Innovative solutions for e-government services; Interventions to improve the system downtime and impact on service delivery in the public sector; with Minister and Deputy Minister

Public Service and Administration

20 September 2023
Chairperson: Ms T Mgweba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee was briefed by the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) on developing innovative solutions for e-government services. The initiatives aimed to digitise most administrative business processes in the public service. Digitalisation solution proposals had been developed for the public service Business Service Mapping programme, and there were interventions to improve the system downtime and the impact on service delivery in the public sector.

The Minister told the Committee that the digitisation and digitalisation of government services would improve the accessibility of these services to the public, facilitating smoother business operations, minimising bureaucratic hurdles and corruption within the public service, and implementing management practices and enterprise solutions that would enhance citizens' access to benefits.

The CPSI said its approach involved providing thought leadership, using the Public Service Innovation (PSI) awards programme to identify innovative projects, replicating and developing projects, maintaining a project pipeline, digitising internal systems, building a community of internal systems developers, recognising achievements, and encouraging code-sharing and support. It acknowledged the need for small, agile teams with diverse skills, such as business analysts, change management experts, systems developers, cyber-security specialists, and identity management professionals. The CPSI also needed key enablers for digital transformation that included the need for a sovereign digital identity, a legislative review to remove barriers, adherence to design and development principles such as inclusion and security, ensuring access to secure and affordable high-speed broadband, defining roles and ensuring interoperability, coordination at national and provincial levels, and addressing National Treasury moratoriums.

The DPSA said the challenges it faced included internal departmental processes remaining paper-based and manual, leading to inefficiencies. Service delivery primarily involved face-to-face interactions, causing long queues and travel inconveniences for disadvantaged communities. Some proposed solutions included designing a cloud-based environmental authorisation application system interface within the Departments of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs, developing a user registration interface, a lost information retrieval system, and user confirmation. The next steps included developing a consolidated report of all digitalisation solution proposals.

SITA said it had decided to utilise a single source procurement approach to appoint an alternate provider, to provide the same level of additional redundancy -- over and above the initially identified problematic core links -- on all core links, the implementation of which was planned to be completed before 30 September.

The Committee inquired about the CPSI's approach to implementing e-government, the DPSA’s activities outside the business process management programme in the 2021/22 financial year, the persistent downtime encountered by SITA, and its impact on service delivery.

Meeting report

Overview by the Minister

Ms Noxolo Kiviet, Minister of Public Service and Administration, said the objective of this meeting was to present a progress report on the digitisation and digitalisation of government services. This included assessing the accessibility of these services to the public, facilitating smoother business operations, minimising bureaucratic hurdles and corruption within the public service, and implementing management practices and enterprise solutions that enhance citizens' access to benefits.

CPSI: Developing innovative solutions for e-government services aimed to digitise most administrative business processes in the Public Service

Mr Pierre Schoonraad, Head: Research and Development, Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), briefed the Committee on the Centre's development of innovative solutions for e-government services aimed at digitising most of the administrative business processes in the public service.

The CPSI's approach involved providing thought leadership, using the Public Service Innovation (PSI) awards programme to identify innovative projects, replicating and developing projects, maintaining a project pipeline, digitising internal systems, building a community of internal systems developers, recognising achievements, and encouraging code-sharing and support.

The CPSI was involved in developing projects related to emergency medical service (EMS) patient transfer and digitising Thusong service centres. They were also engaged in replicating projects like digital fingerprint systems and e-learning platforms. Additionally, they aimed to establish a network of developers within the government and work on various digitisation initiatives.

The CPSI currently had only one permanent developer position and acknowledged the need for small, agile teams with diverse skills, such as business analysts, change management experts, systems developers, cyber-security specialists and identity management professionals. It was also recognised that government departments, with their own systems developers like BizPortal, had demonstrated cost savings for the government. Also, the CPSI required key enablers for digital transformation that included the need for a sovereign digital identity, a legislative review to remove barriers, adherence to design and development principles such as inclusion and security, ensuring access to secure and affordable high-speed broadband, defining roles and ensuring interoperability, coordination at national and provincial levels, and addressing National Treasury moratoriums.

