ATC201013: Preliminary budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Four Quarters Performance 2019/2020 of Statistics South Africa, Dated 13 October 2020

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

PRELIMINARYBUDGETARY REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON THE FOUR QUARTERS PERFORMANCE 2019/2020 OF STATISTICS SOUTH AFRICA,DATED 13 OCTOBER 2020

 

  1. BACKGROUND

Due to worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the lockdown, government departments and entities were unable to table Annual Reports in Parliament by end of September 2020, therefore the Committee has consolidated four quarterly performance reports for the preliminary Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report. The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) having considered consolidated four quarter performance of the 2019/20 financial year of Statistics South Africa reports as follows.

  1. INTRODUCTION

Parliament derives its mandate from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The strategic objectives of the Portfolio Committee are informed by five strategic goals of Parliament. The functions of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration are as follows:

  • Participating and providing strategic direction in the development of the legislation and thereafter passing the laws;
  • Conducting oversight over the Executive to ensure accountability to the Parliament towards achieving an effective, efficient, developmental and professional public service;
  • Conducting public participation and engaging citizens regularly, with the aim to strengthen service delivery; oversee and review all matters of public interest relating to the public sector;
  • Monitoring the financial and non-financial aspects of departments and its entities and ensuring regular reporting to the Committee, within the scope of accountability and transparency;
  • Supporting and ensuring implementation of the Public Service Commission (PSC) recommendations in the entire public service
  • Participating in international treaties that impact on the work of the Committee.

 

Parliament through its Committees has a constitutional mandate to oversee quarterly programme performance information of the departments and entities in a specific financial year. Section 5 of the Money Bills Amendment and Related Matters Act (2009) describes the process of exercising this responsibility. The Act states that committees of parliament must conduct reviews of the finances of their respective departments and entities and if required, issue recommendations on the forward use of resources.

 

  1. PURPOSE OF THE BUDGETARY REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS REPORT

In terms of Section 5 of theMoney Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act, No. 9 of 2009 the National Assembly, through its Committees, must annually compile Budgetary Review and Recommendations reports (BRRR) that assess service delivery and financial performance of departments and may make recommendations on forward use of resources. The BRRR is also a source document for the Committees on Appropriations when considering and making recommendations on the Medium Term.

The Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act, section 5 (3) highlights focus areas on the budgetary review and recommendation report as:

  • Providing an assessment of the department’s service delivery performance given available resources;
  • Providing an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the departments use and forward allocation of available resources; and
  • Including recommendations on the forward use of resources.

 

3.1Method

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration compiled the 2019/20 preliminary consolidate report using the following documents:

  • The National Development Plan: Vision for 2030.
  • Medium Term Strategic Framework 2015 - 2020.
  • State of the Nation Address 2019.
  • Strategic Plan of the Statistics South Africa.
  • National Treasury (2019) 4th Quarter Expenditure 2019/20 Financial Year.
  • Annual Performance Plan of the Statistics South Africa.

 

  1. NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN VISION 2030

The National Development Plan highlights the need for South Africa to build a state that is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role. This requires the state to formulate and implement policies that support that role. The NDP and the Medium Term Strategic Framework are informed by statistical information provided by Statistics South Africa, which publishes more than 200 statistical releases per year. The publications present statistical research that measures the development and transformation of the economy and society in a range of context.

Changing economic and societal realities have expanded the demand for statistical information: more detailed statistics are needed and more frequently if policies are to be responsive and effective. Statistics in the public domain must be of high quality. Responding to the increased demand for high quality statistics will require a national effort, and collaboration and partnerships between the producers and the users of statistics.

 

  1. MANDATEOF THE STATISTICS SOUTH AFRICA

Statistics South Africa is a national government department accountable to the Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. The department’s activities are regulated by the Statistics Act (1999), which mandates the department to advance the production, dissemination, use and coordination of official and other statistics to assist organs of state, businesses, other organisations and the public planning, monitoring and decision making. The Act also requires that the department coordinate statistical production among organs of state in line with the purpose of official statistics and statistical principles.

However, there is legislation reform on the cards for the institution. This legislative reform will inform the full planning cycle of government, from planning to evaluation, including the implementation of the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act. Stats SA has started the legislative review process.

 

 

  1. STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

Statistics South Africa aims to contribute towards realisation of the ideals of the National Development Plan (NDP) by providing accurate data policy implementation to overcome social challenges such as inequality, poverty and unemployment. Stats SA works in conjunction with all stakeholders in the country to provide accurate statistical information on economic, demographic, social and environmental factors for proper NDP implementation. The institution has identified the following strategic priorities, which are:

  1. To promote and inform the nation through an expansion of statistical products and services.
  2. To increase statistical trust through sound quality principles that are in line with international standards. This will ensure that users of statistics products have confidence and trust official statistics.
  3. To promote partners in statistics, international cooperation and participation in statistics.
  4. To invest in the learning and capable organisation.
  5. To promote statistical leadership through investment in schools and tertiary programmes to increase statistical skills at grass roots level.

