SPEECHES

Remarks by the Minister for Public Service and Administration at the media breakfast. International convention center. Cape town. March 7, 2013

Date: 8 Mar 2013

The adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 by our Government as a blueprint for economic and social development poses a key and fundamental challenge to the public service and also challenges the public service to access its capacity and ability to fast track the implementation of the Plan and to see if it is not possible to implement the 17 years Plan in 10 years.

The success and the pace of the implementation of this vision for our people can only be determined by the capacity and ability of the state to fast track implementation. We at the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) have to respond to the expectations of our President when he said during the 2013 State of the Nation address"The NDP contains proposals for tackling the problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is a roadmap to a South Africa where all will have water, electricity, sanitation, jobs, housing, public transport, adequate nutrition, education, social protection, quality healthcare, recreation, and a clean environment"

All of this can only be achieved with the public service leading the fast tracked implementation of the NDP at all levels, from National, Provincial and Local level supported by all other institutions of Government working together. For the public service to lead in the fast tracked implementation of the NDP, we need a transformed, efficient and corrupt free public service led by public servants whose only preoccupation is meeting the expectations of the public and exceed them.

This fast tracked implementation will also not happen when South Africans tolerate bad service and play no active role in evaluating and monitoring the implementation of Government programmes.

We will share with you some of the key programmes we are implementing to transform the public service to a high productivity machinery capable of fast tracking the implementation of the NDP and cutting the 17 years of implementation to 10.

Transformation of the public service to a highly productivity machinery for the fast tracked implementation of the National Development Plan.

The Plan identifies the task of improving the quality of public services as critical to achieving transformation. This will require provinces to focus on identifying and overcoming the obstacles to achieving improved outcomes, including the need to strengthen the ability of local government to fulfil its developmental role. The Public Management Bill will be effective in this regard by creating norms and standards around a variety of issues including human capacity development, anti-corruption measures, and discipline management amongst others.

1.1 Presidential Remuneration Commission, terms of reference and priorities

The stability and effectiveness of the public sector is greatly dependent on the commitment and devotion of its staff and the condition of service. The current view to render teaching as an essential service must be welcomed. Also to be welcomed is the stance that "… we will establish a Presidential Remuneration Commission which will investigate the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service provided by the State to all its employees."

The Commission presents an opportunity for us to reflect on how we reward our public servants, with the first phase focusing on Educators. Education is the main driver of development in the knowledge economy. There is no country that has leapfrogged into the future without an investment in education, and teachers play a critical pillar in this. We cannot move forward without paying attention to the working conditions of teachers. We want to make teaching an attractive profession as it always has been. The Department of Public Administration will provide strategic support to the Commission in order to ensure that the outcomes further entrench the creation of a stable and rewarding working environment for teachers.

The Commission will assist the State to achieve an efficient, effective, accountable and responsive public service for improved service delivery. It aims to ensure that the government is able to attract, retain and motivate suitable, competent public servants and to review and inform the remuneration policy framework of the public service with an aim to align it with effectiveness, efficiency and service delivery improvement.

The Commission will review the remuneration and conditions of service policy in the public service and make recommendations concerning issues that include:

  • a fair, equitable and efficient remuneration system in the public service;
  • the Benchmarking of public service remuneration and conditions of service relative to market remuneration;
  • inefficiencies in the remuneration structure as a result of factors such as excessive remuneration or inappropriate organisational design in ensuring fairness and equity;
  • the current pay progression and bonus scheme in terms of its capacity to maximise service delivery without excessive wage costs;
  • general trends in salary level, structures and wages;
  • the principles which define the wage bill ceiling for fiscal stability;
  • a suitable job classification framework for the public service to establish the link between pay and responsibilities of specific jobs i.e. nurses, doctors, educators, accountants, economists, statisticians etc;
  • the uniform job grading system in order to improve job equity throughout the public service;
  • a sustainable framework for recruiting and retaining skilled employees; and
  • measureable key performance indicators for the public service which may be used to evaluate individual and departmental performance (including PMDS); against salary levels.

The Presidential Commission will comprise a Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson and Five (5) ordinary members.Appointment of Commissioners will be informed by the area of speciality.

