ATC130916: Report of the Standing Committee on Appropriations on the Oversight Visit to Gauteng Province from 02 to 03 May 2013, Dated 30 July 2013

Standing Committee on Appropriations

Report of the Standing Committee on Appropriations on the Oversight Visit to Gauteng Province from 02 to 03 May 2013, Dated 30 July 2013

The Standing Committee on Appropriations, having undertaken an oversight visit to the Gauteng Province from 2 to 3 May 2013, reports as follows:

1. Introduction

In terms of section 4(4) of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, No. 9 0f 2009, the mandate of the Standing Committee on Appropriations (the Committee) is to “consider and report on the following:

  • spending issues;
  • amendments to the Division of Revenue Bill, the Appropriation Bill, Supplementary Appropriation Bills and Adjustment Appropriation Bill;
  • recommendations of the Financial and Fiscal Commission, including those referred to in the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Act, 1997 (Act No. 97 of 1997);
  • reports on actual expenditure published by the National Treasury; and
  • any other related matter set out in the [above-mentioned] Act”.

In addition to the above, the Committee was given an extended mandate of monitoring and oversight over the portfolio Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, including youth matters in terms of National Assembly Rule 199(b) on 1 November 2011.

1.1. Purpose of the visit

The purpose of the visit was as follows:

· To engage with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in order to meet the new board members and establish a mutual understanding of the Board’s vision and strategy with emphasis on key interventions for the medium term. Furthermore, to conduct a tour of the business divisions of the NYDA to obtain a firsthand understanding of the NYDA operations and services so as to facilitate better oversight.

· To conduct a site inspection of the Presidential Hotline in order to ascertain the effectiveness of the call centre, and engage the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) on the processes followed to ensure that citizens’ concerns and queries are resolved by the responsible departments.

1.2. Delegation

The Members of the Committee were as follows: Hon EM Sogoni (Chairperson of the Committee); Hon RJ Mashigo ; Hon JP Gelderblom ; Hon NNP Mkhulisi ; Hon GT Snell; Hon LE Yengeni ; Hon TA Mfulo ; Hon N Singh; Hon M Swart; Hon SM Van Dyk and Hon L Ramatlakane.

The delegation was accompanied by the following Parliamentary officials: Mr T Masoeu (Content Advisor), Ms Z Gobhozi (Committee Secretary), Mr P Dlomo (Committee Researcher); Ms N Chaso (Committee Assistant), and Mr E Bacon (Personal Assistant to Hon TA Mfulo ).

2. National Youth Development Agency

2.1. Background

The NYDA was established in terms of National Youth Development Agency Act, No 54 of 2008 as national public entity as defined in section 1 of the Public Finance Management Act, No 1 of 1999. The mandate of the agency include the development of an Integrated Youth Development Plan and Strategy for South Africa, develop guidelines for the implementation of an integrated national youth development policy and make recommendations to the President, initiate, design, co-ordinate, evaluate and monitor all programmes aimed at integrating the youth into the economy and society. This also includes guiding efforts and facilitating economic participation and empowerment, and achievement of education and training.

2.2. The Engagements during the visit

On Thursday, 2 May 2013 the Committee engaged with the NYDA at its Head Office in Midrand . The following NYDA board members attended the meeting: Mr Y Pillay (Chairperson); Mr IK Morolong (Deputy Chairperson); Ms N Potloane ; Ms M Ramokgopa , Ms Z Majozi . The following NYDA officials attended the meeting: Mr S Ngubeni (Chief Executive Officer); Mr K Ramukumba (Chief Financial Officer); Ms M Moonsamy (Chief Operations Officer); Mr E Chuene (Company Secretary and Senior Legal Advisor); Ms T Sejane (General Manager: Corporate Strategy); Mr C Peters (General Manager, in the Office of the CEO).

