Director General on Structure & Officials of Department: briefing

Social Development

14 March 2000
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BRIEFING BY DIRECTOR-GENERAL ON STRUCTURE AND OFFICIALS OF THE DEPARTMENT

WELFARE & POPULATION DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 March 2000
BRIEFING BY DIRECTOR-GENERAL ON STRUCTURE AND OFFICIALS OF THE DEPARTMENT

Documents handed out
Presentation on the staffing of the Department (Appendix 1)
Presentation on Human Resource Development (Appendix 2)

Departmental officials present at the meeting:
Director General of the Department Ms Angela Bester
Deputy Director General Dr Nozizwe Chincanda
Director Human Resource Development Dr R Govender

SUMMARY
The presentation revealed tremendous structural incapacities within the Department. Problems related to service delivery but at the root of this problem were staffing incapacities. In the past few years the Department has seen a high staff turnover with a total number of 136 officials leaving. The Department has had 6 Directors-General in the past 6 years. A further problem experienced by the Department related to the existence of 107 unfunded posts which had been created under the blueprint structure of the previous Director General in the belief that funds would eventually become available. The Department of State Expenditure turned down the funding for the 107 posts on the grounds that the Department had excess8ive budget rollovers in the past. The Department admitted that they had a very bad track record in not spending the money they had received and the Department of State Expenditure had no confidence in their ability to spend additional funding.

The committee was specifically critical of the fact that there were funded posts in the Department which remained vacant. Particularly the post of the deputy director of internal audit which was described by the Department as a ''critical post''. The committee could not understand that the Department was unable to find ''one person in this whole country'' to fill this post. A committee member commented that the Department of Welfare seems a ''depressed and depressing Department'' and that it needed ''an injection of vitality''.

In the Department's defence the Director General said that they were currently involved in an organisational development and skills audit. This was an independent evaluation of the Department and they expected a report with recommendations by the 31 March 2000. The Chairperson suggested that the Committee conduct a two-day visit to the Department to see how they operate ''physically''. The Director General responded to this suggestion positively.

MINUTES
Introductory comments by the Chairperson, Mr Saloojee
There have been reports of problems in the Department specifically related to human resources incapacity. These problems were a cause for serious concern. Mr Saloojee wanted to know if there were plans to address these problems which ''impact seriously upon delivery''. He asked the Department to give their briefing in the context of these concerns.

Presentation
The Director General, Ms Angela Bester, said that the current structure (comprising eight directorates) came into operation in April of last year and was aimed at addressing structural weaknesses within the Department. A blueprint was created with posts to be filled over three financial years. However the filling of these posts are subject to the availability of funds. The position currently is that while 389 posts were created only 282 are funded. Further, of the 282 funded posts, only 242 have been filled. Thus there are 40 vacant funded posts and 107 vacant unfunded posts.

In terms of the representativeness of the Department Ms Bester said that the Department has made good progress as the proportion of black staff had increased significantly. She said that the Department was always a female dominated Department with 69% of the employees being female in 1999.
Another problem in the Department was the high level of staff turnover between 1997 and the year 2000. During this time there has been a departure of 136 officials.

Discussion
Ms Chalmers (ANC) requested an explanation for the unfunded posts. She asked if the budget could not accommodate them and who decided that these posts should go unfunded. By example she referred to the position for a director for internal audit. Why was this position unfunded when it was such an important one? She said that it would require someone that was highly qualified and asked how they functioned when there was no one there to perform the job.

Dr Chincanda replied that the blueprint structure had identified the posts and while there had been no firm commitment from State Expenditure regarding funding they had been told that over the MTEF period more funds could become available for these posts. For this reason they went ahead and created the posts. They approached the Department of State Expenditure in June/July (with the support of the Minister) to ask for additional funding for 53 critical posts but they were turned down on the grounds that they had a track record of not spending monies. Also at the end of 1999 their budget was cut by 10 million rand. This only served to aggravate the situation.

The Chairperson noted that the reason for the request for additional funding being refused were the rollovers of unused funds. This he said ''created the problem'' as they did not use the funds which they originally received.
Dr Chincanda then added that they also did not fill some of the funded posts which were available and the Department of State Expenditure had no confidence that they could fill these posts. She said that this was another reason for the refusal of the funding.

The Chairperson asked for an explanation for not filling these funded posts.
The response was that it was difficult to get the right people for the job. The procedure they used was to advertise the vacant posts and then to hold interviews. The problem they experienced with the audit post specifically was when they offered the job to a candidate on their shortlist the person refused on the ground that the salary offer had been matched and a promotion had been offered by the person's current employer.

The Chairperson responded by saying that the post must have been advertised extensively so there must have been more than one suitable candidate.
Dr Chincanda said that they had advertised nationally but they could not fill the post.

