DPSA, NSG, PSC & CPSI 209/20 Quarter 4 Report; with Deputy Minister

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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration 26 June 2020
Audio: DPSA, NSG, PSC & CPSI 2019/20 Quarter 4 Report 

The Committee met with the Department of Public Services and Administration; National School Government, Public Service Commission and the Centre for Public Service Innovation to receive their fourth quarter performance for the 2019/20 financial year.

The Public Service Commission had a total of 21 annual performance plan targets, across four programmes, of which all were achieved. The entity had additional targets (both routine and ad-hoc targets) outside the annual plan and key targets were reflected on.

The entity spent 98.68% of its budget and underspent R3.6 million; this was largely ascribed to the Services Sector and Training Authority not delivering the services in time prior to the lockdown. It had since requested a roll of the funding from the National Treasury.

Members said that one of the priorities was to deal with the human resource related matters, especially when large amounts of money were getting wasted. A decision needed to be made on which departments to focus on regarding where the money was spent the most. They also asked for a status update on the investigation relating to the Director-General, in which the entity hired the mother of his child in the position of the Chief Director. They heard on the news that medical negligence claims were costing the state over R104 billion and asked for a report that would clearly indicate how long these claims had been outstanding and the measures in place to resolve these claims.

The National School of Government indicated that in terms of the annual performance plan targets for the fourth quarter, four targets were not achieved as planned. This translated to a 13% non-achievement and 87% achievement of performance targets. Training performance was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This affected training delivery compared to the same period in the previous financial years. Past performance trends showed the last quarter to typically was the best performing period. The entity’s monthly revenue losses were in excess of R10million due to class cancelations.

In spite of this challenge, the entity trained 46 469 against an annual target of 53 783 – representing 86% achievement. The annual revenue generation by the end of the fourth quarter was R126.5 million.

Members asked for clarity on the R10 million reportedly being lost monthly due to cancellations in the COVID-19 period, and if there was no way to conduct online training so as to prevent this loss.

Members also asked if the training performance assessments targeted at senior management or were across salary levels. If not, what are the reasons cited for this approach? For online learning, does the approach used in offering online courses generate revenue and target human resources than to offer courses in a targeted period in a year?

The Centre of Public Service Innovation indicated that during the fourth quarter period, the organisation had seven targets, out of which five were achieved and two were not achieved by the end of March 2020. This was a 71% achievement.

Expenditure for the period 01 April to 31 March 2020 amounted to R29.856 million or 77.68 % of the appropriation of R38.437 million for the year. The expenditure breakdown included an amount of R19.9 million spent on the compensation of employees and an amount of R9.312 million spent goods and services.

Members appreciated the good work the Centre was doing. On the vacancy rate, they said it would be important for the entity to provide its roadmap to reduce that vacancy rate. It was good to see an improvement in the percentage of women and persons living with disabilities and women who were employed.

Members welcomed the honesty of the report. They asked about the two projects from the previous performance cycle and if the innovation projects could be piloted to the duration of two projects from the previous performance cycle. Will there be a piloting of new projects in 2020/21 cycle?

The Department of Public Services and Administration achieved all of its quarterly targets across all six of its programmes. For the quarter, the Department spent R676 452 million (68%) of its revised allocated budget of R993 343 million.

The Committee asked if the entire DPSA workforce gone back to work under Lockdown Level three. If the Department was working online, is there a system in place to monitor the full use of the eight-hour workday? What is in place to ensure the enforcement of the disciplinary management, as there seems to be a backlog on these cases?

Members asked how the supplementary budget had impacted the PSA and how the Department was planning to implement its spending cuts. Concerning the officials who did business with the government, the number given previously was 433 but the number on the presentation was different. Members requested the status of the investigation. Before lockdown, the Committee reported on the disciplinary cases and the Department was not happy with that report. Why was this?

Opening remarks by the Chairperson

The Chairperson noted the apologies from the Members who could not attend the meeting: Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP), Dr L Schreiber (DA) and Minister Senzo Mchunu.

Meeting report

The Public Service Commission Presentation

Adv Richard Sizani, Chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC), said that the entity would present its report on the financial year 2019/20. He confirmed that the investigation on the Director-General (DG) was still ongoing and the Commission was waiting on the report.