                                               

  1. DEPARTMENT PROGRAMME PERFORMANCE

7.1 Statistics South Africa

7.1.1 Budget Allocated and Expenditure 2019/20

Stats SA’s adjusted baseline allocation for the 2019/20 financial year was R2 514 billion. Of the baseline allocation, R1 460 billion was allocated for Compensation of Employees (CoE), representing 58,1% whilst R681 021 million allocated for goods and services and R2 612 million were allocated for payments of transfers and subsidies. Stats SA has achieved 90,0% of its annual targets as at 31 March 2020, of which 83,9% were achieved as scheduled and 10% of targets were not achieved.

 

The department’s actual spending as at 31 March amounted to R2 555 billion, representing 101,6% of the baseline allocation, exceeding the baseline allocation by R40,293 million. The compensation of employees (CoE) budget was reduced and the department overspent on the CoE budget for the 2019/20 financial year due to budget reductions that resulted in the costs of filled permanent positions not being affordable.

 

The department received a once-off goods and services allocation of R75 million for the recruitment of contract staff and to cover some operational expenditure for the economic, social and population surveys. The allocation was intended to ease the pressure that the department experienced on CoE as a result of budget reductions. The department also has an earmarked allocation of R145 298 million for the Census 2021 project in the 2019/20 financial year. When excluding the economic, social and population surveys and Census 2021 once-off allocations, the department’s baseline allocation is R2 294 million for the 2019/20 financial year, with spending of R2 340 billion representing spending percentage of 102,0%.

 

Stats SA has 2 790 filled posts that consist of 2 785 permanent staff members and 5 staff members on contract appointed against permanent posts. The permanent staff comprises 46,1% male and 53,9% female staff members. 87,2% of employees are black African; 5,% are white; 5,3% are coloured; and 1,7% are Indian. 72,2% of SMS posts are filled, consisting of 58,9% males and 41,1% females. 1,4% of employees constitute staff members with disabilities. The vacancy rate as at 31 March 2020 was 20,5%.

 

Table 1: Budget per programme

Programme R'000

Adjusted

budget

Actual Expenditure

Available budget

% spent

1. Administration

678 876

712 522

33 646

105.0%

2.Economic Statistics

276 811

270 934

5 877

97.9%

3. Population and Social Statistics

180 053

213 832

33 779

118.8%

4. Methodology, Standard and Research

83 885

76 784

7 101

91.5%

5. Statistical Support and Informatics

282 331

265 301

17 030

94.0%

  1. Statistical Collection and Outreach

699 389

698 749

640

99.9%

  1. Survey Operations

313 023

316 539

3 516

101.1%

  1. Census 2021

145 725

148 613

3 623

102.5%

Total

2 514 368

2 554 661

-40 293

101.6%

 

  1. Programme Performance

Statistics South Africa has seven programmes, which are as follows:

 

  1. Programme 1: Administration

The purpose of the programme is to manage the department and provide centralised support services and capacity building. It coordinates statistical production among organs of state in line with the purpose of official statistics and statistical principles. The programme contributes to two strategic objectives: leading the development and coordination of statistical in the South African National Statistics System (SANSS) and improving productivity and service delivery.

Programme 1, 100% of targets scheduled for quarter 4 were achieved of which 93,3% were achieved ass scheduled and 6,7% were achieved earlier than scheduled in previous quarters.

 

  1. Programme 2: Economic Statistics

The Economics Statistics programme produces economic statistics to inform evidence-based economic development and transformation in line with internationally recognised practices. Programme Management for Economic Statistics provides strategic direction and leadership.

Programme 2 has achieved 98,7% of its annual targets of which 98,3% were achieved as scheduled and 0,4% were achieved later than scheduled. 1,3% of targets were not achieved.

 

  1. Programme 3: Population and Social Statistics

The purpose of the programme is to produce population, demographic, labour market and social statistics to meet user requirements in line with internationally recognised practices. Population and social statistics inform evidence-based socio-economic development and transformation in line with internationally recognised practices. Programme 3 contributes to strategic objectives in an effort to expand the statistical information base by increasing its depth, breadth and geographic spread for evidence-based planning, monitoring and decision-making for the use by both the public and private sector.

Programme 3 has achieved 96,4% of its annual targets of which 87,5% were achieved as scheduled; 3,6% were achieved earlier than scheduled and 5,4% were achieved later than scheduled. 3,6% of targets were not achieved.

 

  1. Programme 4: Methodology, Standards and Research

The purpose of the programme is to provide expertise on quality and methodology for official statistics, standards for conducting surveys, and business sampling frames. In addition, it conducts policy research and analysis on emerging policy matters. The programme contributes to enhancing public confidence and trust in official statistics.

Programme 4 has achieved 95,5% of its annual targets. 4,5% of targets were not achieved.

