State Information Technology Agency & Public Service Commission 2006/7 Annual Report briefings

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
24 October 2007
STATE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGENCY & PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION 2006/7 ANNUAL REPORT BRIEFINGS

Chairperson: Mr P Gomomo (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Public Service Commission Annual Report 2006/2007[available at www.psc-cfp.gc.ca]
State Information Technology Agency Annual Report 2007 Presentation

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
The Office of the Public Service Commission briefed the Committee on its Annual Report. The mandate and purpose of the Commission was outlined. The report of the Auditor General was unqualified, and that there was no matter of emphasis. There was an effective audit committee. There had been a surplus and Treasury had been requested to permit a roll over of R527 000.
The objectives and outputs of each of the programmes of the Commission were outlined. The vacancy rate stood at 7.8% and turnover of staff had decreased. The presenters stated that the strategic role played by the PSC was increasingly being recognised, and its value appreciated. However, the broadening of its mandate and increased demands made it necessary to assess future needs and allocate resources accordingly. Members raised questions on the problems of heads of departments not attending for their performance evaluations, and noted that although the Commission had not complained that it was unable to find disabled people, its employment from this sector was below target. Other issues were the surplus of the Commission,
the gender equity, the sources of funding and the need for the Committee to follow up on reports.

The State Information Technology Agency briefed the Committee, noting that this had been the first full year in which the operating model was in effect. Customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction had improved. There had also been improvements in revenue, despite the Agency having to write off bad debt that resulted from government departments, who were not contracted in writing, having failed to pay for projects. The projects described included e-Government, ID Track and Trace, and Integrated Financial Management system models. Staff turnover was below average and there had been training of staff. Questions by Members included the number of contracts awarded to the Agency, the bad debt, and the desirability of conducting an evaluation of the benefits to departments of contracting with the Agency.

MINUTES
Office of the Public Service Commission (PSC): Annual Report Briefing
Mr Admill Simpson, Deputy Director General, Office of the Public Service Commission, gave an introduction to the Commission, an institution created by the Constitution and vested with oversight over the public service. It promoted the values and principles that governed public administration. It sought to play a developmental role by ensuring that its programmes supported government initiatives to strengthen service delivery.

The three main branches were Administration, Investigations and Human Resource reviews and Monitoring and Evaluation.

Mr Dumisani Maphumulo, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services and Administration, PSC, presented the section on programme administration. He stated that the report of the Auditor- General was unqualified and that there was no matter of emphasis. Total revenue amounted to R97 million, with expenditure of R96.3 million. He summarised the activities of the audit committee, which would meet at least twice a year and consider monthly and quarterly reports of the Accounting Officer. He noted that Treasury had been requested to allow a roll over of R527 000.

Mr Simpson reported that under the second programme of Human Resources, there was a decrease in the vacancy rate, which stood at 7.88% as at year-end. The staff turnover had also decreased. Training was given to 122 employees and an Employee Assistance Programme was run for PSC officials.

Investigations were divided into improvements in labour relations, public administration investigation and professional ethics and human resource reviews. The objectives and outputs for each of these sub programmes were detailed (see attached presentation). Programme monitoring and evaluation dealt with monitoring of governance in the public service, improvement of leadership and performance, and service delivery and quality assurance. Once again the objectives and outputs were tabled.

Mr Simpson concluded that the strategic role played by the PSC was increasingly being recognised, and its value appreciated. However the demands placed on it had led to broadening of its mandate, so that it was necessary to assess its future needs and allocate resources accordingly.

Discussion
Dr U Roopnarain ( IFP) raised the issue of Heads of Department not showing up for performance evaluations and asked what could be done.

Ms
Nozipho Mxakatho Diseko, Commissioner, PSC noted that PSC had discussed the matter with the Presidency, and it was being regarded in a serious light. It had often been difficult to evaluate Directors General because sometimes there were no performance contracts from their time of appointment. Ms Diseko commented that she failed to understand how Departments could compile Annual Reports when no performance evaluations existed. There had also been cases where Directors General had been given performance bonuses although their departments were not functioning well. PSC had therefore developed a tool to measure organisational performance so that this could be matched with the individual performance of the Director involved.

Mr M Sikakane (ANC) noticed that there had been an increase in the surplus of the Commission. He asked if this did not give the impression that the Public Service Commission was not entitled to a budget increase.