Dr Dovhani Mamphiswana, DG of PSC, was supposed to present the fourth quarter performance report for the 2019/20 financial year. His audio feed was inaudible and he handed over to one of his colleagues to present. Her name was not given.

The PSC had a total of twenty-one APP targets of which all targets were achieved. The entity had additional targets (both routine and ad-hoc targets) outside the APP and key targets were reflected on.

Programme one:

Administration (one):

Annual target achieved: The 2020/21 APP was successfully tabled in March 2020.

 

Annual target was achieved in quarter two:

-Obtained an unqualified audit opinion in July 2019

-Implementation of audit improvement plan was in progress

-Positive outcome of interim audit on performance information

Annual target achieved:

-A 100% (3 647 of 3 647) of valid invoices were paid within 30 days of receipt.

Administration (two):

-Annual target achieved: from quarter one to four, four were achieved (one per quarter).

-Annual target achieved: Section 15 Notice submitted to DoJCD in March 2020

-Annual Target exceeded: a total of 58% BBBEE suppliers were appointed by March 2020

-Annual target achieved: from quarter to quarter: four reports submitted; one report per quarter.

Programme two: Leadership and Management Practice (LMP)

-Annual target exceeded: 84%. As at 31 March 2020, 806 grievances were registered, of which 725 (90%) were for level 2-12. Of the 725 cases, 549 (76%) were concluded of which 460 (84%) were concluded within 30 working days of receipt of all relevant information.

-Annual target exceeded: 92%. The 806 cases mentioned above included 81 cases for members of the SMS, of which 61 (75%) were concluded and 56 (92%) within 45 days.

LMP outside the APP:

As part of ensuring institutional support to department(s) as well as ensuring accountability and oversight support to Parliament, the PSC:

-conducted a study on the performance of the Public Service on the Restitution of Land Rights through assessing, among others, the organisational structure, skills, capacity and performance management of human resource as well as the leadership put in place to ensure implementation of the land restitution mandate.

-engaged with various stakeholders on employment equity implementation challenges and solutions in the Public Service at the Commission for Employment Equity's (CEE) strategic partner’s symposium.

Immediate impact of the LMP’s outputs/interventions:

Influence on government policy:

-the PSC’s investigation of grievances that were referred to it, as well as the monitoring of the management of grievances by all departments, had enabled the PSC to address policy gaps and inconsistent practices with specific departments and the DPSA in a holistic manner.

-various systemic issues identified through grievance management were addressed in detail through well-researched articles that were published via the grievance management communique, which was circulated to Labour Relations Officers and departments. 

It was also important to note that there was a logical flow between the PSC’s investigations on labour relations and human resources management issues with the various strategic engagements, presentations, research and publications; the investigations dealt with specific cases, while research and engagements addressed key issues at the broader policy level and popularise findings and recommendations to the broader public service in order to ensure consistency, capacitate departments or groups of employees across all departments and prevent the recurrence of similar challenges.

Programme three: Monitoring and Evaluation

A total of 54 engagements were held, exceeding the annual target that had been set. The entity also achieved the target of producing 12 reports on the evaluation of departments.

Programme four: integrity and anti-corruption

-As at 31 March 2020, there were 315 complaints on the database, of which 225 were finalised and 90 were being processed. Of the 225 finalised, 216 (96%) were finalised within three months of receipt of all relevant documents. The target was exceeded due to close monitoring of investigations.

-100% (1 594 of 1 594) of NACH cases were referred within seven days of receipt of case reports.

-A report on “Assessment of professional ethics in the Public Service” was successfully produced in March 2020.

Immediate impact of PSC’s outputs/interventions:

Enhanced advocacy and compliance:

-Public-administration-related investigations mainly focused on the alleged transgression of the prevailing prescripts regulating Human Resource and Supply Chain Management practices. Departments were sensitised regarding the regulatory framework, as well as the importance of adhering to such framework since non-adherence had serious implications.

-The impact of public administration investigations centres around the findings and recommendations reflected in investigation reports. In this regard, care was taken to ensure that sound public administration was enhanced by also reflecting in reports on adherence to the CVPs.

Enhanced responsiveness to citizens on complaints lodged via NACH:

-Monitored the effectiveness of NACH and ensured that complainants were provided with feedback on complaints lodged via NACH as a form of responsiveness to a call on promoting anti-corruption practices in the public service.

