Government rates itself so-so

2014-09-21 15:00

The government’s monitoring arm has released a report that paints a bleak picture of how its national and provincial departments are performing.

Senior managers are falling short when it comes to paying suppliers, managing employees’ disciplinary cases, and meeting employment equity and diversity targets.

Key findings include:

» 87% of departments are still not paying suppliers within the set 30-day period;

»?Only two of the 155 departments surveyed complied with “basic standards” of diversity management and employment equity;

»?Only half of the departments assessed could handle matters related to the management of unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure; and

» 90% of departments are not managing staff disciplinary cases at all.

The report was presented on Wednesday by the department of performance monitoring and evaluation to Parliament’s portfolio committee on public administration?–?and members were not impressed.

The findings were generated by a self-assessment process, the Management Performance Assessment Tool.

This requires a head of department and senior management to assess themselves on 31 key management standards.

Committee chairperson Peace Mabe said she and her colleagues were “concerned that the results have highlighted various challenges that need urgent attention”.

“The committee is concerned that 70% of national and provincial departments are at Level 1 and 2 assessment standards on governance and accountability,” she said.

In simple terms, this means they do not comply with the most basic standards of governance and accountability.

Some of the standout performers were the national department of mineral resources and KwaZulu-Natal’s economic development, tourism and environmental affairs department.

They were lauded for good practice on disciplinary matters and creating staff awareness about what counts as misconduct.

The Government Communication Information System was praised for a human resources strategy that let it fill posts within two months of a staff member resigning.

It was also given the thumbs up for conducting exit interviews and carefully analysing why staff members had left.

The Northern Cape social development department’s organisation design standard was described as outstanding. It was also credited with helping to reduce cases of foetal alcohol syndrome in De Aar by 30%.

Ismail Akhalwaya of the department of performance, monitoring and evaluation said stability in departments often led to better service- delivery outcomes. Frequent leadership changes were associated with poorer outcomes.

He said: “Political heads have a responsibility to provide leadership and to ensure heads of departments lead their departments correctly and in line with legal requirements.”

He said the results were not necessarily a reason to despair. “This is about continuous improvements. If you start at a low base as a department, there is always room to improve the next time the assessments are conducted. But if you keep declining each year, then it’s worrying.”

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