Justice cuts cost


In a move that is likely to be replicated throughout the public service in coming months, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has introduced a 30% cut in the operational budgets of each branch within the department.

Justice and Constitutional Development minister Jeff Radebe has told Parliament the move comes as a result of “the current recession and in response to the current shortfall in state revenue and strain on departmental appropriations.

In a written answer to a question asked in the National Assembly published late on Friday, Radebe said “the savings realised through this efficiency cut was allocated to fund departmental priorities within the baseline such as court security, the implementation of approved legislation (Child Justice Act and Sexual Offences act); the internship programme; funding of the operational cost of the Master [of the High Court`s] Office and training initiatives.”

In addition, a circular was issued to all officials in the Department in April instructing them to put in place measures to curtail over-expenditure.

Furniture and equipment, for example, will only be purchased for newly appointed officials or in cases where equipment cannot be fixed.

Strategic sessions and workshops must take place at departmental venues and meetings must be arranged in such a manner as to avoid catering altogether. “In exceptional cases, less expensive kinds of catering like finger lunches shall be the norm.”

All foreign travel must be approved by the Director General and minister. “Domestic flights shall be on economy class for all staff.Only officials directly involved with the issues under discussion shall travel.”

Officials travelling to the same area shall as far as possible, share a vehicle.

Furthermore, where possible, meetings shall be arranged at a time when it would be possible to leave in the morning of the meeting and return in the afternoon, thereby reducing the cost for accommodation.

The use of colour printers is to be avoided as far as possible. Magazine subscriptions shall not be renewed – excluding law journals which are required for the performance of judicial functions.

Advertising has also been ordered cut. Radebe says the advertisement of posts Level 6 and above will be limited to two national publications “and all other posts will be advertised internally and in the public service vacancy circular.”

Officials have also been instructed to restrict all calls made with cellphones and landline telephones to as short as possible. Managers have been “requested to monitor private calls and officials were required to use e-mail instead of paper documents.”The use of 3G cards is also being monitored and minimised.

Outsourcing, consultants and temporary appointments must also be minimised.

“Only outsourced services already in place for services such as security, transcriptions are allowed.New services must be authorised by the Accounting Officer.”