evaluated according to its impact based on the NDP. She asked if the State of the Nation Address (SONA) imperatives were met. The Committee was very dependent on Treasury and the Department for its evaluations.
Ms Peters also asked if the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was going to meet its outcomes and produce a better qualified and educated society.
Ms Ntlangwini said the presentation was just numbers and an outsider would not be able to make sense of it. The report must reflect names of programs or projects with outcomes not met so issues can be followed up.
The Chairperson said it was difficult for the Committee to move forward with the presentation as it was almost the same as the previous one and it could not make decisions based on the content of the presentation. The Minister and his Deputy should be present.
Mr Mlenzana said it was not so much that the Minister must be present, but maybe the Committee must better articulate what it wants so the Department can better understand what to present. The Department was only saying what was not achieved by departments, while the Committee was interested in why they did not achieve. This was not the Committee showing any malice to the Department.
Ms Peters agreed with the previous speaker’s comments and said the Committee’s Secretariat must engage with the Department, that perhaps a workshop must be held, like the one held with Treasury. The Department needs to evaluate the impact of departmental programs on society. She cited the example of the DBE which consistently failed to spend its infrastructure budget which resulted in an impact on its service delivery.
Mr Musa Zamisa, Committee Researcher, suggested he could prepare a document to guide the Department on what the Committee expected.
The Chairperson said a workshop with the Department needs to be organised.
Mr Ntakumba said the way forward, as it is mapped out, will assist the Department within the limits of the resources of the Department. A national evaluation plan will list a set of evaluations to be done in a year, and the Department will benefit if Parliament gave the Department a list of departments which must be evaluated. This will take time and resources and will zoom in on a specific area. The Department did not evaluate departments against their strategic plans. The Department had frontline monitoring programs which did ‘on the ground’ assessments in at least seven sectors, and analysed the progress made in the outcomes of the seven priorities of government. The Department did rigorous analyses which took more than six months to do. The Department faced challenges such as, if questions were asked in Parliament then the Department did not go beyond the questions raised, so the context given by the Committee was helpful. Suggestions can also be incorporated into the design analysis of programs.
Mr Mlenzana said work was done by the Department, but it had its limitations.
The Chairperson said the Committee members showed leniency and will allow a short presentation by the Department.
Mr Ntakumba apologised because the presentation did not assess the impact of programs and its value for money. He spoke to the new guidelines for the preparation of the Quarterly Performance Reports, Strategic Plans and APPs, which aimed to make it more results-oriented. It will take time to percolate through the system. There were additional requirements around development and the District Development Model, which was being piloted.
Ms Edeshri Moodley, Chief Director, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: The Presidency, spoke to the summary of National Department’s performances and to the performance dialogues with departments which were introduced by the Department in 2018.
Departments with achievements of under 50% were the Departments of Energy, Higher Education and Training, Military Veterans, Public Works and Infrastructure, Rural Development and Land Reform, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Sports and Recreation and the Property Management Trading Entity. The Department of Communication did not submit Third Quarter Reports adhering to guidelines.
The performance dialogues were an attempt to understand why departments did not achieve. It was done through structured discussions between program managers, the Department, and Treasury. The Department and Treasury did an assessment of a department’s performance. Other stakeholders could also be part of the dialogue. It was introduced to do away with the threatening ‘why did you not achieve’ approach, and rather to try and assist departments where there was no delivery or low delivery, so that the policies and priorities of government can be measured. It created a safe space for all role-players to discuss challenges.
Performance dialogues were held in the current year with the Departments of Labour, Small Business Development, Social Development, Military Veterans, Higher Education and the Presidency and she spoke to the resolutions taken for each department.
Mr O Mathafa (ANC) asked what informed the planned targets, as the targets must be aligned with a particular objective. Certain departments attained three out of four targets (75%) while other departments might attain 51 out of 77 targets (66%), how was one to interpret these percentages?
Mr Mlenzana said the Department’s current approach lowered its mandate to ‘advising’ departments, but as it resides in the Office of the Presidency, it is responsible for the departments. He said if it continues to treat departments with kid gloves, it will be useless and it will be subject to criticism. It needs to ruffle feathers and meet with departments, even bi-weekly if needs be.
Ms Ntlangwini said the Department needs to play an active role in departments attaining objectives. The Department needs to have people in the field not just sitting behind desks. In the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries the Committee wants to know the reason for the non- achievement of targets due to supply chain challenges. The Committee needs more detail on the projects experiencing challenges so it can follow up. Another example was the support plans for municipal councils. The Committee needs more detail on which support plans and which councils are referred to so it can follow up.
Ms Peters recommended the Department take the dialogue approach strongly. She asked what happened to the dialogue reports, and what was happening at local government level, if there were capacity challenges? The dialogue reports need to evaluate whether departments were worth their budgets.
On the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) said only three out of nine targets in Program 6 were met. There appeared to be a serious problem in Fisheries and small-scale fishermen were marginalised by manipulation favouring big fishing companies. On corporate governance, he said that billions were allocated to urban development but these monies were not spent.
Speaking about education and the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), the Chairperson asked if it was performing, if it improved, if the Government got investment returns from it, and were there any red flags. Further questions were, which provinces showed improvement, if the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) made progress in the eradication of the bucket toilet system? On the Department of Transport’s scholar transport program, he asked if there were any hiccups and how successful the program was. On the Department of Water and Sanitation, he asked how successful the leak eradication program was. The Department’s staff turnover was also a challenge impacting the Department and resulting in it not achieving its own targets. The staff turnover issue needs to be addressed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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