Report on employee development in the public service; Framework for Monitoring of Compliance with Public Administration Legislative Framework; with Deputy Minister

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

16 November 2022
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, the Public Service Commission (PSC) reported on the effectiveness of continuous employee development. There was also a briefing from the Department of Public Service and Administration on the Framework for Monitoring of Compliance with Public Administration Legislative Framework.

The PSC conducted a study focusing on a high-level assessment of the effectiveness of continuous employee development in public service considering the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The presentation was brought before the Committee as a part of the PSC reporting mechanism to the National Assembly, and as a way to equip the Portfolio Committee with valuable information based on a new study that has been conducted on how to address the new skills development demands in the Public Service. The study assesses the use of the skills levy by departments regarding their focus areas and types of training provided. It identifies and assesses the influence of the 4IR and other factors on the selection and prioritisation of training programmes. The study used qualitative methods in which both primary and secondary data collection methods were used.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed all the Portfolio Committee Members to the meeting. He indicated that the Department of Public Service and Administration would be briefing the Committee on the Draft Compliance Monitoring Framework. The Framework is managed by the Office of Standards And Compliance within the Department, as established in terms of the Public Administration Management Act of 2014.

The Public Service Commission would also be briefing the Committee on the tabled report on the Effectiveness of continuous employee development in enhancing capacity and service delivery in the Public Service”. He briefly stated that continuous learning in the workplace has the potential to expand employee skills set, increase skills and knowledge retention, generate new ideas and perspectives, boost morale, and raise employee performance in the public service.

He urged the Portfolio Committee Members to align study recommendations with issues confronting the National School of Government related to the training and development of public servants.

The Chairperson said that the Public Service Commission would present first, followed by the Department of Public Service and Administration. He, therefore, invited Prof Somadoda Fikeni onto the virtual platform to make a few opening remarks. Public Service Commissioner, Dr Henk Boshoff, indicated that he would be standing in for Prof Fikeni for the duration of the meeting because he was attending a meeting with the executive council of the Mpumalanga province.

Opening Remarks from Public Service Commissioner
Dr Boshoff stated that the presentation would present the PSC study of the effectiveness of continuous employee development in the public service considering the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a continuously changing environment. He said that the presentation is brought before the Committee as a part of the PSC reporting mechanism to the National Assembly, and as a way to equip the Portfolio Committee with valuable information based on a new study that has been conducted on how to address the new skills development demands in the Public Service. Although the National Development Plan has identified the deficit in the public service, it should also be acknowledged that the environment is continuously changing, especially with the introduction of the 4IR.

He said that although the PSC cannot identify all the skills needs of all Departments, the PSC advised that Departments should remain adaptable when identifying the skills needs. He highlighted that the presentation would elaborate on the findings and recommendations made through the study.

Public Service Commission Briefing
Dr Kholofelo Sedibe, Deputy Director-General, PSC, acknowledged everyone in the meeting, including the Deputy Minister. She introduced the presentation outline which included the background, objectives of the study, methodology, prescripts, the literature reviewed, findings and recommendations, and the conclusion.

Employee skills development aims to facilitate the acquisition of new skills and the improvement of current skills through enhancing existing knowledge and changing employees' behaviour in the workplace. Training and development, especially in the Public Service, to support the implementation of administrative reform and modernisation.

The study focused on a high-level assessment of the effectiveness of continuous employee development in the Public Service considering the potential of 4IR in continuously changing environments.

The DDG briefly highlighted some of the objectives of the study. The study assesses the use of the skills levy by departments in terms of their focus areas and types of training provided. It identifies and assesses the influence of the 4IR and other factors on the selection and prioritisation of training programmes. The study also assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of human resource development processes in the Public Service and proposes interventions and alternatives to improve the relevance and effectiveness of continuous employee development in the Public Service.

She took the Committee through the study's methodology and briefly stated that it was a qualitative study using both primary and secondary data collection methods. The primary data was collected through a self-administered questionnaire electronically circulated to all Heads of Departments and Directors-General for facilitations with their respective departments to solicit data on Human Resource Development spending, processes, and priorities.

The DDG also highlighted some of the prescripts consulted to understand and contextualise continuous employee development in Public Service. These included and were not limited to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996), and amended Act 103 of 1994.

The literature defined employee development as initiatives and interventions that have been put in place to bring about lasting and positive change towards an individual with a specific focus on improving their overall personal growth while ensuring that the employer or organisational goals are met. In Public service, the development and training of employees are managed through the Performance Management and Development System, which includes performance monitoring and reviews and the implementation of the Personal Development Plan. The literature outlines the benefits of continuous employee development.

