Update on Implementation of the Senior Management Service, Framework for Boards & Councils & E-Government Activities: briefing

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


28 August 2001

Chairperson: Mr D Sithole

Documents handed out:
Update on the Implementation of the Senior Management Service
Progress regarding the Institutional Framework for Public Entities
e-Government Activities

In the Department's briefing on the Senior Management Service they informed the Committee that the Senior Management Service was established to improve the ability of the Public Service to recruit, select, retain and develop quality candidates. Members were concerned when informed about the establishment of professional associations to represent the interests of senior managers. The Department assured members that extensive research is being conducted into the advisability of these bodies. The Chair requested that the Committee be allowed to participate in discussions on this issue.

When dealing with the framework for Boards and Councils the Department explained that on 4 April 2001 Cabinet had developed an institutional framework for service delivery in order to bring the establishment, management and review of Public Entities properly under the strategic direction of government. This step effectively dealt with many of the concerns that Cabinet had expressed earlier.

In their presentation on e-Government activities the Department explained that their aim to achieve an integrated public service would be accomplished by dealing with cost pressure, service orientation, partnering with industry, political initiatives and international competitiveness. The Department would achieve integrated service delivery by focusing on the life events of natural and legal persons. This approach means that when a life event takes place (such as a birth) the relevant department should retain the information obtained about the person so that there is no need for a person to provide government departments with the same information every time s/he wishes to report a life event.

The Committee agreed that since Mr N Nhleko was absent Mr D Sithole would act as Chair of the meeting. Mr Sithole announced that Mr Nhleko had held numerous discussions with the Department, during which the parties had tried to establish which issues had already been covered in briefings. As there was a lack of consensus on this issue Mr Sithole suggested that the Committee should decide whether the following day's meeting should be postponed until Mr Nhleko's return.

Mr M Da Camara (DP) said that the Committee needed to know whether the Task Teams that had been set up were performing. He added that the Department should not be allowed to postpone these briefings indefinitely.

The Chair pointed out that the postponement would not be indefinite. In fact the Committee could possibly reconvene the following week.

Presentation: Update on the Implementation of the Senior Management Service
Origin of the Senior Management Service:

Mr Smith, a representative from the Senior Management Service stated that research had been undertaken into professionalisation of the Senior Management Service (SMS) during early 2000. A report had been produced in May 2000. Cabinet endorsed a Policy Statement on establishment of SMS on 23 August 2000. The new SMS employment framework was implemented as from 1 January 2001.

The key objective of the establishment of the SMS is to improve the ability of the Public Service to recruit, select, retain and develop quality candidates. This requires, amongst other things: a competency-based employment framework; attractive terms/conditions of service, greater inter-departmental mobility; improved training and development; high standard of professional conduct and a more appropriate labour relations framework.

Implementation of the SMS:
In 2000 there had been an agreement with unions to determine conditions of service of SMS outside of the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council and to introduce "total cost to employer packages". These packages were implemented in January 2001. In addition the first edition of SMS Handbook was also introduced during the same month. The draft competency framework was completed in February 2001and presented to the Minister in March 2001. Heads of Department and Executing Authorities were consulted in April and May 2001. A framework for the disclosure of financial interests was extended to all members of the SMS in May 2001. In June 2001 the revised competency framework and assessment tender was approved. In July 2001 the competency framework was made available to departments outlining what government expects from all department managers. The framework now applies to all senior managers and not just heads of department. In July 2001, the competency assessment tender was published.

Work in progress
Competency assessment tenders are presently being evaluated and should be completed by September or October. Competency assessments will then be introduced as a key element of the recruitment and selection process for managers and for career planning or development. Work is also under way to strengthen the performance management system for the SMS and to link the system with the competency framework. The expected implementation date is April 2002.

There are plans to introduce a learning framework for the SMS, based on the competency framework. This implies more focused training & development programmes. Some training programmes (e.g. the Presidential Strategic Leadership Development Programmes) are already in place while others will be put in place by 2002.

There are continuing discussions with stakeholders on the possible establishment of a professional association for members of the SMS. A decision on way forward is expected later this year. A SMS Conference has been planned for early next year.

A database on senior managers is being developed to facilitate more active management of SMS across the Public Service. This will include the manager's qualifications, performance history and expertise and will link up with the PERSAL system.

New employment equity targets are under consideration for SMS. In addition, protocols on ethics and conduct currently being developed. These include guidelines to assist managers especially when dealing with issues giving rise to conflicts of interest.

Uniform Performance Management for the SMS

The Department hopes to introduce a system that is both competency & output based. Performance Agreements will remain the basis for the system. As regards incentives, Heads of Department will be empowered to grant annual performance bonuses within defined parameters i.e. there will be a ceiling for cash bonuses a person is entitled to receive. Bonuses will be based on formal (uniform) performance management system. This will replace the current system in terms of which the decision is left to each Department.

