ATC200717: Report of the Portfolio Committee On Public Service and Administration on the Revised Adjustment Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plan (App) 2020/21 and the Budget for the Budget Vote 07 of the National School of Government: Date 16 July 2020
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON THE REVISED ADJUSTMENT STRATEGIC PLAN 2019/20—2023/24, ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLAN (APP) 2020/21 AND THE BUDGET FOR THE BUDGET VOTE 07 OF THE NATIONAL SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: DATE 16 JULY 2020
The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration (hereinafter referred to as the Portfolio Committee) having considered the directive of the National Assembly to reconsider and report on the revised adjustments of the Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and Budget allocations of the National School of Government tabled by the Minister of Public Service and Administration in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (Act No 1 of 1999), reports as follows:
South Africa is among countries worldwide seized with managing the outbreak of the Coronavirus 2019 (hereafter referred to as COVID-19) which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the health, economic and social systems of most countries around the globe. In South Africa contexts, its impact is already observable in the resources of government and has put a strain in its delivery capacity and the country’s ability to meet its NDP priorities. In April 2020, the President announced a R500 billion fiscal support in response to COVID-19 and revised priorities.
Based on the above, the Public Finance Management Act of 1999 and the Money Bills Act Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009 empowers the Minister of Finance to table an adjusted budget whenever necessary to Parliament. On 24th June 2020, the Minister of Finance tabled special adjustments budget from the initial budget tabled in February 2020 to Parliament to fund government activities relating to COVID-19 pandemic. According to Section 5 of the Money Bills Act, Committees are therefore required to review strategic plans, annual performance plans and budgets of government departments to be in line with supplementary/or adjustments budget as tabled by the Minister of Finance in Parliament.
In considering adjusted strategic, annual performance plan and special budget, the Committee ensured that the National School of Governmentplan and budget allocations are in line with Medium Term Strategic Plan 2019/24.
On 08th July 2020, the Joint Committee of Public Service and Administration and Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure considered a presentation on the adjusted Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan and budget allocation of the National School of Government. This report summarises presentation received from the National School of Government, focusing on the 2019/24 adjusted Strategic Plan and 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and special adjustment Budget.
- THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON THE MANDATE OF THE DEPARTMENT
The National School of Government (NSG) draws its mandate from the Constitution, and with particular reference to 195(1) (h), which stipulates that: “good human resource management and career-development practices, to maximise human potential, must be cultivated”. The applicability of this, and the other values and principles to the three spheres of government, organs of state and public enterprises indicates the requisite depth and the reach of the NSG in order to fulfil this constitutional mandate. The mandate of the NSG was not implicated as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
Section 197 of the Constitution provides for a public service within public administration, which must function, and be structured, in terms of nationallegislation, and which must loyally execute the lawful policies of the government of the day. The NSG, as a national public service department, thus draws its mandate from national legislation – the Public Service Act, 1994 (Proclamation 103 of 1994), as amended. This is the core mandate which establishes the NSG for it to fulfil a function of providing training or causing the provision of training to occur within the public service. Accordingly, section 4 of the Act provides the following mandate:
- There shall be a training institution listed as a national department (in Schedule 1 of the Act).
- The management and administration of such institution shall be under the control of the Minister (Public Service and Administration).
- Such institution, shall provide such training or cause such training to be provided or conduct such examinations or tests or cause such examinations or tests to be conducted as the Head of the institute may with the approval of the Minister decide or as may be prescribed as a qualification for the appointment or transfer of persons in or to the public service. The School may issue diplomas or certificates or cause diplomas or certificates to be issued to persons who have passed such examinations.
Whilst this piece of legislation empowers the NSG to fulfil its mandate, the limitation of the Public Service Act is that it is applicable to the national and provincial spheres of government. Another piece of enabling legislation - Public Administration Management Act, 2014 (Act No. 11 of 2014) - gives effect, inter alia, to the progressive realisation of the values and principles governing public administration across the three spheres of government.
- ANALYSIS OF THE REVISED BUDGET ON EACH PROGRAMME
- ADJUSTED BUDGET
The main allocation to the Entity in February 2020 for 2020/21 financial year was R206.6 million. The supplementary budget of June 2020 revises this allocation downward to R190.5 million. This represents a downward revision by R16 million (approximately 8 per cent) in nominal terms, which translates into a reduction of approximately 12 per cent in real terms.
The budget of the School is divided into two programmes, namely Programme 1: Administration and Programme 2: Public Sector Organisational and Staff Development. Whilst the main budget allocation in February split the budget 55 per cent and 45 per cent between Programme 1 (R112.9 million) and Programme 2 (R93.7 million), respectively, the downward revision in allocation narrowed this split to 51 per cent (R96.8 million) and 49 per cent ((R93.7 million, unchanged), respectively. This is because only the allocation to Programme 1 was revised downward, whilst the allocation to Programme 2 remains unchanged.
The budget cut was made from Goods and Services under Programme 1: Administration, which involved the suspension of subsistence and travelling, as well as venues and facilities funding. There were no virements made.
