In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee was briefed by the Auditor-General of SA (AGSA) on the audit outcomes of the public service and administration portfolio in 2022/23. The Committee also received the 2022/23 Annual Reports of the National School of Government (NSG), Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), Public Service Commission (PSC), and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA ). The Ministery was in attendance.
In her address, the Minister affirmed the Department's dedication to addressing the specific focus areas the AG's office highlighted. This commitment aims to enhance effective management of public funds, thereby promoting good governance.
The Committee inquired about the Department’s measures that are required to strengthen the oversight function, the AG's perspective on the Department's apparent regression, insights into the PSC’s outcomes and interventions resulting from the discipline management conference, the NSG's plans to roll out traditional capacity-building initiative to other provinces, and low youth representation within CPSI’s workforce amongst others.
The Chairperson opened the meeting and outlined the agenda for the day.
Overview by the Minister
Ms Noxolo Kiviet, Minister of Public Service and Administration, has affirmed the Department's dedication to addressing the specific focus areas the Auditor-General of SA (AGSA's) office highlighted. This commitment aims to enhance effective management of public funds, thereby promoting good governance. These areas may have been neglected in the past, contributing to the Department's shift from having a clean audit to an unqualified one.
The process of professionalising the public service is now in full swing. This is in line with the steps outlined in the professionalisation framework, which are embedded in legislation. These legislative measures will bolster accountability and enforcement within the public service. Consequently, the Committee was urged to prioritise the bills.
Auditor-General South Africa Briefing on the Audit Outcomes for 2022/23 Financial Year in Relation to the DPSA, NSG, CPIS and PSC
Ms Precious Nomthandazo Masiya, Manager, Information System Audit and Mr Mojalefa Deane, Senior Manager, AGSA, led the presentation.
The presentation reflected on key recommendations from the 2021/22 audit and the overall audit outcomes for the portfolio for 2022/23 – there was improvement in the National School of Government (NSG) while the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) regressed. Overall, the portfolio has managed to sustain clean audit outcomes for majority of the entities within the portfolio. The Department’s audit outcomes have regressed due to material findings identified in the performance information. The AGSA also noted a low performance rate on the achievement of key performance indicators relating to the core mandate. The portfolio indicates an environment that has implemented robust financial management system that produces credible financial reporting. The AGSA commended the portfolio for an improvement in compliance with regulations –no material findings on any of the entities.
Reasons for regression:
• Breakdown in controls over performance planning and monitoring
• Ineffective audit action plans
• Review process and in-year monitoring process not effective
The presentation looked at performance against targets, where key targets not achieved included:
1. 50% representation of women in SMS position
2. 30% % representation of Youth
3. Directive on Mandatory in-service training for the public service submitted for approval
4. HRM&D strategy and implementation plan submitted for approval
5. Job Competency Framework for public sector submitted for approval
6. Job evaluation System for the Public Service final report submitted for approval
1. No functional areas professionalised with professional bodies by March 2023
2. Facilitation of accreditation process not achieved by March 2023
Public Service Commission (PSC)
1. Percentage reduction in the number of employees lodging grievances in the public service over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period
Impact of targets not achieved: The non-alignment of indicators and targets hinder the department from achieving initiatives as planned and thus limiting the department from improving the public sector. Service delivery is impaired in the public service.
See presentation for key insights, financial management and compliance, procurement and material irregularities.
AGSA has recommended that;
•All entity reviews around the Annual Performance Plans (APPs) must be enhanced by all key role players to ensure alignment with the mandate, Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and strategic objectives by the accounting officer, executive authority and the Portfolio Committee
•Oversight role should be strengthened and the Department capacitated with enough tools to enforce the implementation of the directives issued by the DPSA, National Treasury (NT) and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Executive Authority and Parliament
•Roll out plan to be enhanced with clearly articulated roles and responsibilities for all the role players, with time-bound actions implemented and monitored on a regular basis by the DPSA, PSC, NSG, NT, DPME, Cogta, and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE)
•Improve oversight over the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and ensure on going monitoring of critical projects
Key interventions that need to be prioritised are;
•The need to strengthen capacity with the Department and its entity to review the APPs and ensure alignment with the mandate.
•Urgent need to enhance the in-year monitoring processes by the Accounting Officer (AO).
•Implementation of consequence management on non-achievement of targets by the AO and AE
•Engagement with relevant stakeholders to determine effective tools that will enhance the oversight by the Department.
•Socialisation of the framework with key role players to align expectations and common understanding of objectives and the journey map to ensure successful implementation.
•Key performance indicators and strategic targets included in the APP of all key role players on implementation of the framework.
•Effectively utilising GITOCH to exercise adequate oversight on SITA.
•Clear understanding and collaboration by all key role players (SITA, DPSA, Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT)) on the structural issues impacting SITA to deliver on its mandate and a clear action plan which is time bound on how these matters will be addressed.
See attached for full presentation
Centre for Public Service Innovation Annual Reports 2022/23
Ms Lydia Sebokedi, Acting Executive Director, and Ms Annette Snyman, Chief Financial Officer, led the presentation.
The 2022/2023 highlights include;
•Thusong Service Centre (TSC) Online System (multi-year project) with the benefit of savings on transport, faster and more integrated service delivery, savings for government through digitisation of services, real-time monitoring of service standards.
•Planned Patient Transfer Application, Gauteng EMS with the benefit of improved planning and allocation of appropriate vehicles to improve efficiency, reducing abuse, cost savings, and reducing the risk of medico-legal cases. This project is planned for the 2023/2024 financial year with final development sprints in Q2 and piloting in Sedibeng District in Q3
•Digital Fingerprint Project with benefits of the dignity of family being respected, cost savings for facilities and of pauper burials, reduced pressure on the South African Police Services (SAPS) and pathology labs to process fingerprints and DNA
•Institutional support, conferences and workshops in forms of Youth Digital Skills Development, Public Sector Innovation Conference, Public Sector Innovation Awards Programme, Design Thinking and Public Sector Innovation Workshops.
Overview of the Human Resources
CPSI recorded an increase from 32 posts and an increase from 6.7 per cent at the end of the 2021/22 financial year. The Centre was able to create additional capacity through permanent posts from 1 Apr 2023.
