Honourable House Chairperson
Honourable Chairperson of the Select Committee, Mr Mohapi
Honourable Members and Delegates
All protocols observed
It is my privilege to share with this eminent house today, policy input for Public Service and Administration, following our recent Budget Vote input to Parliament last week.
As the Ministry for Public Service and Administration in this fifth administration, we have the indomitable task of guiding our public service to new heights of professionalised service delivery.
A good foundation has already been laid by the late Minister Collins Chabane, and I am certain that over the next four years we would have seen significant public sector reforms.
Honourable members, Minister Collins Chabane had already assumed an onerous task in redirecting the public service machinery and policy discourse, since 2014. With his feet firmly rooted in the reality of the needs and conditions of our ordinary people, he committed to this house and to the people of South Africa at large, that the face of the public service was going to change, with an objective to create a public service with a soul.
He committed to work with all stakeholders at the coalface, to bring quality services to our people, by including and imploring all public servants to provide transformative solutions, in improving government operations.
Honourable members, four key touch-point messages were shared with the nation in the Budget Vote speech last week. These form the basis for what influences the trajectory of the policy direction and future for public administration and are as follows:
Firstly, entrenching our ongoing efforts and commitments in addressing the transformation of the Public Service in line with the National Development Plan's social vision for outcome 12, by managing the strategic-state capability and governance to deliver public services
Secondly, introducing mechanisms for improving the efficiencies and effectiveness of Public Administration by focusing on Operations Management toolkits and Productivity measurement within the Public Service;
Thirdly, professionalising the Public Service through targeted capacity building programmes that institutionalise Batho Pele, Ethics, as well as, technically relevant skills;
Lastly, by introducing common norms and standards through the institutionalisation of the Public Administration Management Act and other legislative instruments to operationalise the Ethics and Integrity Unit, as well as, the Office of Standards and Compliance.
Public Administration Management Act
As part of our ongoing Public Sector Policy Reform initiatives, President Jacob Zuma in December 2014, signed into law, the Public Administration Management Act (PAM Act), after an extensive consultative process. This was the culmination of an extremely complex process which spanned over a number of years, resulting in our successful quest towards ensuring seamless service delivery by all spheres of government within common values of a public administration, as enshrined in the Constitution.
The Act provides for powers for the MPSA to set minimum norms and standards in selected areas, including the promotion of basic values and principles contained in section 195(1) of the Constitution, in consultation with the Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. It is important to note that the PAM Act repeals certain sections of the Public Service Act but does not replace the Act in its entirety.
The Act will apply to all government departments, in the national, provincial and local spheres of government. This takes inter- and intra- governmental relations to a new collaborative level.
Honourable members, the DPSA is developing draft regulations which are necessary to support implementation of various provisions of the PAM Act. A critical provision currently receiving our attention in the regulations is one that seeks to ensure that officials convicted with corruption or those facing serious disciplinary charges will not be able to fall through the net. This would ensure that affected staff are not transferred between departments or spheres of government without a central knowledge and/or management system.
As part of our ongoing efforts to manage discipline within the Public Service, Cabinet approved the creation of a centralised pool of labour relations specialists and legal experts to deal with the backlog of disciplinary cases, uniform guidelines for precautionary suspensions. We are encouraged by the response and support received from departments towards the creation of this pool. Thus far, we already have a total of 200 experts assigned to the pool, and we have held a number of workshops with them to ensure that there is a common understanding of the task at hand.
Efficiency and Effective Systems through Service Delivery Improvement
In pursuing an appropriate developmental public service machinery, our solutions are embedded in the extent to which the public service can set and steer a national public administration plan, infused with the vision of the National Development Plan.
Thusong Service Centres are a strategic government intervention in taking services to the people, especially communities that are unable to access government services easily, in rural and peri-urban areas. The locus of the centres in communities, is the delivery of various government programmes and services, by collaboration with Community Development Workers (CDWs), who drive strategic pro-poor initiatives from these centres, including co-ordinating citizen participation through Izimbizo and feedback loops from citizen needs, which are key aspects of the National Development Plan. The blueprint to finalise the governance and funding arrangements for Thusong Service centres is near completion.
The Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT), has highlighted weaknesses in basic building blocks in organisational functionality within most departments. Our Operations Management Framework has responded to these concerns through mapping business processes and standard operating procedures, as well as, conducting Organisational Functionality Assessments of selected departments. Revised appropriate service delivery models with local government, will have to be explored going forward.
As government we are cognisant of the fact that modernising through interoperable e-government systems and multi- media platforms is the route to fast-track service delivery at all levels of government.
Professionalisation and Career of Choice
Honourable members, we are driving a campaign to continually instil the Batho Pele values in all public servants, especially our frontline staff. The DNA make-up of our public servant must consist of men and women with impeccable ethical conduct, including a high work ethic, displaying high morale, humility and pride, associated with being a loyal public servant. We must be beyond reproach as public servants. Our administrative culture must create an organisational culture, which embeds a civic culture reflective of an Ubuntu value system.
It is for this reason, that DPSA in partnership with the National School of Government (NSG), will begin the process of changing our bureaucratic patterns of thinking and our attitudinal behaviour in line with the Batho Pele principles.
The NSG will be transformed to provide high-level in-house customised capacity development and training within the public sector which meet our ideals for reviving our Batho Pele Strategies going forward.
The complaints about the deficiencies and defects of government must inspire us to develop new ideas and practical innovations collaboratively with the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), in how we must work to improve service delivery.
Having institutionalised unannounced visits to frontline service delivery points during Public Service Month, , we have started yielding positive turnaround results. Selected hospitals, home affairs offices and police stations, have demonstrated improved service delivery when implementing systems and process changes.