A committee member commented that perhaps they should change recruitment strategy because the idea that they could not find one person in the whole country to fill one post was incredible.

Ms Bester said that the recruitment process does need to be changed. Up until now they have used the traditional approach and perhaps they were not making people sufficiently aware of posts. She noted that the problem of filling the audit position haD been taken up with the Chairperson of the Internal Audit Committee.

The Chairperson commented that if you have a shortlist and one candidate turns you down do you not pick someone else on the shortlist? He asked if they had made any effort to go to those persons whose names did not make it onto the shortlist.

Dr Chincanda replied that they could do this but it really depended on the quality of the candidates.

Ms Cupido (DP) commented that there were 40 funded vacant posts, a large number of resignations and the post of Director-General had been vacated too often with six appointments in the past six years. She asked what the issues were that were causing this.

Dr Chincanda replied that most people leave for better jobs outside of the Department. The turnover of management at senior level was possibly because people were unhappy about the constant changes that were taking place in the leadership of the Department. Every time a new Director General came into the Department, it was a new personality that people had to adapt to. She said that they had encouraged their own officials not to leave but to no avail.

The Chairperson commented that the departments that function effectively attract many applications. He said that perhaps it was the poor image that people had of the Department and its service delivery competence. He said that this was a big and exciting issue in other countries yet in South Africa this was not the case. He added that he hoped that he was not making an unfair statement.

Back on the issue of unfunded posts Dr Jassat suggested that they consider scrapping these posts and focus on creating a leaner Department. This he said would limit the bureaucracy. He asked whether they were training people in their Department so that more efficient work could be done by fewer people.

The Director General replied that they are currently in the process of an audit where they are taking a realistic look at the resources and the skills available in their Department. She said that they do intend to reorganise their Department but one must be careful not to take a ''blanket approach to lean and mean especially in social services''. The general view was that they need to allocate as much of the budget on delivering to people (service delivery) as possible and less on personnel.

The Chairperson asked if the Department had come up with any plans to address the lack of capacity that ''even the Minister says '' had reached a crisis situation.

Dr Chincanda said that they were currently at the tail end of an audit skills exercise. This report would be complete by the end of March and would be forwared to the Committee. The Department would then consider the recommendations made in the report and see what could be implemented. It was clear that something had to be done to restructure.

Revisiting the issue of resignations Ms Ghandi commented that if people in senior positions were leaving then ''everything falls flat''. She said that the resignations of senior staff was ''the crux of the problem''. The Chairperson agreed with her by saying that without senior managers there was no leadership.

The Director General agreed that the constant changes within the Department was the heart of the problem and that they needed to stabilise the situation. Dr Govender added that the independent evaluated audit also involved an organisational development programme. Once their report was filed, Dr Govender said ''we can only go forward''.

The Chairperson noted that they would have a briefing thereafter.

Other committee members comments:
Dr Mbulawa (ANC) said that her concern was the structure of the Department. She suggested that the report that they were in the process of compiling should look at two specific issues:
1) The fact that there was a small number people looking at sustainable developmental strategies and
2) also the issue of the Department's support to provinces specifically rural areas.

Mr Singh (DP) said that they must look at the staff leading the Department. They need creative ideas such as those used in the private sector. There should also be initiative for training employees so that employees can receive promotions and expect to move up in the Department.

Ms Chalmers wondered if they were encouraging new people so that they clearly felt that they had a career path. She commented that the Department of Welfare seems to be a ''depressed and depressing Department'' and added that there had to be ''an injection of vitality''. She added that the Department must have something on the table to offer these its employees.

The Chairperson noted that this problem had not just ''cropped up'' but had been going on for a ''good number of years''. He said that he wanted answers.

Dr Chincanda said that she did not pretend to know the answer and offered the following potential explanation. The change of Directors General has affected many employees. Each time there is a new Director General, there is a different style of management and change. People cannot live with this insecurity so they leave. However previous changes had not been guided by an audit skills exercise and ''people had just got changed around''.

Ms Cupido commented that this did not explain why the Directors General leave.
The Chairperson said that the problem that the Directors General encountered must be related to structural weaknesses in the organisation. Another member noted that the Minister had said that the problem lay with the attitude of the people in the Department and their inability to adapt.

Dr Chincanda replied that the problem was not attitude but rather a sheer lack of financial management skills. She said that during 1996/1997 new people coming into the Department were surprised to discover that they would also be responsible for finances in their particular directorates. She said that in the public service the person in control of a project was responsible for every aspect including the finances. When a new Director General came into the Department they did not simply continue spending money on the plans of the former Director General. They put a halt to what was going on in the Department so that they could get oriented and reprioritise. The new Director General also needed time to study the background of programs started by a previous Director General in order to decide if they wanted to continue with that program or end it. ''These things must happen'' Dr Chincanda said. ''There is no shortcut'' and while this is happening ''time is moving on''.

