SPEECHES

Speech by the acting Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Hon. Mildred N Oliphant, MP on the occasion of the portfolio’s Budget Vote for 2012/2013

Date: 22 May 2012

National Council of Provinces

Cape Town

22 May 2012

Chairperson

Honourable Chairperson and Members of the National Council of Provinces

Honourable Chairperson and Members of the Select Committee

Honourable Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration

Chairperson of the Public Service Commission

Fellow South Africans

Thank you, Chairperson, for granting us this opportunity to address this House on Budget Vote 12 for the Ministry of Public Service and Administration. I stand here today, Honourable members, in honour of the memory of the late Minister Roy Padayachie, a colleague, Comrade and gallant freedom fighter, who would himself have delivered this address had his life not been cut short abruptly while he was on official duty in Addis Ababa two weeks ago. May his soul rest in peace!

Chairperson

We brought to the attention of the Select Committee and the people of South Africa the strategic focus areas that will underpin our work this year as we seek to transform the public service within the broader framework of building a capable developmental state.

For the Portfolio for Public Service and Administration to contribute to the country’s transformation, we require lasting and sustainable solutions in order to improve the capacity of the public service, particularly at provincial and municipal levels, to effectively address the challenges of service delivery.

Our approach to building a developmental public service is informed by 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".

Last year the Ministry embarked on a critical process of building an effective and competent state machinery. The Ministry successfully conducted organizational design workshops in all the nine provinces following a Cabinet decision of November 2010 that such workshops be conducted to inform the development of generic departmental structures in provinces; and to design a framework for a uniform job grading system.

These workshops have begun to yield the desired results in terms of addressing organisational design anomalies.

The budget of the public service and administration portfolio is distributed in the following manner:

    • The Department of the Public Service and Administration (DPSA) which receives an allocation of R411.4 million;
    • The Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) receives R123.4 million;
    • The Centre for Public Sector Innovation (CPSI) is allocated R16.036 million; and
    • The Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) receives R22.086 million; and
    • The Public Service Commission is allocated R158.4 million.

The Public Service Commission derives its mandate from Chapter 10 of the Constitution of the Republic and plays an oversight role on the performance of the public service. This Ministry functions in support of the powers and functions of the Commission to ensure its independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness. Accordingly, the Public Service Commission’s budget whilst located within the Public Service and Administration Vote is an administrative matter within the context of a budget transferring relationship.

Honourable Members, 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.

To ensure that the Ministry’s interventions are targeted, the portfolio will this year focus its work on the following Five Ministerial Strategic Focus Areas (priorities):

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

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.

Hereunder, Chairperson, I outline the five strategic focus areas with specific and measurable projects that the portfolio will be implementing this year:

Strengthening Access to Service Delivery to our People:

This portfolio has devised several initiatives aimed at strengthening access to service delivery. These include the development of a set of measures to assess the manner in which Government responds to the needs of citizens by assisting departments to set specific targets for maximum distances to be travelled by citizens to access key government services. This is an important intervention given that we still have many people in our country whose only option is to travel long distances to access services and it is opportune in the current cycle for us to pay particular attention to initiatives to overcome this challenge.

Another intervention is in the area of norms and standards with regard to targets for waiting times and turn-around times especially in hospitals, at home affairs offices, vehicle licensing offices and pension pay-out points. Our people should never be discouraged from accessing services by long queues and sluggish turn-around times.

This Honourable House will be pleased to note that over 1 580 health officials have been trained in terms of the Batho Pele Change Management Engagement Programme in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. The Witrand Hospital in Potchefstroom is an example of how hospitals that have been capacitated are institutionalising the Batho Pele programmes. This hospital has incorporated the Batho Pele programme in its strategic and annual performance plan and has a total of eleven (11) dedicated officials, one per division, whose responsibility it is to ensure adherence to and due implementation of the Batho Pele programme.

The Ministry will continue with user satisfaction surveys to assess the levels of satisfaction by the public with government services and ensure that departments and service delivery points adhere to the Batho Pele ethos and develop action plans to address the challenges for continuously improved service delivery.

Improving Internal Efficiency of the Public Service:

It involves many broad areas. I will touch on only a few. We believe that to deliver quality services to the citizens, the public service requires a well functioning modernised and a sufficient number of adequately skilled and motivated public servants with the correct attitudes and service ethos, and well-functioning modernised systems and processes supported by an enabling policy and legislative framework. There is a need for an improvement in human resource management and development; achievement of labour peace; and improvement of business processes, systems, decision rights and accountability management.

As part of improving the internal efficiency of the public service, the Ministry will continue to strengthen single window service delivery nodal points and integrate service delivery as part of building of a Single Public Service. The Department will be focusing on its flagship project at the Maponya Mall in SOWETO. Already the Department has been able to draw valuable lessons from this project in order to integrate service delivery across the three spheres of government.

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

An effective and responsive public service is only possible through dedicated public servants. This year the Portfolio will improve the average period it takes to fill vacancies, so that service delivery points such as hospitals have the requisite capacity and that we are able to meet people’s expectations and increasingly realise the ideal of a better life for all.

Implementation of SITA Turn-around Strategy:

With the critical role that the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) plays in the modernisation of the public service, the Ministry will use SITA to implement mobile government to take advantage of available technologies to advance accessibility to government services by our people. SITA will also continue playing an important role in the ICT connectivity of Thusong service centres.

Corruption Tackled Effectively in the Public Service:

Corruption in the public service is the antithesis of development, and public perceptions and reported acts of corruption have had negative consequences for the levels of trust by the public on public servants. There has been concerns 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.

Government has taken decisive steps to build anti-corruption capacity across the public service and to strengthen established anti-corruption instruments such as the Public Service Anti-corruption Unit, the Multi-Agency Working Group and the National Anti-corruption Hotline in order to combat corruption. Government has also been an active participant in the National Anti-corruption Forum (NACF), along with business and civil society.

Some of the measures to build anti-corruption capacity in the public service 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.

We believe that by increasing transparency and eradicating corruption, we will optimise the use of scarce resources in achieving our developmental goals.

Chairperson

The past eighteen years have provided the basis for the expansion of human fulfilment and the continuous extension of the frontiers of freedom. This is owed in large measure to the determination of the state to drive and control the developmental agenda in favour of the previously marginalised in our society. One of the challenges has been to fully transform the public service so that it plays its critical role of efficiently and effectively bringing government services to the people.

It is our goal that the pace of public service transformation should be quicker and more decisive to successfully address challenges facing our people on a daily basis.

I have no doubt Chairperson that the strategic focus areas we have outlined in this House will go a long way in laying a solid foundation on which to build a second transition for our society – a transition that will be people-centred and in which the ideal of a better life for all will become a lasting reality.

I thank you for your attention


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