Unabriged budget address: Deputy Minister ofPublic Service & Administration

709

Budget vote presentation of the Department of Public Service and Administration, by Deputy Minister, Radhakrishna L Padayachie

21 April 2010

Honourable Speaker

Honourable Minister for Public Service and Administration

Honourable members of the National Assembly

Honourable chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration

The leadership of the trade union movement present

Leaders of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC)

Executive of the portfolio organisations

Distinguished guests

Fellow South Africans

Chairperson

This is my sixth budget vote but the first I make as the Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration. It is an honour and a privilege to have been placed in a department that is so central to service delivery for our nation. It is also a huge responsibility and one that is never more keenly felt than when service delivery protests erupt and ordinary people voice their displeasure with the lack of service delivery.

My role is of course, to support the minister as he leads our collective effort to achieve the objectives outlined. In support of the minister there are a few key priorities that I wish to re-emphasise:
* Firstly, the need to build the capacity of the state to deliver on our promise of a “better life for all”
* Secondly, to review the governance arrangements within which the three spheres of government align to effectively and efficiently deliver its mandate to the people, which we refer to as the “single public service” and
* Thirdly the need to better harness the power of technology to support our efforts to modernise the way we do our business as government or e-government as it is commonly referred to.

Service delivery

The ANC was re-elected in 2009 on the back of the “Together We Can Do More” campaign. There is increasing frustration at the slow pace of service delivery, poor quality, high cost and lack of responsiveness by government to citizens. This frustration is felt across the spectrum of South African society but especially by the urban and rural poor and often directed at different spheres of government, including provincial and local government.

Whatever the reasons, be they housing or sanitation or unemployment and desperation, service delivery protests are symptomatic of challenges that we face as a nation and as a government. Let me start with service delivery and the capacity of the state to deliver.

The South African public service

South Africa currently lacks a well performing public service; only 58 percent of the population is satisfied with the services delivered. Historically satisfaction rates have been as high as 81 percent in 2004. Since then there has been a steady decline in public opinion towards the current satisfaction level of 58 percent in 2009.

Several factors are responsible for the poor performance in the public service. Some of these include:
* persistent underperformance by management
* dysfunctional and ineffective back office systems
* slow bureaucratic decision making processes
* expensive procurement methods resulting in goods being purchased 20 to 30 percent above market prices
* endemic corruption in the Public Service that is nurtured by dysfunctional systems

In addition to the above, human resource systems in the public service are also seriously inefficient:
* Only seven percent of departments fill vacant posts within 90 days
* Recruitment is not strictly based on merit
* Skilled staff is not successfully retrained
* Disciplinary procedures take too long to finalise
* Performance assessment systems are not well implemented
* Well over 30 percent of public servants are unhappy due to dissatisfaction with management quality.

All of this has undermined the capacity of the South African state and in turn has reduced its capacity to be an effective instrument of service to the people. The question that remains to be confronted is what is to be done? What are we going to do to fix the problems?

In his State of the Nation Address delivered in 2009, President Jacob Zuma reaffirmed the South African government’s commitment to the vision of an inclusive society, a South Africa that belongs to all, a nation united in its diversity, a people working together for the greater good of all.

The South African Constitution emphasises that the priority of the state is to advance human rights and freedom within a non-racial and non-sexist society in which the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law prevails.

Developmental state

Guided by the principles of the Freedom Charter (1995) which states that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it” and the promotion of democratic government based on the will of the people, government committed itself to building a developmental state to address the socio-economic challenges in the eradication of poverty and the need to create a better life for all.

The developmental state is thus an effort by government to build the nation, eradicate poverty, promote literacy, provide health and decent education, and grow the economy in a manner that must ensure that people are not left out but are fully participating and become part of the solution to their problems.

Freedom Day, 27 April

Chairperson

Six days from today we will celebrate South Africa’s Freedom Day, a day we shall always recollect as the glorious achievement of the first stage of our revolutionary transformation which guaranteed for ourselves the idea that South Africa shall be a non-racial and free country in which the people shall govern.