Continued government support to promoting professional ethical behaviour of public servants:

-This would promote compliance levels of public servants by analysing compliance practices against and promoting management of conflict with regard to the Financial Disclosure Framework.

The research report on professional ethics provided an assessment on the extent of leadership commitment in ensuring compliance with Public Service Regulations, 2016, and created awareness amongst the sampled departments on the prescripts relating to the implementation of ethical and anti-corruption measures.

Expenditure against the budget

The PSC spent 98.68% of its budget and underspent R3.6 million. This was largely ascribed to SETA not delivering the services in time prior to the lockdown. The PSC had since requested a roll of the funding from National Treasury.

Discussion

Ms M Clarke (DA) said that she heard on the news that medical negligence claims were costing the state over R104 billion, and asked whether or not a report would be made available from the PSC in terms of these claims. The report should clearly indicate how long these claims had been outstanding and the measures in place to resolve these claims. The Commission should also submit a report regarding the suspensions and what the cost factor was. She also asked for a status update on the investigation relating to the DG, who hired the mother of his child in the position of Chief Director.

Adv Sizani responded that many lawyers and doctors were working together to stop corruption. The Minister of Health had set up a task team that would work with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to address the issues; R104 billion was a huge loss due to this medical negligence.

In response to the issue of precautionary suspensions, the PSC was concerned about the number of officials who were staying at home but being paid their salaries without the 60 days that had to be followed after suspension. Some officials who had come to the PSC had been advised to go to court but still got suspended after winning their case; if they returned to work they would get suspended again. This was concerning to the PSC. The grounds for suspension were not being followed because officials were not being transferred after being suspended. The PSC would follow up on this marginalisation of officials through precautionary suspension.

The investigation on the DG was being conducted by an independent group and was being supervised by the Minister of Public Service and Administration and they were still waiting for the report; there had been delays due to COVID-19.

Ms Clarke made a recommendation to the Committee that it should have a joint meeting with the Department of Health (DoH) to see how far the investigation was. On the matter of suspension, the Committee would like to see how this would be dealt with because it was costing a lot of money. The DoH needed to provide proper progress on these issues.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said that one of the priorities was to deal with the HR related matters, especially when large amounts of money were getting wasted. A decision needed to be made on which departments to focus on regarding where the money was spent the most. The Department of Water and Sanitation was one of the main departments to focus on.

The Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, appreciated that the Commission could account for how South African citizens’ taxes were being spent and that this was taken very seriously. On 23 June 2020 people celebrated the United Nations’ Public Service Day and this was important to note the large role public services had played during this pandemic. The Department was committed to building a state that was professional, productive, responsive and ethical in its conduct.

The senior management of the National School of Government (NSG) and the principal, Mr Busani Ngcaweni, would do the presentation.

The National School of Government Presentation

Mr Ngcaweni said that the support from the Minister and Deputy Minister was welcomed. It must be noted that the portfolio had already factored in COVID-19 in its strategy as it was a major issue for the NSG. Since the suspension of classes the NSG had had zero revenue and there was a strategy in place to address that. The NSG was also working on the professionalisation of the PSA.

Executive Summary

Mr Ngcaweni and Mr Dino Poonsamy presented the NSG fourth quarter organisational performance for 2019/20. The presentation provided financial and non-financial performance highlights of the NSG for the quarter, measured against the approved Annual Performance Plan (APP).

Training performance was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This affected training delivery compared to the same period in the previous financial years. Past performance trends showed the last quarter to typically was the best performing period. The entity’s monthly revenue losses were in excess of R10million due to class cancelations.

Also, FY2019/20 was a transition period – from the fifth to the sixth Administration. Often, during transitions, training numbers drop due to changes in top management and/or the National Macro Organisation of Government.

In spite of this challenge, the entity trained 46 469 against an annual target of 53 783 – representing 86% achievement. The annual revenue generation by the end of the fourth quarter was R126.5 million.

In terms of the APP targets for the fourth quarter, four targets were not achieved as planned. This translated to a 13% non-achievement and 87% achievement of performance targets.

The information presented herein was being presented as the entity was preparing for the external audit process; performance information was subject to audit by the AG.

