The Service Delivery Improvement Plan Workshops received briefing on the Public Service Month by Ms Mamello Mahomed (R) and Ms Julia Ndlovu (L)

The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) has embarked on a process to strengthen the integration, coordination, collaboration, and facilitation in the institutionalization of the service delivery improvement (SDI) programme in the public service.

The initiative is in response to the calls to provide integrated support to departments and is used for support to departments through a series of workshops with a programme developed in collaboration will all chief directorates within the Branch: GSAI.

The workshops are also meant to interrogate the draft Service Delivery Improvement (SDI) Directive (a revision of the 2018 Directive) that has been developed. The revised Directive was tested with some departments in the 2021/22 financial year. Lessons learned will be shared to strengthen the processes of developing approved SDIPs.

The revised SDI Directive will go through the Governance structural processes until approved by 31 March 2023.

The review of the SDI Directive was prompted by a realisation that there needs to be a synchronisation of key strategic programmes and projects in the public service. This assertion was corroborated by the research findings of a Human Resources Research Council’s (HSRC) study, commissioned by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in 2019. The study recommended, among other things, that the SDI programme be aligned to the Strategic Planning Framework of Government (under the aegis of the DPME).

The DPSA hosted three-day workshops between May and October 2021 during which several observations were made. It was observed that the SDI programmes’ basic building blocks were either not in place or, where they were, there was no cross-referencing. This means that there was no meaning attached to their relevance to service delivery improvement.

It was further observed that the support provided by DPSA towards the development and implementation of the building blocks was done in silos. A need was therefore identified to make reference to the relevance and integration of the building blocks in the revised SDI Directive and Templates.

As a result, the development and implementation of the SDI require the provision of performance evidence. The evidence should explain how the information from the building blocks was used to inform the SDIP development process. The recommendations emphasise that Departments must enforce cross-referencing of information or data provided.

A further observation is that Departments continue to work in silos and working as an integrated team is seen as a serious challenge.

The current series of workshops are three-day ones as well and are providing integrated support to departments. The sessions aim to achieve the objectives of ensuring that the revised SDIP Directive of 2008 (currently called SDI Directive of 2022/23) is implementable and well understood by all departments through the utilisation of the SDIP templates and the provision of the applicable Portfolio of Evidence.

The workshops aim to ensure that all departments understand the role of the SDI building blocks, namely: Service Delivery Model (SDM), Complaints and Compliments Management User Satisfaction surveys, Organisational Functionality Assessments (OFA), KHAEDU, Setting of Batho Pele Norms and Standards, Business Process Mapping and Management and the Results Measurement Framework.

The sessions also provide guidance on how the tools are to be used towards the development of SDIPs that should ultimately lead to service delivery improvement.

The workshops also assess the level of compliance of the identified critical building blocks by all departments and the extent of support required by sector departments, especially in the areas that need dedicated technical support.

Through these sessions, Departments will be assisted to meet the required compliance date for submission of approved, credible, realistic, and effective SDIPs by 31 March 2023. The reporting and compliance monitoring will be achieved through an automated system.

The mandate for the SDIP is derived from several legislative prescripts, including the Public Service Act (PSA) Section 41 of 1994 Chapter II (3) (1), as amended. The prescript states that the Minister for the Public Service and Administration is responsible for establishing norms and standards relating to, amongst others, Transformation, reform, innovation and any other matter to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the public service and its service delivery to the public.

The process of completing the SDI plans necessitates the involvement of several stakeholders within a Department. The process involves the integration of activities, and the creation of a path of transformation across the public service, e.g. implementation needs the involvement of the entire OMF value chain.

The Batho Pele Strategy (inclusive of the Minimum Batho Pele Standards) was approved by Cabinet in March 2022. Departments are required to develop their own maximum Batho Pele standards, the associated indicators and relevant templates. The workshops provide guidance on how to develop these standards. The set norms and standards and their successful implementation should lead to the realisation of effective service delivery improvement.

  • Schedule of workshops

To date two of the three hybrid three-day sessions have already been held. The schedule is organised per cluster or sector. The clusters use the Cabinet cluster organisation. The sector uses the functional design approach e.g. Education; Health; Justice.