•DD: Replication was filled from July 2023,
•DD: Stakeholder Management was filled in August 2023.
•Two system developers were appointed on contract while awaiting National Treasury's approval to re-allocate funding for a permanent post.
•One system developer was subsequently appointed full-time starting September 2023. The process of onboarding a second developer through re-purposing a vacant post commenced.
In the 2022/23 financial year, CPSI maintained a commendable track record by avoiding any instances of unauthorised, fruitless, or wasteful expenditure. However, within the same timeframe, the CPSI did encounter a single case of irregular expenditure, totalling R231,918.76. This irregular expenditure pertains to a contractual commitment for VOIP and connectivity services that could not be terminated due to potential adverse consequences on access to essential transversal systems (BAS, LOGIS, and PERSAL). It was important to note that this irregular expenditure, although present, did not rise to a material finding of concern.
Additionally, in the period being reviewed, the Department efficiently processed 495 invoices, and none of them exceeded the stipulated 30-day payment period. The Department's impressive performance is further evidenced by the overall average payment processing time for the financial year, which stood at just 4.52 days.
Progress Report on the Implementation of the Recommendations Contained in the Budget Report 2023/24
To enhance and fortify stakeholder management, the Center appointed a Deputy Director for Stakeholder Management and Partnerships who officially resumed the role on 1 Aug, 2023. This strategic move was prompted by the imperative to improve the replication and utilisation of innovative solutions that the Center uncovers and transfers to relevant government departments.
In support of the DPSA's efforts to innovate and modernise administrative processes, with a particular emphasis on transitioning from manual application forms to a paperless system, especially within the domain of human resource operations, the CPSI has successfully identified a plethora of digitisation solutions through its Annual Public Sector Innovation Awards Program. This includes innovative solutions tailored to enhance human resource business operations.
Further, the CPSI is currently actively collaborating with developers in regions such as Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Western Cape, Northern Cape, and Eastern Cape. These collaborations aim to facilitate the sharing and implementing electronic solutions for leave management, recruitment, and performance appraisal systems (eLeave, eRecruitment, and ePerformance Management). The CPSI has provided a comprehensive presentation to the Committee on these significant developments, which took place on 20 Sept 2023.
An annual appeal is made to National Treasury for increased funding to address the persistent issue of the Center's inadequate resources and capacity. Concurrently, the Center has stressed the critical need to establish teams consisting of software and systems developers, business analysts, UX (User Experience) designers, and proficient project managers. These teams would be equipped to oversee the agile development of solutions aimed at enhancing service delivery. Regrettably, this vital initiative currently lacks the necessary funding. In addition, the CPSI has proposed a shift in budgetary allocation, advocating for a transition away from traditional policy-making and regulation-centred budgeting to a more enabling approach focused on facilitating digital transformation.
These recommendations hold great promise in supporting government departments as they explore and implement innovative solutions to elevate their service delivery capabilities.
See attached for full presentation
National School of Government Annual Report 2022/23
Mr Busani Ngcaweni, Principal, and Mr Rufus Nchabeleng, DG, led the presentation.
As at the end of the financial year, the following are reflected as highlights of performance:
•Clean Audit outcomes for the Vote and Trade Account
•A total of 78 720 learners trained against annual target of 40 460.
•Revenue generated to the amount of R115 million of the annual target.
•Nyukela programme - total of 7 450 learners enrolled for the course and 5 523 successfully completing.
•Ethics in the public service course had a total enrolment of 16 753, with 13 765 completing the course (82% achievement)
• Ten online courses were developed to expand the eLearning platform and nine skills assessments completed with public sector institutions.
•The Art of Facilitation training for Traditional Leaders in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, over 70 traditional leaders trained.
•The NSG, in collaboration with the City of Johannesburg (COJ), held the Local Government Leadership Development Programme Graduation Ceremony on 17 Feb 2023 and awarded certificates to respective councillors' post-completion of the programme.
•Professionalisation of the Public Sector- An engagement was held with the Department of Public Enterprises to discuss the implementation modalities and expectations for implementing the Professionalisation Framework.
•Contract extension for the delivery of the Emerging Management Development Programme (EMDP) and the Advanced Development Management Programme (AMDP) by five universities.
In the financial year under review, there were 27 performance targets in the APP. 23 targets were achieved; 4 targets were not achieved. In Administration, the programme had a total of six planned targets for the financial year, five of which were achieved. This translates to an 83% achievement. In public sector organisational and staff development, the programme had a total of 21 planned targets for the financial year, of which 18 targets were achieved. This translates to 86% achievement. In Human Resources, the NSG has a total of 239 posts on the organisational structure, of which 197 posts are filled and 42 vacant (17,5% vacancy rate). During this financial year, the vacancy rate remained high as a result of the organisational restructuring process during the year (which included employee migration into posts before any vacant post could be filled). The vacancy rate is also attributed to retirements, resignations, and internal promotions. The NSG implemented a recruitment drive towards the end of the financial year, which will significantly reduce the vacancy rate in the new financial year.
Recommendations of the Portfolio Committee on 2023/24 APP
In response to the imperative of encouraging its self-generated income through the Training Trading Account, the NSG is actively crafting a comprehensive funding model. This model is intended to sustain the NSG's financial independence while concurrently realigning its mission with the Framework for Professionalising the Public Sector. The overarching goal is to extend the NSG's service offerings to encompass various government sectors. In line with this recommendation, the NSG is in the final stages of formulating a Concept Document outlining its future positioning. This document was presented to National Treasury on both 10 Aug 2023, and 22 Aug 2023, during the MTEF Function Group meetings.
Further, there is a pressing need for the NSG to expedite the development of an Implementation Plan for the Framework on Professionalising the Public Sector. In collaboration with the DPSA and the Public Service Commission, the NSG must ensure that all government departments and entities adhere to this Framework. Encouragingly, the NSG has already made notable progress in this regard. After Cabinet's approval of the National Framework Towards Professionalization of the Public Sector on 19 Oct 2022, the former acting Minister of Public Service and Administration hosted a media briefing on 25 Oct 2022, to launch the National Framework. Additionally, the NSG has initiated an advocacy programme to guide and support government departments and public institutions in crafting their implementation plans.
