Punish poor govt performance – top presidency official

2013-10-03 08:27

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Poor performance in government too often goes unpunished, director-general in the presidency for monitoring, Sean Phillips, has said.

Phillips spoke as part of a panel at the Gordon Institute of Business Science last night at the Johannesburg launch of The Zuma Years, written by Richard Calland.

“Departments often don’t take disciplinary action for poor performance,” he said, adding the system was not working well and there were no consequences for poor performance.

His department is often accused of not having teeth to fire poor performers in government, but Phillips said instead of giving his department teeth, government departments should be encouraged to take disciplinary action against non-performers.

“Often when something is not working in government, we set up a parallel system, and we don’t fix it,” he said.

He said if his department had the power to fire people for poor performance, “I’m sure we’d be swamped with requests to fire people”.

His department recently released a report on the performance of government departments, showing that Science and Technology was among the top performers, while the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities was among the worst.

Phillips also admitted that, although government has strong policies, it isn’t good at implementing.

“We tend to assume implementation would happen once you set targets. We haven’t cracked the nut of the implementation problem,” he said.

Phillips said South Africa was trying to emulate Malaysia when it came to implementation and public accountability for performance.

Although the Constitution makes it impossible to legally compel the president to give reasons for firing ministers, Phillips said there should be a more public system for assessing performance.

» The panel was hosted by City Press.

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