The support by parties in Parliament this week of the Public Service and Administration's budget plans should be a clear indication of the importance of this portfolio in creating a better life for all.
Under the theme "Building a developmental state through an efficient, effective, responsive and capable public service", Acting Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Mildred Oliphant delivered the Budget Vote, outlining the Ministry's plans for the 2012 / 13 Financial Year in line with the MPSA's Outcome 12 towards "An efficient, effective and development-oriented public service, and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship".
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.
The strategic areas form the core of the MPSA's conscious efforts to transform and strengthen the public service to contribute to the realization of the developmental mission of the state.
In what will clearly take South Africa's public service to even higher levels, the Ministry has highlighted successes and a need to even better performance in its institutions that form the backbone of public service governance. These are Department of Public Service and Administration) (DPSA), Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA), Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS).
The Ministry, however, also presented the 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 Minister 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".
The Ministry would be doing injustice to the cause for which Minister Padayachie died for if we fail to continue to play our part in the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Pan-African Conference of Ministers for Public/ Civil Service, and any other AU initiative to transform the public service. South Africa's participation in the United Nations system, the OECD and other multilateral systems carries with it positive benefits for the country and its people.
During the period under review, PALAMA trained a total of 1,251 unemployed youth graduates and inducted new public servants in the ethos of the public service in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). This training is intended to enhance employment and entry opportunities into the public service for these graduates.
On fighting corruption in the Public Service, PALAMA rolled out training programmes to 734 public servants and anti-corruption practitioners focusing on anti-corruption and ethics management.
During the past year specific interventions towards effective human resource management in the public service have been developed and they focus on, amongst others, leadership development. In 2011/12 a total of 1,482 officials were trained in executive development programmes. Capacity building has also been extended to the legislative arm of the State, with 181 MPs and MPLs trained during this period.
Accelerating training and development of a new public service cadre through the repositioning of PALAMA into a School of Government, is therefore critical in the MPSA's efforts to develop the human capital of the public service.
Reporting about the Public Service Commission (PSC) the Minister indicated that the organization supported processes aimed at strengthening the quality of Public Service Leadership. The PSC facilitated the evaluation of the performance of HoDs and provided advice to Executive Authorities on the quality of the performance agreements.
The compliance rate for HoDs filing their Performance Agreements (PAs) with the PSC as required by the SMS Handbook stood at 92% for this past financial year - a significant improvement which we hope to increase to 100% during this financial year.
Another highlight was on SITA's turn-around strategy, which is captured under the theme "SITA Today, SITA Tomorrow, SITA to the Future". SITA has a full complement of Executive Management. Inclusive of the SITA turn-around strategy has been the review of a number of policies and the adoption of a new organizational structure, which is now being populated.
To ensure that the Ministry leverages information and communication technology (ICT) as a strategic resource and enabler a number of projects were implemented under the SITA turn-around strategy. SITA managed to achieve a 97% reduction in its tender backlogs, and reduced its turnaround times for tenders from up to two years to 116 days, moving towards a target of 90 days. In the last financial year SITA ensured cost savings of approximately 13% translating to R250 million in the acquisition of ICT goods and services for and on behalf of the Public Service.
The Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) was introduced to replace outdated legacy systems that lacked inter-operability. The IFMS aims to provide centralised solutions to standardise technology and achieve economies of scale, and also to ensure greater efficiency in national and provincial government by improving the quality of data, access to data, elimination of manual processes and greater integration. In this financial year, IFMS selected modules will be rolled out to a minimum of 15 sites nationally.
As part of the turn-around strategy of SITA to support the improvement of internal efficiency of the public service, SITA is implementing a series of new priorities for the 2012/13 financial year:
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
During the past year, the Ministry traversed the country to share information with CDWs as part of their revitalization strategy. The CDWs programme, is an important mechanism for bringing government and the people together and in working towards addressing the many service delivery challenges faced by our people on a daily basis. Through CDWs communities are able to make better use of government services and benefits, foster development in areas like Early Childhood Development and by contributing to improving the quality of life of citizens.
This year more emphasis will be placed on ensuring that the four focus areas of the CDWs are implemented with greater intensity and that there is proper reporting to ensure effective monitoring for success.
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 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.
We are all committed at the DPSA, in honour of the late Minister Padayachie, that our responsibilities 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.Zingisile Mapazi