See attached for full presentation

DPSA on digitisation solutions for public service business mapping programme

Mr Zaid Aboobaker, Chief Director: E-Government, DPSA,  briefed the Committee on the digitisation solution proposals developed for the public service business service mapping programme.

He said the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF) for 2019-2024 made provision for the DPSA to lead the modernisation of business processes in the public service. The Business Processes Modernisation Programme (BPMP) and the implementation of the national e-government strategy and roadmap were key interventions in the public sector to realise digitised government services for the whole of government by 2024. The DPSA's 2023/24 annual performance plan (APP) required the e-Government Services and Information Management (eGSIM) branch to develop four digitalisation proposals to assist departments in fast-tracking digitalisation efforts.

The challenges faced include internal departmental processes remaining paper-based and manual, leading to inefficiencies. Service delivery primarily involved face-to-face interactions, causing long queues and travel inconveniences for disadvantaged communities. Data from citizens and businesses was collected in various forms and at different times, resulting in duplications and inefficiencies. Data was stored in multiple repositories, leading to inconsistencies and outdated information. ICT infrastructure was lacking in areas that were convenient for most citizens.

The proposed solutions include:

  • Design a cloud-based environmental authorisation application system interface within the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land & Environmental Affairs (DARDLEA) corporate identity.
  • Develop a user registration interface – including but not limited to, logins, passwords, PIN, one-time pins (OTPs), lost information retrieval system, and user confirmation.
  • Develop a user detail interface – including personal and professional information detail related to the environmental authorisation (EA) application system and DARDLEA requirements.
  • Develop an EA application for all associated reports' submission interface.
  • Develop a public notification system that confirms the upload of the EA application submission, and updates the user of the progress of the submission in the Department.
  • Develop an electronic receipt system for submissions to the Department.

The next steps towards this are:

  • The DPSA would identify other viable mapped business processes to develop digitalisation proposals.
  • The DPSA would continue to work with the Limpopo Department of Cooperative Government, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Education Department, North-West Human Settlements, the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, and the DARDLEA, to prioritise viable mapped business processes.
  • The DPSA would work with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to develop digitalisation solution proposals.
  • The DPSA would develop a consolidated report of all digitalisation solution proposals.

See attached for full presentation

SITA on interventions to improve system downtime and its impact on service delivery

Dr Bongani Mabaso, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SITA, and Mr Musa Kumalo, Executive: IT Infrastructure Services (Acting), SITA, briefed the Committee.

The Government core network -- SITA/Next Generation Network (NGN) -- relied on the Broadband Infraco's (BBI's) long-distance fibre network to connect SITA points of presence (POP) sites across the country. However, infrastructure challenges stemming from the legacy of Eskom and Transnet Freight Rail, including rail network destruction and load-shedding, had led to persistent downtime, disrupting services. The current SITA/NGN core design had single points of failure, limiting failover capabilities. Economic sabotage, such as vandalism and cable theft, along with load-shedding, had further impacted IT service delivery.

To stabilise the core network and improve its availability -- after having identified the most problematic core links, and given the urgency of the situation -- it had been decided to utilise a single source procurement approach to appoint an alternate provider to provide additional redundancy. Over and above the initially identified problematic core links, SITA had tasked Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT) to provision the same level of redundancy on all core links, the implementation of which was planned to be completed before 30 September.

See attached for full presentation


Ms M Kibi (ANC) inquired about CPSI's approach to implementing e-government, specifically seeking clarity on its smart, specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound (SMART) strategy. She noted the need for a more defined operating model, and emphasised the importance of adequate developer resources. She asked about the financial resource allocation required to enhance CPSI's internal research and development capabilities and how this aligned with science and innovation objectives.

