A priority function of any government should be to not only maintain, but also to constantly improve, the quality of life of all South Africans.
A UDM government will ensure that its Public Service and Administration department focuses on providing quality service delivery to South Africans across all Government departments.
This document identifies the priority areas that the Department of Public Service and Administration under a UDM Government will focus on to ensure that Government departments achieve their objectives of delivering quality services that are reliable, timeous and affordable to all South Africans.
Problems in the public service that require urgent attention are:
1.1. The appointment, selection and turnover of Directors General
Currently Ministers have the prerogative to appoint individuals with whom they feel comfortable to top positions in their Departments. This occurs without them necessarily being adequately qualified for the post, let alone fairly recruited for these powerful positions. It has the effect of politicising what should be an administrative position. This ANC tradition of appointing loyal cadres to high profile positions often compromises on knowledge and ability, potentially prejudicing the interests of citizens.
The appointment procedures for top public servants within departments as well as the high turnover and parallel movement of these Director Generals have resulted in a lack of continuity within the public service, impacting negatively on both policy reform and service delivery.
1.2. Lack of adequate public service transformation
To the surprise of many “transformation” under the ANC Government was only a jobs-for-pals scheme that coerced experienced public servants to leave the public service.
1.3. Uneven allocation of Public Service expenditure
The inability of National, Provincial and Local Government Departments to deliver because of inadequate financial and management skills results in underspending and rollovers, which negatively impacts on the delivery of basic services.
1.4. Inadequate accountability of Management
Capacity development and the institutionalisation of a performance management system within the public service in order to promote accountability, is not yet a reality. Public service managers who fail to deliver on their agreed services, or who did not spend their budgets, are not penalised or held accountable for the underperformance of their particular Departments. The Public Finance Management Act needs to be properly implemented in all departments.
1.5. Inadequate attention to Aids
As the largest employer in the country the effect of AIDS on the workforce will impact dramatically on service delivery unless something is done, fast.
1.6. High perceptions of corruption
Corruption, as the abuse of public power for private gain, diminishes the public’s trust that Government and its employees have the interests of citizens at heart. This perception is reinforced when little or no action is taken or at least publicised against those responsible for acts of corruption, who are rather “redeployed” to other sections of the public service.
This situation needs to be addressed with urgency if citizens are to take government announcements of zero tolerance in the fight against corruption seriously.
There is a growing danger of Ministers becoming super-DGs, and usurping the powers of Accounting Officers. They issue directives in the absence of, or contrary to, the advice of DGs and senior officials, on such matters as tenders and other administrative processes. This has happened in the Arms Deal and various other occasions.
2. Mission statement
To ensure a professional, non-partisan, cost effective public service that will provide quality services equally to all South Africans. The Department of Public Service and Administration shall lead the modernisation of the public service by designing, developing and implementing management policies, systems and structural solutions to improve service delivery in South Africa.
The objectives of the Department of Public Service and Administration under a UDM government are:
3.1.1. To develop appropriate policies and research instruments to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of government departments in delivering basic services.
3.1.2. To improve the standard of public service management in order to impact positively and tangibly on quality service delivery.
3.1.3. To develop a proper promotion policy for public servants.
3.1.4. To constantly improve and develop the skills and competencies of all public servants through specialised training and development courses.
3.1.5. To maintain accurate data, information and records on the public service and to use this data as the basis for information-driven strategic decision-making.
3.1.6. To promote increased efficiency and reduced wastage within the public service and to ensure improved service delivery (both essential and maintenance services) on the part of the public service that meets the basic needs of all South African citizens.
3.1.7. To treat all public sector clients making use of services with courtesy, respect and dignity and to encourage regular consultation and feedback with service users to ensure that services adequately address client’s needs.
3.1.8. To complete the transformation of the public sector into a proud and professional service-orientated administration.
3.1.9. To develop E-Government and implement these programmes successfully by modernising public service delivery with appropriate technology such as telephones, e-mail and the internet.
3.1.10. To implement a HIV/AIDS risk management policy.
3.1.11. To implement measures to address the causes, conditions and consequences of maladministration and corruption within the public service.
