SPEECHES: Speech by the acting Minister for Public Service and Administration, Hon. Mildred N Oliphant, MP on the occasion of the portfolio's budget vote for 2012/2013

Date: 15 May 2012

Under the theme "Building a developmental state through an efficient, effective, responsive and capable public service"

National assembly

Cape town

15 May 2012

House Chairperson

Chairperson and Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration

Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, the Honourable Ayanda Dlodlo

Honourable Cabinet Colleagues and other Members of Parliament

Chairperson of the Public Service Commission and other Commissioners present here

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Ministry thank you most sincerely, House Chairperson, for affording us this opportunity to address the Honourable House on this important day; on the occasion of the Budget Vote for the Ministry for Public Service and Administration for the 2012/2013 financial year.

The Ministry presents this Budget Vote under a dark cloud which has befallen not only the Ministry for Public Service and Administration but the whole of Government, our country and its people following the sudden passing on of Comrade Roy Padayachie two weeks ago while in service of our country at the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Focal Points meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, "May his soul rest in peace". In honour of the late Minister, I am humbled to stand before you to deliver what Minister Padayachie would have communicated to you today. My responsibility and conviction in this regard is to ensure that the fallen baton Minister Padayachie carried is picked up and that the journey and endeavour towards bettering the lives of all South Africans are continued.

Chairperson, the people of South Africa have bestowed the confidence in the ANC Government by continuing to vote for the ANC in the past four democratic elections.

By so doing, they are affirming their confidence that the ANC Government will provide them with quality public services, in a timely manner, close to where they live, at minimum and affordable costs for those services for which they have to pay, using modern technologies so that they can access these services anywhere at their convenience where possible, delivered efficiently and effectively through appropriately trained public servants while ensuring that their dignity is preserved. The people of South Africa are further saying that they are confident that the ANC Government will protect the state assets against fraud, theft and corruption.

Herein House Chairperson lies the noble ideal of the developmental state that is willing, capable and caring.

The ideal of a developmental state, as articulated in the 2007 Strategy and Tactics of the ANC, is dependent on the capacity of the state to intervene in the economy in the interests of higher growth rates and sustainable development; its ability to effect sustainable programmes that address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment with requisite emphasis on vulnerable groups; the mobilisation of the people as a whole, especially the poor, to act as their own liberators through participatory and representative democracy; and the capacity of instruments to regulate private capital while at the same time mobilising it towards increased rates of investments and job creation.

The realisation of these attributes of the developmental state is highly dependent on an efficient, effective, responsive and capable public service across all three spheres of government. The ANC Government, confirms, that there is a continuing need to restructure and re-focus the public service in the context of the developmental state. The shared view the Ministry have with the general population in South Africa is that the public service must be responsive, professional and guided by a new ethos - an ethos that resonates with the commitment of public servants to belong, to care and to serve.

The set of pillars that currently underpins the work of the Public Service and Administration portfolio are the 2009 election manifesto of the ANC; the five priorities of Government; the outcomes-based performance approach, the Delivery Agreement signed with the President and the respective State of the Nation Addresses. Outcome 12 of the Delivery Agreement in particular enjoins the portfolio to work towards: "An efficient, effective and development-oriented public service, and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship".

Guided by these pillars, the portfolio has been able to carve out a niche for its work and identify key programmatic areas and priorities within the ambit of Five Ministerial Strategic Focus Areas for the financial year in prospect and to which I will refer and expand on later. During the 2011/2012 financial year, however, the Ministry set the following ten priorities:

  1. Service Delivery Quality and Access;
  2. Effective Systems, Structures and Processes;
  3. Leveraging Information and Communication Technology as a Strategic Resource Enabler;
  4. Effective Employment Entry into the Public Service and Cadre Development;
  5. Effective Human Resource Management Practices, Norms and Standards;
  6. Healthy, Safe Working Environment for all Public Servants;
  7. Appropriate Governance Structures and Decision-making;
  8. Citizen Engagement and Public Participation;
  9. Corruption Tackled Effectively;
  10. Contribution Towards Improved Public Service and Administration in Africa and the International Arena;

House Chairperson

The portfolio has delivered on these commitments to a significant degree and looking ahead we will continue to apply ourselves even more diligently towards improving on our achievements. In this regard I must state categorically that the creation of a people-centred society in which everyone has access to services remains an on-going priority of the ANC Government.

Central in this regard are the conscious efforts to transform and strengthen the public service so that it contributes to the realisation of the developmental mission of the state. In this sense, support to transforming the public service is directly linked to the achievement of our developmental agenda.

