Public Service Commission 2006 Annual Report

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SELECT COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
31 October 2006
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION 2006 ANNUAL REPORT

Chairperson:
Mr S Shiceka [ANC,Gauteng]

Documents Handed Out:
Public Service Commission Annual Report 2005/2006 [ available later at www.psc.gov.za]
Presentation to the Select Committee on Local Government and Administration

SUMMARY
The Committee was briefed by the Public Service Commission on its 2006 annual report. The discussion centered on the issue of non-compliance by government departments with public service regulations, performance bonuses, performance contracts, vacancies in the Commission, use of consultants and skills transfer and development.

MINUTES
Introductory remarks by Professor S Sangweni, Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairperson

Brief introductory remarks providing an overview and background to the Public Service Commission were made by Prof Sangweni. The commission was created through a constitutional provision and it was vested with a custodial oversight responsibility for the public service. It is expected to be impartial and independent in executing its mandate.  One of the PSC’s functions is to promote the values and principles that govern public administration. It seeks to play a developmental role by ensuring that its programmes support government initiatives to strengthen service delivery.  The PSC sees its strategic obligation as the generation of evidence to enable Parliament to exercise its oversight role and to advice the executive on good administrative practice. The PSC has continued to roll out its Monitoring and Evaluation System and has also put mechanisms in place to facilitate citizen participation in governance. Some interventions have been made in order to undo the tendency of maladministration in the public service sector. Some of those interventions were directed at the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Administration.

Presentations on Administration, Investigations and Human Resource Reviews and Monitoring and Evaluation

Mr M Diphofa (Deputy Director General: Monitoring and Evaluation) gave a brief overview of the Monitoring and Evaluation programme performance. Mr D Maphumulo (Deputy Director General:  Administration) gave a brief overview on the performance of the administration program and Mr A Simpson provided a briefing on the Investigations and Human Resource Reviews program. The presentations highlighted the aims, measurable objectives and outputs of each program. Important projects that have been successfully completed like the Citizen Satisfaction Survey, spending shortfalls and challenges were cogently illustrated in all three programmes. The PSC received an unqualified audit report and out of 486 grievances received, 406 were finalised. It was also mentioned that the State of the Public Service Reports released in 2006 had achieved good coverage and continued to inform discussions on Public Service delivery. It was submitted that, looking at the demands being placed on the PSC and its resources, it was clear that the strategic role the PSC played in our democracy was increasingly being recognised and the value it added was appreciated.  The PSC would continue to assist the Select Committee in exercising its oversight responsibility and looked forward to further frequent engagements on its work.

Discussion

The Chairperson commented that the report was not time specific; it indicated outputs without stating, for instance, what had been done in six months’ time.

Mr JW Le Roux [DA, Eastern Cape] asked about the growth in the public service in the last few years.

Mr A Worth [DA, Free State] asked whether the PSC set guidelines for performance contracts. What are the penalties if managers did not perform?

Mr Z Ntuli [ANC, KwaZulu-Natal] wanted to know to whom the PSC reported after its investigations; to the Scorpions or to departments? Last year, the PSC indicated it did not have enough funds. Was this because unfunded programmes were introduced?

Kgosi LM Mokoena [ANC, Limpopo] asked that the vacancy rate of 12.13% be translated into numbers. How often are the investigators trained because at times the people who are investigators are also investigated? The Public Service sector still needs to do more when it comes to ethics; staff at the front desks of government departments is supposed to be mirrors of those departments but their dress code at times is unethical.  How long does it take the PSC to investigate a particular case? How did the PSC view officials who insisted that workshops be certificated? Input was requested from the commission on the issue of officials who get performance bonuses when their departments had consecutive qualified audit reports.

Prof Sangweni said that the issue of non-compliance is very difficult and challenging but the PSC is trying to deal with it. The incidences of non-compliance have declined in the past few years. There are guidelines set out by the National Treasury with regard to performance contracts. The issue of performance management and bonuses when not performing has been investigated and a report has been submitted to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). Performance management is really an instrument that can be used to tell whether there is service delivery. The interventions that the PSC have made have been at the request either of the Minister concerned or the President.

Mr N Maharaj (PSC Commissioner) said that one of the things that the committee was supposed to do is to hold the departments accountable for their strategic plans, but that is lacking so far. The PSC can do much more if it had additional resources.

Ms K Mokgalong (PSC Commissioner) said that there is a policy which governs the issue of non-compliance within the public service sector. The PSC usually do audits after six months to check whether there is compliance or not. The entity also has memoranda of understanding with the Public Protector. She also said that she is not aware of any investigations that have been handed to the Scorpions: the PSC report to Parliament, Portfolio Committees and Select Committees as it is constitutionally required to do.

 Mr M Diphofa said that there are public servants who are very dedicated and on the flip side of the coin there are those who are not. That related to the issue of ethics that needed to be strongly enforced in government departments.

Mr Maphumulo responded that the compensation of public servants was in the form of salaries and performance bonuses as required by the Public Service Act. The vacancy rate can be translated into 29 vacant posts at the PSC.

Mr Simpson said that their investigators had been trained and have received some University training in conducting investigations. The PSC always try to finalise investigations within a period of two months but at times there are certain issues that make this impossible. The PSC did not agree that workshops should be certificated.

The Chairperson said that there was a tendency in South Africa for the executive to instruct people what to do. Parliament is supposed to play a role in the format of the annual reports but that was not the case and Parliament has been reduced to a “consuming institution”.

Prof Sangweni said that their role was to do technical oversight and that of the Select Committee was to do political oversight.

Mr A Moseki (ANC, Mpumalanga) welcomed the input by the PSC and asked why they differentiated between customers as “actual and potential”. What personnel challenges did the PSC face? How was it faring the provinces?
 
The Chair said that the National Assembly is different from the National Council of Provinces [NCOP], so the reports should not shy away from reporting about provinces. How has the use of consultants contributed to skills development and what were the financial implications?

Ms F Nyanda (ANC, Mpumalanga) said that the PSC must monitor the issue of claimed qualifications in the provinces.

Kgosi Mokoena asked the PSC how they monitored conflicts of interest and how they aimed to control the exodus of personnel after the department has trained them.

Prof Sangweni admitted that the fact that PSC’s recommendations did not have to implemented created problems. Promoting a high standard of ethical conduct was one of the PSC’s recommendations. The reason why some HODs are not being evaluated is due to their high mobility and at times this coincides with new ministers or premiers being appointed.

Mr Maharaj said that their interaction with the provinces could be better. If there had been better interaction between the PSC and Provincial Legislatures, better reports would have been possible on the provinces.

Ms Mokgalong said that disclosure of interests is more applicable to senior managers. Senior managers must fill in the disclosure forms and asset registers so that conflicts of interest could be monitored.

Mr Diphofa said that potential customers are the ones that the PSC is provisionally required to serve and actual customers are those the PSC actually serve, although not in its strategic plans. There is always room for transfer of skills when the PSC used consultants.

Prof Sangweni said that the level of expertise of public service staff, especially the Directors General, contributes to the exodus of personnel. In his concluding remarks, Prof Sangweni said that hopefully the PSC would have an opportunity to engage with the committee on the issue of priorities and non-compliance. There is also a need to engage further on the envisaged strategic planning session.

In concluding, the Chairperson said that the PSC needed to give the committee more reports so that they can be empowered and also be as well-informed as their counterparts in the National Assembly. It was agreed that another meeting would be arranged to discuss further the issue of non-compliance, priorities and the envisaged strategic planning session.

The meeting was adjourned.

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