Department of Public Service and Administration, SAMDI, Public Service Commission: Budget 2009/10

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Meeting Summary

The committee heard presentations from the Department of Public Service and Administration, the South African Management Development Institute and the Office of the Public Service Commission on their budgets and strategic plans for 2008/09. The DPSA annual report focused on strategic outputs, programme performance and indicators, human resource performance and budget allocations and financial performance. There had been a change to the budget structure because of consolidation of three previous programmes and the addition of other sub programmes. The allocation for 2007/08 was R357.2 million. The classification of spending was tabled, and the increases in compensation noted since 2003. Members raised questions about the Department’s role in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the number of public servants and the implementation of the single public service. The Committee voiced concerns about Community Development Workers, vacancy rates and non-compliance in relation to performance agreements.

The South African Management Development Institute focused on the context and performance of the entity, its transformation to an academy and the implementation of new strategies. The presentation highlighted the portfolio of training programmes and provided a detailed statistical breakdown of the number of people the entity had trained in the previous financial year. The Person Training Days (PTDs) had increased by 6% by 2007/08 despite the demands of the transformation process. It was noted that there had been some changes to the projected numbers because of the decision to redesign and develop the massified training programme. The unaudited results for the period ending 31 March 2008 were tabled. The results showed a negligible underspending of R13 000 against a budget of R131 million. The 2007/8 financial management plan had been successfully implemented. The entity received an unqualified audit report in 2006/07 for both the SAMDI Vote and Trading Account. Members asked questions about the single public service, international donors, acting posts and the training of politicians.
           
The Office of the Public Service Commission presented its strategic plans and budgets for2008/9. The office had achieved an unqualified audit report. There had been successful implementation of the Human Resources Plan, the implementation of the Service Delivery Plan, recruitment of five disabled people and a drop in the vacancy rate. A detailed review of performance was given, including the reports that had been issued. The theme for the next set of reports was titled: “The state of readiness of the public service for 2010 and beyond”. The Office was increasingly seen as an authority on performance management. However, despite the achievements, it noted that it had limited resources and was unable to carry out all projects. The key priorities, which were divided into four programmes, were tabled in detail. The total budget was R111 million, and special funds were earmarked for the upgrading of IT assets. Challenges included the lack of funding for oversight, the need to increase the National Anti Corruption Programme, the changes of 2009, and the ending of the terms of several commissioners. There was a need for more technical support. Departments still were only following through reports in a limited fashion. The passing of the Single Public Service Bill would bring a new impact on resources. Members posed questions about municipal managers, performance agreements and vacancy rates. The Committee also interrogated the issue of supply chain management, the mandate of the Public Service Commission and its relationship with the Specials Investigating Unit.

Meeting report

Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) 2008/09 Budget Presentation
Professor Richard Levin, Director General, DPSA, noted that DPSA intended to become a global leader in public service excellence. Its mission included supporting the Minister in leading public service transformation, providing professional advice and support and promoting good governance nationally, continentally and globally. DPSA was established in 1996 in terms of the Public Service Act of 1994. Its mandate had evolved over the years to incorporate support to national government departments and provinces in the implementation of the decentralized Human Resources (HR) policy.

In addition, Prof Levin outlined the purpose and measurable objectives of the six programmes structured under DPSA. Programme 1: Administration was designed to provide policy, strategic leadership and overall management of the department. Programme 2: Human Resource Management and Development (HRM&D), sought to develop and implement an integrated strategy, monitor employment practices, conduct human resource planning and diversity management, and to improve the health and well-being of the public service. Programme 3: Management of Compensation (MOC) was directed towards the development and implementation of compensation policies and guidelines for the public sector. Programme 4 concerned Information and Technology Management (ITM), which ensured the effective use of IT in Government and facilitated the use of IT for modernising government and establishing e-government practices, within an acceptable information security environment. Programme 5: Service Delivery Improvement (SDI) looked to engage in supportive interventions and partnerships that improved efficiency and effectiveness as well as innovative learning and knowledge based modes and practices of service delivery in the public service. The final programme focused on Governance (Gov) nationally, continentally and globally.