She stressed the significance of modernising the business model to adapt to new technologies and processes for addressing current and future challenges. However, she pointed out that the Department seemed to focus on the Limpopo and Gauteng environmental assessment business process, and supporting KZN’s education sector, North West's human settlements, Mpumulanga’s agriculture and so on, raising concerns about meeting the 2024 goal of digitising government services. She requested information about the three targeted automation programmes outlined in the Department's annual performance plan and the intended impacts of these projects, especially considering the 2024 e-government implementation goal.

Lastly, she sought clarification on SITA's core network availability between September 2022 and April 2023, particularly the reasons behind the decline from 99.68% in April to 98.80% in May, as well as any interventions that had led to an improvement in June.

Dr M Gondwe (DA) raised questions about the CPSI's human resources capacity and its ability to successfully execute 15 projects, given its critical role in digitising the public service. She inquired about the expected timeline for completing the projects in the pipeline, and whether any of them addressed connectivity issues at the Thusong service centres, which impacted service delivery efficiency. She also questioned the feasibility of achieving a fully-fledged e-government system with just one permanent role at the CPSI. She requested information about the total number of systems developers employed by the government across all departments. She urged the CPSI to clarify the reasons behind government's lack of in-house systems developers. She also sought details on government's expenditures related to outsourcing systems development.

Regarding SITA, she noted that the downtime experienced by the government core network was attributed to load-shedding and rail network vandalism. She specifically mentioned the consistent downtime experienced by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), and inquired about SITA's actions to resolve this connectivity issue. She sought confirmation on the completion date for the implementation of links and redundancy of core links, as well as the associated total costs.

Lastly, she asked if the DPSA had initiated any activities outside the business process management (BPM) programme in the 2021/22 financial year. She inquired about the programme's impact on service delivery, expressed concerns about the low visibility of the Department's actions, and questioned why it collaborated with only four government departments regarding BPM, seeking insights into the selection process and future expansion plans.

Ms S Maneli (ANC) asked the Department for a projection of the expected impact of introducing staff automation. She sought an explanation from the CPSI regarding their objective of reducing the cost of programme one, and inquired about any legislative barriers that may be hindering it. What were the specific interventions the CPSI planned to implement for the better implementation of e-government services?

Turning to SITA, she expressed concerns about infrastructure preservation, especially in the face of vandalism, and asked whether the new systems would ensure cybersecurity. She highlighted the issue of high rates of vandalism and cable theft, and requested details about the severity of the problem and the strategies in place to prevent future theft. Lastly, she sought to understand the real impact of connectivity challenges and their implications.

Ms R Komane (EFF) commented on the CPSI's plans to reduce the cost of programme one, and asked about the anticipated challenges. How many developers were required for the digitisation process, and what actions were necessary to increase the number of developer positions? She also wanted to know when the Treasury would lift the moratorium, and what benefits the agency expected afterwards.

She pointed out the persistent downtime at SITA, and its impact on service delivery. She asked about the causes of this downtime, how it was being addressed, and the expected timelines for resolution. Why were the connectivity downtime challenges not anticipated, given the growth in technology? What was the Department's strategy to alleviate this challenge? She also sought information on how the Department planned to navigate through these system challenges.

Dr J Nothnagel (ANC) inquired about the specific areas the DPSA had targeted for business process modernisation, aligning with e-government strategies in 2017. What measures did the Department plan to implement to ensure that organs of state prioritise e-government interventions by allocating adequate resources to support these plans? She sought information on the existing alignment between the Department's initiatives and the e-government plans, as well as any recommendations from the Presidential Fourth Industrial Revolution Commission. She concluded by asking about the Department's proposal to expedite the implementation of e-government services across the organs of state.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) commended the CPSI for its innovative efforts, but expressed concern about their staffing approach. What were its plans to address this issue, to ensure effective work execution? She requested further clarification from the CPSI regarding the top-down service providers and their role in the e-government implementation plan.

She asked the DPSA about the interventions in place to achieve e-government-related cost savings across organs of state. She also suggested that cybersecurity should be thoroughly examined in the context of information confidentiality within the digitisation realm. She inquired whether the existing infrastructure would support the transition from copper to fibre internet which, in turn, could facilitate the transfer of service provision to the community, reducing travel costs and time.

