Failing dept heads must pay the price

2014-10-17 00:00

SENIOR government officials should lose their performance bonuses and be fired if their departments consistently fail to achieve clean audits.

That is the hard stance taken by irked members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) yesterday.

This, after the committee briefed by the Auditor-General, found that irregular expenditure in the 2013/14 financial year alone had climbed to R4,5 billion. The total irregular expenditure since 2008/09 financial year now stands at a massive R14,5 billion.

The departments of Education and Health lead the pack in irregular expenditure with a combined total of R12,2 billion since 2008/2009. This current financial year, Education is already at R2,6 billion and Health is at R1,2 billion.

The AG said senior officials fail to do the smallest of tasks, like obtaining three quotes, failing to follow competitive bidding processes and failing to implement many other procedures to rein in irregular expenditure.

The committee members said it was unacceptable that heads of departments and chief financial officers draw large salaries and performance bonuses, but their department fail to achieve clean audits and they face no consequences. They took a resolution to recommend to Premier Senzo Mchunu that performance bonuses for senior officials should be tied to work performance. Others said they should get written warnings and be fired if poor performance persists.

ANC MPL Sipho Nkosi said managers were paid a lot of money because it’s believed they can do the job.

“… The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) is there, they just have to follow it and do their jobs … I understand there is a CFO who is earning at HOD level. I hear others are allegedly employed full time [not on contract as they are supposed to be], so they have job security and they do not perform.”

DA MPL Mark Steele said it was disturbing that the irregular expenditure had previously showed signs of decline, but for the past three years, there have been solid increases year on year.

Scopa chairperson Maggie Govender was forthright, saying managers performing consistently poorly should be fired. “Some of the things that these managers are supposed to do to avoid irregular spending are simple things yet they are not doing them, why? … They were employed to make those decisions and follow those processes. There should be performance contracts, if you do not perform you get a warning … after the third you are out,” she said.

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