 

  1. Programme 5: Statistical Support and Informatics

This programme aims to enable service delivery programmes by using technology in the production and use of official statistics. It informs policy through the use of statistical geography. The programme promotes and provides better access to official statistics. The programme contributes towards enhancing public confidence and trust in statistics and investing in the learning and growth of the organisation. Moreover, the programme collaborates with partners to build and maintain a reliable sampling frame for household surveys by updating the spatial information frame annually.

Programme 5 has achieved 73,3% of its annual targets of which 63,3% were achieved as scheduled; 6,7% were achieved earlier than scheduled and 3,3% were achieved later than scheduled. 26,7% of targets were not achieved.

 

  1. Programme 6: Statistical Collection and Outreach

The purpose of the programme is to provide data collection and dissemination services to inform policy processes and to support decision-making through statistical information. In addition, engaging stakeholders through platforms and providing effective communication services. Promoting statistical development and cooperation in South Africa, Africa and the world is also one of the crucial functions of the programme.

Programme 6 has achieved 83,9% of its annual targets of which 71,0% were achieved as scheduled; 11,6% were achieved earlier than scheduled and 1,3% were achieved later than scheduled. 16,1% of targets were not achieved.

 

 

  1. Programme 7: Survey Operations

The purpose of the programme is to coordinate survey operations for household surveys and provide processing services to produce official statistics. The programme conducts independent household survey monitoring and evaluation activities. The programme contributes towards improving productivity and service delivery. Expanding the statistical information base for use by government, the private sector and the general public by conducting a population census every 10 years as well as large-scale population surveys between censuses is one of the focus areas.

Programme 7, has achieved 81,0% of its annual targets of which 76,2% were achieved earlier than scheduled and 4,8% were achieved later than scheduled. 19,0% of targets were not achieved.

 

  1. OBSERVATIONS AND KEY FINDINGS

The Portfolio Committee made the following observations and findings:

  1. The Committee continued to raise concerns on high vacancy rate at Stats SA as a result of budget cuts experienced in Compensation of Employees and high turnover due to the inability to retain staff as well as lack of prospects for promotion in the department. This situation has resulted in Stats SA employees, particularly in middle and senior management, being overstretched with additional workload. The situation poses a high risk that might hamper data collection and analysis impacting on the reliability and quality of statistics.

 

  1. The Committee noted high staff turnover caused by numerous factors such as lack of sufficient financial resources on compensation of employees to retain staff due to budget cuts experienced since October 2016. The Committee urged Stats SA to fill all critical funded post since an additional amount was allocated for compensation of employees in the 2020/21 budget allocation.    

 

  1. The Committee urged Stats SA to consider diversification of South African languages when recruiting enumerators (fieldworkers) for a myriad of surveys. Households members feel comfortable with enumerators who speak fluently their home language, unlike interviews conducted only in English. Stats SA was required to ensure diversity and balance languages when recruiting enumerators for Census 2021.

 

  1. The Committee commended Stats SA for paying invoices to service providers within 30-days.  

 

  1. The Committee encouraged Stats SA to improve its equity targets and empower women as Stats SA failed to meet the set target of 50% of women in senior management positions and 2% of people with disabilities.

 

  1. Stats SA raised concerns with regard to the major events happening concurrently with Census 2021, such as Local Government Elections 2021. Stats SA informed the Committee of a risk of some enumerators being viewed to be campaigning for a particular political party. However, the Committee encouraged Stats SA to ensure its enumerators operate within a professional code of conduct with the aim of maintaining and protecting its independence. The Committee further highlighted that the amendments to Statistical Act of 1999, particularly with regard to Census shifting to being conducted every 10 years to avoid coincidence with the five-year cycle of elections.  

 

 

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS

The Portfolio Committee recommends to the Minister that:

  1. Stats SA should fast track the finalisation of the legislative amendment and table it to Parliament timeously.

 

  1. Stats SA should prioritise the filling of funded critical vacancies with the additional budget allocated to fund historic budget shortfall of the compensation of employees. Stats SA should report on the progress of filling vacancies to the Committee in March 2021.

 

  1. In the process of filling critical vacancies, Stats SA should prioritise and balance its gender equity to ensure that more women are appointed in senior management.

 

  1. Stats SA should continue to make nationwide awareness about CENSUS 2021 and communicate its strategy of collecting data during COVID-19 pandemic to guarantee participants’ safety and adherence to the National Disaster Act Regulations pertaining to the coronavirus. Stats SA should also ensure that enumerators are fully supported with Personal Protective Equipment during CENSUS 2021 when physically collecting data. 

 

  1. CONCLUSION

 

The Committee was pleased with the four-quarter performance of Statistics South Africa in the 2019/20 financial year. The Committee wished to witness the same performance in the audited Annual Report of Stats SA. Budget constraints are the major stumbling block hampering performance of Stats SA, although the department continues to strive for the attainment of its annual targets.    

 

Report to be considered.

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