Table 1: Revised budget
Source: National Treasury (2020)
- PERFORMANCE PROGRAMMES
The National School of Government has two programmes, which are as follows:
- Programme 1: Administration
The purpose of this Programme is to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the School. The budget for Programme 1 was revised downward from R112.9 million in February 2020/21 to R96.9 million in June 2020/21. This represents a downward revision by R16 million in rand terms in the budget of 2020/21. The programme is one of the two major cost drivers under this Vote, consuming 51 per cent of the overall allocation. The main cost drivers are the Corporate Services and Management sub-programmes.
The School reduced the average number of days for debt collection to 60 days. All disciplinary cases were resolved within 60 days from the date of receiving the case. The School facilitated three agreements supporting international exchanges and capacity building initiatives. It is envisaged that the Entity will have to cut down on many of its targets that were pre-planned before the pandemic. This means a lot of cutting down on facilitation of learning programmes and less travelling due to suspension of venue and travelling funding, which speaks to the core of the Entity’s mandate. The activities are in line with the National Development 2030’s Sub–Outcome 3: Efficient and effective management and operations system.
- Programme 2: Public Sector Organisational and Staff Development
The Public Sector Organisational and Staff Development (Programme 2) is responsible for facilitating transfer payments to the Training Trading Account, which provides education, development and training to public sector employees.
The budget allocation for Programme 2 increased from R79.8 million in 2019/20 to R93.7 million in 2020/21. The allocation to the Programme was not revised by the Supplementary budget of June 2020. In real terms the budget allocation of Programme 2 increased by 11.7 per cent between 2019/20 and 2020/21. This programme consumes 49 per cent of the overall revised budget, which is allocated to the National School of Government Training Trading Account sub-programme, which provides education, development and training to public sector employees. The School introduced the use of the e-Learning modality that enables it to offer 22 e-Learning courses and to establish communities of practice, as well as open online courses. The School undertook ten training needs analyses with public sector institutions. The School completed six research projects to inform training needs and opportunities. The Programme activities are in line with the National Development 2030’s Sub–outcome 2: A public service that is a career of choice, which ensures that the public service recruits graduates and mentors them through learnerships, internships and apprenticeships; as well as Sub-Outcome 5: Increased responsiveness of public servants and accountability to citizens.
- OBSERVATIONS AND FINDINGS
The Portfolio Committee identified the following matters in relation to the special adjustment budget for the Budget Vote 07, which are as follows:
- The Committee noted and welcomed the presentation of the National School of Government on the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan and revised budget for 2020/21 financial year. The Committee noted the budget cuts of R16 million from the actual budget. Budget cuts derived mainly from the budget for goods and services. The National School Government assured the Committee that the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Planwill remain the same under dire implications of COVID-19.
- The Committee was concerned about the School being negatively affectedregarding its source of revenue due to COVID-19 pandemic and budget cuts as a result of thespecial adjustment budget. 80% of the budget of the National School of Government derives from the Trading Training Account wherein the School used to conduct face to face training. Since COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of the lockdown, the School budget has been severely impacted and has lost revenueestimated at R10.5 million monthly on training fees.
- The National School of Government brought to the attention of the Committee that providing training through a virtual platform is not always feasible as majority of the clients at lower levels do not have tools of trade to be able to attend online training. In workstations,the employer provides internet and desktop computers. This is the risk the School is confronted with in attaining most of the set targets and will ultimately result into the budget shortfall in the Trading Training Account.
- Due to financial constraints, the National School of Government has no option, but to approach the National Treasury to use savings realised from government departments paying in advance for training fees,regarding officials who did not turn up for training. Migrating all courses to online training has major financial implications for government departments and the School has to invest in the IT infrastructure, which will still be near impossible with revised budget.
- The Committee welcomed the announcement by the School for intending to offer diplomas to its learners/or students including Members of Parliament and legislatures.
- The National School of Government has made a commitment to achieve clean audit for the 2020/21 financial year, however, most of the targets might be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Portfolio Committee recommends that the National School of Government undertakes the following activities:
- The National Treasury is requested togrant the National School of Government permission to utilise savings from Trading Training Account, having considered their business case, for government officials who could not attend training to fund its priorities for the 2020/21 financial year. Furthermore, both departments should work together in findinga common funding solution to ensure the School activities funded through Trading Training Account are not impacted under these tough economic conditions caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
- The National School of Government should embrace e-learning training format as part of digital transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the public service. E-learning format inlong-term will save government money to initiate other programmes.
In a nutshell, the Committee has noted financial constraints the National School of Government is confronted with due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the advent of the COVID-19, the National School was not able to conduct training on a face to face format with learners as a result of some of measures to save lives. The School assured the Committee that it will continue to provide education, training and development to the public servants and public representatives using online platforms. The Committee was pleased that Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan will remain the same, but the School had to revise certain targets.
The Committee would also like to bring this to the attention of the NSG that special adjustments report does not stop the School to implement recommendations of the May 2020 budget report.
The Portfolio Committee recommends as follows:
That the House adopts and approve the special adjustment budget of Budget Vote 07 of the National School of Government.
Report to be considered.
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