1.2 Public Service Charter and the Year of the Public Service Cadre

To enhance service delivery the Public Service Charterwill regulate the partnership between citizens, the State and public servants to enhance productivity and fast track service delivery consistent with service standards that respond to the needs and aspirations of the citizens.

Based on the recognition by the partners that citizens are at the centre of service delivery, as recipients, providers and custodians of public services, the Charter is a statement of intent/pledge that enables service beneficiaries to understand what they can expect from the state and forms the basis of engagement between the government, citizens and organs of civil society.

The Charter further recognises that the public service is there to render services commensurate with the commitments and undertakings of the Government of the day.

The Public Service Charter is a social contract and a commitment between the State, public servants and the citizenry. It is a written and signed document premised on a social partnership which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the respective partners to improve productivity, enhance and fast-track the delivery of services to improve the lives of our people.

The Diagnostic Overview of the National Planning Commission (NPC) (2011:23) pointsout:that many of the problems with public sector performance have to do with deeply rooted systemic issues, and there is no 'quick fix' substitute for a long-term and strategic approach to enhancing institutional capacity. Addressing the uneven performance of the public service will [therefore] not be achieved through multiple new initiatives but rather through a focused and coordinated approach. This will require addressing a set of interrelated issues including instability resulting from repeated changes in policy, under staffing and skills shortages, obstacles to building a sense of professional common purpose in the public service, political interference, lack of accountability, and insufficient clarity in the division of roles and responsibilities ... There is a need for a more strategic and long term approach to enhancing the capacity and performance of the public service. (NPC 2011:26)

Adopting a Public Service Charter outlining the commitment of the state, public servants and the citizenry is a historic collaborative effort to build a foundation that will ensure the rendering of quality services. It will also ensure that the public service is professionalised, trained, capacitated, effective, efficient and development-oriented.

In the context of the public service and administration, the Charter seeks to improve service delivery programmes, reinforce the partners' commitment to service delivery improvement for the benefit of all citizens, clarify the rights and obligations of each of the parties.

The Charter will also acknowledge and reward excellent performance and address areas of poor or uneven performance including the imposing of sanctions, professionalise and encourage excellence across all service areas, enhance productivity. It will facilitate a process to define service standards in various sectors, strengthen processes and initiatives that prevent and combat corruption. The Charter will facilitate social dialogue among the partners, enable Government departments to rise to the challenge of treating citizens as customers and meeting their demands equitably and fairly, deepen democracy by involving citizens and communities in the delivery of services; and ensure effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness in the delivery of services.

The Charter shall apply to Government, in the national, provincial and local spheres; all other sectors of civil society, including business, trade unions and non-governmental organisations; all public servants; and the citizens of South Africa.

In terms of implementation, the Minister for the Public Service and Administration will champion the implementation of the Charter through consultation with the various partners at NEDLAC; consultation with non-governmental and civil society organisations; and hosting a Charter Summit with various sectors of society; securing Executive and Legislative support for the Charter; and facilitating the ratification of the Charter as principal signatory on behalf of the Executive.

The Charter will provide a feedback mechanism that will allow the public to compliment or raise complaints about the conduct and attitudes of public servants and the quality, timeliness and efficacy of the services they provide. The revamped Batho Pele call centre is now in operation.

Accounting Officers of each State institution must implement the feedback mechanism, take prompt steps to remedy any complaints raised, maintain a record of complaints received from beneficiaries and redress steps taken, and include details of the complaints and redress steps taken in the annual report of the department/entity/institution.

A quarterly report on the state of compliance with the Charter and service delivery to Cabinet and Parliament will be submitted by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, with partners meeting biennially to evaluate progress on the implementation of the Charter.

The DPSA will facilitate a rewards and recognition system commensurate with the values and principles of the Charter that focuses on individuals and teams and that takes account of best practices and models of excellence in the delivery of services in collaboration with the Centre for Public Service Innovation.

1.3 Office of Compliance and Standards

The MPSA is responsible for ensuring that norms and standards are applied and institutionalised within all departments.