House Chairperson

I now wish to share very briefly with this Honourable House some of the high-level achievements of the Public Service and Administration portfolio. The Deputy Minister will elaborate further on the significant achievements.

During the past year, the Ministry for Public Service and Administration worked with line departments to develop standards for waiting times at pension pay-out points, hospital queues and vehicle licensing centres, and to develop a turnaround strategy for the processing of drivers' license applications. These standards will in future be made public so that members of the public can know in advance the level of service they should expect. The Ministry also worked with government departments to facilitate the development of service delivery improvement plans (SDIPs). This was part of our strategy to start with the basics of the broader response plan to the service delivery challenges facing our people on a daily basis. May I inform this House that whilst the Ministry prides itself on the compliance rate of 78.3 per cent in respect of departments having service delivery improvement plans for the 2011/12 financial year, the Ministry will double its efforts so that this year the Public Service will achieve a full compliance.

The portfolio also worked diligently to leverage information and communication technology as a strategic resource enabler. To this effect, this portfolio has assisted with ensuring that there is connectivity in Thusong Service Centres. Out of the 100 ICT connected Thusong service centres across the country, fifty (50) were validated and thirty-eight (38) of these were declared fully functional and have been providing a wide range of key public services to our people. This year the Ministry will strive to make sure that all the remaining Thusong service centres are fully functional in terms of ICT connectivity, as part of the effort to bring Government closer to the people.

One of the most urgent tasks is to finalise the issue of the location of Thusong centres. DPSA, National Treasury and the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) have already embarked on an assessment in this regard, and this will be completed during the course of the 2012/13 financial year.

Honourable Chairperson

Ensuring a healthy workforce within a sound and enabling working environment are key elements in our efforts to construct a capable developmental public service, strengthened by our belief that the backbone of any public service is its people. The portfolio has developed Gender Sensitive and Rights Based HIV/AIDS mainstreaming guidelines which are now being implemented in the Public Service.

The Ministry is proud to report to this House that the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) was ranked the first amongst medical schemes in the 2011 Ask Afrika Orange Index. This is indeed another feather in the cap of GEMS, and it attests to its efficiency. GEMS continues to cover public service employees and to provide for their medical needs. To date GEMS has registered 641,000 principal members and 1,7 million beneficiaries. More than 200,000 employees on salary levels 1 - 5 were enrolled on GEMS by the end of 2011, representing more than fifty percent of all levels 1 - 5 employees in the public service. GEMS now effectively covers fifty eight percent of eligible Public Service employees. Income bands in the Scheme's contribution table are applicable for each benefit option and promote access to the benefits by lower income earners. Continued growth in the membership and the offerings by GEMS was realised as a result of the effective execution of both planned and targeted marketing strategies.

House Chairperson, the fight against corruption remains a key priority for our Government.In contributing towards this priority, the Public Service Anti-Corruption Unit (PSACU), located within the DPSA, conducted joint investigations with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on high level corruption-related cases.

Having completed its first year of existence, the Ministry expect the Unit to gain more capacity and to intensify its work in the fight against corruption.

In order to benchmark our anti-corruption mechanisms the portfolio participated in a number of anti-corruption and bribery fora [such as the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC); and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Working Group].

The Ministry's efforts to improve the public service on the domestic front are influenced by global developments and vice-versa. The portfolio, therefore, participated in and shaped the architecture and agenda of the Continental Governance and Public Administration Programme which is implemented by the Pan-African Conference of Ministers for Public/Civil Service under the aegis of the African Union Commission for Political Affairs.

The portfolio also profiled South African innovative projects on the international landscape through the Centre for Public Service Innovation. The Ministry is proud to report that an Eastern Cape project was the overall Continental winner at the All Africa Public Sector Innovations Awards (AAPSIA) in 2011, whilst the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development were winners in the prestigious United Nations Public Sector Awards during the same period.

The work of the portfolio in the Continental Capacity Building Programme was also undertaken. In this regard, the portfolio remained actively involved in a number of continental and international bodies including: the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM); the African Training and Research Center in Administration for Development (CAFRAD); the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM); and the Association of African Public Services Commissions (AAPSComs), whose President happens to be the Chairperson of our Public Service Commission.

House Chairperson

It is important that the Ministry does not too easily become complacent with past victories. A lot more still needs to be done to improve the capacity of the state to extricate the masses of our people from the malaise of poverty and deprivation; and as the President said, our role as a developmental state is to lead and guide the country's advancement in the interests of the poor.

