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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
26 May 2006
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE & ADMIN. AND PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION: BUDGET BRIEFINGS
Chairperson: Mr S Shiceka (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Medium Term Strategic Plan 2006–11: Part 1, 2, 3 & 4
DPSA Strategic Plan and Budget Presentation
Public Service Commission (PSC) Medium Term Strategic Plan 2006/07 – 2008/09
PSC Plan and Budget presentation
Summary of Strategic Focus Areas and Functional Work Areas Including Outputs During the MTSF Period
The Department of Public Service and Administration provided an overview of its strategic plan and budget. Members were concerned about the Department’s monitoring of Chapter 9 Institutions; the accessibility of information by the public; staff members with fraudulent qualifications; South Africa’s assistance to other African countries; support to the provinces; the reason for the country’s brain drain; financial disclosure by government departments; and the high turnover of staff .
The Public Service Commission presented its budget and strategic plan. Members were interested in how the Commission was transforming service delivery; the translation of its new rules into the official language; the decline in evaluation of heads of department; the new anti-corruption hotline and the subsequent investigation of complaints.
Briefing by the Department of Public Service and Administration
Prof R Levin (Director-General: DPSA) explained to the Committee that the DPSA’s mission outside of South Africa was to support post-conflict governments in Africa, to support the implementation of the Pan-African New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Capacity Building Programme and to promote leadership in African governance and public administration. He added that the Department had been particularly involved in providing assistance to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by conducting a public services census prior to that country’s elections. Locally, Prof Levin explained that the Department, as a response to the request of the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, had deployed 20 officials to conduct a review of all the provincial departments in order to establish whether they had the capacity and capability to deliver on their mandates.
The Committee pointed out that the salaries of district municipalities took up about 45% to 50% of the annual budget, but those municipalities still failed to deliver. The Committee wondered if it served any purpose to have a municipal manager simultaneously at local government and the district municipality.
Briefing by the Public Service Commission
Mr M Diphofa (Acting Director-General: PSC) explained to the Committee that the PSC had intensified its investigations on public administration and anti-corruption. Reports, desktop audits and investigations covering amongst others, corruption, procurement, fraud and mal-administration had been submitted to the relevant executing authorities for implementation of recommendations. He pointed out that since the inception of the National Anti-Corruption Hotline in September 2004, a total of 2 737 reports were generated. Of these, 1 681 related to corruption while 1056 related to service delivery.
Department of Public Service and Administration
Mr L Mokoena (ANC, Limpopo) asked if the DPSA was monitoring the Chapter 9 Institutions.
Prof Levin pointed out that there was a project underway at parliamentary level to evaluate the chapter 9 institutions. He added that there was also going to be an executive process which was designed to evaluate these institutions so as to determine whether Chapter 9 Institutions were fulfilling their goals.
Mr Mokoena also asked if the general public had enough access to information. He asked because he had heard complaints from the general public that information was ‘privatised’ in the Department.
Prof Levin pointed out that, regarding access to information, the Human Rights Commission usually carried out annual audits of compliance in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
Mr Mokoena asked what the Department’s strategy was in dealing with fraudulent qualifications; this had proven to be a big problem in all Departments.
Prof Levin explained that the issue of fraudulent qualifications was the responsibility of the human resource departments. He pointed out, however, that when the PSC conducted their audit of qualifications of the managers they had found very few fraudulent qualifications.
Mr Mokoena asked if South Africa was benefiting by providing assistance to other African countries, such as the DRC and Sudan. He wondered if South Africa was becoming a charity government.
Mr A Moseki (ANC, North West) wondered if South Africa was achieving its goal of assisting African countries like the DRC.
Prof Levin explained that, as far as assistance to other African countries was concerned, South Africa had a particular foreign policy orientation, characterised by a multilateral approach, which was linked to the African renaissance and to the construction of the institutions of the African Union (AU) and NEPAD. He explained that if South Africa could contribute to building the institutions of the AU and NEPAD and contribute to the African renaissance, South Africa would benefit from those institutions and programmes in the long term.