An analysis of the Public Service (PS) reflects that a vacuum exists with respect to ensuring the implementation of recommendations from Constitutional oversight bodies like the PSC; AG and Public Protector's Office. There is a need for high level capacity to manage SMS corruption related cases. A gap also exists in the co-ordination of Interventions in terms of S (100) of the Constitution.

Other areas that require intervention include the evaluation of the implementation of norms and standards set by the MPSA, the regulatory compliance with respect to frameworks set by the MPSA, the issuing of Compliance Audit certificates to departments as a methodology to determine which departments need to be placed under administrative intervention, and a need for an early warning system to detect emerging service delivery problems within the PS.

The completion of the value chain is in ensuring that the policy environment is strengthened through processes that include the evaluation of norms and standards, the regulatory compliance and capacity audits, service delivery quality assurance, strategic intervention support, and anti-corruption compliance and oversight.

As "head of the public service" the Minister for Public Service and Administration has to play a leadership role to ensure that decentralised public administration and management are exercised within the norms and standards; checks and balances; control points; performance management and reporting, and compliance mechanisms as nationally determined for the Minister for Public Service.

The intention is for the establishment of the Office of Standards and Compliance headed by a Director General to work in tandem with the policy department and source support functionality to drive its programmes as directed by the MPSA. The unit is not intended to duplicate any functions and a clear service delivery model needs to be designed.

The Office of Compliance and Standards will promote compliance to baseline norms and standards determined by the MPSA as well as to promote compliance to regulatory frameworks and conduct capacity and functionality audits of skills, systems and processes. The unit will also oversee quality assurance in service delivery and the promotion thereof. Strategic support services to identified line departments will be rendered by the unit. The promotion of anti-corruption and the uniform application of norms and standards on high profile misconduct related cases.

These are some of the immediate initiatives we are implementing to transform the public service and the Administration of the State to gear ourselves for the fast tracked implementation of the National Development Plan. We truly believe that it is possible to fast track the implementation of the Plan, together with all stakeholders with the Public Service leading the way.

2. Professionalisation of the Public Service

2.1 Transforming PALAMA to a school of Government and Government Capacity Development to support efforts to train public servants.

The School of Government is established to provide training and development programmes for the public service. This entails designing and delivering programmes that are aimed at empowering, and capacitating the public service to provide cost-effective, efficient and excellent service to the country. Once fully developed the School would become the principal provider of management and professional training and development for all levels of the public service.

It is envisaged that the School will also serve as an incubator of ideas and catalyst for reform and modernisation of the public service. The School, working with and in collaboration with similar institutions would serve as repository and disseminator of best international experience and practice in public service.

The distinctive feature of the School is that it draws its faculty mainly from former and current public servants. With demonstrable and direct experience and expertise in the public service, the faculty provides a training that is rooted in reality. As such the faculty is able to combine both theory and practice by infusing a grounded, practice-based contribution in its programmes.

Its accredited programmes ensure that its standard of provision is comparable to the best of management and leadership academies in the world.The curriculum is meant to address real problems by focusing on systemic challenges that government faces.

The School provides a comprehensive range of training (from open courses to tailored ones) and development solutions for managers and leaders across the public sector. Open courses can be taken by participants from any department. Tailored programmes are department specific.

To support our skills development and capacity enhancement the PSETA will also utilise 1% of the Government human resource budget to train public servants in short term courses to improve much needed skills. All Government Departments will prioritise skills development, capacity development and on-going learning.

2.1 Standardisation of the recruitment of Accounting officers and Senior Managers

Across all levels of Government we are introducing basic standards and regulations to manage recruitment of Accounting Officers and other senior managers. This will include qualifications and the process to select and screen candidates.

2.2 Compulsory Induction for all new Public Servants

To ensure that new public servants understand the values and ethos of the public service we have introduced a compulsory induction course for all new public servants. This is central to our programmes to develop a new public service cadre whose only preoccupation is meeting the needs of the people.

3. Government AdministrationAct in terms of Chapter 10 of the Constitution and the Single Public Service

Chapter 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa provides a directive on the basic values and principles that need to govern public administration.