South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has also embraced the National Framework for adoption at the municipal level. It is anticipated that government departments, public entities, SALGA, and other relevant institutions will conclude their implementation plans, with the commencement of implementation slated for 1 Apr 2024. These entities will maintain a regular reporting mechanism to their respective Executive Authorities to track the progress of the National Framework's implementation.
The NSG should continue to conduct an impact evaluation of its training programmes to measure the efficacy and application of knowledge with the aim of improving performance. This progress is underscored by the completion of six impact evaluations for NSG programmes provided to officials across the three tiers of government at the conclusion of the 2021/2022 financial year. Notably, two of these evaluations yielded reports of tangible changes and improvements in departmental policies and procedures due to the training they received.
In line with this endeavour, the NSG, at the close of the 2022/2023 financial year, compiled six progress reports pertaining to the initial phase of the impact evaluations. The findings were subsequently communicated to Heads of Department, CEOs, and Municipal Managers, and were also presented to the management teams within these institutions. Presently, the NSG is actively engaged in the second and final phase of the impact evaluations, set to be finalised by the end of the 2023/2024 financial year. Looking ahead, six additional new programmes have been earmarked for impact evaluations in the subsequent financial years, spanning from 2024/2025 to 2025/2026.
See attached for full presentation
Public Service Commission Annual Report 2022/23
Prof Somadoda Fikeni, Commissioner, Ms Dinkie Dube, DG, and Mr Zweli Momeka, Chief Financial Officer, led the presentation.
The highlights of achievements include;
•The embarkment on a citizens-focused and community outreach programme and successfully conducted nine Citizens Forums across all provinces focusing on service delivery.
•Conducted information dissemination and capacity-building workshops on topical issues for Public Service Departments and convened strategic engagements on the implementation and non-implementation of the PSC’s recommendations with various Departments and provincial legislatures.
•Conducted assessment studies on the effectiveness of Government support for service delivery focused on a) functional accommodation and b) Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
•Conducted service delivery inspections at the Forensic Science Laboratories of SAPS with a focus on the backlog of cases and the impact thereof on the Criminal Justice System and delivery of justice to the society at large.
•Conducted service delivery inspections at the Forensic Science Laboratories of the South African Police Services with a focus on the backlog of cases and the impact thereof on the Criminal Justice System and delivery of justice to the society at large.
The AGSA reported just four minor findings, with one related to Supply Chain Management and performance information, and two associated with Financial Management. In response to these minor findings, an audit improvement plan has been devised to address and rectify these issues. Notably, no material errors were detected in the annual financial statements or performance information. Furthermore, the audit revealed the absence of significant internal control deficiencies in the planning, management, and reporting processes. There were also no findings concerning procurement transactions and contract management, and, importantly, no material irregularities were identified.
The implementation of Portfolio Committee recommendations include;
•Speeding up the legislative reform project for an independent Secretariat – Table PSC Bill by 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2023/24, in which public comments process concluded by August 2023, with 14 of 16 submissions supporting the Bill. On 13 Sept 2023, Cabinet approved the Bill for tabling in Parliament and the Bill was submitted to Parliament by 26 Sept 2023.
•Review organisational structure and strengthen capacity in provincial offices, cover a wide spectrum of provincial Departments to have greater impact on citizens in the province. To address this, the PSC has begun the process of functional structure review and it is conducting skills audit to assist and inform organisational structure review.
•Continual strategic discussions are in progress, involving interactions with the Premiers and Provincial Legislatures, in direct response to the recommendation to engage with the Premiers and Speakers of the Provincial Legislatures. These discussions encompass various aspects, including advancing Commissioner appointments, to deliberate on the PSC's work and objectives.
• It is recommended that the PSC develop a position paper on performance management focusing on measuring outcomes and impact to ascertain the quality of expenditure. In alignment with this suggestion, the PSC hosted a conference on public service reforms and professionalisation, focusing on human resources management, including critique of the current performance management system on 12 Oct 2023. The entity also identified the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) review, in collaboration with the DPSA, as an area of focus for the 2024/25 financial year.
See attached for full presentation
Department of Public Service & Administration Annual Report 2022/23
Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, DG, DPSA and Mr Zaid Aboobaker, Chief Director: E-Government, led the presentation.
The AG's office identified several material findings, including issues such as the misalignment between indicators and targets in the APP, the absence of reasons for overachievements in the variance column, and the failure to advertise Senior Management Service (SMS) vacancies and fill them within the prescribed timeframes.
In response to these findings, the DPSA took corrective action. It re-submitted the findings and the Amended Annual Report to the AG and engaged in discussions to provide additional information. Consequently, some of the findings were successfully addressed. The DPSA is also in the process of revising and developing checklists for the completion of quarterly and annual reports, ensuring that the AG's identified control measures are integrated to prevent recurring findings.
Furthermore, the DPSA has revised and amended the 2023/24 financial year APP, which has been submitted to the AG for verification. Upon verification, the APP will then be submitted to the Minister for approval.
The delay in integrating the professionalisation framework into the 2022/2023 fiscal year can be attributed to the framework's ongoing development process, led by the NSG with the active participation of the DPSA. The framework was only approved by Cabinet in the third quarter of the 2022/23 fiscal year, which explains the report's reference to the framework's recent approval and its impact on the two targets.
See attached for full presentation
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) inquired from the Department about strengthening oversight, a function of the Department, and the capacity of the oversight-related unit. Challenges that AG has picked up will assist the Department and the entities from that mirror. The AGSA presentation mentioned that despite the irregular expenditure, the entities obtained a clean audit and that these irregular expenditures are largely repairable. How can the AG offer guidance to prevent further instances of special irregular expenditures by the entities? Further, there appears to be a contradiction regarding unachieved targets associated with expenses. What recommendations does the AG have regarding this matter?