Highlights of Performance

The online Pre-Entry Programme for Senior Management Service, which went live on 15 July 2019, continued to be rolled out. In this quarter, a total of 161 learners enrolled for the programme.

The Executive Induction Programme (EIP) for DDGs and DGs took place on 17-19 March 2020, with a total of six delegates (National, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KZN, and North West). The guest speakers were Adv Thabo Mokoena, DGof the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, and Ms Mpumi Mpofu, CEO  of Airports Company of South Africa.

The training of youth, which was a key focus area for the NSG, continued to be rolled out. In this quarter, the entity trained 350 youth from North West province; cumulatively, 2 207 youth had undergone training. More importantly, from the new financial year, the entity renamed the programme to be called the Cadet Programme.

The NSG supported the Limpopo Provincial Treasury with rollout of three critical courses for procurement: (i) Strategic Sourcing: Strategic Development (ii) Strategic Sourcing: Strategic Assessment, and (iii) Strategic Sourcing: Execution.

The City of Johannesburg (CoJ) cohort of Councillors also completed all five modules of the new Local Government Development Programme (LGLDP), including the assessments.

The NSG adopted innovative strategies to ensure successful facilitation of the mandatory Coaching for Leadership Development (CLD) course and the Programme and Project Management (PPM) in other provinces.

The entity was finalising the appointments for a Panel of Experts for the provisioning of services related to Education, Training and Development practices. Such services included facilitation, assessment, moderation, and curriculum development, consulting and coaching services

Conclusion

The fourth quarter performance of the NSG was not just the last quarter performance of the financial year but also of the five-year strategic plan. The entity was proud of its achievements over the last five years:

-Trained in excess of 253 000 public servants (three spheres of government, SOEs, legislative sector) and youth (interns and unemployed youth graduates) – managing a curriculum framework of 129 courses and programmes (accredited and non-accredited).

-Programmes also covered training and developmental interventions to Members of Parliament, Municipal Councillors, Traditional Leaders and Community Development Workers 

-The NSG continued to undertake training needs analyse and skills audits, a significant number of which was undertaken over the five-year period – covering government departments and state-owned entities such as the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute.

The NSG continued to maintain its partnerships with higher education institutions across the country in rolling out programmes. It celebrated in the graduations of public servants upon their completion.

The NSG’s geographic reach had ensured access to remote areas like Umhlabuyalingana in KZN, to train unemployed youth on the BB2E – a programme which was being rolled out to youth.

Discussion

Ms M Kibi (ANC) asked if the training performance assessments targeted at senior management or were across salary levels. If not, what are the reasons cited for this approach? For online learning, does the approach used in offering online courses generate revenue and target human resources than to offer courses in a targeted period in a year?

Ms Lesoma said that the principal was aware and had made observation and comparison with the performance of departments, but the NSG needed to target the weakest sections where there was underperformance. Is there any training that will target the improvement of the performance of the department? She acknowledged the entity’s aim to have the departments appear before SCOPA within their current term of office.

Has the anti-corruption hotline been very active and what is the average success in solving those issues? She also said that more representation of women and people living with disabilities was needed in the NSG.

Ms Clarke asked for clarity on the R10 million reportedly being lost monthly due to cancellations in the COVID-19 period, and if there was no way to conduct online training so as to prevent this loss.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) wanted the NSG to explain how it was losing the R10 million per month.

Ms Lesoma asked about assessment centre. Is it going to be a new programme? How do they manage the public wage?

Responses

Mr Ngcaweni responded to the questions and said that the budget structure of the NSG had two sources of funds and ran two separate accounts.  One consisted of the voted funds that came from the National Treasury – about 20% of the NSG’s national budget. The second one was the trading account, which accounted for 80% of the revenue – which covered their cost of designing programmes and deploying programmes in terms of training. The fees that the NSG charged were capped by Treasury; as a result, when there was no training the revenue was lost. Most of the programmes were currently being run online and the cost was below R400, while in-person training would be R1 500. The NSG would be reviewing some of the fees being charged. Many universities had moved to online learning and they were offering their courses for free, but they would charge you a premium for the certificate. Half of the NSG’s were for free because they were targeting the lowest level of people in public service, giving access to them.