According to the Constitution, public administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles that include the promotion and maintenance of high standard of professional ethics, the promotion of an efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted and a public administration that is development-oriented and accountable amongst other principles.

These principles based on the Constitution apply to administration in every sphere of government; organs of state; and public enterprises. The Constitution further calls for national legislation to ensure the promotion of the values and principles. The Public Administration Bill is well positioned to build a capable state through a uniform system of public administration.Contrary to misconceptions on the Bill, the Bill does not promote the centralisation and concentration of public administration in the hands of national government. In fact the Bill continues a tradition of decentralisation of power established in 1999. The state machinery inherited in 1994 was highly centralised and executive powers over public service personnel and organisational matters were vested in the Public Service Commission as it was then constituted.

The mandate of the Commission changed to monitoring and evaluation following the adoption of the Constitution in 1996 and the passing of amendments to the Public Service Act, 1994, in 1997 and 1998 vested regulatory powers in the Minister for the Public Service and Administration (the Minister) and powers over internal organisation and personnel matters in individual executive authorities.

The decentralised approach adopted in 1996 and implemented in stages culminating in the promulgation of the Regulations in 1999 remains the approach for the Bill. The Minister is empowered to create a framework of generally applicable norms and standards within which government institutions in the national, provincial and local spheres may determine their own policies and practices. At the same time, however, efforts will be made to harmonise systems, structures and conditions of service in order to reduce unjustifiable disparities, duplication and lack of interoperability between and to promote integration and coordination for improved service delivery.

The Bill envisages an expanded role for the Public Service Commission. It is proposed that the oversight mandate of the Public Service Commission include national, provincial and local spheres of government.

The Bill will apply to all departments and government components in the national and provincial spheres of government (i.e. the public service), and municipalities and municipal government components.

The Bill effects a significant change to the current public service legislation in that it vests human resource powers in relation to the career incidents of national and provincial employees (other than heads of institutions and employees reporting to them) in the head of the relevant institution. Currently, these powers are vested in executive authorities. This is intended to enhance the accountability of heads of institutions by locating both human resource and financial management powers in him or her.

The Public Administration Bill (the Bill) respects the powers vested by the Constitution in municipalities, particularly their power to appoint, direct and dismiss their own employees. While the Bill does contain provisions that, in carefully circumscribed circumstances, empower the Minister for the Public Service and Administration (the Minister), to set limits on terms and conditions of employment of municipal employees, these provisions do not compromise or impede municipalities in exercising their rights or performing the functions conferred on them by the Constitution.

The Bill envisages the continuation of the current structure of collective bargaining in the public administration. The existing bargaining councils in the public administration will remain as separate bargaining councils each with its own jurisdiction.It is intended though to institute a process for the bargaining councils in the public administration to agree on arrangements to coordinate the negotiation and conclusion of collective agreements.

That process will be initiated and facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Greater mobility of staff facilitates the transfer of functions from one sphere to another, which is desirable in certain instances to allow services to be delivered at the most appropriate sphere and to enable the deployment of staff to where they are most needed in government. The Bill contains provisions to enable transfers, secondments and staff transfers linked to a transfer of functions. In the case of transfers or secondments to or from a provincial or municipal institution, the sending and recipient provincial and municipal institutions must consent to the transfer or secondment of staff. Conditions of service may on the whole not be less favourable. The Bill also contains special provisions regulating disputes about transfers.

The Bill allows employees to stand in national, provincial or local elections, subject to prescribed limitations and conditions. The employment contract of a successful candidate terminates automatically on assumption of political office.

The Bill empowers the Minister to set norms and standards on a wide range of personnel and public administration practices, procedures and systems. A norm and standard is intended to guide employers and employees in the public administration and to set parameters within which important procedures (such as grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures) or practices (such as recruitment) are established. It will include codes of good practice, default procedures, principles and factors to be taken into account in decision making. In other words, what is intended is not centralised uniformity but a harmonisation that properly allows for specialised differentiation and autonomy.