Within the literature, the impacts of the 4IR are also indicated. The impact of globalisation has resulted in the acceleration of digitisation in the workplace and life in general. 4IR has been embraced by many, however, some challenges have been identified by various researchers.

Dr Sedibe outlined some benefits of implementing 4IR in the public service. It has the potential to improve the internal operations of departments and assist in the rendering of services to the public. Digitalisation allows for transparency and accountability and ensures the government provides quality information. One of the significant challenges with adopting 4IR in the public service is the lack of skills and appropriate tools for the trade and concerns regarding job losses and security breaches.

The DDG took the Committee through the findings as indicated in the presentation. The majority of departments have HRD policies and Work Skills Plans. Although there are a few departments without these policies, departments cited the lack of budget as an underlying challenge in implementing HRD policies and programmes. This has led to the limitation on the number of people allowed to attend training. There has been a lack of human resource capacity within HRD units to coordinate and champion HRD. The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it more reliance on digital technologies. Some of the other findings included poor attendance and participation; monitoring the implementation of Personnel Development Plans; and the influence of 4IR and other factors on the selection of training programmes.

The report outlined the recommendations made based on the prescripts, literature review, and primary data findings. There is a need to ensure that training and development policies are in place and adaptable to the transformation required. The  DPSA and relevant authorities should incorporate the implications of changes brought about by prevailing resource constraints and the 4IR in various policy frameworks and programmes to guide departments systematically. Departments should take responsibility for guiding employees and service providers on required priority skills development programmes to prepare Public Service employees adequately to perform their duties.

The transition to 4IR should be carefully managed responsibly and sustainably to minimise unintended consequences.

Department of Public Service and Administration
Deputy Minster Remarks

Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, addressed the Committee preceding the presentation of the DPSA. She welcomed the presentation from the Public Service Commission. She stated that it is in the interest of the Department to capacitate the state and the public service to run a capable developmental state. She said it would be important to be cognisant of the status of the Integrated Financial Management System that the Department has been eagerly waiting for many years. There needs to be an understanding of the position of the Department on the IFMS and how far the Department is in terms of its conclusion. The IFMS has made it difficult for the Departments in the Public Service to be ahead of the digitisation and modernisation of government.

She highlighted that the report from the DPSA would focus on the norms and standards of the Public Administration Compliance Monitoring Framework. The Office of Standards and Compliance is mandated in terms of the Public Service and Administration Act of 2014 to monitor and enforce compliance with Public Administration norms and standards. It has developed the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework intending to achieve compliance with Public Administration norms and standards. The Framework serves as a foundation to guide monitoring compliance within the Public Service and Administration. It outlines the compliance principles and processes of compliance monitoring models that the office of standards and compliance intends to complement. The objective of the Framework is to address poor adherence to regulated prescripts, according to the Auditor-General, failure to comply with the legislation remains one of the root causes of instances of non-compliance and audit findings.

The Auditor-General has consistently reported that existing internal controls did not detect non-compliance. The Framework, therefore, intends to foster and encourage compliance by guiding the monitoring of compliance with minimum norms and standards. The Framework has been consulted extensively in six provinces, namely Limpopo, Eastern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Northern Cape together with selected National departments.

The report has been submitted to the Minister of Public Service and Administration. She stated that compliance monitoring by the office of the Standard compliance currently focuses on National and Provincial Departments with a view of incorporating municipalities in the future.

The early warning system is being developed and intended to be integrated with other Public Service systems. The DPSA is currently in the process of appointing a service provider to develop these systems. A compliance assessment methodology involving early warning indicators will be used to identify early signs of non-compliance for timely interventions.

She said that it is in the interest of the Department to devise a plan that will respond accordingly to non-compliance across all spheres of government.

The Deputy Minister introduced the team from the Department and handed over the platform to Ms Renisha Naidoo.

Department of Public Service and Administration Briefing
Ms Renisha Naidoo, Chief Director: Legal Services, DPSA, introduced the outline of the presentation. She indicated that the presentation would focus on the background and the purpose of the Framework, the legislative mandate, the problem statement, and the recommendations that came out from the report.

Ms Naidoo briefly reiterated the purpose and the background of the study as discussed by the Deputy Minister.

