Hearing on Provincial Report: Northern Cape Province

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PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
25 May 1998
HEARING OF EVIDENCE ON PROVINCIAL REPORT: NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE

Documents handed out:
Northern Cape Report to the Public Service and Administration Portfolio Committee

(See appendix)

The Director-General: Northern Cape Provincial Administration presented his report. Committee members asked questions about how the one-stop-shops work, what services are they offering and how their funding and infrastructure work; further queries concerned the working relationship between the MECs and the HOD; the criteria the province uses to measure performance as well what financial management checks are in place.

Appendix

Provincial report: Northern Cape 25/05/98

REPORT TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE & ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PROGRESS WITHIN THE NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE CONCERNING TOPICS HIGHLIGTED IN THE PROVINCIAL AUDIT AND THE CONSOLIDATED PROVINCIAL REVIEW REPORT

NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATION

MAY 1998

Contents

PANC Report to Public Service and Administration Portfolio Committee - Progress within the Northern Cape Province concerning Topics highlighted in the Provincial Audit and the Consolidated Provincial Review Report

1. General Background

2. Comments on Areas given by Portfolio Committee

Area of Concern - Lack of Strategic direction, strategic planning and a policy framework, coupled with a failure to hold senior managers responsible for strategic objectives, or set and monitor performance targets and failure to utilise disciplinary procedures owing to insufficient staff to process misconduct cases.

Area of Concern - Organisational structures not geared towards service delivery, some departments too small to be effective.

Area of Concern - Over-centralisation of key functions in the Office of the Director General. and ineffective support service from the Office

Annexes - Decentralisation Process

Annexure 1 - Cabinet Memorandum

Annexure 2 - Consultants' Report - February 1998

Annexure 3 - Draft Performance Agreement

Annexure 4 - Draft Service Agreement

Annexure 5 - Sub-Committee, Finance (incl. Treasury)

Annexure 6 - Sub-Committee, Corporate Services, Other than Finance

Annexure 7 - Discussion Paper - The 'NEW' Head of Department

Annexure 8 - Draft HRM Delegations based on Draft Regulations

Annexure 9 - Letter from Minister Skweyiya

TO: THE PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

REPORT REGARDING PROGRESS WITHIN THE NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE CONCERNING TOPICS HIGHLIGHTED IN THE PROVINCIAL AUDIT AND THE CONSOLIDATED PROVINCIAL REVIEW REPORT.

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration has invited the Province of the Northern Cape to comment on progress made within selected areas of administration highlight in the Provincial Audit Report and the composite Provincial Review Report issued by the Department of public Service and Administration (DPSA).

This report discusses the background to the situation that was depicted in the reports mentioned above and highlights our progress within the areas of administration indicated by the Portfolio Committee.

1. GENERAL BACKGROUND

When the Provincial Administration was established in late 1994, the task was a formidable one. Firstly, a Head Office had to be established at the same time as a number of regional offices, formerly connected to departments of the previous dispensation had to be maintained. Secondly, all parts of the new Head Office, had to be consolidated and made to conform to prevailing Laws and regulations. Thirdly, immediately as the National Departments had come into operation in the new dispensation, a number of new White papers, the Provinces released Laws and Regulations for implementation. A great majority of these new laws and policy papers focused on service delivery. The development of personnel and structures in line with the recommendations and with focus on service delivery became a key question immediately. Thus establishment, conformity and development became processes that had to be performed parallel and closely linked with one another.

2. COMMENTS ON AREAS GIVEN BY THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

Area of concern:

"Lack of strategic direction, strategic planning and a policy framework, coupled with a failure to hold senior managers responsible for strategic objectives, or set and monitor performance targets and failure to utilise disciplinary procedures owing to insufficient staff to process misconduct cases".

Background

The Province cannot relate in any great extent to the concerns expressed above. The restrictive legal framework, for example the Public Service Act and Regulations. the Exchequer Act and Regulations both needed amendment at that stage (processes that are now far underway). This also depends on the following developments that have been made prior to and after the drafting of the reports.