3. New measures to fight fraud and corruption "Towards a Clean Government Accountable to the People"

The DPSA has reviewed the current capacity of the State to deal with corruption in the public service. Our approach to dealing with corruption includes committed efforts to use technology to prevent corruption and fraud. Poor management of discipline resulting from the decentralised model introduced challenges such as lack of uniformity in sanctions imposed, lack of investigative and disciplinary capacity, lengthy periods of precautionary suspensions, inconsistencies in the manner in which discipline is applied and in some instances an unwillingness of managers to take responsibility for managing discipline of their subordinates.

In light of these challenges, coupled with negative reports from the Public Service Commission and the Auditor-General on the state of discipline in the public service, the MPSA establishing an Anti Corruption Bureau within the Department of Public Service and Administration to assist departments with investigations and disciplinary hearings of corruption related misconduct cases to ensure that the timelines prescribed in the Disciplinary Code and Procedure are adhered to.

Requests for assistance with investigations and disciplinary hearings of corruption related misconduct matters from some provincial administrations and national and provincial departments demonstrate an increasing demand for such specialised services in the public service. In response to the demand for technical assistance and advisory support services to deal with corruption related misconduct matters in the public service to ensure the uniformed application of norms and standard, a feasibility study was conducted to determine the desirability and viability of establishing a specialised service delivery vehicle to address the challenges at hand.

The feasibility study concluded that it is indeed desirable and viable for the Department of Public Service and Administration to establish a government component to provide technical assistance and advisory support services to the public service to ensure the uniformed application of norms and standards determined by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration.

National Discipline Coordination Unit covering all three spheres of Government

The management of discipline of public service employees is decentralised and vests in heads of relevant departments (Section 7(3)(b) of PSA). The poor management of discipline resulting from the decentralised model introduced challenges such as lack of uniformity in sanctions imposed, lack of investigative and disciplinary capacity, lengthy periods of precautionary suspensions, inconsistencies in the manner in which discipline is applied and in some instances an unwillingness of managers to take responsibility for managing discipline of their subordinates.

The management of disciplinary cases represents a partnership between the DPSA and the Specialized Investigative Unit (SIU). The DPSA is the custodian of norms and standards on labour relations matters, including matters of discipline.The SIU is responsible for the investigation of cases whilst the NPA is responsible for the prosecution of criminal cases arising out of such investigations. The SIU is assisted by forensic investigators from external service provides such as Gobodo and PWC.

The DPSA coordinates the disciplinary processes and ensures that human resources are available as presiding officers. The DPSA is also responsible for the scheduling of disciplinary hearings, and to monitor and evaluate progress.

Disciplinary cases deal amongst others with:

  • Matters relating to conflict of interest (contravention of Section 17 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004).
  • Public servants conducting private business without authorization (contravention of Section 30 of the Public Service Act, 1994).
  • Fraud and corruption.

In order to speed up the management of the cases, steps have been taken to obtain political intervention through the Coordinating Steering Committee to ensure that notices are signed.

Successful completion of the disciplinary cases would see an improved and clean administration, provide visible evidence that fraud and corruption is being combatted, and would be an indicator that no private business dealings by public servants without prior authorisation would be tolerated

4. E-Government to enhance service delivery (Annual E Government summit)

In this day and age citizens increasingly prefer and use digital channels to interact with government. At the same time, governments world-wide have resolved to invest significant resources in the delivery of online services, particularly in the current context of fiscal austerity.

In 2004, this government entered into a Peoples' Contract in order to improve provision of services. In this regard, we have deliberately resolved to exploit new efficiencies, create more effective ways of working and improve productivity within the public service.

The Department of Public Service and Administration will be introducing online provision of services in order to increase access and improve the responsiveness of government to concerns raised and to provide greater convenience for citizens, whilst reducing costs of doing business.

This initiative will also facilitate information sharing across different spheres of government silos and breakdown interoperability barriers. The State Information Technology Agency has been assigned a responsibility to design the tool and we hope implementation will take place soon.

5. CONCLUSION

The National Development Plan represent the vision and aspirations of our people, it is important that all public servants gear themselves to lead in the implementation of the Plan. We believe it is possible to fast track the implementation of the NDP. Working with our development partners and communities we can do this in 10 years. I call on all South Africans to work with the public service to achieve this.


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