Ms Diseko said that next year the PSC would report on other issues that set out clearly why the funds were unspent, and would also highlight the inflexibilities that caused the funds not to be spent.

Mr Maphumulo said that the PSC saw this in a positive manner, as this amount was not very high. However it was also going to be carried over to a new budget.

Dr Roopnarain asked the Commission to touch on the Disability and Gender issue as she had missed it.

Mr Maphumulo said that currently the department had a target of 2% employment for disabled people, but at the present moment had a percentage of 0.9% disabled people in their office. He further said that because of the nature of the work, the department was holding learnership programmes for the disabled, so that they could be better absorbed into the public service.

Mr B Mthembu (ANC) complimented the Commission on its work, noting that although it had limited financial resources, it had managed to achieve a lot.

Mr Mthembu noted that the presentation had mentioned other sources of funding and asked what these were.

Ms Diseko said that these were merely donor funding for small projects, and were probably limited to around R 300 000.

Mr Sikakane (ANC) voiced his concern that he never heard the Commission saying that it was unable to find disabled staff, but yet they were still not reaching the targets in this regard.

Mr Maphumulo said that the PSC could not actually figure out what the problem was, but had noted general fear from disabled people, that prevented them often from applying for jobs, as they were worried either about discrimination or the fact that employers felt that they might be incompetent. There also were cases where disabled people were employed by departments, but were not registered on the system as being disabled, because of the complex nature of the processes that had to be followed.

Mr Maphumulo added, in regard to gender equity, that even though PSC had achieved a 50/50 balance, he felt that this was still not sufficient, as most of the women were working in the lower levels of the organisation.

The Chairperson closed off the discussion by stating that the Committee also could be more vigilant in following up on the reports. He invited the Commission in future to suggest to the Committee what steps could be taken, and to learn from the mistakes of other states in an effort to constantly improve.

State Information Technology Agency (SITA): Annual Report Briefing
Mr Peter Pedlar, Acting CEO, SITA, noted that this was the first full year in which the new operating model was in effect. Customer satisfaction was up 20 points, to a 63% level, and employee satisfaction levels had improved by 10.17%. An inaugural GovTech conference had created an ICT thought leadership platform.

Mr Mfanyane Salanje, Chief Financial Officer, SITA, gave the financial report. SITA’s revenue had improved compared to the previous years, despite the fact that it had been forced to write off some bad debt. There was revenue growth of 15.6%, to R3.35 billion, and the gross profit was improved to R712 million. The surplus was R143.5 million. 65 contracts worth R1.5 billion were awarded and 86% of contracts were awarded to black economic empowerment vendors. The bad debt had arisen through government failing to pay SITA on time for some of the projects, and SITA was unable to recover because there was no written agreement of service between SITA and those departments.

Other achievements included the e-Government project, which had put in the ID Trace and Trace SMS system in the Department of Home Affairs and an interactive voice response system. The Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) had dealt with an integrated development environmental tender and a procurement model tender.

In the field of human resources, 96% of staff had been trained and there was a successful youth internship programme, in which 358 youth were trained. Staff turnover was below the industry average.

Future plans included GovTech commitments, e-Government implementation and other ongoing projects.

A full set of charts and graphs were tabled in relation to various aspects of the financial statements (See attached presentation)

Discussion

Mr K Minnie (DA) asked how many state departments and private companies had contracted SITA to do their projects.

Mr Pedlar replied that SITA had been contracted to about 39 government departments, but they were not compelled to serve the private sector, and therefore only did business with the State.

Ms M Matsomela (ANC) asked how much on average did SITA have to write off as bad debt.

Mr Salanje responded that SITA had written off three years of bad debt.

Ms Matsomela asked how long did SITA take to pay its debts.

Mr Salanje replied that SITA was taking around 71 days to pay debts, as it was SITA was not compelled to comply with 30-day rule.

He noted that SITA had been unable to recover money from government, but had tried to elicit payment by telephoning Directors-General, which in some cases had resulted in payment being made. However, the problem remained.

Ms M Matsomela commented that the issue of government departments not paying their dues was becoming a serious issue, and was also evident in the relations between government and municipalities.

Ms L. Maloney (ANC) asked if any study was conducted to evaluate whether departments were achieving savings by doing business with SITA only.

Mr Pedlar replied by saying that no study had been conducted although it would be most useful to do so.

The meeting was adjourned.

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