The Chairperson responded to this by saying that surely sound financial planning and management are critical in any Department. If there are plans in terms of which financial operations are carried out no new person can jettison everything. He said that he understood that a new person would ''implement some changes but not whole new systems''.

Director General Bester said that she ''wants to speak for herself''. She said that continuity in a Department makes matters a lot easier. The decisions that she had made were not due to her personality. A Director General has a performance agreement and her actions were guided by her performance agreement. She noted that she had not stopped the work of the Department on her arrival in November last year. She dealt with the Adjustments Appropriation as well as other projects which were started before her arrival. While people do have different styles that is not the overriding factor.

The Chairperson said that if they do not have adequate staff then they cannot fully implement Welfare policies. He asked how many officials were dealing with the child support grant and if those officials have other duties.

The Director General said that 295 000 children were now benefiting from this grant. They must ensure that there is sufficient money in the budget for the child support grant before they promote it because ''if you promote something it must exist''. Some provinces had problems around budgeting. One person manages the promotion of the child support grant project. They are under-resourced in terms of staff.

Ms Ghandi asked where the decision on poverty relief was made.

The Chief Director for Social Development deals with poverty relief and the Chief Director of Welfare Services deals with poverty relief for older persons. Thus to some extent the two departments overlap.

The Director General then reminded the committee that Mr Govender still had to make his presentation and that time was running out.

Presentation on Human Resources Development
The Director Human Resource Development Dr R Govendor highlighted a few of the projects which they have embarked upon to improve their structural capacities.

The Department has engaged in various general management courses aimed at middle and senior management (for assistant directors and upward) for the purpose of improving their productivity. They have also had courses (such as computer training and general courses) aimed at the junior level staff and lower ranking staff. Apart from these projects they have also engaged in ABET (Adult Basic Education and Training) to increase the numeracy level of employees.
The funds utilised in various projects have come primarily from departmental funds but in some instances they also came from donor funds. For example the Netherlands government provided funding in excess of one million rand.

For the future there was a strategic human resource development plan based on organisation development and business analysis.

Discussion
Ms Chalmers noted that she was encouraged by this presentation. There seemed to be a new growth and a new way of thinking. She said that she hoped that they had the structural capacity for these policies to be put in place.

Ms Ghandi asked if Welfare was the only Department engaged in ABET (adult basic education and training). Considering the high rate of illiteracy in the country, she thought it was a worthwhile project.

Mr Govendor replied that he had liaised with a few other departments who were involved in the same course however he did not know if it was compulsory for all departments.

Ms Ghandi commented that while the distribution of social security grants was a provincial responsibility there was a national responsibility to oversee this distribution. She asked if they could carry out the oversight function with such a small staff.

The Director General replied that when they reorganise this would be built in as it is a priority.

The Chairperson said that it must be a priority in absolute terms.

Ms Chalmers asked a few questions related to disability grants.
1) Does the Department have a set of criteria for the distribution of temporary disability grants to the provinces?
2) Are the provinces now focusing on permanent disability grants rather than temporary disability grants? [The problem previously being that the temporary disability grants had been lumped together with the permanent disability grants and the feeling was that the permanent disability grants should receive a first priority.]

The Director General said that the Department was doing a review on disability grants and asked if she could note these questions for inclusion in a presentation to be made to the Committee.

The Chairperson wanted a briefing especially as Lawyers for Human Rights were challenging the policy on disability grants in the Constitutional Court.

The Chairperson requested that a group from the committee visit the Department for about two days to see how they physically operate.

The Director General responded to this positively. She said that members would have the opportunity to meet officials in their working environment. It would also provide them with an opportunity for briefing on key programmes and interaction between the committee and the Department.

Appendix 1:

DEPARTMENT OF WELFARE

PRESENTATION TO PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WELFARE AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT

STAFFING OF DEPARTMENT

15 MARCH 2000

Background on structure

  • Current structure came into formal operation on 1 April 1999
  • Aimed to address weaknesses:
  • Fragmentation of policy work between two DDGs
  • Poor design of operational systems and resources not maximised
  • Reposition financial management, procurement, internal audit, information payment and transaction systems
  • Structure based on view that business of department is largely policy, norms and standards and support to Provinces
  • "Blueprint" structure created with posts to be filled over three financial years
  • Filling of posts subject to available funds
  • Refinement of functions and re-prioritisation of posts to be filled

Structure (1 April 1999)

  • "Blueprint" establishment of 389 posts
  • Funded posts for 1999/2000: 282 posts
  • Posts filled: 242
  • Funded vacant posts: 40
  • Unfunded vacant posts: 107

Structure:

1.Branch Policy, Strategy & Regulation

2. Branch: Business Management Reengineering

3. Branch: Information, Payment and Transaction Service

4. National Population Unit (Chief Directorate)

5. Chief Directorate: Financial & Procurement

6. Directorate: Internal Audit

7. Directorate: Parliamentary Service

8. Director-General

Main components of structure:1

  • Branch: Policy, Strategy and Regulation
  • DDG's Office: (3/3)
  • Chief Directorate: Social Development (18/20)
  • Chief Directorate: Social Security (10/12)
  • Chief Directorate: Developmental Social Welfare Services (39/41)
  • Directorate: Legal Services (2/4)

Figures in brackets show posts filled against funded posts.