DPSI's response

Ms Lydia Sebokedi, Acting Executive Director, CPSI, outlined several key points in response to Ms Kibi's concerns, mentioning that the CPSI operates with a well-established model and approach to carrying out its duties effectively.

Regarding financial resources, she explained that the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) necessitates an allocation of R4.3 million to fully capacitate the CPSI to operate optimally. This allocation was crucial to support the organisation's initiatives. To address funding limitations, the CPSI implemented various strategies, including minimising the outsourcing of services. This approach aimed to maximise the utilisation of available resources and reduce dependency on external service providers.

Ms Sebokedi acknowledged that CPSI was fully aware of its capacity constraints. In response, it has taken proactive measures to enhance its capacity to a certain extent. These actions aimed to improve the organisation's ability to effectively meet its goals and objectives.

In the context of evolving digital transformation and the growing importance of cybersecurity, the CPSI recognised the inevitability of increased attempts at hacking systems. To mitigate these risks, the organisation was committed to strengthening its cybersecurity, data analysis, and systems development expertise. This internal capacity building was intended to reduce the reliance on external outsourcing, ensuring that the CPSI could effectively safeguard its digital assets and support its mission.

One of the legislative challenges currently being faced pertains to establishing various digitisation acts within the country. This legislative landscape posed complexities that needed to be navigated.

Another challenge lies in clarifying the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in the digitisation processes. This aspect required careful consideration and definition to ensure effective coordination.

Ms Sebokedi expressed her concern about the methodology for introducing social innovators, such as youths and entrepreneurs, as valuable contributors to the public service. While the Centre was aware of the necessary procedures, there was a recognised need for an agile procurement process. This process would enable sharing intellectual property (IP) with these innovators, facilitating their inclusion in the public service at a more cost-effective rate.

She also noted that various system developers within different government departments were actively creating solutions. For instance, in the Eastern Cape, a department had developed e-leave and e-recruitment systems, which several other departments had adopted. While encouraging developments were taking place at the provincial level, there was a preference for a national-level approach to ensure consistency and efficiency across the government.Top of Form

The presence of relatively new developers in the public service had added complexity to the CPSI's recruitment of specialists in various fields. The job evaluation (JE) system has been a contributing factor to this complexity. While there were currently no established benchmarks for hiring specialists, there was a recognised need to shift the narratives surrounding these positions.

It was noteworthy that the National School of Government (NSG) had begun sponsoring staff for courses related to basic drone operation, artificial intelligence, and robotics. This initiative aimed to reduce external reliance on specialised skills. Additionally, there should be a focus on upskilling the existing IT staff within the organisation.

The involvement of numerous stakeholders in the digitisation process has led to a division of goals and objectives. Therefore, there was an imperative need to streamline and organise this space. Progressing efficiently would remain a significant challenge without a robust and well-defined structure.

Ms Sebokedi highlighted that the Department of Home Affairs had initiated its digitisation efforts, marking a positive step in this direction.

Regarding cost-saving versus outsourcing, the CPSI was actively working to reduce costs by transferring some projects from the category of goods and services to compensation. In response to this, capacity had been increased within the organisation.

There were currently two moratoriums in place. The first involved a monetary aspect with Treasury, indicating that departments should refrain from procuring or implementing systems for e-leave while awaiting the integrated system. The second moratorium, which commenced on 15 September, was related to cost containment measures.

Recognising the critical nature of systems developers and IT skills, efforts were being made to prioritise these positions. The CPSI had managed to hire a second system developer on a contract basis. While this contract was set to conclude in November, it was important to plan for a smooth transition, as the candidate would be leaving in October. The team was scheduled to meet to evaluate the cost containment measures and devise a plan for onboarding a new candidate.

Mr Schoonraad highlighted the potential for collaboration between the CPSI and the Department of  Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT). They had jointly identified innovative practices and were pursuing a bottom-up approach to further development and rollout. This collaborative effort aimed to provide essential infrastructure, including broadband connectivity and cloud-based activities. Further, there was a shared desire to prioritise internal developers within the government.