The following officials from the Presidency attended the meeting: Mr E Masha (Cabinet and Parliamentary Support Staff); Ms V Mafana (Parliamentary Liaison Officer); Ms M Machume (Administrative Assistant: Presidency Youth Desk).

The NYDA Board (the Board) reported to the Committee on their priorities and key strategic shifts for the NYDA. The presentation provided an overview of the NYDA’s vision, mandate and key programme areas and thereafter focused on the Board’s interventions in the medium term informed by the Act. The presentation highlighted key performance areas which were going to be streamlined during the revision and review of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the NYDA for the 2013/14 financial year in order to gain the public confidence and the extension for APP submission was therefore requested and granted by the Minister. Furthermore, the Chairperson of the Board in his presentation indicated that Key Performance Areas (KPA) were going be reduced from 10 to 5, while Key Performance Indicators would be reduced from 72 to 27 in order to make performance measurement to be more realistic.

The Chairperson of the Board reported that over the years public confidence in the NYDA has declined sharply and that it was therefore the Board’s priority to restore the image and credibility of the NYDA through the following key interventions:

  • Redefining the vision, mission and value statement of the NYDA;
  • Establishing a new culture and ethos within the organisation with service delivery being foremost in the minds of the NYDA staff at all levels;
  • Conducting regular audits such as performance audits, supply chain audits and value-add audits;
  • Review the current goals and strategies through the development of a Turnaround Strategy which focuses on establishing partnerships and better use of such partnerships to leverage some benefit (e.g. partnerships with financial institutions for facilitation of loan finance for youth enterprises), and further ensure that provincial boards are partnering with provincial government in each province;
  • Review the NYDA Act with a focus on Section 5 of the NYDA Act; and
  • Review of NYDA’S APP to streamline Key Performance Areas and Key Performance Indicators.

In addition to the above, the Board highlighted key programme shifts to be undertaken. These included the reviewing of the loan finance strategy whereby the NYDA will shift its focus from loan financing to the provision of high impact and more sustainable forms of financial assistance to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s). It was also indicated that the major strategic shift from certain functions was to avoid duplication with other financial institutions such as banks, and focus more on facilitating the funding process. This was informed by the fact that the NYDA Act suggests that the Agency should provide funding to young people but it does not clarify as to how these funds are supposed to be provided. The Board also indicated that the need to create a user friendly and an accessible environment for youth with disabilities in the NYDA branches was important.

The Board reported that Business Development Support and Mentorship will continue to be the key focus in supporting youth enterprises. Other programme shifts envisaged are the intensification of programmes such as the Youth Build Programme, increased focus on scholarships instead of bursaries. Furthermore, the Board’s interventions will also encompass policy and research through the reviewing of the Integrated Youth Development Strategy (IYDS), the redrafting of the National Youth Policy, the review of the NYDA Act and the development of a long term strategy for youth employment creation as part of the Youth Employment Accord. The IYDS review will also aim at ensuring that the Youth Development Strategy is indeed aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP).

The Committee undertook a site inspection of the NYDA’s business divisions and interacted with various Executive Managers on the operations of the NYDA programmes. The following divisions were inspected: Information Access Centre, NYDA Call Centre, National Youth Service & Skills Development Division, Quality Management Division and the Economic Development Division.

The NYDA indicated that its Call Centre has recently been changed from a share call line to a toll free line. On average, the Call Centre receives 5000 calls a month and most of the queries relate to access to microfinance, queries on career information, bursaries/scholarships, job opportunities and youth awards. It was established that there was a poor turnaround time in resolving complaints, for instance some unresolved queries or complaints dated back to when the Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) was still in operation and the Agency has tried to resolve some of those issues. In addition, the operation of the Call Centre was not as efficient as desired due to the fragmentation of the NYDA business divisions. It was indicated that a strategic workshop was to be held with all divisions in order to address integration and to centralise the call centre as a point of entry for information to all divisions. The NYDA headquarters also deal with daily walk-ins with young people requiring general information on products and services of the NYDA.