DPSA’s operational plans consisted of the Presidential “APEX” project, the DPSA priority projects, the government and administration Programme of Action, projects emanating from Lekgotla as well as short and medium-term projects from the DPSA Strategic Plan. A summary of the plans was discussed in relation to the six programmes.

The budget summary of Vote 8 was presented for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for each programme. Total expenditure was estimated to decrease from 2008/9 to 2009/10 and then expected to augment in 2010/11. This was due to the decision to decentralise the budgets and have departments take direct responsibility for managing and implementing the programme. An analysis of the allocation per programme illustrated that the largest portion of the budget was allocated to the Administration Programme and the least amount to MOC.

DPSA was required to submit all policy options for allocations, some of which were not funded. The HR Connect as well as the Geographic Information System (GIS) were identified as key projects. For that reason, the Department expressed disappointment that it only received funding in the outer year of the MTEF for those two projects.

The last portion of the briefing focused on the main cost drivers, posts filled by the Department, growth in compensation of employees and the various equity targets.

Discussion
Mr Z Ntuli (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) recounted stories of “ghost educators” in KZN and Mpumalanga. As a result, he wondered when the Department would complete its audit on the number of teachers that it employed.

Prof Levin answered that hopefully with the HR module on the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS), the Department would be in a position to provide more reliable information on the number of public servants.

Mr Ntuli probed what percentage of senior managers had signed their performance agreements. Also, he investigated how many Community Development Workers (CDWs) were employed in the public service.

Prof Levin stated that the Department was moving into a new cycle, which required all managers to sign their performance agreements by the 31 of May 2008. Additionally, he stated that he would supply the Committee with details and statistics of compliance relating to all spheres of government. He indicated that there were various reasons why such contracts were not signed, not all of which were, in the opinion of the Department, justifiable. To address this, the Department had proposed to Cabinet that disciplinary action should be taken in such circumstances.

Prof Levin clarified that there were 3000 CDWs across the country. He mentioned that a number had been trained, but due to the delay in funding they had not been employed within the system.

Mr J Le Roux (DA, Eastern Cape) e enquired when the Single Public Service (SPS) would be in operation. Secondly, he wondered whether the Department had any idea of the total amount of people working in the public service.

Prof Levin responded that the Department would have to look at the parliamentary process first. Once there was legislation for the SPS there would be a process of drafting regulations, which would have to be done with concurrence of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) for local government. On the implementation and strategy side, decisions would have to be made about what to phase in and what should be the benchmarks. Also, Prof Levin responded that the total number of public servants on PERSAL was in the region of 1, 3 million people. Personally, he did not believe that this figure was accurate because there were a number of posts that had been established on PERSAL that had not been funded. As a result, he surmised that there were approximately 1 million people employed in the public service.

Mr Edward Harris, Deputy Director: Remuneration Policy, DPSA, confirmed that the HR model on the IFMS would sort out the problem of incorrect personnel data. Until that system was ready for implementation, a few short term measures were carried outs to make sure that the data on PERSAL was accurate.

Mr A Moseki (ANC, North West) praised the Department for doing a good job in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, he was critical about the Department’s competency assessment system that was mainly outsourced to consultants. Thirdly, he noted that in some municipalities the relationship between ward committees and CDWs were competitive as opposed to complementary. Accordingly, he asked whether the Department had picked this up and what interventions it had initiated to address this.

Prof Levin commented that a lot of good progress had been made in the DRC and that the Department continued to work very closely with its counterparts in that country. Additionally, he confirmed that the Department had established a competency assessment framework, which was outsourced. He viewed this as a realistic approach because the relevant skills to do this did not exist within the public service broadly. He concluded that greater emphasis would be placed on clarifying the roles and responsibilities of CDWs in respect of the different spheres of government. He recognised that people in the public service “liked their turf” and that some CDWs worked in environments where they did not have access to the basics that they needed to do their job.

Mr A Worth (DA, Free State) questioned why only 72% of municipal mangers signed performance contracts. Secondly, he enquired how many municipal mangers were suspended for under or non-performance. Thirdly, he complained that there were consultants involved in most municipalities because people were not doing the job they were employed to do. Finally, he wondered what would happen to all the pensions and medical aid funds when the SPS came into operation.