Regarding the NSG, Ms Ntuli observed the likelihood of jeopardising the innovative work of the entity in the event that people start to pay for the Nyukela programme instead of the entity's sponsorship. To combat the vacancy rate in the NSG, she suggested that the entity strategically deals with retirement within the Department by implementing replacements before staff’s exit. She concluded her inquiry into NSG’s presentation by asking how the Senate can enhance the entity’s work with the professional bodies.
On the CPSI, she said that the Committee supports and applauds the innovations being embarked on, especially the training of pathologists and addressing the challenges of ambulances with a focus on citizens without medical aid. How does the CPSI plan to attract young people to work with them and see the entity’s importance to the country and even themselves?
Further clarification is required on whether the reprioritisation of funds was conducted by the entity or through Treasury. Carrying out the reprioritisation by the entity may have contributed to the irregular expenditure.
Ms M Kibi (ANC) expressed her concerns about public service employees who seem to be exploiting the system, some of whom reportedly earn salaries without working for up to six months. She also highlighted the issue of favouritism within the sector, which can demoralise hardworking staff. She emphasised the importance of the PSC Bill in scrutinising public servants to recover state funds. She sought information about the impact of the public sector productivity framework and its key highlights. She inquired about the Commissioner's perspective on the term's service delivery report.
Regarding the DPSA, Ms Kibi recommended that the Department set an example by achieving clean audit findings. She also urged the Department to be more proactive in its duties, rather than bringing issues to the attention of the Portfolio Committee. She sought information on measures to enhance the oversight function of the Department and the capacity of the oversight-related unit.
Dr L Schreiber (DA) expressed his concern regarding the professionalisation framework, highlighting certain detailed actions that have not been fully integrated into it. He pointed out that there is a notable absence of actionable timelines and specific performance metrics within the framework, essential for holding the government, including the Department and associated entities, accountable for its implementation. While acknowledging the noteworthy efforts made to formally incorporate the framework into the AG's report, he emphasised the need for the Minister to elucidate how the non-integrated elements will be addressed.
He underscored the prevalent issue of numerous policies and frameworks in the country, including the National Development Plan (NDP), which often lack the transformation into actionable plans with well-defined timelines for which individuals can be held accountable. Dr Schreiber queried whether there is a commitment to convert the professionalisation framework into concrete actions, accompanied by clear timelines and mechanisms for enforcing accountability in case of deviations. He raised concerns about the possibility of the document becoming an exercise in futility if it merely undergoes periodic reviews without substantial implementation and tangible results.
Ms R Komane (EFF) raised several pertinent questions during the presentation. She initially sought confirmation regarding the Department's implementation of the AG's recommendations concerning the issue of age, particularly in relation to the major causes of the implementation delay.
Further, Ms Komane inquired about the AG's perspective on the Department's apparent regression, as indicated in the presentation.
Shifting her focus to the NSG, she expressed concern over the entity's inability to meet its targets and questioned the effectiveness of its operations. She asked about the specific challenges hindering the entity's ability to overcome these obstacles and successfully achieve its targets. Ms Komane also welcomed the capacity-building strategy for traditional leaders and sought information on the metrics used for the selection and prioritisation of provinces in the programme. She inquired about the NSG's plans to roll out this capacity-building initiative to other provinces, considering that most provinces have traditional leaders.
In reference to the CPSI, Ms Komane stressed the need for a precise timeframe for filling vacant positions. She sought clarification on why the recruitment process has been protracted and whether these positions remain unfilled.
The AG's presentation highlighted the lack of oversight by the DPME. In light of this, Ms Komane inquired about the DPME's plans for performing oversight functions on the policies created by the Department, considering the concerns raised by the AG. She also sought to understand the challenges in collaborating with the DPSA, NSG, and other stakeholders.
Ms Komane commended the PSC's Commissioner for addressing many of the Committee's concerns since his appointment. However, she questioned whether the discontinuation of targets would become a standard procedure and when the PSC expects to conclude its investigation into the irregular expenditure of R71 000.
Further, Ms Komane raised concerns about prolonged disciplinary procedures, which result in unnecessary expenses that could be redirected into more efficient utilisation. She inquired about how the PSC plans to address these delays, assist in enforcing a more efficient process, and ensure that disciplinary procedures are conducted fairly to save taxpayers' money.
The Chairperson acknowledged noticeable improvements within some entities concerning their compliance with legislation, especially in reference to the center's identification of age-related issues and the increasing demands on IT services. The Committee also acknowledged that the Department could not meet all its targets yet appreciated the commitment to having 50% female representation and 30% youth representation.
Specifically, regarding the NSG, the Chairperson recognised improvements in performance but expressed concern over unachieved targets, particularly in non-functional areas with professional bodies by 23 Mar 2023. The facilitation of the accreditation process also remained unmet, and two significant memoranda of understanding with professional bodies, such as the Chartered Institution of Procurement and Supply and the Institute of Internal Auditors, were not signed as outlined in the NSG's targets. The Chairperson sought information on how the NSG intends to address these delays in meeting its targets.
Similarly, in the case of the CPSI, the Chairperson noted the achievement of a clean audit and meeting targets, as well as the implementation of the previous year's budget review recommendations. The Chairperson inquired about the rate of adoption and success of various technological innovations, especially those related to digital platforms.
The Chairperson inquired about the specific areas where the PSC suggested that the Committee can provide support for the entity's intervention in the Department's mandate. While the AG's report indicates that the Department effectively manages its finances, it also points out that the DPSA is not consistently achieving its targets at an acceptable level. The AG's report highlights that the DPSA's target attainment is at 60%, and the Department needs to update the impact of its frameworks and regulations, particularly in relation to its oversight indicators. The Chairperson asked the DPSA about the measures required to enhance the oversight function of the Department and the capacity of its oversight-related unit.
Dr J Nothnagel (ANC) posed questions to the NSG regarding the extent of the implementation of the professionalisation framework and the necessary measures to institutionalise it. Additionally, she directed a question to the CPSI about the adoption rate of various technological innovations, particularly those related to digital platforms. She also inquired about the strategies and actions the entity employs to seek funding from organisations supporting digital innovation.
Regarding the DPSA, is there an integrated approach among government Departments overseeing cross-cutting frameworks to ensure a coordinated intervention when necessary?