Early in 1995 the Premier formulated his Vision and Mission Statement. All Members of the Executive Council (MEC) and Heads of Department (HOD) endorsed these Statements at a big internal conference in 1995. The translation of these statements was curtailed by specific design and systems problems. which were addressed by a collective management process later in 1995 concerning "Unblocking of the System" This process was followed in 1996 by the likewise extensive exercise on Business Planning. This in turn was followed in late 1996 by the MTEF national process. We are convinced that the initiative of business planning launched in the Province has paved the way for a rapid understanding and acceptance of MTEF directives by the whole Provincial Administration. This rapid acceptance has made it possible after a consolidation period to decentralise decisions from the centre to the line departments (please see below).

We further believe that "strategic planning" is a generic concept that has to be filled with a content in order to be operational. We find that the Cabinet of the Northern Cape now has the tools in the MTEF, the Budget Council meetings and the interaction between Members of the Executive Council and Heads of Department in the Management Committee (MANCOM) to operationalise strategic planning and provide strategic direction to the organisation.

The Business Planning and the MTEF have run concurrent with the exercises of Rightsizing and Rationalisation that has been requested from DPSA. Concurrent with the hitherto mentioned processes has been the process within the Province of creating a Development Strategy and Plan. It can therefore be said with great certainty that the Provincial Administration of the Northern Cape has as a developing organisation established itself, being less dependent on external capacity and defined its boundaries for the output of the organisation which are based on results and performance measurements.

Progress made

1. In respect of the guiding principles for the MTEF budgets. all departments are producing budgets substantiated by plans of operation. Performance management or management by objectives is now an accepted management concept.

Departments attempted to comply with the same formats for producing budgets and planning documents. The quality of the plans naturally varies between the departments. The Province will therefore highly prioritise further skill development in planning and budgeting during 1998 and 1999. This is also of paramount importance in order to make the decentralisation process (please see below) a success.

The MTEF strategies are now fully accepted by the organisation. The initiative launched by the Province in 1996 to introduce the concept of business planning, at that stage with no or little support from national departments, paved the way for a rapid understanding and acceptance of MTEF directives by the provincial administration.

2. A draft Development Strategy and Plan for the Province was officially presented in November 1997. This plan indicates the direction scope and content of primarily an economic development strategy for the Province. It is not seen as a guiding document for only the Provincial Administration but also as a comprehensive strategic planning document for development planning of the Province for all spheres of government. for the so called "third sector" and the private sector.

3. The speeches delivered by the MEC's concerning their domains should as a matter of principle be translated by the administration into plans of operation or should impact on the existing plans. The entire legislature and the standing committees constantly put pressure on the administration to come up with clear and transparent plans that can be evaluated and serve as follow up instruments. This vigilant approach gradually increases the quality of the strategic planning documents. The internal audit unit. at present being established in the province should assist in addressing some of the 'gaps'.

4. The interaction between the MEC's and the HOD's in ManCom and on a daily basis serves as a forum for a continuous dialogue on strategic planning. The result is documents representing the official view of the Departments on all major development areas. In the decentralisation process MEC's are expected to take charge and give directions to their HOD's. Between the elected and the appointed head of department. an annual performance agreement is expected to be signed. This will ensure that the MEC's will have clear directions and that the HOD's are expected to deliver within the boundaries of the MTEF and the political will expressed by the MEC.

5. The comprehensive MTEF budget of the Province, produced in its ideal format and content, represents the overall strategic planning document for the Province. Together with the annual performance agreements between MEC and HOD they will form the basis for policy implementation. There is no wish to produce other overall planning documents in a separate process.

6. Accountability for reaching desired results by senior management is therefore a result of the ability of the Province to develop:

· achievable and measurable goals and targets (the MTEF process)

· clear responsibility chains (the Decentralisation Process)

· constructive dialogue expressed in performance agreements between the MEC's and HOD's

· interaction between HOD's and departmental managers

· activities within the standing committees

The Province believes that this process is continuously being refined and developed. There are already a number of examples of replacement of senior managers that failed to perform as well as examples of rewards given to those that reached the agreed targets.