Branch totals: 80 funded posts; 72 filled posts; 8 vacant funded posts; 20 vacant unfunded posts

Main components of structure:2

  • Branch: Business Management and Reengineering
  • DDG's Office: (3/3)
  • Chief Directorate: HRM, HRD & Equity (25/27)
  • Chief Directorate: Strategic Planning:(6/11)
  • Chief Directorate: Project Management: (0/0)

Branch totals: 41 funded posts; 34 filled posts; 7 vacant funded posts; 22 vacant unfunded posts

Main components of structure:3

  • Branch: Information, Payment and Transaction Service
  • Chief Information Officer (DDG): (0/2)
  • Chief Directorate:Communication (8/11)
  • Chief Directorate:Information Technology (14/17)

Branch totals: 30 funded posts; 22 filled posts; 8 vacant funded posts; 32 vacant unfunded posts

Main components of structure:4

  • Chief Directorate: Financial and Procurement Services
  • Chief Director's Office: (0/1)
  • Directorate: Financial Mgmt & Administration (14/16)
  • Directorate: Provisioning Administration and Office Services (61/66)

Branch totals: 83 funded posts; 75 filled posts; 8 vacant funded posts; 19 vacant unfunded posts

Main components of structure:5

  • Directorate: Internal Audit
  • Director post vacant, unfunded
  • Secretary post vacant, unfunded
  • Deputy Director post, vacant, funded
  • National Population Unit
  • 27 posts filled
  • 2 vacant funded posts
  • 9 vacant unfunded posts
  • Resignation: 50 officials
  • Transfer from department: 43 officials
  • Voluntary Severance: 29 officials
  • Retirement due to age: 8 officials
  • Retirement due to ill health: 6 officials

Total number of departures: 136 officials

Resignations 1997-2000

  • 1997: 7 officials
  • 1998: 16 officials
  • 1999: 23 officials
  • 2000: 4 officials

 

Appendix 2:

DEPARTMENT OF WELFARE

INTRODUCTION
DIRECTORATE: HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT TRAINING INTERVENTIONS (Established in 1996)
Purpose:
Managing human resource development nationally
Staff complement: Director & Secretary
Internal training function: One Training Officer
Chief Function:

To co-ordinate and manage internal training.
1 April 1999, HRD Directorate given internal training.

GENERAL MANAGEMENT COURSES
Change Management: 4
Diversity Management: 3
Financial Management: 13
Human Resource Management: 12
Labour Relations: 4
Policy Management: 8
Performance Management: 7
Project Management: 53
Computer Training: 41
*Figures for Assistant Director and upwards

OTHER STATISTICS
General courses
attended by junior level staff & lower ranks 167

Computer Training
attended by junior level staff & lower ranks 87

Special Management Training
attended by Assistant Director & upwards 11

ABET TRAINING
30 Officials on Abet Training
Numeracy level 1: 15
Numeracy level 2: 10
Numeracy level 3: 4
English level 1: 11
English level 2: 13
English level 3: 6

REORIENTAION TRAINING
580 Social Service workers trained in Provinces
Kwazulu Natal
Mpumalanga
Northern Province

SPECIAL MANAGEMENT TRAINING
283 Middle and Senior Management from Provinces trained in Policy Management

EXPENDITURE
Donor Funds
Netherlands government - R1.6 million
International Development Fund - R390 000
Departmental Funds
Details provided on 13 March 2000
Funds allocated for training (99/2000)
R 164 000
% spend = 95.12%

PROJECTED BUDGETS

YEAR

AMOUNT

2000/2001

R403 000

2001/2002

R440 000

2002/2003

R460 000


ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT & BUSINESS ANALYSIS
Mandates:
Resolution 7 of the PSCBC meeting of September 1998
Service delivery, skills and personnel audit
New Public Service Regulations
Batho Pele White Paper
New Financial Regulations

TERMS OF REFERENCE
Conduct service delivery, skills & personnel audit
Develop strategic HRD plan
Develop service delivery improvement programmes
Recommend possible changes to organogram

PROCESS
Service providers appointed.
Final report and recommendations - 31 March 2000

FUTURE PLANS
Strategic Human Resource Development Plan based on OD&BA Analysis

 

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