In respect of the first two questions, Prof Levin indicated that he would obtain the information and then pass it on to the Committee. He conceded that the use of consultants continued to be an area of challenge because often they were not monitored and managed properly and rarely left anything sustainable in place. Nevertheless, he maintained that there was some legitimate use of consultants, particularly where such skills did not exist and when skills were transferred. Finally, he explained that the approach to pensions was different, the pension for public service was benefit defined while for local government it was contribution defined. This was a fundamental difference and a strategic choice would have to be made about how to phase this in and what to use as a benchmark. It was a long term process that could take up to three decades and only as people left the system and retired, would a harmonised framework be established. He asserted that the SPS was not only about remuneration and conditions of service but principally about improved service delivery.

Mr D van der Merwe (DA, Northern Cape) sensed that the people in local government were incompetent and lacked the necessary qualifications. He reasoned that this impacted negatively on service delivery and wondered how the Department dealt with this challenge.

Prof Levin expressed the Department’s commitment to merit based selection within a framework of employment equity. He could not measure incompetence but acknowledged that it was certainly an issue within the public service.

The Chairperson advised the Department to review whether CDWs were necessary. He cited an example where some of them were “making life very difficult” for councillors. In addition, he investigated the number of suspended officials that were still drawing a salary while suspended, and the cost of this to government. He mentioned that in the Department of Correctional Services millions were being paid out to such individuals. Finally, he advanced that it was time for all senior managers to be vetted to avoid all the corruption in the public service.

Prof Levin stated that the research of the Department that led to the establishment of CDWs showed that many people did not know to what rights and services they were entitled. While there were problems with how particular CDWs conducted themselves, CDWs added value because they kept communities informed. In respect of the second question, he indicated that he would acquire the necessary information and provide it to the Committee. On the last point, he disclosed that the National Intelligence Agency had introduced a vetting process relating to appointments of senior managers.

Mr Ntuli asked the Department why there were so many acting managers in government departments and why these posts were not filled permanently.

Prof Levin stated that there were two factors that contributed this issue. The first was the length of time in the recruitment and the second related to the high turnover rate in the public service.
           
South African Management Development Institute (SAMDI) Strategic Plans and Budget Vote 2008/09
Mr Rufus Mmutlana, Acting Director General: SAMDI, introduced his delegation. He stated that the organisation had prepared a detailed report, but would highlight the main points in their presentation. He explained that that SAMDI was a national training facilitator, which contributed to the Government and Administration cluster priorities, by training in good governance, anti-corruption and gender and disability. It contributed to the capacity of the State by its work towards the single public service, integrated service delivery and e-government projects. On the transversal side, a government-wide monitoring and evaluation system training programme had been launched in April 2008.

SAMDI’s other projects, emanating from instructions of the January Lekgotla, included design and delivery of an integrated curriculum for executive development and junior managers, a strategy for massified training, and support to other countries and regional programmes.

Mr Mmutlana tabled the portfolio of training programmes and provided a detailed statistical breakdown of the number of people the entity had trained in the previous financial year. The Person Training Days (PTDs) had increased by 6% by 2007/08 despite the demands of the transformation process. It was noted that there had been some changes to the projected numbers because of the decision to redesign and develop the massified training programme.

The presenter indicated that that there had been a reconstitution of the Academy and there was a need for a paradigm shift in thinking. R1 billion had been spent each year in departments, yet 43% of staff in provincial departments reported no training in 2006. International benchmarks suggested that at least 5 days training per annum would be required to train an official. Thus, the total demand-driven requirement was nearly ten times SAMDI’s present output.

The first main stream of activity concerned the executive development programmes for senior managers while the second involved massified management training for junior and middle managers. There was an induction programme for all entrants at all levels of the public service.

Ms Louise Lepere, Director: Executive Development, SAMDI, articulated that SAMDI had engaged with its partners and stakeholders regarding the reconstitution of the Academy. Research on programmes offered by higher education institutions had been conducted, and sectoral colleges of the various departments like Correctional Services, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, had contributed.