The notion that this Province is utilising the VSP process as an alternative to get rid of staff that do not comply with the prescripts of the Public Service can be regarded as a misnomer. The one case, which was generalised was based on proper advice from the DPSA based on cost considerations. Media articles reveal the opposite as well as our record on misconduct and disciplinary cases. The secondment of a state legal advisor to each line department and the assignment of a special legal person for CCMA and arbitration cases brought a big relieve to the Labour Relations Department. The hiring of private sector practitioners in addition to assistance provided by other provincial and national legal advisors have strengthened our position to effectively deal with all misconduct cases.

The perception that we do not have sufficient staff to deal with disciplinary cases cannot be supported. The nature of the cases and the contribution of various role-players to finalise such cases, such as the Police Attorney General, Auditor-General and the Heath Special Investigation Unit must be taken into consideration to conclude any hearing. The prescribed procedures in terms of the PS Act should also be taken into consideration - See our submission to this Committee in this regard.

The practice that results will be rewarded is becoming an integral part of this Administration. The Public Service Staff Code and the Code of Conduct serve as guiding principles for all our employees. Better performance. increased productivity and quality service delivery are being encouraged by the premier. MEC's, HOD's and every citizen.

The Cabinet-meets-the-People programme, which was embarked upon in June 1997, is a unique programme to take government to the people and increase access to decision-makers and implementers. The format of these visits comprise direct meetings with local councillors, agriculture and business fraternities and a separate open community meeting to:

- determine the extent to which government policies are implemented

- assess the degree of uniformity in implementation of norms and standards measure the successes and failures of government programmes

- invite solutions and recommendations from the various stakeholders, and

- determine the performance of staff and politicians regarding their line function responsibilities.

In addition to this programme is a monitoring programme and a follow-up programme supervised by the Premier and the Director-general. All provincial departments account to the Premier on their performance in this regard.

The concurrent performance measure, which was also implemented since 1996, is the delivery schedule in accordance with the Premier's annual address at the opening of the Legislature. The strategic and policy direction provided by the Premier is based on all Business and MTEF Programmes of each MEC and their respective departments.

It must be stated that the Mission Statement is advocated by the entire Administration and remains the strategic principle for service delivery to the people of the Northern Cape.

Area of concern:

"organisational structures not geared to wards service delivery, some departments too small to be effective"

Background

During 1995 the Cabinet accepted a resolution regarding the review of the organisational structures of the Administration when the need arises.

The Cabinet remains of the opinion that the budget should not be depleted by personnel costs. Concerning the relation between administrative support staff and staff for service delivery no goal was formulated, but as a general rule a ratio of 80% service deliverers and 20% administrators should, if possible, be sought.

Progress made

1. The Province is firmly committed towards decreasing resources used for administration and to increase resources for service delivery. In the process all

possible avenues are explored, among others also privatisation and outsourcing. As an example, consultants have been commissioned to come up with proposals regarding outsourcing within Kimberley Hospital. Current services outsourced are, Security and Cleaning services.

2. Compared to other Provinces, the Northern Cape Province has reduced its ministries from ten to seven This reduction has been made on the province's own initiative. The Province is on a continuous basis reviewing the adequacy of the organisation. The rationalisation efforts are at present more geared towards rationalising within the departments. to make the organisation more lean and effective and to flatten the organisation.

One key objective of the decentralisation process described below is to combine less resources for administration. The budget processes have now made it abundantly clear to the departments that they cannot aspire for more resources; they have to produce more with less. Earlier, all provincial departments were geared towards expansion and increased budgets, triggered by the national departments, which produced development and reform papers asking the provinces to produce more. The increased ambitions expressed were very seldom accompanied by more funds. Today's situation therefore puts pressure on the departments to use their resources to deliver better service within set and diminishing resources.

3. Following from paragraph 2 above, the Province is therefore open to the possibility to further reduce the number of departments and directorates. No such change is, however. planned for the moment.

4. The vastness of this sparsely populated Province requires a regional representation that is relatively expensive, in the sense that it may serve fewer people compared to other parts of South Africa. It is therefore costly to bring services to the people in remote areas. The Province is trying to overcome these problems by concentrating provincial services to points of "One Stop Shops" all over the Province and to use the new technique i. e. computer links and video conferencing equipment. The current six regional offices established in 1995 onwards underlines the statement that services are more accessible and government closer to the people. In addition to these facilities are numerous offices and service centres located in communities for the convenience of health. welfare, agriculture. nature conservation and other seekers of provincial services.