To ensure that such a developmental state plays its role effectively, the Ministry has adopted Five Strategic Focus Areas and they are

  1. Strengthening access to service delivery to our people;
  2. Improving internal efficiency of the public service;
  3. Implementation of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) turn-around strategy;
  4. Accelerated training and development of a public service cadre and the repositioning of PALAMA into a School of Government; and,
  5. Corruption tackled effectively in the public service.

They are accompanied by clearly defined projects, with targets, indicators and delivery timelines, and are elaborated as follows:

Strengthening Access to Service Delivery to our People:

Chairperson, Government has the responsibility to provide services to its citizens in an accessible, affordable and accountable manner. Consequently it needs to know where the people live and determine what services are needed and are being provided to them. Secondly it needs to set norms and standards to improve access to services with particular focus on reducing the distances people have to travel to access these services and improving waiting times and turn-around times, especially in hospitals, at home affairs offices, vehicle licensing offices and pension pay-out points.

User satisfaction surveys will also be conducted to assess the level of satisfaction by the public with government services and ensure that departments and service delivery points develop action plans to address the challenges for continuously improved service delivery.

Improving Internal Efficiency of the Public Service:

In order to deliver quality services to the citizens, the public service requires sufficient numbers of adequately skilled and motivated public servants with the correct attitudes and service ethos, and well-functioning modernised systems and processes including an enabling policy and legislative framework. There is a need for improvement in human resource management and development; achievement of labour peace; and improvement of business processes, systems, decision rights and accountability management.

In an effort to build a Single Public Service streams have been identified and implemented to create a sound institutional base for such such as our flagship project at the Maponya Mall in SOWETO. This work has assisted the Department to better understand the challenges and opportunities when dealing with integrated service delivery across the three spheres of government.

Guided by the Constitution, the Ministry will draw from these experiences when it considers the legislative implications of taking the process of a Single Public Service forward including the finalisation of discussions on the most suitable legislative approach to support the need for seamless integration.

Other initiatives to improve the internal efficiency of the public service will include:

  • Implementing a plan that ensures full compliance by senior management in submitting performance agreements;
  • Improving the average period it takes to fill a vacancy in the public service;
  • Maintaining and supporting the roll-out of the Human Resource Module for the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS);
  • Contributing to the improvement in conditions of services for public service by, among others, promoting home ownership among public servants through the introduction of a Government Employees Housing Scheme;
  • And further strengthening the disciplinary management system within the public service including improving the precautionary suspension policy framework, providing additional support and assistance to departments to resolve the challenges associated with protracted precautionary suspensions; strengthening the capacity of investigating officers and Presiding Officers across the public service. The Ministry will also over the next months develop a precautionary suspension database to track progress against the policy framework.

Implementation of SITA Turn-around Strategy:

The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) plays a critical role in the modernisation of the public service through the implementation of ICT projects and solutions that seek to achieve economies of scale, reduce ICT costs, minimise procurement bottlenecks and generally improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service. The Ministry will encourage government to take advantage of available technologies to advance accessibility to government services by our people.

Accelerated Training and Development of a Public Service Cadre and the Repositioning of PALAMA into a School of Government:

Training and development interventions within the public service will have to be needs-based, respond to government's priority skills areas, support the national development agenda and contribute to increased performance.

The Ministry will embark on a capacity building programme through an improved Induction Programme for new entrants, training of unemployed young and we will continue to work with the Department of Higher Education and the PSETA.

Corruption Tackled Effectively in the Public Service:

To tackle corruption effectively, a number of interventions were introduced and implemented. Todate, the Public Service Commission (PSC) concluded 366 investigations into allegations of maladministration and corruption. The PSC also continued its involvement in the management of conflicts of interest through the Financial Disclosure Framework (FDF) in the Public Service. As at March 2012, the compliance rate for the submission of FDF forms by SMS members for the 2010/11 financial year was 94%. The Ministry is reminding all Heads of Departments and organisations to ensure that by 31 May 2012, all senior managers would have disclosed their financial interests.

The National Anti-Corruption Hotline, has since its inception resulted in 1 499 public servants being charged with misconduct, 603 of whom were dismissed from the Public Service. An amount of R120 million was also recovered. The Ministry through the Public Service Commission, is now working together with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation ensure that departments provide timely feedback on the cases of alleged corruption that have been referred to them through the National Anti-Corruption Hotline.

House Chairperson

The following policies are under review:

  • Recruitment and retention;
  • Housing;
  • Medical Assistance;
  • Night Shift Allowance;
  • Discipline Management;
  • HIV & AIDS and TB Management for the Public Service.