In the State of the Nation Address, President Zuma reminded us that our message and theme for 2010 is: “Working Together to Speed up Effective Service Delivery to our People”. In this regard, 2010 is a year of action reminding us that there is no time for cynicism, no time for excuses and no time for complacency and the lackadaisical delivery of services.

Reminding us also that “there shall also be no time to claim easy victories and tell any lies”.

In the same address we committed that government will be more caring, more responsive and interactive. We committed to the building of a people cantered developmental state, which puts people first and which is geared towards faster implementation of services.

South Africa’s next revolution must be to get the democratic state working more effectively. An efficient and effective public service is essential for Government to accomplish these outcomes. In this regard, the Department of Public Service and Administration is tasked to lead the transformation of the state.

Department of Public Service and Administration

As the lead department for public service and administration the Ministry for Public Service and Administration (MPSA) is responsible for providing the institutional or (governance) framework for an efficient and effective public service by amongst other things, ensuring that its people, processes and technologies are aligned:
* to support the fundamental requirement of government for good public administration
* ensure the continual improvement in the cost, quality, access, responsiveness and speed of service delivery to citizens and
* address the challenges faced by a developmental state

In trying to analyse the challenges and develop recommendations for an effective change programme there are some who place great emphasis on the civil service and especially its people.

There is a view that we have failed to build a cadre of competent and patriotic civil servants. Our people are undoubtedly the most important resource we have as a nation and central not only to good public administration but also to competiveness of the South African economy.

The Department of Public Service and Administration is the custodian of human resources in the civil service, creating the framework for recruiting, retaining and training the people that are central to the high performance public service that we require. To effect this outcome, the MPSA has a number of levers at its disposal. Within the Department of Public Service and Administration there are two dedicated branches, Labour Relations and Remuneration Management (LRM) and Human Resource Management and Development (HRM&D) that focus on the people issues. Labour Relations Management (LRM) focuses on remuneration and conditions of service chairperson, one of the priority interventions that the minister has assigned to me in this domain is the cleanup of PERSAL – the payroll system of government.

PERSAL clean-up operation

The integrity of PERSAL data has over the years has been poor and therefore could not be relied upon for government decision making processes. In response to this challenge the Department of Public Service and Administration has decided to be more proactive by putting in place measures that will ensure the integrity of PERSAL data.

These measures will include establishing an effective and high powered intervention task team on PERSAL which will be tasked with the cleaning of the PERSAL data and ensuring that information found in PERSAL is of good quality and can be relied upon for management decision making processes. The task team will be made up of officials from Department of Public Service and Administration, State Information Technology Agency (SITA), Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) and National Treasury.

The branch Human Resource Management and Development (HRMD) oversees human resource development, issues of diversity and disability and employee wellness. PALAMA, formerly, known as South African Management Development Institute (SAMDI) is one of the institutions through which we coordinate and seek to improve the training and develop the skills and capabilities of public servants.

Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) is another such institution with the portfolio through which we can invest and build the skills and capabilities that our workforce requires. PSETA has assisted 2 578 learners to enter adult basic education and training programmes against a target of 2 500 and has helped 2 091 learners and 573 unemployed learners to enter the learning programmes and 1 110 learners to enter critical skills programmes. PSETA will during the 2010/11 financial year, provide support to at least 80 percent of government departments so that they spend at least one percent of personnel budget on training.

Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS)

Chairperson

Government Employees Medical Scheme is an important institution within the MPSA portfolio has had a huge impact on employee wellness matters and the quality and productivity of public servants. GEMS is one of the institutions has made a significant impact on the government employee landscape. By 30 March 2010, GEMS had more than 460 000 principal members and more than 1.2 million beneficiaries.

GEMS has made significant progress in 2009 towards meeting its mandate and over 34 percent of all eligible public service employees were enrolled on GEMS by 31 December 2009. Of the 411 625 eligible employees on salary levels one to five as at the end of December 2009, a total of 152 866 (34.64 percent) were successfully registered on GEMS by 31 December 2009.

