ATC200717: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Revised Adjusted Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plan (App) 2020/21 and the Budget for the Budget Vote 12: of the Public Service Commission: Date 16 July 2020

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON THE REVISED ADJUSTED STRATEGIC PLAN 2019/20—2023/24, ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLAN (APP) 2020/21 AND THE BUDGET FOR THE BUDGET VOTE 12: OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION: DATE 16 JULY 2020

 

  1. BACKGROUND

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 Public Service Commission 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:

  1. INTRODUCTION

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 Public Service Commission plan 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 and Public Works and Infrastructure considered presentation on the adjusted Strategic and Annual Performance Plans and revised adjusted budget allocation of the Public Service Commission. This report summarises the presentation received from the Public Service Commission, focusing on the 2019/24 adjusted Strategic Plan and 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and special Budget.

 

  1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON THE MANDATE OF THE DEPARTMENT

The PSC is an independent institution established in terms of Chapter 10 of the Constitution. It derives its mandate from Section 195 and 196 of the Constitution, 1996, which set out the values and principles governing public administration, which should be promoted by the PSC, as well as the powers and functions of the PSC. The PSC is required by the Constitution to exercise its powers and to perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice. The Constitution links the PSC’s independence firmly with its impartiality and no organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the PSC. The mandate of the PSC was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PSC is vested with custodial oversight responsibilities for the Public Service and monitors, evaluates and investigates public administration practices. It also has the power to issue directions regarding compliance with personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals. The PSC is accountable to the National Assembly and to Provincial Legislatures and must annually report on its activities and performance to these two institutions.    

The PSC is a constitutional oversight body, established in 1996, primarily to promote “a high standard of professional ethics in the public service”. The PSC operates in terms of the PSC Act 1997. The Act provides for the regulation of the PSC with regard to:

  1. The constitution of the PSC.
  2. Appointment of Commissioners.
  3. Designation of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.
  4. Conditions of appointment of Commissioners.
  5. Removal from office of Commissioners.
  6. Functions of the PSC (inspections, inquiries, etc.)
  7. Rules according to which the PSC should operate.
  8. The Office of the PSC (OPSC); and
  9. Transitional arrangements with regard to service commissions (created under the Interim Constitution).  

 

  1. ANALYSIS OF THE REVISED BUDGET ON EACH PROGRAMME
    1.  ADJUSTED BUDGET

The Public Service Commission’s revised overall budget allocation in June 2020/21 is R287.6 million, compared to R297.6 million allocated in February 2020/21. This represents a downward revision of R10 million for the 2020/21 financial year. Virements from the overall budget amounts to R3.6 million, taken from goods and services under programme 1: Administration. However, this amount is re-allocated through a virement for COVID-19 purposes. The main cost drivers under the Vote remain Programme 1: Administration (R134.6m revised downward from R143.3 million) and Programme 4: Integrity and Anti-Corruption (R60.5 million revised downward from R61.1million). These programmes also experience the most significant rand value downward revisions of R8.7 million and R571 000, respectively. The downward revision of the budget is, according to the Entity, due to suspension of funds and cost containment measures under items such as catering, travel, training and venue hire due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1: Revised Budget

Source: National Treasury (2020)

 

  1. Programme Performance

The PSC has four programmes which are as follows:

  1. Programme 1: Administration

The purpose of this Programme is to provide overall management of the PSC and centralised support services. The budget for Programme 1 was R143.3 million in February 2020/21 and revised downwards to R134.6 million in June 2020/21. This represents downward revision of budget by R8.7 million in 2020/21. The programme is one of the three major cost drivers under this Vote, consuming 46.8 per cent of the overall allocation. It was also one programme that experienced real percentage increase in February 2020. The main cost drivers are the sub-programmes Chief Financial Officer; Public Service Commission; Property Management and Corporate Services, which has changed to People Management Services with effect from 1 April 2020. The Programme’s budget is severely affected. This in turn will affect the activities of the Commission itself (which is not the institution, but the board of the PSC), as well as Corporate Services, which manages and implements the core activities of the PSC.

 

 

  1. Programme 2: Leadership and Management Practices

The Leadership and Management Practices Programme 2 is responsible for promoting sound Public Service leadership, human resource management, labour relations and labour practices. 

The budget allocation for Programme 2 was revised downward from R47.1 million in February 2020/21 to R46.8 million in June 2020/21. The budget allocation of Programme 2 decreased by R346 000 between February 2020/21 and June 2021/22. This is minimal downward revision (approximately 1 per cent) in nominal terms, but in real terms it decreases by 5 per cent. This programme consumes the third largest portion (16.27 per cent) of the overall budget. The bulk of the Programme’s budget is allocated to the Leadership and Management Practices sub- programme, which provides overall management of the programme.

The other main cost driver is Labour Relations Improvement, which is responsible for promoting labour relations and practices through the timeous investigation of properly referred grievances and the provision of best practices in the Public Service. The Commission plans to address grievances and complaints arising from the reorganisation process, and to induct new Heads of Department and Executive Authorities with the aim of strengthening compliance with the principles of reorganisation and effective public administration. The actual figures allocated to sub-programmes will be presented by the PSC to the Portfolio Committee in July 2020. The activities are in line with the National Development 2030’s Sub–Outcome 3: Efficient and effective management and operations system.