Key issues arising from workshops

Managers felt that competencies should be utilised only for recruitment, selection and development and not for performance assessments. Competencies should feed into a person's personal development. A person's performance should however still be judged according to what s/he produces and not the qualifications s/he has on paper.

Although there is a definite need for more guidance on performance management arrangements for the SMS, this should be flexible enough to allow for departmental differentiation. Departments need room to customise for their particular circumstances. In addition proper feedback from supervisors is vital so that corrective measures can be introduced.

Mr M Sikakane (ANC) referred to the professional association for members of the SMS. He asked what the purpose of such an organisation would be. He expressed concern that this body could develop a way of thinking that is different to that of the government despite the fact that the SMS structure is a departmental structure.

Mr Smith responded that the Department had conducted extensive research on the advisability of introducing such organisations. There are often conflicts of interests when senior managers are required to act on behalf of the Department in their capacity as agents of their employers. This is because they are engaging with unions of which they themselves are members. Even though the Department respects the principle of freedom of association it has attempted to encourage senior managers to move away from Bargaining Councils with their introduction of a Salary Review Panel. This has been introduced to take care of the financial interests of Senior Managers. The professional body that the Department is now aiming to introduce is will take care of their professional interests. It has been based on a Canadian model where an organisation has been established to look at the benefits that managers can access collectively.

The Chair asked whether the Department was looking at non-monetary incentives.

Mr Smith said that in the Department's discussions with managers, the latter had indicated that they preferred monetary incentives. The Department was also looking at awards that were linked to Bathu Pele (e.g. for good teamwork).

The Chair asked what the role of the Public Service Commission (PSC) was in the development of their protocol, ethics and code of conduct.

Mr Smith replied that this was closely linked to the Department's anti-corruption strategy. In developing this strategy they had liased closely with the PSC who are also the watchdogs of the process.

Mr R Mohlala (ANC) asked if the Departments have managed to implement the employment equity targets.

Mr Smith responded that the targets in terms of race had been achieved. They had managed to exceed the target of having 50% black managers by 2000. They currently have close to 60% black managers. In terms of gender however they are not doing that well. They had hoped to have 30% female managers by 2000. At this stage they still have only 20%. The target is to have 2% of the management consisting of people with disabilities by 2005. They still have a long way to go as this group only constitutes 0.2% of management at the moment.

Mr M Baloyi (ANC) asked if the professional associations already have a draft constitution. This group could possibly become an elite group as opposing the trade unions.

Mr R Mohlala asked expressed concern that the professional associations could evolve into something not foreseen by the Department. He asked if it was a body formed by government but left in the hands of its members.

Mr Sikakane asked if the professional associations would run parallel to the Department itself.

The Chair noted that it is evident from concerns raised that the Committee needs to have a say in the discussions on the establishment of these bodies. He asked if the Committee could be given the discussion documents and become part of these discussions.

Mr Smith replied that the Department was aware of the possible tensions which could result from the establishment of the associations. Thus thorough research is being conducted. He added that he would inform the Department of the Committee's wish to be involved in the discussions.

Presentation on the Framework for Boards and Councils: Progress regarding the Institutional Framework for Public Entities
Mr Dipofa read the document focusing on the following:
Defining a Public Entity:
A Public Entity (PE) represents a government business enterprise, board, commission, company, corporation or fund and has one or more of the following characteristics. It is: (1) under the ownership/ control of national or provincial executive, (2) assigned financial and operational authority to carry on business activities, (3) Operates on business principles (4) financed fully or substantially from national or provincial funds, or by way of tax, levy or other money imposed in terms of national or provincial legislation, (5) Established in terms of legislation, and (6) accountable to Parliament or a provincial legislature.

Concerns of Cabinet
-They wanted to bring the creation, management and review of PEs under strategic direction of government.
-The need for more rigorous financial controls and policy framework for remuneration structures.
-Ad-hoc manner in which PE's are created by various national and provincial departments. This leads to a risk of horizontal fragmentation within government's machinery for service delivery.
-PE's are created in terms of their own legislation. This creates inflexibility with regard to continuous strategic review and repositioning that any corporate entity should have.
- The fragmentation in the PE establishment undermines the constitutional requirement for a single public service.
-A large number of institutions fall outside the scope of the Public Service Management Framework

Cabinet decision of 4 April 2001
-They decided to develop an institutional framework for service delivery in order to bring the establishment, management and review of PE's properly under the strategic direction of government.
-Until such framework can be formalised Cabinet could approve a broad interim process for creating national PE's. The Provincial Executive Councils should be approached to adopt the broad process. The Department and National Treasury should finalise guidelines to elucidate the broad process to create PEs and effect staff transfers between the Public Service and the PE's.
The Department of Public Service and Administration, National Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises will launch the project via a Steering Committee. These Departments will make personnel available on a full-time and part-time basis to serve on the project team. The project will focus on the following activities: (a) a remuneration framework, (b) an accountability framework and (designing a management information system.