The CPSI was actively engaged in a close partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) regarding the white paper on science and innovation in the public service. The CPSI had been providing support to the DSI in the planning of deliverables related to this initiative. It played a crucial role on the demand side of innovation, striving to bridge the gap between challenges faced by various departments and the DSI, which, through its entities, was responsible for developing and supporting innovative solutions. One notable example was the digital fingerprints project in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where technology was being leveraged to enhance fingerprint identification. Through this pilot project, the CSIR had been driven to improve fingerprint technology, potentially expanding its application to hospitals for patient identification purposes.Top of FormTop of Form

The CPSI was currently exercising caution when it came to expanding its workforce. However, there was a promising possibility of forming two teams, each consisting of six developers with diverse capabilities. This approach was envisioned to help meet the ever-growing demands in the field of IT. Globally, this strategy has proved successful, particularly in fostering sustainable adoption within government departments. A significant cultural shift within the public service was strongly recommended to implement a similar approach in South Africa. Countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Mauritius, which were competing with South Africa in the realm of e-government, had made deliberate efforts to digitise and prioritise inclusivity. The flat structure approach was also on the verge of adoption at the Thusong service centre.

In response to challenges faced by virtual centres, the CPSI was exploring ways to enhance accessibility through various channels, aiming to reduce or eliminate the need for physical visits. However, this endeavour necessitated comprehensive systems' integration from the back office. Successful implementation, phased integration of technologies, and addressing citizens' concerns, would depend on the seamless integration of both the front-end and back-end services.

Many government departments received a substantial volume of applications, often ranging from 2 000 to 3 000 applications, related to cost reduction efforts in programme one. To handle this influx efficiently, data capturers were employed to assist in curriculum vitae (CV) data entry. However, there was a notable opportunity for improvement through the automation and verification of the CV capturing process. By automating and streamlining this process, valuable resources could be reallocated to support in-house systems developers. A similar principle applied to supply chain processes, where automation could reduce the risk of system manipulation and expedite decision-making. In the realm of compliance and reporting, integrated performance management systems had the potential to minimise the time and human resources required. Notably, in many departments, the size and cost of programme one was comparable to, or even exceeded, the size of the rest of the department.

Embracing automation and digitisation could lead to substantial resource conservation in terms of both personnel and expenditure. It was important to emphasise that this shift did not necessarily entail layoffs, but rather the more efficient utilisation of skills in the context of digitisation and modernisation efforts.Top of Form

The CPSI was currently grappling with challenges in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS), particularly regarding the transfer of planned patients. Citizens often exploited this process, and managing individuals during transfers was complicated by uncertainty about who should be treated at a given facility. To address this issue, the CPSI was implementing a system where every booked patient was assigned a seat, which would facilitate better resource allocation for return trips. Additionally, global positioning system (GPS) technology would be employed to optimise routes, enhancing the Department's efficiency in moving patients between facilities. The pilot phase for this initiative was set to commence by the end of this fiscal year.

The bottom-up approach involved fostering in-house capabilities within various departments. Instead of outsourcing challenges to third-party or private sector service providers, eight departments facing specific issues collaborate with their in-house systems developers to craft solutions. This process mirrors the approach taken by the Centre in developing the EMS solution, where experts in the field collaborate, design solutions, conduct testing, iterate and refine, until the solution is ready for full implementation. Through this iterative approach, challenges are progressively addressed, ensuring that the products developed align with both administrative and citizens' needs.

In response to Ms Ntuli's query, Mr Schoonraad explained that the challenge was being addressed through a design-based approach. In Kwazulu-Natal, there were in-house developers who had collaborated with the CPSI to tackle connectivity challenges in rural clinics. These developers had successfully implemented solutions, and the COVID-19 pandemic had played a role in expediting these efforts, especially in reaching remote facilities. The CPSI actively engages relevant service providers and departments to establish connections and resolve these issues.

The Centre also had plans to expedite government services. By having the right employees with the necessary skills and aligning with the framework presented by the DPSA, the CPSI aimed to significantly impact digitisation.