Investments needed to be made in the ICT infrastructure so that more people could access online learning – even through WhatsApp, in order to cater to those who did not have 3G or 4G networks. The NSG’s proposal to Treasury was not asking for fiscus allocations, but to establish an arrangement where the departments who paid the NSG three years ago would be recognised as income in order to compensate for the lost revenue. The easing of the lockdown led universities to open and it had an impact on the NSG because bigger venues needed to be found in order to host smaller numbers, to allow social distancing. The NSG was not creating new structures; it was making use of the resources available. The entity did not think it would end up in a situation where it would end up before SCOPA, because all of it operations were legal.

Ms Lesoma clarified that she meant that most of the departments appear before SCOPA and one of the reasons they would appear was poor financial management, in terms of the supply chain management. If the school had not done it, what process can be followed to address this?

Mr Ngcaweni responded that there was a training programme that the NSG offered on demand, where the Auditor-General would address certain areas that needed attention across a group of departments. The NSG would then arrange the training programme to deal with the cases that Ms Lesoma mentioned. The school was identifying similar interventions that it would undertake in the global sphere as well because hitherto this meeting, these programmes had been designed for people in the national and provincial government departments. The online anti-corruption programme was compulsory and even Members of Parliament could access them. The free programmes were sponsored 20% by the National Treasury.

Slide number six addressed employment equity: 57% of employees were women and 55% were at SMS level, while 28% were persons living with disabilities. This NSG was deliberately seeking to increase the numbers of youth and persons living with disabilities. The NSG was going to achieve this by changing the methods of recruitment and work with organisations who were training persons living with disabilities and by doing direct recruitment. The NSG could not increase the fees for online classes as the entity could not afford it and it aimed to allow access for people across the spectrum. The NSG would now be doing its work by directly training, influencing the training being done by other institutions and referring. So if there were programmes that were in demand, which the NSG could not do, the school would refer those employees to other training institutions.

The Centre for Public Service Innovation Presentation

Introductory remarks by the Deputy Minister

Deputy Minister Chikunga said that the CPSI had not been able to perform as effectively having changed work premises, and the new space being insufficient. There had been an issue on the review of CPSI and the entity decided that if it was moved to the DPSA, it may appear as a fruitless expenditure. For instance, the website – an investment in IT infrastructure – would cause the entity to be moved to the Department and this would make it look like a fruitless expenditure. The Minister had delegated the Deputy Minister to lead this process; the Ministry had had meetings with CPSI and given the entity timelines to consolidate the report that would focus on the core mandate of the CPSI and the resources it required to function efficiently. The position of the Executive Director was not filled because of this process and the DG left the Department at the end of 2019, and by March 2020 there was a new DG. As soon as the Ministry was sure of the future of the CPSI, a new Executive Director would be appointed.

Fourth quarter performance report

Ms Lydia Sebokedi, CEO of CPSI, presented the CPSI 2019/20 fourth quarter report.

During the fourth quarter period, the organisation had seven targets, of which five were achieved and two were not achieved by the end of March 2020. This was a 71% achievement.

Development of new solutions for the unachieved targets:

-Although new potential solutions (Bloqq, Guardian Health, ID Verification, Talk2Gov) were identified and several engagements were held with innovators, no new solution was taken into a piloting phase due to a longer than anticipated project duration of the two projects from the previous performance cycle.

-Capacity constraints in the research and development unit (one project manager) contributed to the non-achievement of this target.

The two newly identified solutions would be piloted in the health sector as part of the phase two of the Maternal Referral Project in the new financial year.

In terms of replication, two innovative solutions were facilitated for replication but replication of only one was completed – the Prince Mshiyeni/Bertha Gxowa Hospitals Maternity Filling Project was completed. The ‘Standing Boxes Project’ for Cerebral Palsy learners was to be replicated in the Free State in partnership with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). Unfortunately, due to unknown reasons the DCS stopped supporting the CPSI for the replication project; DCS was to use its offenders to build these standing boxes for learners as part of its rehabilitation programme.

A decision was made to procure the standing boxes using the CPSI budget. The procurement process was followed and a purchase order was issued on 05 March 2020 but there were delays in manufacturing due to scarcity of materials. This was compounded by the National Lockdown due to the COVID-19 Pandemic which led to the service provider not being able to deliver goods before the end of March 2020. As of June 2020, Standing Boxes were delivered to the CPSI and the entity had planned for them to be delivered in the Free State Crèche for Cerebral Palsy Children.  