In addition she listed the old SAMDI strategic objectives and showed how they were reclassified under the new Academy Strategic Objectives. Examples were given of the programmes, the new organogram and the new branch. During the transition process SAMDI would ensure that services continued in a seamless way. A full list of the objectives, delivery of outputs, and activities of the new Academy was tabled. Lastly, she gave a detailed summary of the entity’s Massified Induction Programme. (See attached presentation).

Ms Marelize Hoogenhoom Acting CFO, SAMDI, then tabled the unaudited results of SAMDI ending 31 March 2008. The results showed a negligible underspending of R13 000 against a budget of R131 million. The 2007/8 financial management plan had been successfully implemented. The entity received an unqualified audit report in 2006/07 for both the SAMDI Vote and Trading Account. In conclusion, she stated that the new financial model aimed to increase the PTDs, recover direct costs from end users, introduce new tariff pricing structures, and improve the electronic booking and e-learning systems.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked the entity for demonstrating professionalism in the manner in which it presented its case. He was impressed that SAMDI had received unqualified reports for four consecutive years. He hoped that the entity would share with the Committee how it managed to achieve this, particularly in light of most other government departments receiving qualified opinions.

Mr Mmutlana stated that the organisation was very proud of this record. He indicated that the entity had previously received adverse opinions but had resolved to put structures in place so that this never happened again.

Mr Moseki commended the Committee for their outstanding work. He questioned whether SAMDI also trained politicians or only focused on management.

Mr Mmutlana explained that SAMDI had piloted project in the Northern Cape a few years ago. The programme trained all the MECs in that province and it was hoped that it would be expanded to other provinces. Unfortunately, the programme was not well received in other provinces. SAMDI was considering new approaches and strategies to penetrate that market.

Mr N Mack (ANC, Western Cape) observed that there was constant movement of people within the public service. Accordingly, he asked whether SAMDI's training was geared towards a SPS, where the levels and remuneration were the same.

Mr Mmutlana answered that the mobility of public servants was mainly a challenge for the DPSA and not SAMDI.

Mr Moseki questioned whether international donors imposed any conditions when they funded the entity.

Mr Mmutlana answered in the negative and clarified that if anything, SAMDI tried to impose its agenda on the donors.

The Chairperson asked whether public servants who were sent on workshops should be certificated. Also, he wanted to know which Department had officials who were no longer trainable.

Ms Lepere believed that that there should be some acknowledgement of training. She explained that for non-credit courses, SAMDI issued a certificate of attendance. She added that SAMDI had not yet met a person who did not need training and stated that they believed in the spirit of life long learning.

Mr Mack expressed concern that quality might be sacrificed if the entity pursued the route of massification. Consequently, he questioned how the entity intended to prevent this from occurring.

Mr Mmutlana agreed that this would be a challenge. However, he guaranteed that SAMDI would ensure that quality was maintained across all curricula.

Office of the Public Service Commission (OPSC and Commission) presentation
Mr Mokoena took over as Acting Chairperson.

Mr Admill Simpson, Deputy Director General, OPSC, articulated that the OPSC had continued the exemplary management of its financial resources. It had once again received an unqualified audit report, and it was anticipated that there would only be a 0.03% under expenditure in the previous financial year. The key performance areas were divided into three areas, namely, administration, investigations and human resources, and monitoring. Some of the achievements in the past financial year included the successful implementation of the Human Resources Plan, the implementation of the Service Delivery Plan, recruitment of five disabled people and a drop in the vacancy rate in the OPSC.

A detailed review of the performance over the last year was given. The OPSC had received 587 grievances. A report on poor performance in the public service was issued, as well as a toolkit for management of poor performance, a report on grievance trends, a protocol for summoning of witnesses and report on proceedings at the Labour Relations Conference. The OPSC had intensified investigations into public administration practices. Disclosure forms had been submitted, with 16% remaining outstanding. Draft rules to manage conflicts of interest had been prepared. It continued to provide service to the National Anti-Corruption Forum and had a hotline number.

A summary of the reports provided by the Commission was contained in the presentation (see attached document). The theme for the forthcoming reports was “The State of Readiness of the Public Service for 2010 and beyond” The OPSC was increasingly being seen as an authority on performance management. Inspection reports had been submitted to various departments and inspections would be commencing. The regional integration initiatives were described.