3.1.12. To promote awareness around the code of conduct for public servants as an integrity management tool within the public sector.
3.1.13. To ensure the effective implementation of senior service management competency profiling and performance management systems linked to service delivery.
3.1.14. To develop corporate knowledge and establish a learning culture within the public service.
3.1.15. To establish mutually supportive partnerships with private sector entities which serve to enhance service delivery.
4. UDM solutions
In line with the UDM objectives for the public service stated above, this section proposes a variety of ways in which a UDM Government would confront the challenges in a way that ensures citizens benefit from an optimally functioning public service.
A UDM government which values the trust of its citizens will strive to gain the confidence and faith of the voting public and restore a sense of pride in Government as one which serves the interests of all South Africans.
4.1. Measuring Service Delivery
A UDM Government will determine from the outset the critical success factors for each Department in terms of optimal delivery of services taking into account budgetary and other constraints. A measuring tool will be developed that evaluates the rate of success with which a particular Department is implementing UDM Government policies and budgets in delivering services (such as providing electricity to a specific number of households). This instrument will provide an important accountability tool against which citizens can hold their Government accountable.
4.2. Accountable Management
A proper system of evaluation and target-setting for career public service managers will ensure that energies are directed at effective service delivery, the result of which will in turn determine the career successes of motivated and talented public servants.
A UDM Government will determine a system of management competency profiling. All public service managers will enter into measurable performance agreement contracts with their different Departments. In order to be able to do this a performance management system must be established and managers must commit themselves to it. This system should also play an active part in determining the promotion of managers, to timeously address shortcomings and to intervene as and when necessary. The Public Service Commission will ensure that such agreements are adequately enforced.
The wastage of funds on extravagant reports and documents in the name of accountability will be reduced by standardisation of all reports and documents and making use of recycled paper. The current wastage of millions in taxpayer Rands on reports is nothing but self-aggrandisement on the part of the departments, ministers and public servants involved.
4.3. School of Governance
A UDM Government, in partnership with the Departments of Education and Labour and the assistance of institutions of higher learning will establish a School of Governance. Its aim will be to produce proud and efficient public servants that will have excellent skills, be highly competent and professional. The School of Governance will provide continuous research, training and skills development for those who are already in the public service, ensuring that the public service and its employees remain at the forefront of human resource management development. The School will attract top matriculants and graduates wanting to make a career in the Public Service by offering specialised training opportunities as well as entry and other level positions into the public service.
New appointments within the public service will seek to attract the best person for the job, while fostering the development of skills among the existing personnel. Ideally, a professional public service should be staffed by highly qualified individuals with a commitment to public service.
This intensified training of public servants will drastically reduce the huge amount of budgets that are currently spent on consultants.
4.4. Data and Information
To ensure proper strategic planning a UDM Government will ensure that reliable and up-to-date information is kept on all aspects of the Public Service. This data and information will include information such as the number of public servants employed at national, provincial and local levels of Government, qualifications and skills, trends such as the percentage of public servants leaving the public service; as well as reasons for leaving; AIDS related deaths etc.
4.5. Effective Service Delivery
Service delivery is the most critical factor of each and every Department within the Public Service. The success or failure of Departments, their Ministers, their Directors General and Managers will not be measured by the number of plans that they produce or the number of policies that they put on the table. Each and every Department will be measured by the services they deliver and the difference these services make to the quality of life of each South African, urban and rural across the nine provinces, and specifically to the lives of the poorest of the poor.
Service delivery by Departments will also have to reach each South African and will not be focussed exclusively within the big centres of the country. It must be distributed throughout all nine provinces and provide especially to those in rural areas who are still not receiving the most basic services from Government. Regular consultation with users of services through geographically located forums will be held to determine citizens’ priorities and needs on the ground in terms of service delivery.
A professional, efficient, and customer-orientated public service will be the hallmark of a UDM Government, committed to delivering quality services to citizens, as a constitutionally enshrined right.
Under a UDM Government these services will be delivered without prejudice and favouritism by public servants who are there to serve all South Africans with courtesy, dignity and respect, irrespective of their political affiliations.
Neatness and discipline in dress code and attitude will be enforced.