Human Resource Information:

The organisational structure had 32 posts on its fixed establishment, with four vacant posts. The vacant Executive Director post was currently filled by the Chief Director: Employment Equity in an acting capacity and two of the three other posts were filled on a contract basis. In terms of employment equity, the SMS was 66.67% composed of females and 5.8% people living with disabilities.

 

Expenditure for the period 01 April to 31 March 2020 amounted to R29.856 million or 77.68 % of the appropriation of R 38.437 million for the year. The expenditure breakdown was as follows:

 

Compensation of Employees:

An amount of R19.9 million was spent up to 31 March 2020 (95.44% of the compensation budget). The spending (R9 539 000) was lower than anticipated as a result of the Executive Director vacancy since 2018; the position was filled through secondments from the DPSA until June 2019 and again from a secondment from the Presidency from September 2019. The latter secondment ended on 14 February 2020. For the remainder of the financial year, the post was filled through the internal capacity. The CPSI had another three vacant posts that were in the process of being filled.  The positions would not be filled due to the review of the CPSI. Two of these three vacant posts were currently occupied by officials that were appointed additional to the establishment, on lower than projected notches. These vacancies resulted in savings from differences in notch levels for the 2019/20 financial year and the vacant post since October 2019.

Goods and Services

  • An amount of R9.312 million was spent on goods and services for the same period; this was 55.96% of the Goods & Services budget; the expenditure was hence lower than projected.
  • Office accommodation (R4, 322 million): The CPSI’s relocation to the DPSA Batho Pele/Agrivaal Building resulted in some areas of underspending the financial year.  Funds projected for the lease accommodation were planned to be redirected to tenant installation, upgrading long-overdue infrastructure, and maintenance of the building as per the MoU signed with DPSA. This could not be invested in during the year due to the pending review of the CPSI.
  • Computer Services: The CPSI financial system at the DPSA/ Agrivaal Building was only reconnected to the transversal systems at SITA during July 2019. All financial transactions were performed at the SITA’s offices in Centurion from March 2019 to 8 July 2019.  For this reason, transaction costs incurred were lower than anticipated and resulted in an underspending at the end of the financial year.
  • Due to non-achievement of the development of new solutions, there were savings relating to that target. Further savings were made because the online publishing of the Public Sector Innovation Guide was done in-house.
  • Lower travel and accommodation costs were incurred as the Annual Public Service Innovation Conference and the Awards Ceremony were held in Gauteng, resulting in lower than anticipated costs in venues, amongst others. In addition, staff would have travelled to the conference and award ceremony on different dates, but because they were held back to back, the travel and accommodation costs were much less. Further savings were made on non-employee foreign travel since the UNPAN workshop was not held, due to the loss of capacity.
  • The Awards Finalists Workshop was not held during 2019 as part of the Awards Programme, but finalists attended the conference instead. Due to the small number of entries received for the awards, fewer site visits were conducted, further cutting down on venue, travel and accommodation costs. 
  • Thirty days: no payment exceeded the 30-day period during the fourth quarter of the 2019/20 financial year.
  • Unauthorised expenditure: no unauthorised expenditure was incurred during the fourth quarter.
  • Fruitless and wasteful expenditure: no unauthorised expenditure was incurred during the quarter.
  • Irregular expenditure: no cases of irregular expenditure were identified during the quarter.

Discussion

Ms Kibi asked about the two projects from the previous performance cycle and if the innovation projects could be piloted to the duration of two projects from the previous performance cycle. Will there be a piloting of new projects in 2020/21 cycle?

Ms Maluleke appreciated the good work the CPSI was doing. On the vacancy rate, she said it would be important for the entity to provide its roadmap to reduce that vacancy rate. It was good to see an improvement in the percentage of women and persons living with disabilities and women who were employed. Who contributes to the idea? Was there any innovation extrapolated on the journal that got piloted by the DPSA?

Ms Lesoma said that the honesty of the report was appreciated. The facial recognition feature was a good initiative considering the current pandemic as one would not need to touch anything. What kind of public services wanted needs to be decided on, going forward into the fourth industrial revolution? When does the CPSI think that the repositioning of the CPSI will be finalised? This could result in an adverse audit once the AG finalised their audit report for CPSI in FY2020/21. How does science and technology deal with accounting for the researchers that they employ?