The Policy Framework for the Government-Wide Monitoring and Evaluation System (GWM&ES, 2007) is the overarching policy framework for monitoring and evaluation in the South African Government. It sketches the policy context for supporting frameworks, such as the National Treasures Framework for Managing Programme Performance Information (2007), Statistics South Africas South African Statistics Quality Assurance Framework (SASQAF), and National Treasurys Performance Information Handbook (2011).

She indicated that the Framework is still in its draft stages and will be finalised in the current financial year. The Framework seeks to define concepts used in the monitoring of compliance. The Framework outlines the core compliance considerations, enablers, and requirements which work towards compliance and an effective Public Service.

Non-compliance leads to irregularities in the administration and it affects the state's ability to provide optimal services. As mentioned previously by the Deputy Minister, the failure to comply with legislation is one of the root causes of material non-compliance and audit findings. The OSC has identified particular transversal areas of non-compliance.

Ms Naidoo took the Committee through the five distinct purposes of the Framework. These can be found in detail in the report.

She took the Committee through the conceptualisation of the Compliance Monitoring Framework. Section 17 of the PAMA requires the OSC to promote and monitor compliance with minimum norms and standards determined by the Minister concerning Public Administration Management. For the function to be carried out successfully, the OSC needs to develop frameworks to guide compliance monitoring and evaluation in government departments.

The Framework recognises that full compliance may be difficult to achieve unless decision-makers are supportive of improvement measures, or if there is enforcement of consequence management. To promote regulatory compliance, certain factors need to be considered. The degree to which the provincial and National departments are aware and understand the public service administration legal framework, the degree to which the provincial and national departments are willing and able to comply.

The report provided a summary of the compliance monitoring process as per the OSC regulations.

It is envisaged that the compliance monitoring mechanisms will encourage compliance and prevent violation or non-compliance.

The proposed strategies to encourage compliance include identifying and creating compliance systems, understanding compliance triggers, compliance risk classification, awareness & training, assigning roles and responsibilities, and monitoring mechanisms.

Ms Naidoo also outlined the roles and responsibilities of the various key players, which include the OSC; the departments; relevant executives; EAs; senior managers and team leaders in charge of policy areas; the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation; and Statistics South Africa.

Dr M Gondwe (DA) welcomed both presentations and began by addressing the Public Service Commission presentation. She said that the presentation indicated that 80% of national and provincial departments took part in the study, and requested the Department to confirm the national and provincial departments that did not participate. She also requested that the Department indicate whether these departments provided any reasons for their non-compliance.

She referred to the PDPs and the performance improvement plans that the public service is expected to complete at the start of every financial year. She said this was somewhat of a box-ticking exercise having been a public servant herself. The report identifies that budget constraints were noted as an excuse for the training needs not being met. She asked the PSC about the extent to which budget constraints identified by the Departments impeded providing the required training and skills development.

She noted that the study comprised two aspects, namely the self-administered questionnaires, and the desktop review of legislative and policy framework. She asked whether the Department was able to verify that the information in the responses provided by the Heads of Departments and Directors-General was accurate and whether it was not important to get a fuller picture of the training and development by involving a sample of public servants.

One of the findings from the study was that a few departments indicated that training and skills development assisted in addressing the identified scarce and critical skills. Dr Gondwe asked whether the Department has been able to establish the reasons which led to why that was the case. One would think that training and development in all departments would be used to address the skills gap. She asked how often public servants are expected to attend training and development related to capacitating them when it comes to compliance.

She referred to the DPSA and noted that some of the challenges that the public service is experiencing boil down to the issue of non-compliance with the policy prescripts and norms and standards. An example would be the backlog in the public service disciplinary cases, and these challenges come at a great financial cost to the ordinary citizen. She expressed her concern regarding the Framework advancing a supportive approach to ensuring compliance; the time for a supportive approach has long gone, and the Department needed a tough approach to non-compliance.

Ms C Motsepe (EFF) welcomed both DPSA and PSC presentations. She noted that the report indicated that the environment is continuously changing, and therefore, asked whether the Department considered the rural areas in terms of the needed skills. She further stated that often rural areas are left behind and there are still challenges for 4IR.

She asked for clarity on the criteria used in terms of the PMDs, as there is still a shortfall.

As reported that the 4IR will be implemented to all employees, she asked whether all the categories were included in relation to the assessment of PMDs. She asked whether the Department considered the budget before introducing any big program. She said that rural areas are the first areas to suffer if the budgets are not considered.

She suggested that the system should be in all the provinces and without any failure of data electricity and budget allocated and to work effectively and efficiently in all three spheres of government.