Delegates at the SDIP workshops held at DPSA

 The cluster and sector approaches will be followed by one-on-one support workshops where each department needing assistance will be given attention. The one-on-one support sessions are scheduled for the third quarter (October – December 2022). This will afford departments an opportunity to develop and seek guidance on the quality of their draft SDI plans.

The schedule is as follows:

Agriculture, Rural Development, Agrarian & Land reform (National & provincial departments)Environmental Affairs (National & provincial departments)Public Works & Infrastructure (National & provincial departments)Roads & Transport (National & provincial departments)Human Settlements (National & provincial departments)Water & Sanitation (National & provincial departments)DTIEconomic Development; Tourism & Small Business Development (National & provincial departments) 2-4 August 2022 DPSA auditorium 3rd floor, Batho Pele House
Justice Cluster national departmentsCommunity Safety provincial departments 15–17 August 2022 DPSA auditorium 3rd floor, Batho Pele House
  • Expected outcomes:

The expected outcome of the workshops is to achieve:

  • A strengthened and integrated process for the development, implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation of Service Delivery Improvement Plans (SDIPs) that will be credible, realistic and effective.
  • Improved compliance on the building blocks before SDIPs are developed.
  • Improved collaboration and integrated working methods and systems within departments and across the public service.
  • Eradication of the silo approaches by consolidating all Service Delivery Improvement initiatives and their multiple Directives and Frameworks into a single framework; as well as aligning the SDI processes into the strategic planning framework.
  • Improved development and submission of credible, realistic and effective SDIPs and monitoring and reporting thereon.
  • Efficiency and effectiveness measures result in the reduction of complaints, therefore resulting in improved satisfaction levels and confidence in government.

The workshops have yielded some valuable information thus far. The information contains best practices, challenges and suggestions to mitigate the challenges. The following are examples:

Discussions have highlighted the lack of understanding of all or some of the building blocks. The contributions during the discussions have yielded hope that there will be successful efforts to integrate departmental activities in the development of the SDI plans. It was identified that challenges are encountered where additional responsibilities are created and managers would be wanting to change the organisational structures without proper processes and protocols being observed.

Rather than develop new job descriptions in such cases, it is advisable to consider incorporating the additional responsibilities in the performance agreements of affected officials. It must be noted that this does not justify calling for promotions. There are proper processes and procedures for promotions.

There is recognition that Agile systems exist– these are mature organisational and operational systems that are working in well synchronised manners. We should all aim to achieve this agile level of operating.

In our reporting, it is important to have supporting documents, not just information. We must also differentiate between Means of Verification and a Portfolio of Evidence. Skills development is important. We must always assess the level of skills and the level of competencies in our departments. Constant evaluations should be undertaken in departments to establish these two factors.

Management and practitioners (especially those in the support staff units e.g. HR, Skills Development) must create an appetite for executive and senior management levels to take up key organisational and development issues. Take a service, map it out and present it to executive and senior management with the necessary confidence. This will result in buy-in from the Executive Authorities and the Accounting Officers, and the incorporation of the SDI plans their performance agreements, strengthening the enforcement thereof. Therefore FOSAD and Head of Departments’ Forums should receive regular reports on progress. The reports should use an automated reporting system.

The Auditor-General (AG) and the Office of Standards and Compliance (OSC) will, among other relevant bodies, assess the compliance rates of departments annually.

Preparations for the Integrated Public Service Month

The workshops are also taking the discussion on the preparations for the September – month Public Service Month programme. An integrated public service programme involving all Government departments and spheres is being developed. Preparations thus far the Public Service Month activities will commence from 29 August until 2 October.

The tentative Programme has been shared, and will focus on service delivery excellence, HoDs, SMS and all other officials will be deployed to service sites in terms of Khaedu deployments. There will be round tables/ dialogues/ virtual discussions, visits to frontline service sites, and departments bringing services to communities.

The initial participants’ feedback shows that the colleagues who have attended the workshops so far have been empowered. Said Mr Martin Moseki (NW Education):

Thank you to DPSA colleagues. I am very grateful for the sector approach. It has brought us into contact with our counterparts in other provinces. We therefore not only learned the critical learning points towards ensuring service delivery improvement, but we now have contact with our colleagues in similar positions. This will help us break the silo approaches within the sector. I am also impressed with the online chats on OFA and other similar programmes. The Gauteng Province’s Complaints war room is a big learning area. We have learned much from this engagement. Thank you all.