Responses

The Deputy Minister responded to the question of when the review of the CPSI would be completed and said that during the following, week the Ministry would be having a meeting with the DPSA and the CPSI. The two parties would be presenting their consolidated reports and proposals. This would be given to the Minster, and dependent on his decisions, those were the decisions that would be implemented.

Ms Sebokedi said that in terms of the road map for vacancies, the CPSI would write a submission to the Minister, seeking for guidance. CPSI needed developers, and the submission was to also try and get approval from the Minister for a larger capacity. CPSI needed to share ideas that worked within the public service so that other public servants could learn from it. Also, the entity was unsure of how long that review process would take.

Mr Pierre Schoonraad, Chief Director: Research and Development, CPSI, said that some of the projects in the health sector were delayed due to COVID-19 because access to these facilities was difficult. There was access to online services and assisting departments to assist with the number of online services from screening questions to more substantive initiatives. The entity would continue with the two other projects – Home Affairs and the Maternal Referral. The Maternal Referral was a long-term project that had not been solved yet and the entity was looking at how to prevent and manage it. The CPSI was working with NSG and DPSA on skills and sharing some of the international thinking around skills for the future public sector. There was a lot of working being done and it was a question of tailor-making for the local conditions.

The Department of Public Service and Administration Presentation

Introductory remarks by the Deputy Minister

The Deputy Minister said the report was not only the fourth-quarter performance of 2019/20 but also the last quarter of the fifth administration and the strategy plan. The Department achieved all the targets and managed to pay all the service providers within 30 days. The entity had a 3.5% representation of persons living with disabilities representation; the government target was 2%.

Introduction

This was a presentation on the implementation of the fourth quarter targets (January – March 2020) on the DPSA’s 2019/20 APP. The fourth quarter report had been audited by the Department’s Internal Audit and Risk Management Directorate. The Department had complied with the submission of the report to the Minister, National Treasury, and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) by the required deadline. The progress on the implementation of the APP targets was rated as either achieved or not achieved. Monthly reports on the progress towards attaining the quarterly targets were produced and areas of underperformance were escalated to the Director-General and Minister for their intervention, where required.

Programme one: Administration

The programme achieved all of its six (100%) quarter targets:

  • The 2019/20 third quarter Interim Financial Statement was submitted to National Treasury by the end of January 2020. For the quarter, the Department spent R676 452 million (68%) of its revised allocated budget of R993 343 million.
  • The second compliance report on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) status was submitted to the Chief Financial Officer by the end of March 2020. The report indicated that from 01 September 2019 - 01 March 2020, the Department processed 57 orders amounting to an estimated R4.3 million. The 80/20 preferential system was applied in terms of the BBBEE preferential procurement regulations.
  • The third quarter 2019/20 report on the implementation of the APP was submitted to the Executive Authority, National Treasury and DPME by the end of January 2020. During the quarter, the Department had 26 targets, of which 20 (77%) were achieved and six (23%) were not achieved.
  • The third quarter 2019/20 report on Internal Audit and Risk Management was submitted to the Audit and Risk Committee in March 2020. The report indicated that management controls were generally adequate and effective. The only exception was on assets and fleet management wherein it was found that the controls were adequate but ineffective due to the following: 
  • The third quarter 2019/20 report on DPSA’s compliance to Financial Management, Human Resources and Labour Relations Prescripts was submitted to the Director-General in January 2020. During the quarter, the Department had 20 compliance areas, of which 18 (90%) were complied with and two (10%) areas were not complied with. The areas that were not complied with were related to human resource and facilities as well as strategic management.
  • The third quarter 2019/20 report on the implementation of the DPSA’s Bi-lateral and Multilateral programmes was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020.

Programme two: Policy Development, Research and Analysis

The Programme achieved all of its seven (100%) quarter targets.