The NYDA reported that there were a number of vacancies within the organisation as a result of an executive resolution mandating that all Call Centre positions become contract-based. This resolution was currently being reviewed.

With regards to National Youth Service and Skills development, the NYDA reported that challenges were experienced with the establishment of Youth Desks within municipalities. Although Memorandums of Understanding ( MoUs ) had been signed with 167 municipalities, the implementation of the MOUs has been difficult due to factors such as continuous change in municipal management structures.

The Agency indicated that the Matric Re-write programme was showing improved results thus affording many young people positive career prospects. Forging partnerships remains a key strategy for the Agency in fast tracking youth development. The NYDA highlighted one partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture which aimed to enhance the career prospects of young people in the Arts and Culture sector.

The NYDA further indicated that the job placement programmes was a key objective within the youth skills strategy. The key challenge with the job placement programme was the level of reporting by companies on progress and career development of young people placed in their institutions. With reference to the Youth Build Programme, the NYDA was in partnership with the Department of Human Settlements in the provision of technical skills and training opportunities.

The NYDA indicated that its Economic Development programme entailed training and mentorship to young people. The Agency has created platforms to assist young entrepreneurs in establishing mentoring networks that can accelerate their business operations. This includes establishing a pool of business mentors that can volunteer their time to assist young people with improving their business operations. Furthermore, emphasis will be placed on neglected areas of business such as the green economy. In particular, the Agency pointed out that participation in COP17 led to the development of the Youth Green Economy Strategy. Another key intervention in the Agency’s strategy to expand young people’s access to its business development services is the Ithubalentsha programme. The Ithubalentsha programme comprises of an integrated suite of programmes which includes technical training of young entrepreneurs, business mentorship and the lobbying of potential opportunity providers and market linkages.

2.3. Deliberations

The Committee welcomed the strategic changes to be implemented by the Board and noted that this will bring about efficiency and effectiveness to the operations and outputs of the NYDA. However the Committee was concerned that the Board’s vision lacked timeframes and did not adequately address the operational responsibilities of the NYDA with regards to human resources and interactions between the head office, provincial offices and branches. The Committee highlighted that the filling of all funded positions was critical for the attainment of the identified priorities. Furthermore, the Committee indicated that the NYDA should strive to have an increased focus on rural areas in their programmes.

One of the major concerns raised by the Committee was the alignment between the NYDA Act and the proposed revised Annual Performance Plan because the Committee was of the view that the Annual Performance Plan should be informed by the Act and the question was whether it will be possible for the amendments of the Act to be translated and aligned to the revised APP as it would have been passed by the time the review of the Act is finalised. The NYDA indicated that the review of the Act from section 75 to section 76 will allow provincial structures to be budgeted provincially.

The Committee expressed ongoing concerns regarding the NYDA’s loan book and the high degree of portfolio risk in terms of micro loans and SMME finance given to the youth. It was asserted that the strategic shift towards the utilisation of partnerships with financial institutions in this regard was indeed necessary. Whilst the Committee acknowledged the progress made in transforming the NYDA call centre from being a shared cost to a toll free, the Committee was concerned whether the call centre personnel was trained to handle the often complex youth queries.

The Committee acknowledged the need for the amendment of policies and legislation pertaining to youth matters however they requested a detailed presentation on the root causes that have pre-empted the need for amendment. The Committee requested the Board to include these root causes or challenges as part of the NYDA’s presentation on the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan.

The NYDA was requested to indicate the extent to which they monitor the academic progress of beneficiaries of the scholarship and bursary programme. The NYDA indicated that the scholarship and bursary funds were disbursed in tranches preceded by the submission of a progress report by beneficiaries. The Committee enquired whether the NYDA utilises relationships with the Skills Education Training Authorities (SETAs) as part of skills development for the youth. The NYDA indicated that SETA programmes were too costly and that given the NYDA’s budget constraints it was difficult to form agreements with SETAs.