One of the disappointments of transformation has been the ANC Government’s politicisation of the public service. We need to develop a public service that is apolitical. Transformation of the public service is a priority area and a UDM Government will ensure its completion through a specifically designed programme with dedicated deadlines. The UDM shall develop, together with each Department, a programme of action that will guide the Department and its employees to a common goal of service delivery. With specific deliverables, this programme of action will be constantly monitored and if necessary, timeous interventions can take place to ensure the smooth delivery of services. This process should be effectively communicated to the end-user (the citizens) so that any perceived negative perceptions that might still exist are addressed. Improving service delivery should be seen as an integral part of the Public Service transformation programme, and not as the product.
In terms of its objectives to modernise and professionalise the public sector and make it more accessible and user-friendly, a UDM government will identify key Departments with specific functions that can serve as pilot projects within an E-Government model. For example, the Department of Home Affairs where requests for ID documents, passports, visas etc. could be done electronically. Trade and Industry is another Department whose work lends itself to the possibilities of E-Government where for example business licenses can be expedited through electronic means.
The possibilities of E-Government for both improving and creatively expanding basic government services are numerous and exciting. Multi-purpose centres with workstations staffed by well-trained, multi-skilled staff can potentially provide citizens with easier ways to access the often bureaucratised and unwieldy processes within Government Departments.
4.9. HIV/AIDS impact on Public Service
In line with the National Plan of Action to address HIV/AIDS (as proposed in UDM Health Policy) a public service response to HIV/AIDS will be developed.
Good research underpins good policy. A UDM Government will embark on an intensive and detailed research programme to determine the impact HIV/AIDS will have not only on the Public Service, but also on the type of medical services required by South Africans. It is estimated that within the next 10 years the life expectancy of South Africans may drop to 35 years. South Africa cannot ignore the reality of the impact of AIDS on the Public Service as a whole when most public sector managers are in the most vulnerable age group to be afflicted by the disease. With the spread of the pandemic it is likely that there will be an increased need for care centres, trained health workers and institutions that can deal with children whose parents are HIV/AIDS positive, or whom themselves are HIV/AIDS positive. A responsible government will plan ahead for these contingencies and prioritise these kinds of facilities.
4.10. Clean Governance
Corruption is the most serious form of non-delivery to South Africans with a wide range of impacts. Not only does it enrich some people through disadvantaging others, but it also limits already thinly spread resources. A UDM Government will show zero tolerance for acts of corruption. It will expose every single act of corruption and will deal with it in a decisive, non-compromising manner.
Responsibility for acts of corruption lie not only at the hands of those who have committed it, but their managers and superiors will also share the responsibility. It will be part of managers’ tasks to set procedures and circumstances that will not allow for corruption to flourish and will promote a workplace where employees are free to speak out against corrupt practices. Ministers and Directors General will be expected to lead the fight against corruption from the front as political will to fight corruption is the crucial test against which the public judge their Government.
The hierarchy in Departments will be respected. Ministers are the political heads and DGs the Accounting Officers of Departments. Under a UDM Government Ministers will not be allowed to blur the line between Executive and Administrative functions by acting like super-DGs who ignore advice.
4.11. Culture of Learning
A UDM Government will ensure that there is a wide sense of institutional knowledge within the public service. This is necessary to ensure that public servants understand how their duties impact on the duties of others in the public service, and to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the needs of the public, which they serve. This will enhance understanding for the challenges facing the Public Service and bring in line the expectations of citizens from the Public Service. A culture of learning within the public service is of the utmost importance to ensure that Public Servants stay abreast with developments in their field. A culture of constant learning should be encouraged and rewarded.
4.12. Public Private Partnerships
A UDM Government will actively seek and purposefully establish partnerships with Private Sector institutions in order to improve service delivery. There are many areas where partnerships between the Public Service and Private Sector can assist in speeding up service delivery. Partnerships can also improve on the quality of service delivery and ensure that it reaches the previously disadvantaged and disenfranchised as a matter of urgency. An approach in this regard should be creative and innovative. Partnerships should be mutually beneficial and most importantly provide quality service as cost effectively as possible.