Despite the above achievements, the OPSC stated that it had limited resources and was unable to carry out some of the projects it wished to carry out. Even the corruption hotline that was started by the Commission was under a lot of strain.

The key priorities for the forthcoming year were then described. There would henceforth be four programmes, with the addition of leadership and management practices, and integrity and anti-corruption focuses. Detailed indicators were included in the presentation (see attached document).

The total Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) budget for each programme was tabled. The total estimation for 2008/09 stood at R111 million and this was expected to augment to R132 million by 2010/11. Special funds had been earmarked for the upgrading of IT assets.

Challenges were listed as including the fact that OPSC had only received R666 000 for strengthening of oversight functions, and it was felt that this area needed more attention if the service levels were to be maintained. There had been calls from all sectors for an increase of the National Anti Corruption Programme (NACF) but this would not be possible without more funding. The change to the political environment in 2009 would impact upon the administrative environment. In this year the terms of office of several Commissioners would also come to an end, bringing challenges of ensuring smooth transition. There were greater demands being placed by parliamentary committees, and there might be a need for more technical support. There was still a problem regarding the limited follow through of reports. The passing of the Single Public Service Bill would extend the PSCs mandate to include local government. This would impact on the resources of the PSC. Therefore, it was required that the organisation’s financial resources and human capacity be bolstered.

Discussion
Mr N Mack (ANC, Western Cape) congratulated the organisation for achieving an unqualified audit opinion. He stated that many other departments, which appeared before the Committee produced adverse results. He asked that in future the Committee be provided with the document in advance so that they could apprise themselves of all the issues. Also, he recalled that the Committee had not received answers to questions that it had posed to the entity in a previous engagement.

Professor Stan Sangweni: Chairperson: PSC, stated that the Commission could not provide the document ahead of time because it was only informed of the meeting at a late stage and still had to prepare the presentation. Concerning the latter question, he expressed astonishment that the Committee had not received the Commission’s responses, and stated that he would look into it.

Mr Worth questioned why only 72% of municipal managers had signed performance contracts. He also wondered whether any municipal managers had not received a bonus due to incompetence or mismanagement.

Mr David Mashego, Commissioner, PSC, stated that at this stage, the Commission’s mandate was confined to national and provincial departments and that it therefore could not comment on matters pertaining to local government. In addition, he recognised that the issue of bonuses was an area of concern.

Mr Ntuli questioned the organisation about their vacancy rate. He also interrogated what sort of relationship the PSC had with the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

Prof Sangweni commented that the Commission’s vacancy rate was within the acceptable rate. Also, he explained that because of the transversal nature of the Commission’s work, other departments normally poached its staff.

Mr Simpson stated that additional vacancies had been created because of the restructuring taking place in the OPSC.

Mr Mashego confirmed that the Commission referred cases of a criminal nature to the SIU.

Mr Moseki examined how the Commission intended to manage the transition of the organisation, particularly when the term of several commissioners expired.

Prof Sangweni replied that a total of seven commissioners were expected to reach the end of their terms by the end of the year. The PSC had sensitised the President, as well as the Speaker of Parliament, to address the vacancies that would be created by these departures.

Mr Mokoena enquired which Departments refused to cooperate with the Commission when it performed its oversight and monitoring work. Secondly, he queried whether the Citizens Forum (CF) was better than the Imbizo.

In response to the last question, Mr Mashego commented that each process served a distinct purpose and should not be traded off against each other.

Mr Mokoena sought the Commission’s view regarding the chaotic state of affairs in many departments in terms of the supply chain management. He also sought to determine which department had the most outstanding financial disclosures.

Mr Simpson conceded that the area of supply chain management was a problem and indicated that the Commission was investigating this matter. Additionally, he stated that he would provide a comprehensive report concerning the latter issue.

Mr Mack asked what the PSC was doing to prepare for a SPS with its stakeholders.

Prof Sangweni confirmed that the Commission was engaging with the various stakeholders, in particular the Minister of Public Service and Administration and her office.

Prof Sangweni appealed to the Committee to consider the additional mandate and the contextual challenges when it voted on the budget for the Commission.

The meeting was adjourned.

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