Ms Kibi sought clarity from the NSG on the envisioned authority for the public service professional body and whether a single body will govern the sector. She recommended that the NSG aggregate the objectives of international agreements and develop indicators for key areas of these agreements as part of its APP.
In the context of the CPSI, Ms Kibi inquired about the measures required to enhance the adoption of the entity's innovations. She further recommended that the CPSI develop a business model that fosters partnerships and increases its ability to attract public investment and promote innovation. Additionally, she advised the NSG to collaborate with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) entities to leverage funds and form partnerships with organisations such as the Technology Innovation Agency and the CSIR.
Ms Kibi highlighted the positive percentage reduction in the number of employees lodging grievances in the public service over the MTEF, particularly in terms of the PC creditor payment period beyond 36 days. She commended the PSC’s performance, including the increased achievements beyond the targets and the responsiveness to the Committee's previous recommendations. She inquired about the constraints that may undermine the PSC's independence as a constitutional entity and recommended that the PSC reports bi-annually on key areas requiring the Portfolio Committee's intervention.
Regarding the DPSA, Ms. Kibi expressed concerns about the significant underperformance, despite the Department's control over its finances. She asked about the measures necessary to strengthen the oversight function and the capacity of oversight-related units. Additionally, she recommended that the Department incorporate key outcome-based performance indicators to ensure the achievement of strategic outcomes, enhance the capacity of the Office of Standards and Compliance, and increase its transfer to the PSI for the Department's e-government mandate. Lastly, she suggested that National Treasury increase the Department's appropriation to support the DPSA's oversight function.
Ms. S Maneli (ANC) raised a significant concern regarding the CPSI, noting that only approximately 10% of its workforce comprises young people. Despite the youth's known capacity for innovation and fresh perspectives, she highlighted the issue of low youth representation within the workforce. She also emphasised the importance of the NSG addressing its current 17.5% vacancy rate. Additionally, she pointed out that the PSC, professional bodies, the Department, and other entities have been supportive of the South African Association of Public Administration and Management, which recently assisted with a conference. She inquired about the parameters that the public service professional body would establish concerning punitive or consequence actions against its members, similar to the measures employed by other professional bodies that could lead to banning members from practising or using their professional status.
Ms Maneli inquired about the PSC's role in implementing the professionalisation framework and how the entity plans to leverage digital innovations to expand its reach and create awareness of its interventions. She commented on the potential of innovations to promote a culture of compliance with public service norms and regulations as a form of deterrence.
Regarding the DPSA, Ms Maneli questioned the Department's capacity to oversee the implementation of norms, standards, and various frameworks. She also inquired about the existence of a government Chief Information Officer (CIO) within the Department. If the Department has a CIO, she sought clarification on why the targets were unmet. She reiterated the need for the Department to provide additional justification for spending 90% of its budget with only a 33% achievement of targets.
Dr M Gondwe (DA) sought further clarity on the integrity assessments, particularly in the context of the NSG's statement that directives were to be developed regarding implementing and rolling these assessments within the public service. Specifically, she inquired about the specific timeline for the rollout of these integrity assessments in the public service. The President's State of the Nation Address (SONA) mentioned these assessments as a means to foster a more ethical public service.
Further, Dr. Gondwe asked DPSA for information about the methodology that would be employed for the implementation of these integrity assessments. She noted that there were reports of concerns from public service sector unions regarding the methodology. Specifically, at the time, the public service sector had expressed reservations about the methodology presented by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). She asked whether the issues concerning the methodology had been resolved.
Dr Gondwe inquired about the publication or issuance of the directors related to implementing the framework for the professionalisation of the public sector. She sought information on how the framework will be enforced in the absence of enabling legislation to ensure its enforceability within the public sector and which department will be responsible for monitoring its implementation. She raised these questions in light of concerns raised by the AG regarding the DPSA's ability to formulate policies, directives, and procedures but its limited oversight and monitoring of these policies.
Regarding the PSC, Dr Gondwe asked for further insights into the outcomes and interventions resulting from the discipline management conference mentioned by the Commissioner. She also inquired about the budget allocation to different programmes within the Commission, specifically noting the differences in the number of indicators among programmes and the allocation of funds. Dr. Gondwe questioned the PSC about the interventions or measures they plan to put in place to ensure a proactive approach to addressing irregular appointments and handling complaints related to irregular appointments, rather than being reactive.
Ms Masiya responded to questions regarding irregular expenditure, unachieved targets, and expenditures noting that certain targets had budgeted funds that were utilised, but the achievement of the indicators fell short at 25% or 14%. She emphasised the need for more robust and effective monitoring systems to enhance the rate of achievement. The AG's recommendations underscored the significance of prioritising indicator achievements, ensuring budget allocations align with observed results. She further highlighted the importance of quarterly reviews within the monitoring systems to prevent budget spending without a corresponding impact.
Regarding the issue of misuse of state resources in the public sector, Ms Masiya clarified that the presentation did not specifically pertain to the Department. However, she emphasised that limited progress in the broader public sector had been made in audit outcomes in various entities, leading to the misuse of state resources. In this context, the DPSA, as a coordinating ministry, collaborates with the Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DPME) to play a pivotal role in ensuring the effectiveness of policies and regulations in the fight against corruption, thereby making these efforts visible.
Ms Masiya delved into the root causes of these challenges, including instability in key management positions, a culture of non-adherence to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) prescripts, and ineffective consequence management with inadequate investigations. She highlighted that the DPSA, in comparison with other entities, exhibited a culture of zero tolerance for non-compliance at the management level. The DPSA stands as an outlier expected to set an example for other departments and state-owned entities.
Further, the AG attributed the regression at DPSA to the breakdown in internal controls surrounding performance, planning, and monitoring. Notably, the financial statements demonstrated the robustness of the implemented financial controls within the organisation.
Mr Deane affirmed that the AG's office actively conducts audit procedures related to consequence management and there are clear indications that the portfolio takes the matter of consequence management seriously. This is evident from the substantial reduction in irregular expenditure, which has been cut by nearly 70% when compared to the previous year.