The Committee requested statistics on job placements facilitated by the NYDA for unemployed youth who form part of the NYDA database. The NYDA cited challenges with receiving letters of confirmations from corporate partners and was thus not able to effectively track the number of job placements.

The Committee expressed concern regarding the presence of the NYDA within municipalities and encouraged the NYDA to establish youth desks within Thusong Centres. The Committee highlighted the need for a single and uniform service for youth development in all municipalities. In addition, the NYDA was encouraged to explore partnerships with the Department of Energy for the Green Economy Concept programme.

The Committee was of the view that the Agency needed to assess and analyse the feedback obtained from its Call Centre operations. This feedback information will serve as important information in gauging the general mood of youth across the country on their challenges and experiences. The NYDA indicated that there are feedback forms that made available for all young people utilising their services for service improvements.

2.4. Presidential Hotline

2.4.1. Background

In his State of the National Address (SONA) in 2009, President Zuma stressed the importance of promoting a government that is interactive, responsive and effective. The Presidential Hotline was officially launched in October 2009 in order to provide a mechanism for Citizens to talk to Government. In October 2011, the President transferred the management of the Presidential Hotline to the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) with its budget. The Presidential Hotline was placed under the Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring (FSDM) which is a sub-programme of Public Sector Oversight programme (programme 4) which is responsible for evaluating strategic plans to establish their alignment with government priorities, and conduct annual management performance assessment on all national and provincial government departments over the MTEF and improve service delivery using:

· Site monitoring in collaboration with the offices of premiers in all provinces

· Continually using the presidential hotline as a monitoring and evaluation tool.

For the 2013/14 budget an amount of R8 million has been allocated over the MTEF period for the payment of telecommunications service providers to the Presidential Hotline, and further R37.1 million is allocated for the State Information Technology Agency for the Hotline call centre. It was against this backdrop the Committee undertook to embark on an oversight visit to inspect the Presidential Hotline in order to ascertain the effectiveness of the call centre, and engage the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) on the processes followed to ensure those citizens’ concerns and queries are resolved by the responsible departments.

2.4.2. Engagement during the oversight visit

On 03 May 2013, the Committee met with the following officials at the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) Head Office in Centurion and thereafter at the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) Offices in the Union Buildings:

SITA: Mr B Musley-Lefafola (Chief Executive officer); Mr G Lenepa (Divisional Head: Strategy); Ms B Nkosi (Divisional Head-Customer Service), Mr B Ramlal (Head- Service Management Centre); Mr E De Villiers (Senior Manager- Service Centres); Ms Z Khumalo (Client Relationship Manager); Ms T Abrahams (Lead Consultant: S &OB), Ms M Ndebele (Lead Consultant: Public Sector Industry);

DPME : Dr S Philips (Director-General); Ms N Gasa (Deputy Director General-OME); Ms B Leon (Head: Frontline Service Delivery); Ms K Scorjy (Director: HRM);
Ms S Mahlangu (Deputy Director: Presidential Hotline); Mr M Bleki (Deputy Director: Presidential Hotline), Ms P Gqweta (Deputy Director: Presidential Hotline), Ms Caroline Mangwane (Deputy Director: Administration), Mr E Masha (Cabinet and Parliamentary Support Staff); Ms V Mafana (Parliamentary Liaison Officer)

The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) highlighted that the Presidential Hotline (the Hotline) enabled Government to track important issues or concerns for citizens, Government’s responsiveness to the concerns of the citizens and to utilise data collected from interactions with citizens to inform policy, programming and monitoring. The Department indicated that an average of 20 000 cases are received per month and most importantly, 2500 cases are new while the rest are follow up cases. DPME is using SITA as a service provider for the Presidential Hotline programme and therefore, the Hotline’s Call Centre is located at SITA and handles all the cases or phone calls coming through the toll-free line, difficult calls are routed to the second line which is handled by staff at the DPME offices. The DPME Offices also handles cases received via emails, letters and other sources. All cases are captured on a case management system and then referred to national/provincial departments, municipalities and public entities for resolution and response. The national departments and provinces have access to the case management system and are able to view and record case progress on-line.