SITA's response

Dr Mabaso referred to the challenges that had led to poor performance, and explained that between June and September 2022, the availability of services fell below the threshold. However, with subsequent interventions, some provinces had managed to stabilise their performance. An increase in performance had been recorded in October 2022, indicating progress toward meeting the targets as reflected in the indicators. The challenges had arisen from the service provider's failure to meet the specified targets, despite multiple engagements between SITA and the provider to address the issues. Consequently, a second provider had been consulted to intervene.

There had been a prioritisation of critical areas lacking redundancy, which significantly impacted service delivery. The installation of redundancies had been completed, and the remaining areas requiring redundancy would be addressed by the end of September. The installation of links in critical areas had shown improvements in performance, and the September timeline would be met. The process of terminating and penalising the first provider was an internal matter, and did not impact government.

SITA was not directly responsible for supplying connectivity to Thusong centres. The responsibility for connection was part of the broader DCDT programme related to SA Connect.

In addition to the vandalism of materials, load-shedding had contributed to network availability issues. SITA had initiated discussions with partners to transition from copper to fibre, aiming for a minimum speed of ten megabytes per second. A monitoring mechanism would be implemented across each province to ensure the successful completion of this upgrade, and a progress report on its status would be provided.

The redesign of SITA's core network was a capital investment project that relied on budget availability. Initially, the project had faced delays due to budget constraints. However, these issues had been resolved, and there was now clarity on ensuring the project progressed as planned.

SITA has also taken significant steps to enhance cybersecurity and secure networks. This included establishing a network operating centre that monitors activities across the entire network, and a secured operation centre that screens all cybersecurity events on network and application levels. SITA was open to collaborating with any interested parties to improve and enhance the level of cyber resilience across government departments.

DPSA's response

Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, Director-General (DG), DPSA, said that government's current number of developers would be provided. She emphasised that the Department's primary role was establishing norms and standards. The budget and resources allocated to the Department were primarily intended for research purposes, rather than the development of systems.

The business process revolved around the automation of projects. This initiative began when the service delivery unit collaborated with multiple departments to document their processes. In the previous fiscal year, the Department had successfully delivered 48 processes, which were subsequently manually mapped for automation, in partnership with the SITA. The goal was to enhance and refine the norms and standards of public service. It was imperative for the Department to explore innovative approaches to cover the costs associated with SITA's services.

Ms Makhasi underscored the challenge posed by the outdated remuneration system, which lacked certain functionalities required, particularly in maintaining a high level of security. The Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS), led by Treasury, was initially intended to facilitate the integration of human resources (HR) systems. However, an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) revealed significant irregularities within IFMS, which now presented a hurdle to the integration project. Discussions were ongoing regarding potential alternatives, should the IMFS project be discontinued. The Department had fully cooperated with investigations into integration delays and had issued directives to departments to implement consequence management for implicated public servants.

Top of Form

The current moratorium imposed by the Treasury hindered the Department from introducing new systems and implementing programme one due to the ongoing IFMS project. The Department was awaiting confirmation from the Treasury regarding the timeline for lifting this moratorium. In addition, a ministerial committee comprising representatives from the DPSA, the DCDT and other relevant departments, was actively overseeing the digitisation efforts within the public service.

The Department focused primarily on interventions across all organs of the state, particularly in the national and provincial government sectors. The pending amendment bill in Parliament outlines how the Department could effectively leverage different ICT systems to enhance coordination among national, provincial and local government entities.

Ms Makasi affirmed that the responsibility for Thusong Centre connectivity did not fall under SITA's purview. A government decision had mandated SITA to coordinate Thusong centres, with the expectation that the DPSA would cover the associated costs. Unfortunately, the Department's budget did not allocate funds for Thusong Centre connectivity. Currently, a pilot phase is underway to transition Thusong centres to provincial governments, and participating departments were contributing to some services through a cost recovery programme established by the DPSA. However, the ongoing issue of connectivity for Thusong centres remained unresolved. The DG emphasised the need for accountability in addressing this challenge, as Thusong centres were a government initiative that should be funded either through budget allocations from hosting provinces or departments, or by an independent body designated to resolve the connectivity issue.