Ms S Maneli (ANC) appreciated the presentations. She asked the PSC whether there was anything new identified by the study that was not depicted in the National Development Plan, as the NDP outlines the issues of the public service.

Concerning Human Resources, she asked whether any outdated policies have been identified, or policies that are currently not working.

She referred to the issues raised in the recommendation on ring-fenced of the one percent. She asked whether it suggests that there are departments where the above was not being done. She said that she was under the impression that the one percent must be ring-fenced for the development of workers.

She asked how the Department plans to deal with the challenges raised by the category of workers who are still using desktop computers in terms of training needs.

She asked whether there were any measures to determine that the training needs as identified by the Public servants are being catered for.

Ms T Mgweba (ANC) welcomed both presentations.

Referring to both the DPSA and the PSC, she asked for clarity on the new suggestions in the pipeline to strengthen consequence management in the Public Service.

She asked whether compliance management has not been a matter which departments have already been dealing with.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) echoed the sentiments of her colleagues in welcoming the presentations.

She indicated that most of her concerns had been covered, especially related to the issue of workers who are still using desktop computers whilst others have laptops. She said that 25% of workers without laptops are a huge concern.

She said that as a developing country there are teething problems and the 4IR is a revolution. The revolution cannot be completed overnight. She said that in rural areas, there are still issues of network and working from home would not be equally balanced for everyone. Regarding the rapid adoption of the 4IR, she asked if there was any consideration of phasing issues slowly with the understanding that it cannot be one-size-fits-all.

She said that it is still evident that non-compliance is still an issue, and she continued to ask whether the Department has considered enforcing a disciplinary action to draw a line for the workers.

The Chairperson handed over the platform to the two departments to respond to the concerns raised.

Response from the PSC
Dr Boshoff made a few remarks before handing over to Dr Sedibe to respond to the questions.

He highlighted a trend regarding national and provincial departments, when it comes to research projects conducted by the Public Service Commission, the information requested comes in slowly. He indicated that this had been reported to the Portfolio Committee. He said that because the Public Service Commission has a visible presence in provinces, provincial departments tend to cooperate quicker when information is requested.

Dr Sedibe pointed out that when there are budget constraints in a department, the first thing departments cut on is training, an aspect that has been highlighted several times. The Committee needs to consider that there will be budget constraints in the current economic environment.

Dr Gondwe raised that her question was not responded to.

The Chairperson explained that Dr Boshoff was merely providing remarks and Dr Sedibe would be responding to all questions.

Dr Boshoff agreed with the Committee Members that there are still challenges in the rural areas and departmental offices in urban areas are prioritised. It is an issue that needs to be looked into.

Departments need to be adaptable when identifying skills in rural areas.

He handed over to Dr Sedibe to address some of the technical aspects of the concerns raised by the Committee Members.

Dr Sedibe referred to the issue of the completion of questionnaires. She indicated that the departments that did not complete their questionnaires did not give any reasons and the PSC has followed up with several departments. When the study is near completion, the following-up stops and the analysis begins. She stated that getting the reasons for non-compliance was not a priority.

Regarding PDPs budget availability and compliance, she said that PDPs are complete as a matter of compliance. She referred to it as black ink on white paper. In the presentation, Dr Sedibe indicated that it is important that the PDP does not just deal with what the employee wants. There needs to be an imposition of certain programmes that the employer requires so that they are not negotiable and remain generic across a range of employees who need them.

Budget constraints impact individual employee matters. The report mentioned that the majority of departments indicated budget constraints. She indicated that the data specified the exact number of departments.

She referred to the question on how the PSC verifies the accuracy of information provided. The PSC is very specific in saying that the HODs and DGs are making a departmental submission. The unit that assists is the Human Resource Management and Development section, which is the custodian of the programme's focus. They should be able to assist a DG.

Response from the DPSA
The Deputy Minister responded to the questions related to the DPSA presentation.

Consequence Management is regulated by relevant Acts such as the Public Service Act, Municipal Systems Act, Public Finance and Management Act, and Audit Acts. It should be noted, however, that the OSC recognises the reasons for non-compliance, which is why the component of support is brought into play.

She stated that the concern indicated by Ms Motsepe was valid. Regarding the technological advancement in rural areas, It is important to look at the fact that almost every person in the country right now has access to a cellphone. As technology advances, there are hopes that the internet connection across the country would be advanced.

Committee minutes
Committee minutes dated 18 October 2022; 19 October 2022; and 2 November 2022 were considered and adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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