Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Annual Report 2021/22
NCOP Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure
30 November 2022
Chairperson: Mr K Mmoiemang (ANC, Northern Cape)
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) presented its annual report for the 2021/22 financial year, and reported that they had achieved an 80% achievement rate against their targets. The Department had a budget of R459 million, but had spent only R396 million. It received a clean audit for the financial year.
The Committee expressed disappointment at the 80% achievement level, as this Department should set the standards for others, since it was the one that monitored and evaluated the performance of other departments. They asked how long acting directors, deputy directors and heads of departments should be in that role, as it had been raised as a concern by the Auditor-General that there were acting directors who had been in their positions for prolonged periods. Regarding the failure to have all employees declare their financial interests, they wanted to know what consequence management measures had been implemented for those who had not yet declared, and whether these declarations were related to the Department’s lifestyle audits.
DPME Annual Report
Mr Clement Madale, Director: Strategy and Service Delivery Support, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), outlined the core function of the DPME as analysing local and international trends to strategise policy across government Departments, with the National Development Plan (NDP) as its guiding policy.
For the fifth administration, the Department had identified five strategic goals:
Efficient and effective operations characterised by ethical leadership and good corporate governance;
Developing a functional and integrated government planning system;
Having citizens and stakeholders contribute to the implementation of the NDP;
Monitoring government programmes to improve accountability and service delivery; and
Generating evidence to support the country’s developmental agenda.
The Department had achieved 80% of its overall objectives. Their goals were split into five programmes:
Programme 1 - Administration
The Department did not achieve the goal of all designated employees submitting their financial disclosures within the designated time period. Reasons for non-submission varied from a lack of access, to being on leave. As a result, the Department took a case-by-case approach to investigating each non-submission to find the appropriate consequence management measures. The annual risk, anti-corruption and integrity management implementation plan was not approved within the timeframe of the financial year due to scheduling conflicts. However, it has since been approved by the executive and audit committees. The Department had set a goal of 5% vacancies, compared to the standard of 10%, but managed to maintain only 7.2% over the financial year. The Department’s information communication technology (ICT) goal was not reached due to the remote mode of working during the pandemic, which meant that staff needed more support or lacked access to certain resources. The final target that went unachieved was the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBEEE) scorecard. The Department achieved a score of 5.07 against a target of 30 points. They put this down to a lack of funding to engage in a robust programme to advance previously disadvantaged groups.
Programme 2a - National Planning Commission (NPC) Secretariat
This programme aims to monitor and produce a framework for the implementation of the NDP, as well as produce annual reports on research, stakeholder engagement and the overall work of the NPC in implementing the NDP. All goals were achieved.
Programme 2b - National Planning Coordination
This programme assesses the strategic plans in the Department and assesses the alignment of those plans to the NDP. All but one of the goals were achieved. The target of producing a report to determine whether the national budget and government’s priority areas were aligned by 31 March went unachieved. This was due to delays in securing of appropriate service providers. However, the work was on target to be completed in the 2022/23 financial year.
Programme 3 - Sector Monitoring Services
This programme monitors and assesses government programmes to ensure that correct decisions are made, based on policy and legislation. All goals were met.
Programme 4 - Public Sector Monitoring and Capacity Development
This programme receives complaints from communities and then directs the appropriate governmental response to those issues, as well as assisting municipalities to assess their weaknesses and develop optimisation plans. All goals were met.
Programme 5 - Evaluation, Evidence, and Knowledge Systems
In this programme, the development of a functional evidence hub was not completed. This was a long-term project that the Department hopes to complete by the 2023/2024 financial year.
Covid-19 had a major impact on the human resource management of the Department, as staff had to transition to a remote mode of work and the numbers in the office, as well as the office hours, had to be reduced. Further human resource management goals included reducing the vacancy rate to 5% and appointing 5% or more interns per annum to upskill young graduates. The Department had implemented below 8% of its workplace skills plan to ensure skilled staff, and had achieved 50% representation of women in senior management positions.
(Further details can be found in the document).
DPME's financial report
Ms Camagwini Ntshinga, Chief Financial Officer, DPME, said the Department had a budget of R459 million for the 2021/22 financial year, and had spent R396 million. The under-spending was a result of variances across multiple areas. Due to the vacancy rate, the compensation of employees (CoE) went 5% under the budget allocation. Spending on goods and services was under budget by 31.6% due to the approval of the appointment of the NPC Commissioners' Secretariat being approved only in the third quarter, and the procurement of research projects commencing only in the fourth quarter, meaning the funds could not be spent within the financial year. Spending on travel and subsistence was lower than usual due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Presidential Hotline went under the allocated budget. The Evaluation, Evidence and Knowledge Systems plan went under budget due to delays in the procurement of independent experts to conduct evaluation and research. The spending on capital assets was under budget by 27.8% due to a move to a new building being delayed, and therefore the costs of moving were not spent.
