ATC110413: Report Public Service Commission’s State of Public Service Report for 2010

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION’S STATE OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE REPORT FOR 2010, AS ADOPTED ON THE 13 APRIL 2011

 

 

1.         Background

 

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is a constitutionally established independent body. Section 196(4) of the Constitution, 1996, sets out its powers and functions, which include the promotion of the values set out in section 195 of the Constitution, throughout the Public Service.

 

Section 195 (1) of the Constitution, 1996, states that Public Administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including the following:

a)       A high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained.

b)       Efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted.

c)       Public Administration must be development-orientated.

d)       Services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably, and without bias.

e)       People’s needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making.

f)         Public administration must be accountable.

g)       Transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.

h)       Good human-resource management and career-development practices must be cultivated, to maximize human potential.

i)         Public Administration must be broadly representative of the South African people, with employment and personnel management practices based on ability, objectivity, fairness and the need to redress the imbalances of the past to achieve broad representation.

 

Section 195(2) states that section 195(1) applies to –

a)       administration in every sphere of government;

b)       organs of state; and

c)       public enterprises.

 

2.         Introduction

 

The Public Service Commission tabled its State of the Public Service Report 2010 (SOPS) in Parliament in November 2010. The report focused on “Integration, Co-ordination and effective Public Service Delivery” by using the nine basic values and principles meant to govern public administration set out in Section 195(1) of the Constitution, to evaluate how well government was integrating and co-ordinating its efforts for effective public service delivery.

 

The Portfolio Committee received a briefing by the Public Service Commission on its State of the Public Service Report for 2010 on the 16 February 2011. The Committee resolved to report its findings to the National Assembly, with a view that the recommendations proposed be considered.

 

3.         Overview of the State of the Public Service Report for 2010

 

The Public Service Commission used the nine basic principles and values, enshrined in Section 195(1) of the Constitution, to evaluate how well government had co-ordinated and integrated its programmes that required a high degree of co-operation amongst the administration of the different spheres of government.

 

4.         Findings

 

4.1        The State of the Public Service Report 2010

 

The 2010 State of the Public Service Report was confusing, in that one could not get a clear sense of what the state of the Public Service was; and which national, provincial and local government departments or municipalities, respectively, were responsible for what was reported in the 2010 SOPS.

 

One would have expected that the PSC would evaluate and report on the implementation of Section 195 of the Constitution, 1996, by Government departments, using clearly outlined targets; with the report making recommendations in line with the current legal prescripts already in existence. Instead, the report made comments on the level of integration and co-ordination between several departments and municipalities across the three spheres of government, on programmes that required integration and co-ordination, without saying specifically who was responsible for what challenges in co-ordination, and without making clear recommendations in the report.

 

One would have expected that the report should report on the progress of government in implementing the nine basic values and principles; however, in the report, the nine basic values and principles are used to evaluate integration, - i.e. it was anticipated that the focus of the report would have been on the implementation of the nine basic values and principles, and not on integration.

 

One would have expected that the nine basic values and principles are areas that departments should report on, as they are constitutionally obligated to be governed under those principles. And one would expect that the PSC report would concentrate on the nine basic values and principles that are meant to govern public administration, as the PSC is meant to promote and maintain the nine basic values and principles throughout the Public Service.

 

Furthermore, the report made reference to the three spheres of government, without singling out any particular department for the breakdown in efforts of co-ordination and integration.

 

4.2       Comparison of the State of the Public Service Reports for 2008, 2009 and 2010

 

Although the PSC uses Section 195(1) in all of its State of the Public Service Reports, one gets a sense that the State of the Public Service is a special investigation that the PSC undertakes, instead of an ‘annual flagship report’ that focuses on Section 195, since the topic, the departments and the information reported varies each year. For example, in 2008, the focus of the PSC report was: “A mid-term Review of Public Service Transformation”, in 2009, the SOPS report focused on the “State of readiness for 2010 and beyond”, whilst in 2010, the SOPS report focused on “Integration, Co-ordination and effective Public Service Delivery”.

 

Since the focus of the report changes each year, the departments that were relevant to the topic for the report changed too. In the PSC’s 2009 State of the Public Service Report, the topic evaluated was: “State of readiness of the Public Service for 2010 and beyond”, whereby specific focus was given to particular departments that were involved in preparations for the Soccer World Cup. The government departments evaluated in the 2009 report may be the same government departments evaluated in the 2010 report, let alone the 2008 State of the Public Service Report. The challenge this creates is that users of the PSC’s report find it challenging to use the reports to monitor and track the improvement of any particular government department’s implementation of Section 195 of the Constitution, 1996.

 

This then requires the PSC to report on different departments each year, dependant on what the report seeks to discuss. This change in the departments being reported on each year makes it difficult for users of the report to track the progress any particular department makes in complying with the current legal prescripts and Section 195(1) of the Constitution, 1996, over time.

