Consideration of Request to Extend Contract of DDG, Foreign Affairs; Government Wide Monitoring & Evaluation System & Public Ser

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The Chair introduced the need for a Resolution to Mr Minty’s appointment

PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 October 2006
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST TO EXTEND CONTRACT OF DDG, FOREIGN AFFAIRS; GOVERNMENT WIDE MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM & PUBLIC SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL BRIEFINGS

Acting Chairperson:
Mr M Baloyi (ANC)

Relevant Documents
Draft Report on Application for the Extension of the Employment Contract of Mr Minty
Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System Department of Public Service and Administration Powerpoint Presentation
Public Service Amendment Bill, Department of Public Service Powerpoint Presentation

SUMMARY
The Committee deliberated on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ request to extend the contract of the Deputy Director General, Mr Minty, for a period of five years. It was resolved that the request be approved, with inclusion of specific conditions requiring the Department to develop a clear sustainability strategy to be mainstreamed within the Department’s Strategic Plan, and to ensure that the Department reported, on an annual basis, on the strategy to the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The Department of Public Service and Administration briefed the Committee on two key areas; the design and implementation of the Government wide monitoring and evaluation system and the public service amendment bill. The Committee was encouraged by the notable progress in implementing the Government wide Monitoring and Evaluation system. IT stressed the need to ensure clarity of roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders within the system and to strengthen the role of the Department of Local Government’s Monitoring and Evaluation systems.

The Committee noted that this was the first briefing on the Public Service Amendment Bill, and due processes of consultations and deliberations would need to follow. Preliminary issues that were discussed centred on the timing of the amendment bill and the role of proposed Government Agencies within the public service.

MINUTES
Consideration of extension of contract of Deputy Director-General, Department of Foreign Affairs
The Acting Chairperson referred to the deliberations of the Standing Committee on Local Government and Administration on 6 October 2006, and stated that there was a need to take a Resolution on extension of the contract of Mr Abdul Minty, Deputy Director General, Department of Foreign Affairs. He stressed that it was important that this case be looked at without setting precedents, and that the Department must be tasked with building a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for sustainability into the extension. He proposed that the Committee take a resolution:
- to recommend to Parliament that the extension of the contract of Mr Minty be ratified with effect from 1 November 2006;
- that the following conditions be included, namely that the Department should prepare a succession plan to be mainstreamed within the Strategic Plan within six months, and that the Department should report, on an annual basis, progress on this succession plan to the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Discussion
Mr M Sikakane (ANC) commented that Mr Minty’s case required no debate. His immense knowledge required that the Committee endorse this Resolution without attaching any specific conditions.

The Acting Chairperson believed that it was imperative that the Resolution include some form of conditions for sustainability, and the principle was not negotiable. 

Mr I Julies (DA) said that he had expected the Department of Foreign Affairs to employ similar principles to those of the private sector. He recommended that Department should ensure that Mr Minty had a deputy immediately. The fact that the Department had not put in place sustainability mechanisms after securing the two-year extension was unacceptable.

Ms P Mashangoane (ANC) commented that the context and sensitivities at hand warranted an approval for this Resolution. However, she stressed that the Committee had to be clear that it was not setting precedents.

Mr K Khumalo (ANC) observed that South Africa had recently secured a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. This portfolio was an important one, and it ought to be efficiently managed. He said Mr Minty’s expertise was therefore more crucial now than ever before. He would support the extension.

Members adopted the draft resolution proposed by the Acting Chairperson, including the sustainability arrangements. Committee secretariat would therefore produce and circulate the final report in accordance to due processes.

Briefing by Department of Public Service and Administration on the Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System
Mr Richard Levin, Director General, Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), briefed the Committee on the Government Wide Monitoring and Evaluation system. He highlighted that this system was a framework that encompassed a number of systems and brought together a range of stakeholders. It was driven by the need to link Strategic Plans with annual reports and to establish a menu of common indicators to measure progress and performance. It hence adopted a modular approach, and its three phases also overlapped with each other. He highlighted that the overall achievements of this system included p
public commitment and political support to creating the system, shown in Cabinet’s adoption of the Strategy and Implementation Plan. There was consistent, sustained membership and involvement of core task team members. There had recently been agreements on appointment of task teams and identification of members to facilitate reporting on the programme of action 2006, and development of indicators.