The Department received a clean audit for the financial year. However, due to an undelegated official signing off on a contract meant to be signed by the accounting officer, irregular expenditure had increased from R195 000 to R14.3 million. Investigations were underway to enable consequence management and an application for condonement from Treasury.
Mr Thomas Nkosi, Acting Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, DPME, emphasised that the irregular expenditure did not lead to losses for the Department. The main issue was that the authorised person did not sign the contract.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) congratulated the DPME on their tenth clean audit, but expressed disappointment at the 80% achievement level, as this Department should set the standards for others since it was one that monitors and evaluates the performance of other departments.
He questioned why the investigation into the irregular spending was still ongoing in November for an incident in the previous financial year. He questioned whether it was a reluctance to implement consequence management.
Mr Rayi asked for an update on the planned merger of Brand SA with SA Tourism. He raised a concern about the slow pace of the merger, because it affected filling vacancies and other practical matters.
Another issue raised was that of the medium term strategic framework (MTSF). The Auditor-General (AG) had noted that the DPME’s targets for job creation differed greatly from the MTSF, which the DPME oversaw.
He asked how long acting directors, deputy directors and heads of departments should be in that role, as it had been raised as a concern by the AG that there were acting directors who had been in their positions for prolonged periods.
On the submission of annual performance plans (APPs), he asked why only six provinces had submitted draft proposals, and what the Department was doing to ensure that all provinces submitted their proposals for review.
Mr Rayi asked the Department to share the finding of the report that was completed in 2021 regarding the investigation into irregular appointments between the period of 2018 and 2020.
He sought clarification on the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R58 000, and the R808 000 under investigation at the end of the financial year.
Regarding the failure to have all employees declare their financial interests, he asked what consequence management measures had been implemented for those who had not yet declared, and whether these declarations were related to the Department’s lifestyle audits.
He wanted clarification on the risk, anti-corruption and integrity management implementation plan that was not approved by the executive committee, because the annual report showed four progress reports compiled based on the unapproved plan’s framework.
The Chairperson referred to Programmes 2a and 2b, and acknowledged the underperformance had been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the challenges in human resource management and the filling of necessary positions. He questioned to what extent the Department had given support to the National Planning Commission to ensure that challenges such as the failure to recruit the relevant skills to develop the research report were addressed.
Mr Nkosi began by responding to the Brand SA and SA Tourism merger and filling vacancies. He said Brand SA was regarded as a sister department of the DPME, but they did not share any funding. They reported to the same Minister, but there was a separation, so they could not speak on that. However, they would raise the matter with their political leadership.
On the consequence management for the irregular payment, the audit process was finalised at the end of August. However, the concerned official left the Department around the end of the financial year, so it took time to get them interviewed by the relevant institution.
Regarding irregular appointments, these matters came from the report of the Public Service Commission, which had notified the committee that the main case had been concluded -- it was only administrative matters at this point. The required consequence management protocols had been observed.
The reason why only six provinces had submitted their APPs was that Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had not submitted because they submitted to separate planning committees within their province.
Ms Ntshinga addressed the question of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The money had been for damage to a vehicle, and the amount of R808 000 that was deemed fruitless expenditure was still pending investigation to confirm its status as fruitless and wasteful. Only once that process had been concluded could the Department decide to reclaim or write off the costs.
Mr Madale responded to the questions regarding the Department’s performance. On the achievement of only 80%, he agreed that the DPME should set standards, but noted that most of the targets that were not achieved were not achieved at the time of reporting, but had subsequently been achieved.
On consequence management for those who failed to disclose financial interests, each case was handled individually. The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) had been requested to reopen the system so that members who had not yet disclosed were afforded the opportunity. Those who did not have adequate reasons for not reporting were referred to the labour relations unit for disciplinary action.
On the non-compliance by the DPME to the MTSF framework for job creation – operation Phakisa, and the creation of 450 000 jobs -- the DPME did not create jobs, but rather facilitated the creation of jobs in other sectors through their programmes. They reported the jobs created through the Operation Phakisa progress reports as a monitoring and evaluation body.
On the unapproved risk management plan, he said the Department produced a new plan in the fourth quarter for use in the following financial year. The reports referred to by Mr Rayi were based on the plan approved from the previous financial year.
On the extent to which extent under expenditure was monitored, he said the DPME did not measure it too much, as that was a matter for the Treasury. However, they did flag departments that did not meet targets in their quarterly monitoring reports.