The Ministry will also be introducing new polices in the public service. These relate among others to:

  • Remuneration for the Single Public Service;
  • Reasonable Accommodation and Assistive Devices for people with disabilities in the Public Service;
  • Recognition of Prior Learning for the Public Service;
  • e-Learning in the Public Service;
  • Compulsory Capacity Development and Mandatory Training for Senior Management Services;

It is indisputable that public perceptions and reported acts of corruption have had a debilitating effect on the trust bestowed by the public on public servants. There has been palpable frustration regarding the delayed response by departments in combating and preventing corruption. It sometimes takes several months for disciplinary processes to commence during which time officials are suspended on full pay often for several months, if not years while waiting for charges to be brought against them. This impacts negatively on the performance of the public service and on the morale of those public servants who are required to continue functioning diligently despite the increased workload, since in such instances, these posts are not vacant and cannot be filled.

Furthermore, there are significant inconsistencies and disparities in the types of sanctions applied by Presiding Officers at the conclusion of disciplinary enquiries. Allegations of corruption reported to the Anti-corruption Hotline are referred back to departments to be followed up, but due to insufficient investigative capacity, initial investigations are seldom completed or are unduly protracted. Honourable Chairperson, government has, amongst others, taken decisive steps to build anti-corruption capacity across the public service and to strengthen the recently established anti-corruption instruments such as the Public Service Anti-corruption Unit, the Multi-Agency Working Group and the Anti-corruption Hotline in order to fortify initiatives to effectively combat corruption. The Ministry intends to intensify this work and hope to report tangible progress to this honourable House in this regard.

Some of the measures to be taken to build anti-corruption capacity in the public service and its administration over the 2012 Medium-term Expenditure Framework are:

  • Reinforcing anti-corruption capacity in national and provincial departments through the training of 200 anti-corruption practitioners by PALAMA;
  • Fast-tracking the reduction of backlogs on corruption-related disciplinary cases, with special focus on payroll and procurement processes;
  • Implementation of the Public Sector Integrity Management Framework; and
  • Improvement in the corruption perception index from position 55 out of 180 countries to 40 out of 180 countries or lower.

House Chairperson and Honourable Members, the Ministry has adopted these Five Strategic Focus Areas so that it can realize an efficient, effective, responsive and development-oriented public service. The Ministry believes that the interventions we are making will ensure that services will be rendered with speed; are easily accessible to citizens; are affordable and are delivered at the lowest cost. The public service will be staffed bypublic servants who are appropriately skilled and retained through competitive conditions of service in an environment characterised by labour peace; in which corruption is minimised; and there is positive impact onthe economy and the lives of our people.

Chairperson, the budget of the public service and administration portfolio is disaggregated across various institutions, and also includes the budget allocation transferred to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The location of the Commission's budget of R158.4 million within the Public Service and Administration Vote is thus solely an administrative matter. Inclusive of the transfer to the Commission, the portfolio's entire budget for the 2012/2013 financial year is R731.4 million. The other transfers to the institutions within public service and administration from the MPSA Budget Vote include:

  1. The Department of the Public Service and Administration (DPSA) which receives an allocation of R411.4 million;
  2. The Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) receives R123.4 million;
  3. The Centre for Public Sector Innovation (CPSI) is allocated R16.036 million; and
  4. The Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) receives R22.086 million.

The Honourable Members may be aware, but it bears mentioning, that PSETA's funding under the MPSA is limited to operational activities only, while it draws financial assistance from the National Skills Fund to cater for skills development programmes. The Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) while they form an integral part of the MPSA portfolio are self-sustaining and do not require any allocations from the portfolio's budget.

As I conclude, please allow me to thank the Deputy Minister, the Honourable Ayanda Dlodlo, for her support during this most difficult period for the portfolio, the Chairperson Ms Joyce Moloi-Moropa and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration for their guidance, tolerance and support and the Public Service Commissioners who tirelessly push the Public Service for continuous improvement.

May I also extend my gratitude to all the heads of the institutions within the Ministry for Public Service and Administration for their continued efforts towards improving the way we work so as to better the quality of lives of our people, the portfolio staff, board members of both SITA and GEMS, and the staff in the Ministry whose sleepless nights make the centre hold firmly.

Honourable Chairperson, I thank you

Issued by the Ministry for Public Service and Administration

For more information contact:

Mr Dumisani Nkwamba / 012 336 1704/ 082 885 9448/ dumisanin@dpsa.gov.za

Mr Musa Zondi / 082 901 8081/ musa.zondi@labour.gov.za

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