Due to time constraints the presenter proceeded to read through the remainder of the document dealing with the following issues:

-Implementing Cabinet decision
Provincial presentations
· Guide to create national PE's
· Formalise PE evaluation panel

The Chair referred to the fact that the Departments are supposed to make staff available to the Steering Committee. He asked whether this has happened already.

Mr Dipofa stated that the Department of Public Enterprises and the National Treasury have assigned officials to the Steering Committee where necessary. There have also been such assignments at other levels e.g. by the Department of Arts and Culture.

Mr Sikakane asked what functions and powers the office of the Premier and the Provincial Treasury would have. He asked whether they had any real power or if they merely represented part of the process.

Mr Dipofa replied that Provincial PE's are established in terms of provincial legislation. One cannot have the Department and National Treasury deciding on the establishment of provincial entities. It is important to take note of the spheres of competence at this level.

Mr Baloyi asked what gave rise to Cabinet's concerns.

Mr Dipofa explained that PE's are established in terms of their own founding legislation. Normally the Department and the National Treasury would be informed of the establishment of such body after it has taken place. There was therefore not enough time for them to examine the financial viability and staff implications.

An ANC member referred to PE's that were partially privately owned e.g. the Airport Company. He asked to which departments this body is accountable.

Mr Dipofa responded that there is a list of government businesses and the departments to whom they are accountable in the PFMA. In addition one could look at the founding document of the organisation for this information.

Presentation on e-Government Activities
Mr N Gosebo, the IT advisor of the Department pointed out that the Department is aware that 80% of the population have no access to the facilities being discussed in this presentation.
He briefly read the part of the document dealing with the background to e-Government activities.

Integrated Public Service: Some of the Drivers. These include:
-Cost Pressure: Very often the cost of a service depends on where a person is located. In addition the integration of processes and systems would lead to increased efficiency of service and therefore to reduced cost.
-Service Orientation: A one-stop-shop approach would prevent a person from having to stand in various different queues to report life events.
-Partnering with Industry: e.g. this would enable one to pay a parking ticket at a local supermarket.
-Political Initiatives
-International Competitiveness: The Department could encourage investment via a trustworthy infrastructure.

Integrated Service Delivery- around life events of natural and legal persons.
The life events of a natural person include, among other things: birth, health, job, properties, environmental conditions, social benefits, marriage, tax, travel, death, etc.
The life events of a legal person include, among other things: incorporation, subsidy/funding, human resources, purchases, accreditation, liquidation, finance, imports, exports, statutory requirements, etc.
When a life event takes place (e.g. birth) the relevant department should retain the information obtained about the person so that there is no need for a person to provide the same information every time s/he wishes to report a life event. This will save time and effort, and will also eliminate the need for a person to stand in long queues each time.

Definition of e-Government
-continuous optimisation of government service delivery,
-constituency participation, and
-governance by transforming internal and external relationships through technology, the internet and new media.

Six Phases of Government One-Stop Services
-Information provision: there should be an information centre at the relevant department that should provide information to the individual as to which documents to bring and that should direct the person to the appropriate queue. This would be to prevent the situation where a person stands in a queue for hours and when this person reaches the front desk s/he is told that s/he is in the wrong queue.
-Two-way transactions: this would guard against fraud. For e.g. paying traffic fines at Pick 'n Pay, which is a neutral, trusted party.
-Multi-purpose portals
-Personalised portals
-Clustering of services
-Comprehensive corporate transformation to e-government

E-Government business philosophy
This is based on lowered costs, increased productivity and citizen convenience. The philosophy would be achieved by ensuring that there is:
-Information security
-Interoperability: The aim is to diversify as much as possible and to continue to use the vendors and products currently being used. In terms of this principle the information obtained by the Health Department being incorporated into the Home Affairs data.
-Economies of scale: This is based on the principle where for example one has to pay license fees, the government should not differentiate between provinces in order to determine the amount of such fees. Thus the amount of the fees should be the same irrespective of the province in which it is imposed.
-Fewer duplications: If one has transacted with government previously, one should not have to provide the same information to a government department again.

What is to be done?
-Conceive institutionalised way of engaging the private sector, tertiary institutions, community-based organisations, etc
-National Plan, conceived by all role-players, on access to ICT's
-Move towards results oriented framework- pay for results not process
-Learning and sharing of experiences

Government IT Officers' Council
This was established to co-ordinate and consolidate Public Service ICT efforts.
-Co-ordinate and consolidate e-Government efforts in the Public Sector
-Share experiences (i.e. good or bad) to avoid the same/ learn from mistakes of others and to establish best practices.
-Recommend policies, regulations, best practice, etc to the Minister.
Benefits to date:
-Assisted to put together policy
-Assisted in the drafting of e-Government regulations
-Assisted in identifying e-Government projects


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