Mr Ngcaweni provided details on the implementation of the framework, highlighting the inclusion of safeguards. This includes incorporating the framework into the APP commencing with the Ministry for the Public Service and Administration (MPSA) portfolio. This inclusion is essential for enhancing accountability regarding NSG's commitment to the framework and facilitating effective auditing by the AG. Further, the Minister has officially gazetted the framework, reinforcing its institutionalisation.
Additionally, two legislative amendments have been piloted before this Committee to solidify the framework's implementation through legal instruments like the Public Service Act and the forthcoming legislation led by the PSC. These legislative changes are integral to the framework's realisation.
The NSG is actively encouraged to promote the adoption of the framework within local government organisations. The entity is also in the process of developing various instruments to support the framework's implementation. These measures include the design of integrity tests, the iteration of a three-entry exam for managers, and pilot interventions that involve numerous public entities undergoing NSG assessments as recommended by the framework. Further, the NSG intends to create ministerial directives soon, specifying the start date for integrity tests, pre-entry assessments, and various interventions.
The training programme for traditional leaders has been steadily expanding, with positive responses and strong support from provincial houses and the Department of Traditional Affairs. Currently, the NSG has provided training in Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State, and plans to extend its programme to Limpopo.
The NSG Principal expressed gratitude for Ms Kibi's suggestions and assured her that these recommendations will be incorporated into the next financial year and APP. The NSG is actively engaged in partnerships, such as one with the School of Government in France, and is working to offer opportunities to Members [of Parliament]. Moreover, the NSG is involved in various international collaborations, providing training to public servants in Africa, Brazil, and Mongolia in partnership with UNICEF and the National University of Singapore, focusing on programme evaluation. The objective is to expose South African public servants, both elected and appointed, to global best practices in governance.
In response to addressing the recruitment gap, Mr Ngcaweni confirmed that the vacancy rate has been reduced to 11%, with ongoing efforts to further decrease it. The NSG experiences an annual retirement rate of 1.5%, in addition to attrition through promotions. The strategy for reducing the vacancy rate involves advertising posts when employees are nearing retirement. It is worth noting that the marketability of NSG employees makes them vulnerable to recruitment by other organisations, contributing to the vacancy rate. The NSG has asked employees aged 60 and above to communicate their intended retirement date to address this issue. The NSG has implemented a succession planning program that considers who is retiring soon and whether those reporting to the retiring employees meet the minimum requirements for inclusion on the shortlist. If not, the NSG invests in their development to ensure they meet these requirements and can compete effectively.
Mr Pierre Schoonraad, Head of Research and Development, explained that several factors influence the pace of development, including the project's complexity and its level of adoption. For more complex projects, it takes the agency longer to develop, as they may require multiple iterations before they are ready for adoption. Typically, these are the multi-year projects that CPSI reports on. Despite adopting an agile working methodology, these projects tend to be time-consuming, primarily due to CPSI's limited capacity. Having dedicated teams of developers can significantly accelerate the pace of development.
Additionally, CPSI must differentiate between development projects and replication projects. Replication projects often take much longer, spanning multiple years, because they involve the delegation of authority in various departments. Initiatives like the digital fingerprint project necessitate engagement across different provinces with Heads of Departments (HoDs) and require training for respective officers. Consequently, these projects take longer to roll out than individual projects.
Currently, CPSI's targets indicate a capacity to handle two development projects and two replication projects annually. However, this capacity could increase substantially if CPSI has the necessary teams or a network of developers across provinces and departments.
It is essential to highlight that there are no challenges in increasing uptake measures at CPSI because the agency has adopted the design thinking methodology, ensuring that demand is encouraged from the outset to foster ownership. Prior to rolling out designs to provinces, solutions are typically co-designed with a deep understanding of the context in each local municipality. However, change management principles are employed for more complex solutions to ensure all stakeholders are on board. This includes providing training and further refinement to tailor the solutions to specific needs.
Some barriers that hinder uptake include resistance to change from officials, sometimes for legitimate reasons. CPSI has received feedback indicating a culture of risk aversion, where officials are hesitant to experiment with and implement new solutions due to fear of receiving audit findings. Procurement remains another obstacle once solutions are piloted, as the procurement for these systems is transferred to the Department. This is not always feasible, or there may again be a culture of risk aversion when it comes to procuring solutions from an innovator rather than going to the open market.
CPSI collaborates closely with the CSIR on specific projects where their competencies are relevant. Additionally, the entity has a strong partnership with the HSRC, particularly concerning data-related innovations and the utilisation of big data, as well as their youth digital skills development program.
Ms Annette Snyman, Chief Financial Officer, CPSI, explained that CPSI currently has three vacant posts. One of these, the intern post, has been filled. The second vacancy is for a clerk position, which became vacant due to an internal promotion. CPSI was in the process of advertising for this position when National Treasury issued cost containment measures. CPSI is currently in consultation with National Treasury to seek approval to proceed with the appointment of this post. Regarding the vacant Executive Director (ED) post, the consultation process with the Minister is necessary, and CPSI is in the process of following the appropriate procedures.
CPSI also took the necessary steps to reprioritise funds from goods and services to compensation for employees. This fund reallocation was made through the appropriation bill, and all the correct processes were followed with National Treasury.
Ms Sebokedi explained that attracting funding in the government sector was one of the primary reasons for CPSI's budget reprioritisation to appoint a Deputy Director of Stakeholder Management and Partnerships. Part of this role is to secure funding for the entity. Currently, CPSI actively seeks funding to support its work through partnerships with organisations such as UNDP and EU Dialogue. The agency collaborates with the private sector to leverage skills and resources, exemplified by its partnership with the youth organisation Kick Culture. In a project with the Northern Cape focused on the Thusong centre, Amazon is involved in supporting the initiative. Additionally, CPSI's digital youth program attracted over 20 partners in June, reflecting an increasing interest in supporting CPSI's endeavours.
