Indaba on the public service as a learning organisation

Date: 21 Nov 2006 - 22 Nov 2006

Venue: Birchwood Conference Centre, Boksburg

Background and Rationale

The learning and knowledge management programme has been run and coordinated by DPSA since 2001. During this period, and with the support of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) through the Integrated Provincial Support Programme (IPSP), various platforms and products have been put in place, a culture of learning and sharing enhanced, and the programme has grown exponentially since then. Learning journals and other publications have been developed and widely disseminated, learning platforms like the learning networks, conferences and conversations running, and various excursions taken place to expose public service practitioners to best practices for replication and benchmarking purposes.

Learning champions in select provinces and departments have also been responsible for driving knowledge management and learning exchanges. A culture of learning and enthusiasm to exchange practical service delivery experiences is taking place. The public service is becoming a learning organisation. However, some challenges persist, amongst which are the entrenchment and institutionalisation of knowledge management; the demonstration of the value add of knowledge management in departments and its resultant contribution to the mandate and operational effectiveness and efficiency, and the cascading down of knowledge sharing and learning down to lower levels, where service delivery is taking place.

At the moment there exists no policy framework to give direction and guidance to government departments on application and implementation of knowledge management.

In this regard, the conference will be used as a platform to share local and international knowledge management experiences. In particular, the participants will share and interrogate the current knowledge management and learning efforts in the public service and make suggestions on possible pillars for a knowledge management policy framework.

Targeted Audience

  • Public service practitioners who are running knowledge management programmes
  • Academics in the knowledge management field
  • Knowledge management practitioners in the private sector and other public entities, and
  • International experts

About the key resource people and organisations

Dr Zwelakhe Tshandu is the Deputy DirectorGeneral for service delivery improvement in the DPSA. An academic and researcher at heart. He spent several years teaching at Wits University, and has worked in the Department of Land Affairs, and the Public Service Commission.

Prof Johan Kinghorn is a seasoned academic in the area of information and knowledge management, with a particular interest in knowledge management application and systems. He is currently is the Professor of Information Science and Knowledge Management, and Director of the Centre for Knowledge Dynamics and Decision at the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr Andrew Kaniki is the Executive Director of Knowledge Management and Strategy at the National Research Foundation. Dr. Kaniki was previously an academic in the field of information science and knowledge management at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Paul McDowall is the chair of the interdepartmental knowledge management forum in the Canadian Federal Government. He is the former knowledge management advisor for the Treasury Board Secretariat. Paul now works as a knowledge management advisor at the Canadian School of Public Service in Ottawa.

Ken Watling is presently a consultant with the UK based LSPQC consulting group. He was previously Director of the UK Public Service Benchmarking Services for a long time. Ken is internationally recognized as the leading expert in public sector benchmarking and efficiency performance auditing.

Ms Thuli Radebe is an information science and learning & knowledge management expert. She has been instrumental in setting up and driving the knowledge management programme at the DPSA, and raising awareness throughout the public service on the value add of knowledge management. She helps and advises on how to institute corporate/internal knowledge management processes in government departments.

George Mathebula is an M&E specialist at the DBSA, and has been one of the key resource people in executing impact assessment of DBSA supported projects.

David Viljoen is the Manager of the Development Information Unit in the Development Bank of Southern Africa. The unit is responsible for gathering, analysing and disseminating information and knowledge, providing information analysis support to bank’s operations and its external clients.

Albert Simard serves on the Canadian Intergovernmental Knowledge Management Forum, and is Director of Knowledge Strategies, Natural Resources Canada. He was previously with Canadian Forest services. Albert has been instrumental in developing the knowledge management strategy for the Canadian Forestry Services. During his visit to South Africa, Albert will also work with a group of officials in the Free State Department of Agriculture for two days.

Bongani Matomela has over the past four years been responsible for coordinating the learning networks programme in the DPSA. He has a public administration and development background, and has experience of having worked both in the development, consulting, and public sectors.

Skhumbuzo Mthembu is a partner in Lungisa Projects Consultancy. He has a background in organisational development and has carried technical assignments for the private sector, national, provincial and local government, in such areas as performance management, project management, training and development.

Tony Wadsworth is an engineer by training. For the past six years he was the provincial coordinator of the IPSP (Integrated Provincial Support Programme) in the Eastern Cape province. Tony has also been key in the establishment of the learning and knowledge management programme in the province.

Desmond Nobin is an HR specialist working as a deputy manager in the office of the Premiere in the KZN province. For the past three and a half years Desmond has been responsible for championing the knowldege management programme in the provincial administration, and has developed a lot of insight in the field.

Dr Nolwazi Mbananga is Executive Manager: informatics and knowledge management, at the Medical Research Council. Since 1990 she had been involved in the field of informatics and knowledge management. One of the initiatives of her executive office is carrying out a national survey on informatics and knowledge management, and is also involved with setting up a national excellence for informatics, knowledge management and knowledge economy.

Scope for Commission Discussions

Commission 1: Understanding Knowledge Mnagement in the Public Service context

Lead case study: Knowledge management in Canada, Paul McDowall

  • Definition of knowledge management – what could be the workingdefinition
  • Distinction and/or similarities with innovation, informationmanagement, IT, human resource management
  • What is the business case for knowledge management – value add
  • Developing a value chain and knowledge management frameworkin government

Commission 2: Knowledge Management strategies and application

Lead case study: Knowledge management in Natural Resources Canada, Albert Simard

  • Reflection on what exists in some departments
  • What else should be put in place – knowledge and information management tools, instruments
  • Role of corporate support services, viz. ICT
  • Partnerships –intra and inter – in public service, with private sector,tertiary institutions, civil society

Commission 3: Enthrenching and institutionalising Knowledge Management

Lead case study: Integrated Provincial Support Programme, Bongani Matomela

  • Buying and support from management
  • Linking it with other organisational processes like strategic planning,M&E, training and development
  • Where best should it be located
  • Institutional arrangements
  • Skills and competencies required for KM practitioners / champioms
  • Developing the value chain

Commission 4: Monitoring and evaluation to assess impact of knowledge management

Lead case study: Results from using benchmarking techniques to share knowledge, Ken Watling

  • Understanding the valueadd of KM in the public service context
  • Benchmarking
  • Appropriate M&E tools and processes to measure results


Day 1
Programme Manager: Dr Andrew Kaniki, Executive Director, Knowledge Management and Strategy, National Research Foundation

Day 2
Programme Manager: Dr Andrew Kaniki, Executive Director, Knowledge Management and Strategy, National Research Foundation

Commissions break away and discuss

Last update: 31 August 2011

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