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DPSA commends PSETA for introducing a Batho Pele Digital Skills Programme for the public service

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The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) is spearheading the digitization of government services.

Delivering a speech on behalf of the Director General, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, the Chief Director in the Office of the Director General at the Department of Public Service and Administrations, Mr Nyiko Mabunda, said services such as municipal billings, Home Affairs services and vehicle registration and drivers licenses are some of the services earmarked to be digitized.

Mr Mabunda was speaking at the official unveiling of Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) Batho Pele Digital Skills Program yesterday.

“These are the most popular services and should easily be accessible for everyone at a click of a button,” he said.

Mr Mabunda  said the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) presents another considerable leap in the history of human development, adding that naming the newly launched programme; PSETA Batho Pele Digital Skills Programme will assist in entrenching the Batho Pele Principles.

“The draft revised Public Service Human Resource Development Strategic Framework recognises that the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) presents yet again another quantum leap in the history of human development.

“This should assist in moving the Public Service from a rules-bound approach that hinders the delivery of services to an approach that encourages innovation and is results driven.

“As the DPSA we are excited and look forward to the development of skills and attitudes that will eliminate reasons why government cannot do something, and provide innovative means to find better ways to deliver what people need,” he said.

Mr Mabunda said he is hopeful that the programme will equip both staff and managers to create an environment for staff to become effective in the way they interact with the public as their customers.

He said this requires that the public service space is a workplace of motivated staff, equipped with the right skills and tools to do their work especially at times when under pressure, stressed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which presented new working realities.

He said the public service spent R21 billion on Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the 2020/2021 financial year.

Mr Mabunda said a whopping R6 billion of that amount was spend on sourcing software’s, this he said despite government employing 332 system developers.

“80% or 256 of the 332 software developers are located within the national departments, both the Gauteng and Western Cape provincial governments, leaving only 76 for the remaining seven provinces. “The geographic distribution of the available limited skills also follows a pattern that is undesirable.

“The whole Public Service only has nine Enterprise Architects. These strategists must design how departments are structured…how the work moves from one area to another and how we must be set-up as government and the skills are literally non-existent.

“This means that the software’s being developed and the departmental enterprises being set-up are largely designed for the urban areas of Gauteng and Western Cape, whilst the majority of South Africans are not being considered,” he said.

Mr Mabunda said the advent of new technologies enables citizens to express their needs and opinions through social networks and other online platforms and expect instant responses from governments.

“We therefore need data scientists and product managers that should lead us in the creation of scenario planning through developing a life-cycle approach to services and products that government currently have and will need in the future,” he said.

Mr Mabunda said the PSETA as the public service skills development partner is clearly on point in prioritising digital skills development.

“As we move into cloud technology, we should ensure that colleagues are not rendered redundant and the Batho Pele Digital Skills Programme will be able to re-skill some of the 2442 or 54% of our ICT colleagues who are only working with hardware or ICT infrastructure.

“These are the conversations that we should have had in 2012 when Cabinet first endorsed the Corporate Governance of ICT Policy Framework (CGICTPF) in the public service,” he said.