Expanding scheme membership

A key priority for GEMS in 2010/11 will be to expand the scheme’s membership and reduce the number of uncovered employees in the public service by reaching a membership base of 550 000 principal members and covering 200 000 public service employees on levels one to five.

Ethos of efficient public service

Batho Pele which means “people first” is a programme designed to inculcate a customer focused or citizen centric culture within the civil service

Honourable chairperson

As our mandate is to transform the public service, we are working towards inculcating the principle of service to the people in all public servants. This aims to ensure that all citizens of our country receive quality government services at all service points.

This new public service culture seeks to ensure that our services become the services of choice. I must, however, indicate that to achieve this we need public servants that are values and principle driven, public servants who are also customer focused and people centred.

Our challenge is to make the entire public service share our vision and work diligently to speed up service delivery. Our critical partners such as trade unions in the public sector should assist us to enhance the effectiveness of a developmental state. This sentiment was endorsed in the declaration that was adopted during the Public Sector Summit.

Service delivery innovation centre for public service innovation

Chairperson, the issue of innovation cannot be overemphasised and here we need to learn from countries like India, China and Brazil for whom innovation is central to learning, growth and development. We are proud to inform the citizens of South Africa that the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) has identified and tested solutions for addressing the needs of visually impaired teachers.

This initiative will be rolled out in partnership with both Departments of Basic and Higher Education. We are also delighted to announce that CPSI has received a special award from the United Nations Secretary General for its contribution to global knowledge management by uploading content on global online network portal on behalf of Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Single public service

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Ensuring that services are citizen informed and re-engineering the service delivery model of government and its constituent department’s remains a key challenge and consequently focus of the Department of Public Service and Administration. A related challenge is the requirement to streamline administrative and business processes to deliver simpler, more effective services to citizens and business and other stakeholders, this is central to our strategic objective of customer service improvement.

The Department of Public Service and Administration has for the past few years been tasked with developing a blueprint for a single public service. In order to develop a vision of that future governance framework, we need to have proper diagnostic of what the challenges and failures are in order to create a model that addresses challenges within and between the different spheres of government.

The Department of Public Service and Administration is currently developing a discussion document that will provide a basis for consultation, policy and an improved governance framework.

Connected government

Apartheid spatial legacies have resulted in remote and rural areas being densely populated with little or no services infrastructure, public or private. The profile of citizens living in rural and remote areas tends to be black, poor, female and typically very old and very young. The lack of access or onerous access to services impacts severely on the quality of citizens lives.

Perhaps less well known but no less important is the Community Development Worker (CDW) programme which was established to assist in bringing government services closer to communities, especially the urban and rural poor that sometimes do not have the resources to navigate this cold and hostile bureaucracy called government, be it municipalities; provincial government departments or worse, national departments and agencies for whom access can sometimes mean access to immunisation, tuberculosis (TB) and or HIV drugs, grants and that all important identity document (ID).

It is, however, important to mention Honourable Speaker that until now the CDW programme has been implemented through guiding documents which are inconsistently interpreted and not legally binding in terms of programme implementation.

An initiative was therefore taken to develop the CDWP policy and this democratic and inclusive process came up with the following policy proposals: programme objectives and purposes, institutional responsibility for the CDW programme, accountability, civil society, government and political oversight, training, development and career-patching.

The review process also highlighted the need to strengthen the service delivery thrust in the areas of effective implementation of government’s access strategy, Supporting the developmental local government and contribution to the War on Poverty campaign. The consultation process was endorsed by over 350 delegates who attended the national summit by declaring that “as CDWs and associated stakeholders, we will spare no effort to guarantee government’s commitment to the nation”.

Honourable Speaker and colleagues, last week we participated in the visit to one of the War on Poverty campaign pilot projects in Lubala Village, Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. We witnessed the incredible work that CDWs are doing in that area to bring government services to the door steps of the poor people. They are truly trying hard to meet their commitment of being the “foot soldiers in the war against poverty, the eyes and ears of the people and defenders of the poor”.

The CDW programme therefore constitutes an important opportunity to innovate in the development of a citizen centric and caring people cantered government. CDWs, because of their potential to innovate in service delivery and to mobilise the popular participation of citizens in the delivery of basic services, are therefore capable of bringing significant improvement in the quality of people’s lives.