 

An example: the variation in the information reported under each sub-heading from 2008, 2009 and 2010 is shown below in a tabular format. What should be kept in consideration is that the national and provincial departments the PSC uses for the sample changes each year, based on what subject or topic the PSC aims to make the focus of its report.

 

Two principles used are:

 

Principle 8:    Good human-resource management and career-development practices must be cultivated, to maximize human potential.

Principle 9:    Public Administration must be broadly representative of the South African people, with employment and personnel management practices based on ability, objectivity, fairness and the need to redress the imbalances of the past to achieve broad representation

 

State of the Public Service Reports: Examples of the information conveyed for Principles eight and nine from 2008 – 2010:

Principle:

SOPS 2008      

SOPS 2009

SOPS 2010

Principle No. 8

1) Synopsis of issues raised in previous State of the Public Service Reports

 

2) Total number of posts versus funded posts for Provincial and National public administration

 

3) Number of Grievances reported by Provincial and National public administration

1) None of the 22 sampled national and provincial departments filled vacant posts within 90 days

 

2) By December 2008, only 54% of national and 32% of provincial departments had completed their human resource plans for 2008/9 and obtained the necessary approval from their Executive Authorities

 

3) The gaps around skills development are also exacerbated by the fact that

some of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) are themselves

still grappling with their own challenges that impact on their effectiveness.

1) Trends in performance against the standards of recruitment and skills development over the periods 2000 – 2009

 

2) Percentage of departments who complied with the sub-standards for skills development plan (SDP): 2008/2009 evaluation cycle.

Principle No. 9

 

1) Race representivity in the Public Service* from 2004 – 2007

 

2) Disaggregation of Race representivity in the Public Service* from 2004 – 2007

 

3) Disaggregation of Gender representivity in the Public Service* from 2004 – 2007

 

4) Key observations and suggestions from 2004 – 2007

 

5) Gender representivity at SMS level in the Public Service*

 

6) Disability representivity

1) Race representivity at SMS level as at 30 September

2008

 

2) Gender representivity at SMS level as at 30 September

2008

 

3) Disability representivity as at 30 September 2008

 

1) Race representivity at SMS level as at 30 September 2009

 

 

2) Race represnetivity: Senior Management: Private Sector: 2009

 

3) Gender represnetivity at SMS level as at 30 September 2009

 

4) Disability representivity in the Public Service

 

 

The variation in what is covered, for each principle, from year to year, poses a challenge for users of the Public Service Commission’s report, in that it does not allow users to ‘track’ the progress of implementation of any department for any of the nine basic principles and values set out in section 195(1) of the Constitution, 1996.  

 

The State of the Public Service reports do not give any information of the state of the public administration of the local sphere of government, the organs of state or public enterprises, yet Section 195(2) states that the basic values and principles, as set out in Section 195(1) are applicable to administration in every sphere of government, organs of state and public enterprises.

 

5.                   Conclusion

 

The Public Service Commission is an independently established constitutional body that is meant to monitor and promote the nine basic values and principles that must govern the Public Service. These principles are set out in section 195(1) of the Constitution, 1996. Furthermore, these principles are meant to apply to the administration of all spheres of government, organs of state and public enterprises.

 

The PSC is also constitutionally mandated to make special investigations and report to Parliament. However, if the State of the Public Service Report is meant to achieve what its title alludes to, i.e. provide a conclusive report on the state of the Public Service, then one would anticipate that it is not compiled as a special report that reports on specific findings from time to time, whilst using the basic values and principles of Section 195(1) as sub-categories to sort findings for a changing sample of national and provincial departments each year.

 

If the report is to provide users of the report, specifically Parliament, with information on the governance of public administration, based on the Constitutional basic values and principles, then the report should attempt to keep as many of the variables the same. The methodology used in the reports, the subject matter and the departments sampled should remain the same over time.

 

6.                  Recommendations

 

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, having considered the State of the Public Service Report for 2010, recommends the following, in line with Section 196(4)(e):

 

1.                The Public Service Commission reports on the implementation of Section 195(1) by the administration of all spheres of government, organs of state and public enterprises in South Africa every year.

 

2.                The report of the Public Service Commission is contained in the annual report of the entity that the PSC is reporting on every year. This will allow users of the PSC reports to match the governance of their administration with the performance of the administration for the same period of time. Over time, the style of reporting will allow greater comparability, monitoring, evaluation and oversight of the progress any particular government entity makes in implementing Section 195(1) of the Constitution.

 

3.                The National Assembly seeks to locate the budget of the Public Service Commission with Parliament’s budget vote, in order to preserve the PSC’s independence from the Executive, and allow for the PSC’s reporting and budget process to be aligned.

 

4.                The Speaker of the National Assembly should, in future, refer the PSC’s reports to Committees for consideration and report. This will allow for the National Assembly to mandatorily critically contribute to the reporting style of the PSC, and allow for the PSC information reported to the National Assembly to contribute to Parliamentary oversight.

 

 

Report to be considered.

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