Regarding the attraction of youths to the CPSI workforce, Ms Sebokedi noted that the percentage of young employees might seem small, which skews the overall figure. As proof that the CPSI is interested in employing youths, the entity currently has a 24-year-old system developer. However, the agency faces challenges related to upward mobility and limited vacancies. While there is growing interest from young individuals to join CPSI, the agency may not have the available positions to accommodate them. It is worth noting that many youths tend to have limited interest in long-term employment with a single organisation, leading to some instability. Nonetheless, Ms Sebokedi emphasised that existing employees, regardless of their age, also contribute to the agency's innovation.
Prof Fikeni highlighted the concerning anecdotal cases that have come to the attention of the PSC. These cases involve employees on extended leave for as long as 12 years, seven years, or five years while still receiving their full salaries without disciplinary action. Some departments in certain provinces claimed to be unaware of such situations. This situation raised uncertainty about the number of employees who have received full salaries for extended periods without information on the disciplinary processes, which should be completed within the 60-day timeframe as mandated by DPSA regulations.
Prof. Fikeni expressed his disappointment regarding this state of affairs, particularly considering the country's financial challenges. He emphasised that employees on suspension, receiving full salaries without actively working, may have pursued other commitments, such as studies or businesses during their prolonged absence. The consequence of this situation is the freezing of new appointments by Treasury.
As a response to this crisis, the PSC has issued a directive and is collaborating with the Minister to ensure that affected employees return to work by the end of November. An independent panel will also be established to verify cases where individuals may not return or cannot be seconded elsewhere. The PSC is committed to addressing this crisis with a sense of urgency, as investigating each case individually would be time-consuming and could take up to five years to complete. Resolving this crisis promptly is essential to save state costs and prevent further violations of DPSA regulations.
The Discipline Management Conference shed light on the corruption within the system, exposing the existing ecosystem of corruption. The Commission discovered that various elements, including the Labor Code, the CCMA, labour movements, and the Department, contribute to individuals being kept on suspension, often resulting in postponed or cancelled cases. Participants noted that individuals are sometimes required to travel long distances, up to 500 kilometres, for hearings, only to have their cases delayed. Labour representatives mentioned that this is done to claim a daily allowance, with lawyers taking a portion for themselves. As a response to these issues, the PSC is proposing a complete overhaul of the system.
In addressing irregular appointments, the PSC has taken a targeted approach based on an analysis of the AG's reports over the last decade. They have linked appointments to performance agreements to mitigate risks in specific areas. They have observed that weaknesses exist at the head of departments and in the HR units responsible for recruitment, wellness, discipline, promotion, and leave management. The Commission has been collaborating closely with the NSG, DPSA, and the Department of Monitoring to address these weaknesses in senior and HR positions.
Regarding professionalisation, the PSC is committed to establishing a strong working relationship with the Portfolio Committee. They plan to thoroughly review and implement all recommendations and advice from the Committee, providing regular updates on progress and corrective actions. The Commission acknowledges that accountability, collaboration, and partnerships are essential to overcoming these challenges and complementing Parliament's work.
The discontinuation of certain targets by the PSC is seen as a more logical method for reducing complaints. It is recognised that an increased number of complaints can be received even in cases of good performance. The Commission is shifting its focus towards high-impact projects aimed at overhauling systems that have consistently underperformed or eroded the state's capacity. The PSC is also prepared to assume additional responsibilities as they await the changes that the Bill may introduce.
Addressing the concern about capacity in the monitoring and evaluation programme, Ms Dube explained that the PSC has identified this area as one that requires attention in the Commission's organisational design. To tackle this issue, the PSC plans to conduct an evaluation of the hospital's structure in November to ensure it is adequately capacitated. In the meantime, the PSC has reached out to institutions like the Human Science Research Council and CSIR to seek assistance with certain programmes.
On the Integrity and Anti-Corruption (IAC) programme, Ms Dube noted that while the budget for this program may be larger than the M&E program, their targets are fewer due to structural considerations. Some employees also assist the Commission in operating the anti-corruption hotline, contributing to the budget disparities. The PSC plans to address this budgeting issue when conducting an organisational structural review.
The PSC has taken proactive steps to investigate the 70 to 1000 cases of irregular expenditure. They are currently awaiting the conclusion of the irregular expenditure report by the end of the month. Following this, the Commission will implement consequence management where necessary.
A significant issue identified by the PSC is a systemic deficiency in the service delivered inspections they conducted at the Department of Home Affairs. This deficiency primarily relates to slow turnaround times and system downtimes within the department. The PSC has presented its findings to the Minister and has received an implementation plan from the DHA outlining how they will address the recommendations made by the PSC.
Mr Momeka clarified that all 5 863 payments were made within 30 days and highlighted the impressive payment record of the PSC. The AG did not categorise the Commission's payment system as a challenge, nor did they find any breaches of laws or policies. However, the AG had previously explained in writing to the PSC about the 30-day calculation error.
The AG reviewed the Commission's accruals and determined that the calculation error did not imply any payments were made beyond 30 days. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) reiterated that all payments were indeed made within the 30-day timeframe.
Mr Matome Malatsi, DDG: Integrity and Anti-Corruption (IAC), PSC, explained that the IAC typically conducts various investigations to assess the extent of non-compliance with irregular appointments. Following these investigations, the IAC generates content for engagement with departments, providing advice on how they can prevent future irregularities in their appointments. In the past, the IAC created an irregular appointment report, which also served as a reference manual or guide for departments when addressing such issues.
Additionally, the IAC organises continuous workshops on irregular appointments, lawful instructions, and related matters as part of its strategy to further educate departments. Mr Malatsi emphasised that the PSC is readily available to engage further with departments on these issues.
Ms Makhasi, in her response regarding the measures required to strengthen the Department’s capacity for oversight, explained that oversight is integrated within the Department's branches. The structure is designed to perform research, policy development, oversight, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) at the branch level. The Department is currently exploring ways to enhance its capacity in these areas, but it is important to note that the DPSA faced budget cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the department had to sacrifice 60 vacant positions after the approval of its new structure. This year, the DPSA had to sacrifice additional positions, affecting its overall capacity.
Ms Makhasi suggested that the Office of the Accountant-General (OAC), which is externally focused and works with government departments to ensure compliance with norms and standards, could potentially assist in strengthening the department's M&E and oversight functions.
