State bigwigs blamed for flops

2013-09-15 14:00

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Moderators also take swipe at underperforming departments

The senior officials responsible for rating government’s management practices have laid the blame for underperformance squarely at the door of Cabinet ministers, MECs and directors-general.

But they also have stern words for “lazy” officials who don’t care about their work.

The moderators, who spoke to City Press on condition of anonymity, evaluated the performance of all 156 government departments in the 2012/13 Management Performance Assessment Tool report, which was released this week.

The report revealed that eight out of nine departments do not comply with the requirements set up to improve service delivery.

The senior moderators were drawn from government departments like National Treasury, the departments of public service and administration, mineral resources and public works in order to assess their colleagues.

One moderator told City Press that a lack of consequences for nonperforming managers was one of the biggest problems they picked up while doing the research.

“Public servants do not seem to have the pressure to adhere to government policies because they think they will not face the consequences of not doing so,” the moderator said.

Another moderator called the assessment an “eye-opener”.

“We have people who are committed to their work in government, but in those departments where there are many problems, public servants are either too lazy to do the job or they do not take compliance with rules and regulations seriously because they think they will not face disciplinary action.

“One department was asked to present its strategic management plan but could not do so because the person who drove that process had resigned. How can a department not have plans in place to ensure that when and if people leave the job, plans are already there?” asked the moderator.

Collins Chabane, the minister in the presidency for performance monitoring and evaluation, acknowledged that the executive – that is, ministers – was not doing enough to hold managers to account.

This, Chabane said, was leading to lengthy and costly disciplinary processes. Chabane, whose department compiled the report, said government had decided to help managers with disciplinary cases in a bid to improve the running of departments.

Financial management was another area of concern. In one instance, a moderator said, a provincial department’s supplier database did not have suppliers’ full details. It listed only names and addresses, but no contact details.

“This means that supplier may never be called to tender for a project or to supply services because there were no contact details for them. That is unfair tender practice,” said the moderator.

Sean Phillips, the director-general of the department of performance monitoring and evaluation, said there was a “general culture” among top government managers that “these are minor little things that they don’t have to pay attention to them”.

“But we’re sending a clear message to departments that it is important to deal with these minor administrative and managerial issues and to improve them and get them right,” said Phillips.

Government’s heroes and zeros

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