Discussion
Mr K Khumalo (ANC) observed that it was encouraging to observe that this Strategy was developed in response to the Public Service Review undertaken in October 1999, which raised key issues facing the Public Sector, including weak monitoring and evaluation systems.

Dr U Roopnarain (IFP) observed that the Government Wide Monitoring and Evaluation system seemed to be adopting a “one-size fits all” approach, whilst the reality was that Departments operated differently. She also enquired if there were plans to roll out this system to Local Government level.

The Director General responded that this system was not adopting a “one size fits all” approach. That was why it is a framework and not a single system. He stressed that it was important that the Public Service must develop a single data repository. This framework would not replace existing systems. Rather, it was interactive and modular, and it filtered both horizontally and vertically. The Community Practice Mechanism would ensure that lesson learning and experience sharing was encouraged, to avoid prescriptive approaches. He stressed that Government had a set of common principles, therefore, efforts should be made to develop common modalities of measuring progress towards this common goal.

The Acting Chairperson asked if the Framework was clear on the constitutional mandates of various actors, especially the Public Service Commission, and the involvement of the Commission in the system as a whole. 

The Director General clarified that this Framework had not led to conflicting roles and responsibilities. The Commission had been involved in the development of this Framework. Like other bodies, the Commission also had its own systems and instruments, but would share common information that was readily available, and not create new systems. He stressed that this was a partnership based Framework, with a clear emphasis on linking Departments’ Strategic Plans with Annual Reports.

Mr I Julies (DA) observed that local government performance management systems were very weak. He enquired if this Framework would support the bolstering of these systems.

The Director General responded that the involvement of Local Government was important.  The Department of Public Service and Administration and the Department of Local Government would work together to ensure that there was integration at provincial and local level.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Director General and endorsed Parliament’s interest in ensuring linkages between Departments’ strategic plans and their Annual reports.

Briefing on the Amendment of the Public Service and Administration Bill
Mr Richard Levin, Director General, Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), briefed the Committee on the draft amendments to the Public Service and Administration Bill. These amendments were geared
to address organisational and human resource areas that directly or indirectly hampered service delivery. He stated that the Department had opted to amend the existing Bill, given that work is underway to submit a draft bill for Single Public Service, which was expected to come into effect in 2009. This would entail substantial policy shifts. Therefore, it was seen as not desirable to introduce a new Bill in existing format at this stage.

Discussion
The Acting Chairperson highlighted that there is need to observe due process for this Bill. The Committee considered this briefing as a preliminary process. He said the Committee would request clarification on proposed amendments as required. He encouraged members to raise questions, but stressed that they need not be exhaustive, given that more dialogue would follow.

The Acting Chairperson asked the Director General to provide an indication on the preferred timing for the passage of the Bill, and sought more clarification as to why these amendments could not be included into the Single Public Service bill.

The Director General agreed that due processes and procedures must be followed, and the Department would make itself available to the Committee for further questions.

Mr Sikakane agreed that the most important issue was when the Department would like to see the Bill passed.

The Director General responded that the Bill was urgent; but he recognised that due processes had to be followed. The Department would like to see the Bill passed between May and June 2007.

Dr U Roopnarain and Mr K Minnie (DA) asked the Department to clarify what the Government Agency Model was, and how it worked in practice.

The Director General responded that the Government Agency model should be workshopped. He gave a brief background, stating that post 1994 entities and agencies were created to achieve service delivery objectives, in response to global evolution of Public Sector Reform and the assertion that Government institutions were not best placed to deliver this agenda. This led to the creation of outsourced agencies. However, many challenges ensued, especially on the institutional structures, accountability arrangements, and growing distance between these entities and their political heads.

Adv A van Schoor, Chief Director, Legal Services, DPSA, added that the Agency model should be viewed within the broader context of the review of public entities. In the draft Act, it was proposed that the request for such an Agency would come from the Minister or Premier; and this would be followed by an evaluation conducted by Treasury, the Department of Public Service and Administration and the Department involved. Finally, the President will be asked to ratify this recommendation. The Agency would have direct accountability to the Department and it would maintain links with principal departments on oversight. Its resources would be ring-fenced and dedicated for the related functions.

The Acting Chairperson stated that a workshop would be convened as soon as possible to address the key issues that had been raised.

The meeting was adjourned.

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