S A Centre for Public Service Innovation: Briefing

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

19 August 2008
Chairperson: Mr R Baloyi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) briefed the Committee on its mandate and purpose, its model and approach, its initiatives and budget. This Centre had initially been established as a Section 21 company, then on disestablishment of the company had fallen under the Department of Public Service and Administration, and was now the first Government Component, now that the Public Service and Administration Act had been amended. It was to provide the Minister with independent, diverse and forward looking research findings and advice on service delivery. It would enhance public service delivery through innovative products and partnerships, and entrench a culture and practice of innovation through research and development, incubating innovation, and use of public and private sector partnerships. The Centre now had its own accounting officer, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department and had its funding ring-fenced. The model was described, stressing that although the Centre itself did not deliver services, it was demand driven, enabled innovation, shared knowledge, and worked on every project with a range of experts from various sectors. Its projects had included the Track and Trace for the Department of Home Affairs, Dokoza system for data and transaction exchange for medical services, and the Mohwiti Technologies Access Health for patient referrals from clinics to hospitals.  It was also working in the international arena. The four workstreams were described, and some of the future projects and time lines were set out. The budget was R8.6 million, but a further R11 million would be required to move to a new building, pay rental for that and appoint the additional staff.

Members asked a few questions around the challenges faced, whether the contributions of CPSI were acknowledged by departments, whether the expert assistance from outside had assisted the programmes. Several members expressed concerns whether too many structures were not being created and pointed out that despite their efforts there were still severe criticisms around service delivery on the ground. Further questions would be directed to CPSI in writing and another meeting would be arranged.

Meeting report

Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI): Briefing
Ms Thuli Radebe, Chief Executive Officer, CPSI, said that the purpose of the briefing was to advise the Committee of the mandate and purposes of the CPSI; the issues of CPSI as a government component; the CPSI model and approach; past and current initiatives; organisation of work, budget, spending and any additional requirements.

She noted that the CPSI was established as a section 21 entity by the Minister in 2002. Its mandate was to provide the Minister with independent, diverse and forward looking research findings and advice on service delivery, to enhance public service delivery through innovative products and partnerships, and to create an enabling environment to nurture, support and encourage innovation. It would entrench a culture and practice of innovation through research and development, incubating and demonstrating and encouraging innovation, and leveraging partnerships across public and private sectors. She noted that in 2006 the section 21 was disestablished, and the CPSI was brought into the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) as a sub-programme. Now that the Public Service Amendment Act of 2007 had been promulgated, it was established as the first Government Component. It now had its own accounting officer, and it required a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the line department to ensure good governance and to simplify corporate services, and its funding was ring-fenced as a separate programme.

Ms Radebe then described the CPSI model. Sectors played a leading role, as CPSI itself did not deliver services. It was demand driven, acted as an enabler and shared knowledge. It aimed to embrace diversity with a forum of experts around every challenge. Some of its initiatives included the Batho Pele Gateway Portal, the Public Internet Terminals, in conjunction with the Post Office, and general services counters in Thusong Centres. It was also involved in the Track and Trace for the Department of Home Affairs, Dokoza system for data and transaction exchange for medical services, and the Mohwiti Technologies Access Health to improve patient referrals between local clinics and district hospitals.

She set out the awards that had been given, the international partnerships formed, and the knowledge platforms and products (see attached presentation).

Ms Radebe noted that the work was organised around four workstreams, with strong matrix arrangements. She tabled the organogram, and described the purpose and function of each. She then set out the work plan, noting that a public sector innovation solution centre was planned for January 2009, and the All Africa Public Sector Innovation Awards for October 2008. Other projects were the investigation of solutions for support to blind teachers, investigate mobile solutions for sector policing, support the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), develop and maintain ICT partnerships, continuously update the UNPAN Portal with the rest of Southern Africa, and launch the innovation framework for the public sector. Publications and marketing, as well as evaluation, were ongoing projects.

Ms Radebe then indicated what staff had already been appointed, noting that there were still fourteen other posts to be filled. She then set out the total budget, and what had been committed to date. She noted that the additional posts would require a further R4.6 million annually, that R6 million as a once-off would be needed for a move to a new building, and that annual rent was anticipated at R700 000 per year, with a 10% escalation.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked the CPSI to touch on the challenges that it had faced since changing its structure. He was concerned that perhaps too many structures were being created.

Ms Radebe replied that when the CPSI fell under the DPSA, it still retained its independence, as there was a trading account giving it financial independence, although there were still problems around service delivery. She agreed that there were too many agencies not working cohesively, and that was why the CPSI was de-established as a section 21 company and incorporated as a Government Component.

Mr M Sikakane (ANC) asked whether government institutions acknowledged the CPSI publicly for its innovations.

Ms Radebe replied that certain sectors were possessive of their ‘mandates’, and thus co-operation was difficult. Now that the CPSI was independent of the DPSA it was better able to promote co-operation.

Ms M Matsemela (ANC) asked whether bringing in experts from different fields did assist in programmes, and whether the solutions proposed would complement each other and run cohesively.

Mr Lindani Mthethwa, Director of Solution Support, CPSI, replied that groups of experts were involved from the outset, and these specialists were being used throughout to create closer collaboration right from the start of any project through to the conclusion.

Mr I Julies (DA) asked whether entities such as CPSI and the DPSA were really being effective, because he noted that there were still many complaints about service delivery. He too was worried that there were too many bodies and that this was saturating the processes without achieving the necessary result.

At this stage numerous members of the Portfolio Committee indicated that they had to leave the meeting. It was therefore agreed that further queries would be sent to the CPSI in writing and that another meeting needed to be scheduled during the 4th term.

The meeting was adjourned.

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