  1. The draft regulations to support the standards setting process for the Office of Standards and Compliance were submitted to the Director-General in December 2019. The target was achieved during the third quarter as consultations on the draft regulations were concluded during the second quarter. The Office of Standards and Compliance regulations served to establish the duties, powers and functions of head of office.
  1. The business case on the structure and governance of the Office of Standards was submitted to the Director-General in June 2019. It was planned that work on the business case on the structure and governance of the Office of Standards would be finalised in March 2020. However, due to the prior work done on the Office of Standards and Compliance, the target was completed in June 2019. The business case served as a guide on the institutionalisation of the Office of Standards and Compliance.
  1. The report on support provided to departments to improve on areas of non-compliance with Public Service legislative and regulatory prescripts as identified in the 2017/18 Auditor-General report was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020. The report highlighted that 12 national departments and 43 provincial departments obtained clean audits during the 2017/18 financial year. Also, departments had improvement plans in place to address areas of non-compliance.
  1. The report on the implementation of recommendations made towards the establishment of a national administration to support the Public Administration Management Act (PAMA) was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020.
  2. The second draft research paper to inform the development of the White Paper for the Transformation and Modernization of public administration was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020. One of the policy recommendations arising from the draft research was the creation of a single and integrated public administration system, accompanied by a strengthened legislative and governance framework.
  3. The report on linking organisational productivity assessment with the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020. The linking of organisational productivity assessment with the PMDS was a process towards the entrenching productivity assessments in the Public Service.
  4. The report on the state of readiness of departments to implement the Organisational Functionality Assessment (OFA) Tool was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020.

Programme three: Public Service Employment and Conditions of Service

The programme achieved all of its six (100%) quarter targets.

  1. The report on the average percentage of funded vacant posts on PERSAL was submitted to the Director-General in February 2020. The average vacancy rate during the third quarter of the 2019/20 financial year was 9.53%. This was an increase of 0.38% from the 9.15% during the second quarter of the year. The increase in the vacancy rate could be attributed to, amongst others, departments not advertising vacancies due to austerity measures.

Programme four: Government Chief Information Officer

The programme achieved all three of its (100%) quarter targets.

  1. The report on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) expenditure by all national and provincial departments during the 2018/19 financial year was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020. The ICT expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year was over R40 billion as compared to R 36 billion during the year. The major cost driver was BAS at over R19 billion.
  1. The Public Service Information Security Standard was submitted to Director-General in February 2020. The Information Security Standard provided the framework to establish departmental information security policies and procedures for the protection of government information.
  2. The revised Corporate Governance of ICT Policy Framework was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020. The purpose of the Corporate Governance of ICT Policy Framework was to institutionalise corporate ICT as an integral part of corporate governance in departments.

Programme five: Service Delivery Support

The programme achieved all six of its quarter targets.

  1. The report on the implementation of the Operations Management Framework was submitted to the Director-General in February 2020. The report presented the research findings on the implementation status of the Operations Management Framework in 112 departments.

Programme six: Governance of Public Administration

The Programme achieved all of its four (100%) quarterly targets.

  1. The proposal on the establishment of the Head of the National Administration and Head of the Public Service was submitted to the Director-General in March 2020. The proposal was in response to the National Development Plan’s proposal that envisioned an administrative Head of Government.

Discussion

The Chairperson said that there was not enough time for a discussion and suggested that Members pose questions and receive the responses in writing through the Committee Secretariat.

Ms Lesoma said that business plans needed to be the core of what the departments used to implement their programmes. What is the system used by the DPSA to monitor the departments? There were many departments and entities not meeting the targets.

Has the entire DPSA workforce gone back to work under Lockdown Level three? If the Department was working online, is there a system in place to monitor the full use of the eight-hour workday? What is in place to ensure the enforcement of the disciplinary management, as there seems to be a backlog on these cases?

Ms Kibi said that according to the central supplier database, as of March 2020, the number of public service employees conducting business with organisations of the state was 270 and 11 in an official capacity. What is the PSA going to do with this information? On service delivery improvement plans, there was poor monitoring on the implementation of plans. What has the NSG done to ensure proper implementation?

Ms Clarke asked how the supplementary budget had impacted the PSA and how the Department was planning to implement its spending cuts. Concerning the officials who did business with the government, the number given previously was 433 but the number on the presentation was different. She requested the status of the investigation. Before lockdown, the Committee reported on the disciplinary cases and the Department was not happy with that report. Why was this?

The Department was asked to submit outstanding responses to Members’ questions in writing.

The meeting was adjourned.

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