Regarding prolonged disciplinary cases, Ms Makhasi mentioned that the DPSA had initiated strategies to review relevant laws, including the disciplinary code. The disciplinary code is a resolution from the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSAPC), and consultations regarding changes to the code are within the purview of the PSAPC. The DPSA has conducted research at the departmental level and is planning consultations with the PSAPC in the third quarter of the financial year to address issues related to disciplinary cases and turnaround times.
The DPSA has undertaken a project to review prolonged disciplinary cases in collaboration with the heads of departments. This work is decentralised, and the Committee can assist by contacting relevant heads of departments with prolonged cases to present to the Committee and explain the reasons for the delays. These are long-standing cases, and addressing them is a decentralised responsibility.
Regarding the PSC's overhaul of the system, directives are being prepared to facilitate this process. One such directive involves implementing a trigger process at the national level of the DPSA before a department carries out a suspension. This coordinated system will enable better tracking of disciplinary measures and is currently under critical evaluation.
In response to the issue of underspending and vacancies in the DPSA, the intention is to provide explanations and indicate the status of unachieved targets. The Minister has advised the department to provide progress reports for each unachieved target, along with the reasons for the non-achievement.
Ms Makhasi affirmed the importance of the DPSA leading by example with a clean audit. She mentioned that the implementation of integrity assessments is scheduled to commence on 1 Apr 2024. The professionalisation framework received approval in the third quarter of the current financial year, and efforts have been made to develop instruments, including the integrity assessment. It is important to clarify that the methodology used for integrity assessments differs from the SIU methodology, specifically concerning assessments aligned with the recruitment process. The DPSA has engaged relevant private sector stakeholders to develop a system, similar to the competency assessments. It's worth noting that departments have sought assistance from the SIU for lifestyle audits, not integrity assessments, at least for the public service.
Regarding the framework directives, the DPSA relies on the Minister's approval of these directives, which will be submitted to the Ministry before the end of October. The Department intends to issue the framework within the current financial year.
In the absence of relevant legislation, the DPSA has tools to enforce the professionalisation framework. Oversight is conducted through implementation units within the department. However, the DPSA is considering treating the professionalisation framework as a specific project from both oversight and implementation perspectives to ensure it remains a priority within the system. Thus far, there have not been any significant delays in implementing the professionalisation framework.
Directives related to employment management include instructions to departments to eliminate work experience requirements for lower-level positions from one to six. A circular on this topic has been converted into an official instruction. The department is also working on integrating integrity psychometric assessments and will introduce them into the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) for Heads of Departments (HoDs), which has been approved by Cabinet and will take effect from 1 Apr.
The discipline management strategy is not an outcome of the PSC conference but has been included in the department's plans for the current financial year.
The DPSA does have a Chief Information Officer (CIO).
The DPSA is committed to strengthening its oversight duties and maintains a collaborative relationship with other entities, including the Public Service. The Department is open to reviewing areas for improvement.
The integrated approach lies within the jurisdiction of the Office of Accountability and Compliance (OAC), while the DPSA is responsible for coordinating interventions. The DPSA facilitates a culture of "Giscard clusters," bringing together all Directors-General (DGs) of Departments. Similarly, a Technical Working Committee includes DGs and officials at various levels with various responsibilities. The DPSA is part of this integrated approach.
The OAC is a relatively small unit, and some of its positions have been affected by budget cuts. It was established in the 2020/21 financial year and has begun taking on projects, including the compliance project mentioned earlier.
Currently, the DPSA has limited resources to allocate to the CPSI. CPSI engages directly with Treasury regarding resource allocation.
Mr Aboobaker addressed the Department's performance and the meeting of targets. He explained that the DPSA had submitted the development of two directors and the policy framework for approval, but they missed the target's deadline due to the Minister's new appointment.
Regarding the policy framework, the work is ongoing, and there was a decision to further consult with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) on some matters. The Minister provided inputs that required adjustments to the policy framework. The Minister has finalised and approved the directive on knowledge and data management. The target, which is considered unachievable, is pending the Minister's approval, as she needed some time to settle into the Portfolio Committee. The Department is in the process of finalising the policy framework to provide specific direction for the upcoming director in the next financial year.
In her closing remarks, the Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, expressed her appreciation to the Committee for raising important issues and providing suggestions to the Department. She also acknowledged the Committee's recognition of the no-tolerance approach for non-compliance, as highlighted by the AG.
The Deputy Minister emphasised her appreciation for the oversight role of the PS, particularly in addressing corruption and discipline management in government. She noted that the comments and recommendations related to the facilitation of the professionalisation of the public service framework and the need for its legislation had been duly noted.
She also highlighted the Department's commitment to improving digital technologies in government, despite facing challenges, including concerns raised by the AG about the ineffectiveness of the Charter. The Deputy Minister acknowledged the complexity of digital technologies in government due to competencies being spread across various departments. She noted the need for a coordinated approach to modernisation and digitalisation processes. While recognising that digital competence is not directly within the Department's mandate, the Deputy Minister mentioned that the AG's recommendation for the DPSA to have oversight over SITA aligns with the DPSA's cross-cutting role in government operations.
The Deputy Minister emphasised the importance of the DPSA strengthening its oversight role, with the provision of necessary tools, especially if there was an increase in the future budget. The Department has developed tools to support its monitoring role, but it continues to face challenges in effectively contextualising the outcomes of assessments.
She mentioned that the second-generation report is in progress, and the DPSA is performing well in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) report. Regarding budget recommendations, there were no significant adjustments for all Entities except for NSG, which had a surplus of 47 million. The Deputy Minister recommended retaining this surplus to enhance the programs outlined in the NSG's earlier presentation.
The Deputy Minister acknowledged the Committee's recommendations regarding the modernisation and digitisation of the public service, which can aid in facilitating stronger monitoring and oversight. She stressed the importance of well-coordinated oversight efforts within the DPSA.
Further, the Deputy Minister underlined the need for increased appropriations from National Treasury to support the DPSA's oversight functions. She also highlighted the importance of revising existing legislation to strengthen the Department's responsibilities.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.