Area of concern:

"over-centralisation of key functions in the Office of the Director General, and ineffective support service from the Office"

over-centralisation of human resources management, combined with lack of capacity in the central department, resulting in delays and errors, especially with regard to personnel executive functions, which have not been (further), delegated to heads of department

over-centralisation of financial management and HOD's not acting as accountable officers, together with a general lack of skills and training in

financial management, delays in the tendering procedures and in the establishment of an internal audit division.

Background

As has already, been alluded to, the Province faced the task of establishing a Head Office and, at the same time as taking over and maintaining regional offices from different ex-central departments. One very important factor that was recognised that would influence the future operations or the new Administration was the creation of uniform norms for among other things, handling of Corporate Services matters. The evolutionary process within the organisation forced a concentration of functions.

The concentration and consolidation of Corporate Services was not a search for power but a necessary step to be able to account for funds, responsibilities and other legislative obligations, concurrent with the implementation of the Transformation Process of the Public Service.

It can be said that the Provincial Administration has since 1996 taken the consecutive necessary steps by undoing the blockages, establishing business planning and formulating the MTEF in order to be able to decentralise decision-making powers down in the organisation.

Progress made

1. In November 1997, the Province started a major decentralisation programme for all support functions assembled within Corporate Services within the DG's office. Together with a new Top management structure, where the DG has assumed the role of DG in the Premiers office and Secretary to the Cabinet, this programme has made it possible to decentralise authority and decision making powers to the MEC's and the Heads of Department. The process has been facilitated by the new Public Service Regulations that means far-reaching liberties for Provinces and National Departments when it comes to the internal organisation of administrations.

From 1 April 1998 all Heads of Departments have been made Accounting Officers, substantively taking over full responsibility for HRM/HRD, Financial Management and other areas within their departments. under the respective MEC.

2. A thorough analysis has been made both within the field of HRM/ HRD and within the financial field. The Institutional Reform Committee (IRC) in collaboration with MANCOM is directing which of these functions that are performed by the central Corporate Services should be decentralised to the line departments. The rule from the outset has been to decentralise everything that can be decentralised. Left at the centre after decentralisation will be a small "Internal Services Division" that will cater for policy matters, strategic planning, developing common standards and for co-ordination within the field of HRM/HRD. The new Department of Finance will be supporting the HOD's and the line departments when it comes to controlling the finances. Units for Finances and HRM/HRD will be built up with in the bigger departments. Other central support functions like IT. Provisioning and Procurement and Efficiency services have likewise been subject to reviews with the aim to decentralise also these functions to the extent possible.

3. A large-scale training programme for finance staff and administrative staff dealing with financial matters has started in 1997. Tailor made training material has been produced. Two main training teams have been commissioned, one concentrating on financial management practitioners and the other specifically targeting the new accounting officers. departmental accountants and financial managers. Systems are being reviewed. An internal audit organisation has been established in line with common strategies for such an organisation.

4. The final preparations are currently being made concerning final decentralisation within the HRM/HRD and other areas, whereafter, the necessary training within the respective field will be put in place.

5. The objective for the decentralisation process is to streamline the organisation and to speed up the process to decrease present delays. It should be pointed out that centralisation does not per se mean that matters are delayed and errors are made. It must still be tested that decentralisation will enhance the quality of the decisions and that the process will be shortened.

CONCLUSION:

Reflecting upon the recommendations recorded in the Provincial Review Report the Northern Cape Provincial Administration remains of the opinion that it served as a gauge to facilitate its transformation and development processes. A synthesis of our institutional development and transformation process could be summarised as follows. The total external dependency has been transformed into visible signs of incremental changes in our client value, establishing of systems and methods. predictable output quality, regular output quantity, and reliable competence development and management. Finally, this Administration is driven by the requisite political will and commitment to make a difference in the entire transformation of the South African Public Service.

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