Mr Aboobaker stressed that achieving full digitisation by 2024 should not be the sole focus, as digitisation was an ongoing process continuously evolving to modernise services. The primary role of the DPSA was to establish enabling legislation for digitalisation, in alignment with the e-government strategy.

The DPSA had issued four directives to facilitate the e-government strategy, covering areas such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, IT service continuity, digital governance, and knowledge and data management. A comprehensive programme had been established to drive government digitalisation forward. In the governance framework, the DPSA integrated digitalisation into the strategic plans of various departments. As these plans were being executed, departments were expected to identify their digital priorities, granting them the autonomy to make decisions regarding resources and mandates. The aggregation of these individual plans into a national plan provided a clear sense of direction for specific digital initiatives.

With the increasing adoption of digitisation in public services, such as online licence applications, the Department was motivated to expedite the pace of adoption in other government departments to enhance service delivery.

Top of Form

The DPSA currently counted 310 system developers distributed across various departments. The Department's overarching goal was to augment the IT workforce at all levels, but specific targets were contingent on collaborative decisions involving the Department, SITA, and the DCDT. Regulation 93 mandates that heads of departments (HoDs) could leverage digital technology to transform services and streamline internal processes.

The forthcoming knowledge and management directive was intended to establish minimum maturity standards within departments for effective data management. The responsibility for ensuring data quality and reliability falls upon the owning department, which should facilitate interdepartmental integration. Technological integration had already been established at the technical level, but it was imperative that technology could seamlessly interoperate with other platforms to remain viable within the broader landscape.

Business requirements should drive the approach to integration, and the Department aimed to instil mature practices within departments to formulate data strategies and policies that emphasise data maturity, reliability and accuracy. These policies and practices would lay the foundation for systems integration, and the Department's objective was to institutionalise these mature practices to facilitate seamless integration.

Kwazulu-Natal had already initiated business processes such as leave management, quality management processes, and housing subsidy plans. In North West, there was a focus on housing subsidy administration, while Limpopo was currently working on financial management and judicial counsel processes. The specific process selection in each department would be determined based on the level of collaboration and alignment with other departments.

Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, Top of Form

 Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, emphasised that improved services would play a pivotal role in accelerating development and enhancing the ethical and capable state. To achieve this, the Department required a robust national strategy, a well-defined structure, sufficient budget allocation across government departments, and a shared vision supported by unwavering commitment. Effective coordination of actions was crucial to avoid leaving gaps, which would eventually require meaningful and practical solutions in modernising, digitising and automating government services.

Minister Kiviet commended the CPSI for its outstanding performance, considering its size. She encouraged all entities to maximise their effectiveness by finding innovative approaches to fulfil their mandates within the allocated resources. She also stressed the importance of collaboration among various departments with direct mandates, such as the DSDT and SITA. She highlighted the recent visit to Estonia as part of the open government partnership, which provided the Department with valuable insights from other countries. Despite its small population, Estonia had successfully harnessed technology for government use, and its collaboration with the private sector served as a model for effective technology utilisation in government systems.

The Minister emphasised the importance of leveraging digital transformation to address the challenges faced by the country. She noted that the public service in South Africa was understaffed compared to other developing countries, with a ratio of 3.1% to the population, while other developing nations maintain a ratio of 6%. The presentation delivered today should be a top priority for the government.

She said the President had assigned three ministers, from the DSDT, DPSA and Finance, to focus on leveraging technology and implementing responsive systems to tackle various challenges. The DPSA's mandate was to advocate for and address government challenges, with support from international bodies like the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The OGP had selected Estonia as a model for promoting interaction and knowledge-sharing among countries, to learn from its successful approaches. The Department aimed to share these experiences with the people of South Africa to drive the digitisation and digitalisation programme forward. However, collaboration remained a crucial factor in the programme's progress.

Committee minutes

The minutes from previous meetings were adopted by the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

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