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Briefing the Standing Committee on Appropriations (Scoa) today, Public Service Commission (PSC) officials told the committee that government departments need to improve on the implementation of departmental policies and strategic plans, following the reprioritisation of resource allocations to departments such as health, education and social development as announced during the Minister of Finance’s 2018 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

PSC officials outlined a number of governance issues facing departments, and the measures that need to be taken to ensure effective and efficient performance within the public service in the medium term. The committee was told that the 2018 MTBPS seeks to address three key levers which can be linked to the National Development Plan (NDP), these include Economic Services through the President’s Economic Stimulus Recovery Plan, Social Services with emphasis on the importance of basic education, health, etc.; and Governance and Administration which has its focus on rebuilding state institutions, rooting out corruption and building a capable state amongst others. 

Across the public service, challenges relating the performance management, the financial disclosure framework, financial misconduct and the payment of invoices were raised as some of the key governance challenges. While there has been a steady increase in the submission of performance agreements by Director Generals/Heads of Departments for the 2018/19 Financial Year (FY), 4 departments failed to submit by the due date. In light of the public wage bill challenge, these can no longer be overlooked and it was the recommendation of PSC that a tracking mechanism be developed to ensure that DG/HODs who do not comply are automatically disqualified from receiving notch increases as per the DPSA circular dated 9 June 2015.

The financial disclosure framework seeks to ensures the effective monitoring of non-compliance loopholes (gaps) for misconduct and financial leakage within the public sector.  PSC officials told the committee that there has been a notable decline in the disclosure of Senior Management Service’s (SMS) registerable interest, which is down from 99 percent for the 2016/17 FY to 93 percent for the 2017/18 FY. The departments of Defence and Energy were highlighted for not making any submissions for the 2017/18 FY.  Furthermore, PSC has noted a significant reduction in the completion of disciplinary proceedings on financial misconduct cases reported for the 2017/18 FY, down from 758 in 2016/17 to 387 in 2017/18. This has attributed to the lack of prioritisation and the required capacity of departments to deal with these cases.

Measures to ensure effective and efficient performance within the public service during the medium Term was recommended by PSC as follows: Government should look at placing some National Departments under administration which will ensure the deployment of the necessary experts to provide quick and effective resolution of critical matters, the recruitment model (appointment of board members, selection of Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officers) and the remuneration framework for SOE’s should be reviewed and government should review the option of bailouts and  assess whether these are solution or an enablers. PSC told the committee that the reprioritisation of resources as stipulated in the 2018 MTBPS should take into consideration the challenges highlighted above to ensure the effective and efficient use of resources to benefit the people of South Africa. 

By Felicia Lombard

6 November 2018