Connected government, however, remains a serious challenge. There remain many government departments in remote and rural areas that do not have basic connectivity of voice and data. Recent efforts to connect these offices, notably the Thusong centres, have experienced numerous challenges, not least connectivity. Other government departments including clinics, libraries and schools remain a challenge to connect, support and fund. Lower connectivity costs would contribute significantly to `connecting government’ and in many instances allowing communities to `piggy back’ off this infrastructure.

The Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) is the lead department coordinating all activities with respect to Thusong Centres. The Department of Public Services and Administration (DPSA) was requested to assist with resolving information and communication technology (ICT) connectivity to the Thusong Centres to enable government departments to access their information technology (IT) systems.

There are 139 Thusong Service Centres across the country. Of the 139, 122 of the centres can be connected. Of the 122 centres that can be connected, 51 Thusong Service Centres have been connected to central ICT infrastructure, with the remainder being connected via VSAT over the next three months. This project has huge potential to speed up and improve the quality of services for people in rural areas enabling simple things like the printing of birth certificates.

Modernising the public service

The MPSA is the custodian of IT in government and the public service legislation tasks the Department of Public Service and Administration with seating norms and standards for the use of ICT in government and for ensuring that e-government is realised. In the case of South Africa, it is widely acknowledged that there has been limited e-government progress over the last five years.

There are too many instances of disjointed government services, high delivery costs, and services that are disconnected and complicated to use.

As a concept, e-government continues to hold great promise.

It is now time to re-set South Africa’s e-government vision and strategy, to set new targets for the next generation of services, service delivery, and public services and move to higher levels of e-government maturity. It is at the higher maturity levels where the government of South Africa and its citizens are likely to see the most benefit from e-government.

A key initiative in this regard is the launching of the next generation e-government project by building a catalytic prototype for the enablement of six pro-poor government services, namely, registration of birth, ID and death, application for pension, foster care and maintenance grants). Next generation of e-government is the flagship project through which the Department of Public Service and Administration intends to realise its vision of automating and modernising the platform through which government does its business and renders services.

The challenge is to realise the full potential of e-government, aligned with the circumstances and priorities within the country, to improve the operation of the public sector, feed innovation, and accelerate programs of economic and social transformation.

Proposed initiatives

Honourable Speaker, in his 2010 State of the Nation Address President Zuma declared that: “This year, 2010, shall be a year of action and the defining feature of this administration will be that it knows where people live, understands their needs, and responds faster”.

Our contribution to this call will be to take initiatives that will focus on increasing the performance and capacity of the public service. In this regard we will respond to the president’s call to identify the factors that are inhibiting service delivery in the public service by partnering in a action research project with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) to improve “public sector performance for a developmental state”.

We are also in discussions with the Centre for Service Delivery and the Governance and Democracy Unit of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to implement a project aimed at “invigorating service delivery and accountability orientation of the public service. We will also refocus the CDW programme to play a stronger role in the war against poverty campaign.

Conclusion

Chairperson, there is no silver bullet to the challenges that we face, but we do need to demonstrate mature and responsible leadership, making the right decisions for the right reasons, building an efficient and effective public administration that contributes to making South Africa a safe and nurturing place in which to live and an attractive investment destination.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and I am encouraged by all those good, hard working and selfless public servants; nurses, doctors, paramedics, teachers, police men and women, clerks and municipal workers who as Mahatma Ghandi exhorted “live the change they want to see in the world”.

I wish to thank the minister for his colleagueship and support as well as the staff in the ministry and department and the staff in my office for their support in the execution of our mandate. Let me finally conclude with the following quotations:
“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it”. Mahatma Gandhi
“We all live in a yellow submarine”. John Lennon (Beatles)
“Victory will belong only to those who have faith in the people, those who are immersed in the life giving spring of popular creativity”. Vladimir Lenin

Honourable members, we entrust before you this budget vote for 2010/11.

I thank you.



Issued by: Department of Public Service and Administration
21 April 2010