Department Annual Report: briefing

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Meeting report

Portfolio Committee Public Service and Administration

PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
2 November 2005
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING

Acting Chairperson:
Mr R Boloyi (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Public Service and Administration Annual Report 2004/05 [available at
www.dpsa.gov.za]
Department PowerPoint presentation
Department Annual Report 2004/05 booklet (available on request)

SUMMARY:
The Committee heard a briefing on the Annual Report of the Department of Public Service and Administration. Members were told that the HIV/AIDS conferences had been widened to include health and wellness and would be held in every province, instead of just Gauteng.

In the ensuing discussion, Members raised concerns about:
- certain government departments not adhering to the principles of Batho Pele;
- the medical scheme implemented by the Department;
- the support given to Community Development Workers;
- that the 716 Community Development Workers trained were not enough;
- the racial quota within the Department;
- the use of consultants to help with Information Technology (IT) programmes;
- the anti-corruption strategy;
- the scarce skills framework; and
- ineffective local government departments.

MINUTES

Department briefing
The synopsis was missing here – please send back to author.

Discussion
Mr Minnie (DA) asked that the issue of the medical scheme be cleared up quickly. He asked why there was such a reduction in employment opportunities in the Department, and what was being done about it. He asked when and where the last ‘HIV Indaba had been held, and who had been invited.

Ms Mashogoane (ANC) said that the 716 Community Development Workers (CDWs) trained were not enough. She asked if there was any intention to extend it to other municipalities. She also enquired if the awareness campaign around HIV/AIDS was being extended to rural areas in other languages. She wanted to know what was being done about departments that did not adhere to the Batho Pele principles. She appreciated the improved male: female staff ratio, but wanted to know about the racial breakdown.

Mr Nthuli (ANC) asked why such a quick turnaround had been seen in KwaZulu-Natal. The strategies did not focus on the major causes of corruption. He asked what was being done to get big businesses on board and asked what steps the Department intended to take. There was much chaos within local government departments, and he asked what was being to help with scarce skills as well as corruption in these departments. He asked for more elaboration on the Foreign Service dispensation as part of the human resources strategy.

Mr Khumalo (ANC) wanted a breakdown of service delivery achievements. He asked whether other provinces were implementing Batho Pele principles. He asked what was being done about skills development where consultants were being used, and why skilled staff were not retained in the Department.

The Director-General replied that the number of community development workers retained only pertained to the period under review (2004/05). The training programme was continuing and that the aim was to deploy ten workers per municipality. At the end of the review year, 716 learners had completed the course and that the number had almost doubled since then. These learnerships formed part of the first phase. He did not know the completion date. Once the learnerships had been completed, actual employment would start.

Dr Watson contributed that the medical scheme catered primarily for existing public servants. The scheme was in place. Mr Govender added that the Scarce Skills Framework was setting criteria to identify needs, and employees would be compensated according to their skills. Each department would look at the criteria needed to implement this. They were looking at centralising this function as it was difficult to manage. A scarce skills database would be formed and extended to local government. The Department’s mandate did not extend to local government. Once unified, the public service would share resources.

The Foreign Service had agreed that there were major problems around the implementation of the agreement and the tax issues. The revised tax directives agreement had been signed and was now being implemented. They could not roll it out properly due to backdating. There were currently discussions between the National Treasury and Foreign Service.

Mr Govender continued that the reduction of posts was part of the transformation within the Department. During the restructuring, they had matched employees skills against requirements, and redeployed many employees to other sections or departments. About 99% of these employees were at levels 1, 2 and 3. Many had been unwilling to move and take up positions elsewhere.

Mr Mbangeli replied that the first Health and Wellness Conference had been held in Boksburg, and this would also occur in other provinces. Normally the conferences were held early in October. The Minister had been invited to this conference as well as Portfolio Committee Members and international speakers. They had decided to widen the conference theme and not just focus on HIV/AIDS. They had decided to form a partnership with Soul City and a comic book relevant to public servants would be made available.

The Director-General replied that they had been more successful in KwaZulu-Natal because they had greater political support. There were number of challenges in the Eastern Cape. One of the big challenges was to integrate intersectoral programmes. It was disturbing that there was very little adherence to the Batho Pele principles. There were however various monitoring programmes in place.

Mr Kitshoff did not have statistics on the level of compliance with anti-corruption strategies. All the instruments to deal with corruption were in place, and it was also being dealt with in legislation. There was an obligation for South African businesses not to bribe government officials. There were some initiatives to deal with corruption at that level. Risk profiles differed from department to department, and that there was no clear-cut answer as to why the Department was progressing differently from other departments.

Mr Senoamadi responded that career development had become a very big challenge. Staff were poached by other departments very quickly. They did try to retain their staff. The Department could not do all the technical work and therefore they relied on IT experts.

Mr Mzondeki (ANC) asked what support was given to Community Development workers and what role the Department played in this. Terminations of service occurred much faster than the filling of vacancies. He commented on the studytour to India and asked if the report was available.

The Director-General replied that adequate support could be given to the Community Development Workers if they had laptops where they could look up information that they may not have at hand. Providing information to the workers was one the greatest challenges. They were developing a framework. Once the Community Development Workers had completed their training, they would be employed at a provincial level and then locally. The report on the tour to India would be made available after the meeting. Feedback would also be given on the unannounced visits to the various departments.

Mr Govender replied that the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority dealt with transversal skills in the Department. Unfortunately the different SETA’s did not work adequately together. Each of the SETAs had developed their own sector plan to identify scarce skills. ‘Scarce skills’ had not yet been fully defined.

Mr Senoamadi replied that the SETA was unlikely to make a profit for the next two to three years. They had set up a process to address this area of work. Procurement policies were not adhered to, but there had been no staff fraud. The challenge of looking for the right candidate for a job was not only in their Department, but also existed in other departments. In middle management, there was much mobility. People also applied for several vacancies and would then take the best offer.

Ms Motsemela commented that the Department needed to re-look at the cost of employing external consultants and also at ways of retaining the staff. She understood that contracts expired and that employees either became ill or died, but that this had to be catered for.

The meeting was adjourned.

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