Mr S J F Marais (DA) to ask the Minister for the Public Service and Administration:
In my reply to question 310 on 13 July 2012, I indicated my intention to approach Cabinet with a plan to turn around the low compliance levels in the evaluation of Heads of Department (HoDs) in the Public Service. This plan has now been approved by Cabinet and will be rolled out to ensure that outstanding evaluations for the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 evaluation cycles are finalised by 31 March 2013.
Essentially the plan proposes a Cluster Evaluation System, with clear due dates and panel members, to finalise the performance evaluations for HODs for the 2010/2011 and 2011/12 cycles. The intention is to conduct the evaluations for both cycles simultaneously and to conclude the evaluations within the current financial year.
Please refer to Annexure A, attached, for a list of HoDs whose evaluation for the 2010/2011 cycle remains outstanding.
The Department of Public Service and Administration is aware that there are perceptions of high turnover of staff in senior positions in the Public Service. This is sometimes based on anecdotal evidence related to isolated incidents in few departments. The total number of SMS members in the Public Service as at 30 June 2012 was 8915. Based on statistics at our disposal, 71% (6329) of SMS members have been in the Public Service for more than 5 years.
In a recent study (2011) conducted by both the DPSA and the Public Service Commission (PSC), it was evident that the extent of turnover may be informed by the average time that an SMS member spends in the same post level over time. In this study, it was established that the average time an SMS member spends in the same post level is 4.2 years.
In 2008 the average time spent by an SMS member in the same post level was 3.6 years; in 2009 the average time was found to be 3.8 years; in 2010, the average time spent was 4.1 years and in 2011 it was found to be 4.2 years. The conclusion that can be drawn is that there is an improvement year on year in respect to the stability of SMS members as a result of improved conditions of service and better retention strategies. It may therefore be concluded that the perception around high turnover at the senior levels may be unfounded.
Measures that have been put in place to retain staff in the Public Service include the introduction of the occupation specific dispensations to positively impact on the attraction and retention of critical/scarce skills, and these are mainly found at senior levels. Furthermore, a manual has been developed to assist Departments in managing the retention of staff.
Notwithstanding the above, it is my intention to pay particular attention to this matter and conduct further assessments to help us understand factors that contribute to this challenge. Understanding the underlying causes would assist in taking appropriate remedial actions to ensure that the staff turnover at a SMS level is reduced considerably.
The DPSA and the Public Service Commission over the past years have regularly reported on the performance assessment outcomes of HODs and senior managers, the performance of government departments and the level of service delivery in the Public Service. The PSC on an annual basis issues the State of the Public Service Report highlighting the actual performance of departments and the performance assessments of HODs and senior officials in the public service.
The issue of organizational and individual performance and its link to the improvement of service delivery was discussed at the last Public Service Summit held in March 2010. Parties to the PSCBC signed the Declaration of the Summit which included a number of recommendations on the management of performance. A number of these areas have since been addressed and others are being incorporated into draft the policies encompassing performance management and development and service delivery improvement.
The DPSA has also developed a draft revised PMDS for HODs that it will soon pilot and test. This is an outcomes-based performance system that will assess both the individual HOD's performance based on his/ her Key Result Areas and Core Management Competencies as well as the organizational performance which will draw on performance assessment reports like the Auditor General Audit opinion and findings and the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) administered by DPME.