The Hotline’s staff establishment at the SITA consists of 30 Call Centre agents. The Call Centre operates from 06h00-22h00 from Monday to Friday excluding public Holidays and the 30 Call Centre agents are spread over 2 shifts with 15 agents per shift allocated according to the 11 official languages. In addition to the Call Centre Agents, the Hotline has 20 staff members located at the DPME Back Office in the Union Buildings. The back office conducts monitoring on the responsiveness and resolution rates of cases, provides technical assistance to departments, provinces and municipalities to improve responsiveness, and conducts provincial visits. The back office also does case analysis and generates reports for Cabinet on the service delivery trends emanating from cases.

The DPME reported on the Hotline’s statistics indicating that 154 549 cases had been received from September 2009 to 31 January 2013 of which 137 211 had been resolved by 31 January 2013. Overall the case resolution rate had increased from 79.9 per cent in January 2012 to 88.8 per cent in January 2013. The Department provided a breakdown of the Hotline statistics and trends per department and province. It was reported that the top service delivery complaints received by the Hotline are as follows:

  • National departments : employment, housing, policing matters, social benefits, information about how Government work.
  • Provinces and municipalities : water, electricity, housing, and employment.

The Department informed the Committee that clear case management, resolution and monitoring procedures were needed in different departments. In particular, there was a need for top management to pay attention to responsiveness to cases and to monitor these regularly. The DPME indicated that one of the measures being taken to improve the performance of the Hotline was the quality assurance of the resolved cases in order to determine the satisfaction rate of citizens. It was reported that Satisfaction Surveys commenced in September 2012 and between September and December 2012, 9 598 citizens had been contacted to participate in the survey. Only 3 211 of the citizens contacted were contactable and agreed to participate in the survey. The survey revealed that 34 per cent of the participants were dissatisfied with the quality of their case resolution. The Department was in the process of reviewing the cases for which the citizens rated their satisfaction low. The DPME also indicated that a communication drive will be embarked upon regarding the citizen satisfaction survey.

The Committee undertook an inspection of the Call Centre at SITA and was able to review a snapshot of the Call Centre’s statistics for the day viz. the number of calls received, the language spread of calls received, average call time and waiting time. In addition, the Committee was able to listen to some of the calls being received to get a feel of citizens’ queries and observe how cases are captured for resolution.

Thereafter, the Committee undertook an inspection of the Hotline’s back office at the Union Buildings. It was reported that the operations of the back office involved monitoring of the call centre, reporting on performance of the Hotline, development of case studies, identification of non-performing departments or provinces, tracking of case resolution etc. It was established that a majority of the staff working at the Hotline’s back office were mostly on study leaves. While the Committee acknowledged the right of workers to be on study leave or any other form of an official leave, the Committee requested the Department to come up better leave management in order to ensure that service delivery to citizens is not compromised.

2.4.3. Deliberations

The Committee was concerned about SITA’s capacity to handle the system requirements of the Presidential Hotline given that DPME had requested SITA to modify and modernise the Hotline’s system in order to accommodate the Citizenship Satisfaction Survey. SITA Management indicated that their capacity and performance of the Hotline was in accordance with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with DPME and that any poor performance or non-deliverables would constitute breach of the SLA and therefore subject to review or termination of the SLA.