Mr Rayi asked for an update on the BBEEE score of the Department. He wanted clarification on the reasons behind the delay in procurement for the matters related to the research report that had led to a failure to achieve the target. The report mentioned that many of the services that the Department provides did not affect citizens directly,
He asked for an indication of the number of calls and other engagements the Department was receiving on its Presidential Hotline so that he could gauge how much the public was aware of and engaging with these services, as well as how many of the issues raised by citizens had been addressed. He expressed concern at the policy, saying that investigations should be launched within seven days of the reception of a complaint, but the report indicated that investigations were not always launched timeously.
Going back to the AG's findings, they noted a low rate of performance assessment submissions from Directors-General (DGs) and heads of departments (HODs). The Auditor-General had recommended that the DPME should work with DPSA to enhance the performance management processes of HODs. They also suggested that acting directors and heads of departments should not serve for prolonged periods, and the positions should be filled timeously. The AG had also recommended that acting directors should be included in the DPSA's performance management development systems for tracking purposes.
The Chairperson asked whether the DPME had checked on the frequency of the impact evaluations on service delivery undertaken by Departments.
With the reintroduction of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) Presidential Imbizo, citizens were given a platform to directly engage the government on issues that inhibit government from fulfilling their potential in developing the country, how had the Department engaged with the issues raised during this time?
Mr Rayi asked how prepared the Department was for the service delivery matters that occurred seasonally, citing the specific example of providing learner-teacher support material (LTSM). He asked if the DPME could be aware of the state of readiness of the Department of Education in their monitoring role. Additionally, with other seasonal student matters, such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding and registration fees at the beginning of the year, could the DPME address how the Department might plan for these types of occurrences, since they were recurring?
On the delays in procurement that led to the non-attainment of one of the targets, the DPME said its work sometimes became so specialised that it was difficult to source a relevant service provider in time, so sometimes projects had to be retooled or rethought. It was not a matter of slow or inept internal processes, but rather a skills or supply scarcity.
Mr Nkosi said that regularly, the Department monitors and submits reports to the Committee on what is happening regarding the acting positions of HODs and DGs. It also reports to Cabinet on the vacancy rate and makes recommendations on possible solutions.
Mr Madale responded to the questions regarding the BBEEE scorecard. The Director General had been engaging with the BBBEE Commission to differentiate between departments and companies with regard to the implementation of the scorecard. The DPME found it difficult to fulfil the requirements of the scorecard because it was a knowledge-based department rather than a capital-intensive entity able to employ many people and develop other businesses.
On the concerns raised about the DPME not providing services directly to the public, he responded that the DPME was not a frontline department like the Department of Health or Public Works, which provides services directly to citizens. Their work was to ensure that the frontline departments acted efficiently, so they indirectly served the public through planning and monitoring the provision of services.
On the Presidential Hotline, the Department did not have exact figures on the number of correspondents, but they had set a resolution rate target of 60%, which they had not achieved.
On the low submission rate of performance reports, the DPME assisted in assessing performance and followed up on the reporting.
Referring to the data centre that the Department aimed to develop as part of their evaluation, evidence and knowledge systems programme, Mr Madale said that the public and select committees would benefit greatly from access to this information, and it would increase the impact of the Department. The DPME had developed an annual development plan that outlines their priorities for the following year. The impact monitoring of the Department was elaborated on within the report.
The Department’s Minister was engaged in the reintroduction of the SONA Imbizo, and the Department hoped that these platforms could give it direction in terms of the priorities that the public may have as well.
Mr Nkosi responded on the recurring service delivery challenges that departments face, and said that the Department assesses and monitors other departments' annual performance plans as presented, and monitors and evaluates them. There were also meetings and consultations with those departments to discuss progress and annual physical checks on the frontline departments to monitor the practical state of service delivery. When the Department was notified of issues, they aimed to pursue them as soon as possible. The DPME also develops reports and shares them with the relevant institutions. He said the Department could perhaps share their reports with the Committee to clarify certain matters and processes.
Mr Madale noted the importance of the issue Mr Rayi had raised concerning issues such as NSFAS. He said that the matter could also be raised in drafting future MTSF plans to address these concerns where possible.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for their presentation, explaining how they addressed concerns, and their promise of further progress reports on the implementation of the NDP through the MTSF.
The Committee discussed the recommendations of the oversight report.
The minutes of the Committee's meetings on 26 October, and 2 and 23 November, were adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mmoiemang, Mr MK
Apleni, Mr T
Dangor, Mr M
Londt, Mr J
Mamaregane, Ms ML
Rayi, Mr M
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