Mr Moseki pointed out that in the presentation the Department had indicated that they had provided support to KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. He asked what were the results and lessons learnt from those interventions by the Department.
Prof Levin explained that the Department had achieved positive results in some areas of the project, but in other’s had not achieved its goals. He added, however, that the expertise to build and maintainer broader capacity assessment and organisational structures had been informed by the experience gained in those two provinces.
Mr J le Roux (DA, Eastern Cape) was of the opinion that the cause of the brain drain in South Africa was that most professionals who left the country did so because they felt that they had no career prospects in South Africa due to government policies such as affirmative action. He asked the Department to comment on the view that affirmative action was the cause of the brain drain.
Prof Levin explained that the view of affirmative action as the reason behind the brain drain was based on perception rather than solid information. He pointed out that the issue of emigration and the brain drain was related to the problem of remuneration in the public service. Through ASGISA and joint initiation on priority skills acquisition, there was a focus to correct any misperception of the issue. He gave the example of nurses and explained that it was not only white nurses who were leaving the country to work overseas, but black nurses as well. This was an indication that poor remuneration and poor working conditions were the reason behind the brain drain, and not affirmative action programmes.
Mr Mokoena enquired about the province’s compliance with regard to financial disclosure. He explained that he was asking because he was aware that the Eastern Cape was the worst province in terms of disclosing its financial interests.
Prof Levin pointed out that the Public Service Commission (PSC) managed the framework for financial disclosures. It would be easy for the Department to obtain figures as to the level of compliance. He explained, however, that the compliance patterns had been at a high level. Further, there had been greater compliance within the national departments compared to provincial departments. He pointed out that the framework was at the moment only obligatory for senior management service.
Mr N Mack (ANC, Free State) asked if the issue of (employment) contracts, which usually covered a period of up to three or five years, had any negative impact on service delivery. Further, he enquired if the contracts had any contribution to the high turn-over of staff.
Prof Levin pointed out that the issue of contracts did have a negative impact on staff. He explained that contracts contributed towards insecurity. In terms of the work undertaken by the PSC, the reason behind remunerated work outside the public service was due to the insecurity caused by contracts. He added that, because of contracts, departments in government lost a lot of experience and knowledge.
Mr Mokoena remarked that he had noticed that the evaluation of officials had declined. He asked why the department was lagging in this area.
Prof Levin explained that as far as performance management systems were concerned, there were problems with the high turnover of staff. This undermined the implementation of the performance management and development systems.
Public Service Commission
Mr Mzizi (IFP, Gauteng) enquired as to how the Commission was transforming public service delivery. He referred the Committee to page eight of the PSC presentation where the PSC claimed that there had been a decline in the momentum of evaluations. He asked what the Commission had meant by this.
Dr N Maharaj (PSC Member, Western Cape) explained that the decline in evaluations of heads of departments was a matter of grave concern for the Commission. He added that, in the past, there had always been reasonable compliance in terms of the evaluation of the heads of departments. Although this had never occurred 100% of the time, it had always been above 50 percent. However, in 2006 it looked as though it was going to be below 46%. He explained that the Commission planned to rectify the situation by taking the matter to the highest executive authority.
Mr Mzizi asked why the Commission had translated the PSC New Grievance Rules into all the official languages only on its website. He asked if computer illiterate people had been considered when the Commission had taken the decision to use the website to communicate its new rules.
Mr Maharaj explained that the new Rules were posted in all official languages on the websites for officials within the public service, however, those were not the rules for the public. He added that the Commission had assumed that most of the officials within the public service had access to the internet and were computer literate.
Mr L Fielding (DA) asked how old a case had to be before it could be reported to the national anti-corruption hotline.
Mr Diphofa explained that the more recent the case the better, as recent cases were more likely to allow for the collection of sufficient evidence to pursue and investigate the case.
Mr Mzizi enquired about the national anti-corruption hotline.
Mr Maharaj pointed out that the Commission did not investigate complaints. He explained that most of the complaints were usually allegations and could not be investigated due to insufficient evidence. However, the Commission had an obligation to refer relevant departments to investigate any complaints reported to it.
The Chairperson thanked both the PSC and the DPSA for the presentation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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