As part of our commitment in rewarding professionalism and service excellence, as well as improving the morale of deserving public servants, we have institutionalised the Annual National Batho Pele Excellence Awards ceremony, by hosting the 2nd ceremony in 2014.
Productivity Measurement and Performance Management
Honourable members, in August 2013, we launched the first ever Service Charter which was signed by the employer and all public service trade unions represented in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC). The Charter represents a social contract, a commitment between the state and public servants to improve performance and enhance the delivery of services to our people.
Last year, we went around the provinces enlightening front line public servants about the Charter, and getting their commitment to it. We would like to urge organised labour to continue working with us in the implementation of the Charter, and we invite the public to help us monitor the charter and report any incidents of non compliance of both the charter and the Batho Pele principles.
As the public service, we need to start doing more with less, as taxpayers want to see efficiency and effectiveness in spending. We are cognisant that productivity in the public sector is just as important to economic performance of South Africa. In this financial year, we will address gaps in efficiency and effectiveness measures, through improving our performance measurement instruments.
To ensure that targeted outputs and outcomes are achieved and that government receives value for money, we will strengthen the HOD evaluation system, and well as the SMS performance management system. The performance measurement and appraisal systems for all other levels and categories of employees will also be an area of focus.
In line with the value for money principle, we have to justify the number of employees recruited to the SMS senior management level. We are currently reviewing the post provisioning norms in order to ensure optimal utilisation of employees and personnel expenditure. We are reviewing norms for supervisor to employee ratios and ideal span of management control, so that we can empirically justify the public service size, relative to the population size to be served, residing within a geographical area.
This exercise will help to confirm or dispel the perception that ours is a bloated public service. It will also ensure that our human resources are deployed equitably according to the needs of our people in various geographic areas.
Implementing Strategic-State Capability
Honourable members, the macro organisation of the state is an ongoing process and during 2014, following the announcement of the new Cabinet, the DPSA implemented the second National Macro-organisation of the State (NMOS II) project to effect the transfer of functions, renaming and creation of new departments.
To manage the administrative to political interface in terms of the NDP, Cabinet approved a delegations framework, as well as a directive, which clarifies the level of Executive Authorities involvement in human resources management, including appointments. What this framework introduces is an easier and user-friendly manner for Ministers and MECs to delegate certain powers to Heads of Department in order to ensure speedy and timely decision-making. For example, in our monitoring of vacancy rates in the public service, it has come to our attention that some of the delays in the filling of posts can be attributed to a lack of such delegations, as many of the appointments have to wait for the decision of the Minister or MEC.
Our target is for the vacancy rate to be 10% or less. Overall, the public service is not performing badly, as our reports for the period ending March 2015 suggests that the vacancy rate is just over 11%. However, a breakdown of this overall average shows that there are still provinces and departments whose vacancy rates are much higher, and our delegations framework will go a long way in assisting departments to address these backlogs.
The NSG as part of the Management Development Institutes (MDI) network in Africa, participates in initiatives championed under the African Union Conference of Ministers of Public Service in Africa.
CPSI, since 2008 has been co-ordinating the All Africa Public Service Innovation Awards (AAPSIA). The Conference of Africa Ministers of Public Service has further requested that we continue playing this crucial role. As part of our ongoing international commitments, through the CPSI we continue to manage the UN Public Administration Network by uploading articles from the SADC region, as well as managing this portal.
We also contribute to assist post conflict countries to stabilise their public service and enhance their administrations.
Our involvement in both the multilateral structures of the United Nations (UN), as well as, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has seen us accenting to instruments which measure transparently our efforts in combating bribery and corruption.
OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP
Honourable House Chairperson, the country has, through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), assumed increasing responsibility and leadership in the global battle for openness and transparency. South Africa was elected to the position of Co-Chair of the Open-Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee from October 2014, with Mexico as the lead Chair. South Africa will assume the role of lead chair of the OGP in October this year, supported by France as co-chair.
Therefore, honourable members, given the primacy of strengthening good governance locally in 2015 and beyond, our focus will be on creating and strengthening mechanisms for on-going civil society and government interaction.
AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM
The APRM is our demonstration to the world that in our continent, leaders and citizens are committed to the highest levels of accountability. We wish to report to this house that we continue to effectively play our role as host to the APRM Secretariat. We are working collaboratively with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) as we prepare to host the June 2015 African Union Summit.
Government Employee Medical Scheme Role
Linked to our endeavour to have a healthy productive workforce, GEMS remains central to assisting the public service in fully addressing employee's health needs. However, numerous innovative support programmes from GEMS provide the necessary support to departments in trying to combat work environment related illnesses.
GEMS has a zero tolerance stance towards fraud and a Fraud Policy and Prevention Plan is in place and all incidents reported in 2014 were investigated. The implementation of appropriate prevention and detection controls is continuously assessed and amended. All confirmed fraud cases were investigated further and managed in accordance with the Scheme's Fraud Policy and approved sanctions.
Our objective overall, remains - achieving excellence in governance capacity and we shall collectively succeed!
In conclusion, as the Public Service, we will, as we do every year, partake in the Africa Public Service Day in June 2015, under the theme of: "The Role of the Public Service in Women Empowerment, Innovation and Accessible Service Delivery".
Honourable members, in this year 2015, Year of the Freedom Charter, President Zuma has committed that, I quote: "as government we will go back to basics to improve the lives of all South Africans.' Exactly sixty years ago, in June 1955 in Kliptown, Johannesburg, the foresight and wisdom of ordinary South African citizens, were consolidated in the foundation for our world admired Constitution.
We are reminded that this powerful policy lodestar, which was collectively conceived by our forbearers so many years ago, promised that: "All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country".
The Public Service and Administration Portfolio is well positioned to ensure that government fulfils this promise. We therefore request the house to support this vote.
I thank you.