 

  1. Programme 3: Monitoring and Evaluation

Programme 3: Monitoring and Evaluation improves the functionality of the Public Service through institutional and service delivery evaluations. Programme 3 accounts for 15.85 per cent (R45.6 million revised downward from R46.1 million) of the total budget vote in 2020/21. The Programme was revised down by R416 000 in nominal terms. This is a minimal downward revision of approximately 1 per cent) in nominal terms and approximately 5 per cent in real terms. The main cost drivers of the Programme are the Programme Management: Monitoring and Evaluation; and Service Delivery and Compliance Evaluations sub-programmes. The PSC conducts service delivery inspections at various service points in order to influence positive behavioural change in the manner in which services are rendered in the Public Service by public servants. Service delivery inspections are regarded as a fact-finding exercise to observe and get first-hand information on service delivery. The number of inspections will be scaled down due to the downward revision of the budget allocation. This will cut down on subsistence and travel allowance and costs, as well as hotel accommodation for officials. Notwithstanding the fact that the downward revision is minimal, the Programme will be mostly affected due to the nature of its work of conducting inspections. The Programme is in line with Sub-Outcome 5: Increased responsiveness of public servants and accountability to citizens.

 

  1. Programme 4: Integrity and Anti-Corruption

The Integrity and Anti-Corruption programme is responsible for undertaking public administration investigations, promoting a high standard of professional ethical conduct amongst public servants and contributing to the prevention and combating of corruption.The budget allocation for Programme 4 accounts for 21.03 per cent share or R60.5 million, down from the initial allocation of R61.1 million of the total budget vote in 2020/21. In June 2020/21, the allocation for Programme 4 decreased by R571 000 (approximately 1 per cent) in nominal terms and 5 per cent in real terms. The Programme will be severely affected, as the nature of conducting investigations is mostly interactive rather than desktop. It involves travelling and accommodation.

The main cost drivers are the Programme Management: Integrity and Anti‐Corruption, and Professional Ethics sub-programmes, respectively. There has been a decrease in the number of complaints lodged and closed by the PSC over a four-year period. This may be attributed to departments putting in place their own complaints mechanisms, including reporting lines and investigative capacities, as required by the Minimum Anti-Corruption Capacities (MACC) established by Cabinet. This shows the effectiveness of the Programme, although attending to the issue of public service employees conducting business with the State is slower than anticipated. The Programme is in line with Sub-Outcome 7: Improved mechanisms to promote ethical behaviour in the public service.

 

  1. OBSERVATIONS AND FINDINGS

The Portfolio Committee identified the following matters in relation to the special adjustment budget for the Budget Vote 12, which are:

  1. The Committee noted and welcomed a presentation on the Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and revised special adjustment budget of the Public Service Commission. The Committee further noted budget reduction of R10 million as a result of government decision to cut budgets to fund COVID-19 priorities. The strategic focus of the PSC will remain the same, however, the Commission removed traditional mode of engagements with departments on leadership and management practices.

 

  1. The Committee supports the PSC to hold seminars and workshops via virtual platforms to ensure that the work of the Commission continues regarding investigations, monitoring and evaluation during COVID-19 pandemic.

 

  1. The Committee noted change of focus in monitoring from health to education to monitor compliance in schools with regard to measures introduced by government to save lives during COVID-19, such as sanitising and social distancing.

 

  1. The Committee further noted delays in finalisation of grievances due to the challenges the Commission encountered as a result of government officials working remotely and not accessing relevant information. The Commission was encouraged to process and conclude ongoing cases.

 

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS

The Portfolio Committee recommends that the Public Service Commission undertake the following activities:

  1. The Public Service Commission should be vigilant in monitoring government departments spending on the COVID-19 related activities and ensure funds are spentfor the intended purpose of the pandemic, more particularly in schools.

 

  1. The Public Service Commission should devise means of working smarter during this difficult period by allowing public servants to submit grievances to the Commission especially during COVID-19 because they might be so many cases officials would like to report.

 

  1.  The Public Service Commission should monitor essential government departments during COVID-19 pandemic to determine whether or notdepartments are adhering to the coronavirus regulations on social distancing and the number of officials on site with the aim of protecting and saving lives.

 

  1. The Public Service Commission should ensure that audit outcomes remain positive and aligned with revised targets.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

The Public Service Commission as an independent institution established in terms of Chapter 10 of the Constitution has to continue executing its functions of investigation, monitoring and evaluation without fear, favour or prejudice during this difficult period whereby government departments are spending monies for COVID-19 pandemic in different forms. During this critical period, the PSC has to ensurethat monitoring of public administration practices in the public service under COVID-19 pandemic is not hampered.  The Committee noted budget cuts do not significantlyimpact on the Commission’s Strategic Plan and APP.

The Committee would also like to bring this to the attention of the Public Service Commission that special adjustments report does not stop the Commission from implementing 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 12 of the Public Service Commission. 

 

Report to be considered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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