Committee Programme: Adoption; State Information Technology Agency: briefing

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09 June 2004
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


9 June 2004

Mrs M Sotyu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
SITA’s projects related to the Department for Safety and Security
Committee programme 2004

A State Information Technology Agency (SITA) delegation briefed the Committee on the history, objectives and special projects of the Agency. The Committee asked about the implementation of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and the Geographic Information System (GIS), and about the nature of SITA’s relationship with the Department of Public Service and Administration. Assistant Commissioner M Meyer, an observer from the SAPS, fielded various questions. After the discussion, the Committee accepted the draft 2004 Committee Programme.

The Committee extended their sympathies to the families of two SAPS officers, Inspector Moolman and Sergeant Singer, who had been killed on duty the day after the Chairperson had opened the new police station.

Mr H Radebe, SITA Group Executive, briefed the Committee on the Agency’s objectives, which included the provision and maintenance of government information technology systems. He focussed on the recent provision of information technology to the SAPS, in the form of an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), and a Geographic Information System (GIS).

The Chairperson asked to whom SITA was accountable

Mr M Msimang, SITA CEO, said SITA had been established as a profit-making PTY Limited company and therefore had to obtain revenue for services rendered from government departments. The government did not subsidise the agency. Surplus profits had been used for research and development, infrastructure and social projects. SITA prices were determined by the Department of Public Services and Administration and the Treasury.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) asked the number of SITA directors, how they had been appointed, and for how long they would hold office.

Mr Msimang said the Minister had appointed the Board to whom the seven executives were answerable. Executives had short-term contracts ranging between 3-5 years.

Mr Dlali asked how much of its annual revenue SITA spent on personnel. Mrs N Isaacs-Mpulo, SITA Executive: Corporate Services, said there were 3 000 personnel. Personnel costs accounted for R550 million of R2.5 billion revenue.

Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) asked to which Parliamentary Committee SITA was accountable.

Mr Radebe said SITA’s budget was approved by Treasury and it was answerable to the Ad hoc Committee ib Public Service and Administration.

Mr Jankielsohn asked if SITA had a monopoly on all IT services to the State.

Mr Msimang said SITA was the sole provider of information technology to government on a national and provincial level. SITA ensured that procurement of IT goods and services within government was centralised. The private sector had been invited to bid for tenders that the agency managed, and SITA would recommend the winning service provider.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked how extensively AFIS and GIS had been used.

Mr S Ngubane, Advisor to SITA CEO, replied that the systems were being used increasingly.

Assistant Commissioner M Meyer, SAPS Information and Systems Management, said GIS had been implemented at all ‘priority’ police stations, although roll-out to rural and squatter areas had been a problem. AFIS had been implemented in all 35 Criminal Record Centres (CRCs) across all provinces. Each province now had its own devices.

Mr Jankielsohn asked if the Department had the resources to load 50 000 fingerprints onto the hand-held AFIS devices, and if so, had they prioritised the fingerprints of serious criminals.

Ms Meyer replied that the Department had access to 4.6 million fingerprints and that the fingerprints of serious criminals had been prioritised.

Mr Jankielsohn asked if backlogs in firearm licensing had been the fault of SITA or the Department.

Ms Meyer said a virus in the SAPS mainframe in August 2003 contributed to the backlog. SAPS were in the process of decentralising printing equipment to several police stations. Out of 30 000 SAPS computers, only 41 stand-alone computers (EU donated and not procured by SAPS/SITA) had been affected in the last attack. These had been promptly attended to and did not disrupt the rest.

Mr O Monareng (ANC) was concerned that the SAPS mainframe was susceptible to viruses.

Ms Meyer said that SAPS, with the help of SITA had established a direct link with Microsoft so that all Microsoft virus patches could be downloaded instantly.

Mr A Gaum (NNP) asked how many SAPS offices did not have network connections, and when SITA intended to supply these connections.

Ms Meyer said that out of 1 100 police station nationwide, 117 were not connected to the mainframes and 140 had no data line connections. The SAPS National Commissioner had committed that by 1 April 2005, all 140 stations would have a power supply and datalines. 103 datalines would be upgraded. Alternative power systems had been considered for rural police stations.

Mr Msimang said SITA had experienced problems with service delivery due to the management instability and the immaturity of the agency. SITA had been remodelling the procurement system with Treasury’s help to ensure more efficient service delivery.

The meeting was adjourned.


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