The Committee highlighted that in many instances departments experienced poor expenditure performance in their spending under goods and services budget due to delays by SITA to submit invoices and this has an adverse effect on the departmental budget expenditure. SITA indicated that there has been positive progress in collecting outstanding debt and meeting its own obligations in terms of current Service Level Agreements with government departments. However, SITA further indicated that it had 25 funded posts that are to be filled in its Service Management Centre. SITA also indicated that it has a monthly billing system which set targets of invoices to be collected at the end of each month. Furthermore, it was indicated that some departments request SITA to delay invoicing or billing them due to budget issues. At the time of the visit SITA had 25 funded vacant posts to be filled.

The Committee enquired whether the call centre agents had adequate training on Government information in order to be able to assist citizens. It was reported that call centre agents utilised the government website portals to provide information. The DPME indicated that it was in the process of arranging training sessions to be conducted directly by those departments which rank top in terms of citizen queries. Furthermore, the DPME was in the process of developing departmental scripts for the call centre agents.

The Committee was of the view that the Hotline’s Statistics should be expanded and better categorised to provide detailed and classified demographic information such as the number of calls from rural areas, urban or different provinces etc.

The Committee enquired whether DPME had mechanisms in place to escalate concerns about slow or poor case resolution by different departments. The Department indicated that it was using high level structures such as Presidential Coordinating Council to escalate some cases in order to be resolved. In some cases the Department calls for intergovernmental meetings which include provincial and local government in order to escalate cases.

The Committee expressed that there is a need for an independent verification or quality assurance system for the resolution of cases by departments and provinces and requested the Department to consider on-site verifications which can be conducted via constituencies and Parliament. The Department indicated that in some instances the utilisation of Community Development Organisations (CBO and NGO’s) will be critical in the verification of case resolutions.

The Committee enquired from the Department whether the Presidential Hotline was having any impact in terms of improving general government service delivery. The Department indicated that they were in the process of compiling case studies in order to assess the impact. The Department also indicated that overall the Presidential Hotline has generated increased awareness within departments and provinces about citizen responsiveness and the monitoring thereof.

3. Findings

The Standing Committee on Appropriations having concluded the oversight made the following findings:

3.1. The National Youth Development Agency’s call centre has poor turnaround time in terms of resolving concerns and complaints reported to the Call Centre. The divisional structure of the National Development Agency is fragmented and thus a contributing factor hampering the speedy resolution of queries from the Call Centre.

3.2. The National Youth Development Agency is experiencing challenges in establishing youth desks within municipalities.

3.3. There are funded vacant posts within the National Youth Development Agency.

3.4. There are funded vacancies within the State Informational Technology Agency (SITA) that could impact negatively on the Service Delivery Level Agreement between SITA and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in terms of the capacity to develop and modernise the system for the Presidential Hotline.

3.5. There is a need for significant improvement within departments and provinces in terms of the management, monitoring and resolution of cases referred by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation: Presidential Hotline.

3.6. The Presidential Hotline case statistics are not detailed enough in terms of demographic and geographic information. There is a need to improve the categorisation and structure of cases captured.

3.7. There is a need for quality assurance in the resolution of Presidential Hotline cases. According to a survey conducted amongst those citizens who had submitted cases, about 34 per cent of the participants were not satisfied with the resolution process or outcomes of their cases.

4. Recommendations

Having engaged on the above mentioned matters, the Standing Committee on Appropriations recommends that the Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration ensure the following:

4.1. That the National Youth Development Agency develops and implements a targeted strategy to improve its turnaround times in resolving queries and complaints referred to it at the NYDA’s Call Centre.

4.2. That the National Youth Development Agency in consultation with relevant government departments develops an implementation strategy in establishing youth desks in all municipalities.

4.3. That the National Youth Development Agency fills all funded vacant posts in the 2013/14 financial year.

4.4. That the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation ensures that all capacity challenges (i.e. vacancies and system limitations) related to the Presidential Hotline’s Service Delivery Level Agreement with SITA are addressed so as to improve resolution outcomes.

4.5. That the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation improves the categorisation and structure of Presidential Hotline cases captured in order to enhance the usefulness of the data.

Report to be considered.


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