Chairperson, hon members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, Acting Minister for the Public Service and Administration, hon Mildred Oliphant, Members of Parliament, chairperson of the Public Service Commission, PSC, and other commissioners present here, ladies and gentlemen, all protocol is observed.
The untimely passing of Comrades Roy Padayachie, Sicelo Shiceka and Florence Nyanda has robbed the nation of some of the cadres who served the ANC and our people with zeal, loyalty and diligence. They were also the ones upon whom we had placed our hopes for the future of our country and the realisation of transformation and the developmental agenda. I hope all of us present here, together with the rest of the country, will take comfort in the knowledge that these comrades made their contribution while they lived. The grass must now grow over their graves to heal the wounds inflicted on the nation by their unfortunate, untimely and tragic demise. May their precious souls find everlasting peace!
Building on the thrust of Outcome 12: An efficient, effective and development-oriented public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship, we made some measurable commitments to the august House last year. Please allow me to reflect on them.
We committed to ensuring the effective employment entry into the Public Service and cadre development - an ideal that resonates with the conscious efforts to make the Public Service an employer of choice, to transform it to best serve the interests of our people and to construct a capable developmental state. In this regard, I must report to this august House that the portfolio has seriously considered its approach towards developing a public service cadre whose attitude, orientation and skills will best serve the developmental agenda of the state. There has been a review of the business processes and methods of training, with a view to achieving this objective.
Our training academy, the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy, Palama, has trained a total of 1 251 unemployed youth graduates and inducted new public servants in the ethos of the Public Service in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency, NYDA. The training is intended to enhance employment and entry opportunities into the Public Service for these graduates. We hope to report to this House on the further extent of progress in due course.
House Chairperson, the National Development Plan, NDP, has called on us to build a capable state. In building this capable state, Vision 2030 implores us to make the Public Service and local government careers of choice by initiating a formalised graduate recruitment scheme to attract talented graduates into government. Our response to this call has been swift. Today, I am happy to announce that we have finalised the development of a Matrix of Qualifications for career pathing in the Public Service. The Matrix of Qualifications, which we have developed jointly with the South African Qualifications Authority, Saqa, the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, QCTO, and the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority, PSETA, will over time become the prerequisite for employment in the public sector, and inform promotion and progression within the public sector. We will be releasing the document for public comments during the course of the year, and envisage implementation over the medium term.
In fighting corruption in the Public Service, the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy, Palama, rolled out training programmes to 734 public servants and anticorruption practitioners focusing on anticorruption and ethics management. Work has been undertaken to transform Palama into a school of government. In this regard, Palama has undertaken a benchmark analysis to better contextualise a school of government within the South African environment.
The analysis focused on broad conceptual issues and specific areas to inform the business model and requirements to support successful implementation, such as learning and development framework; funding models; infrastructure; strategic partnerships; systems and business processes; and the impact on the current legislation and policy frameworks.
House Chairperson, we informed this august House of our plan to ensure effective human resource management practices, norms and standards. I am happy to report that, during the past year, specific interventions towards effective human resource management in the Public Service have been developed and focused on, amongst others, leadership development. In 2011- 12 a total of 1 482 officials have been trained in executive development programmes. Capacity-building is also being extended to the legislative arm of the state, where 181 Members of Parliament and members of provincial legislatures were trained during this period. During the period under review, the Public Service Commission, PSC, supported processes aimed at strengthening the quality of public service leadership.
The PSC facilitated the evaluation of the performance of heads of departments, HODs, and provided advice to executive authorities on the quality of performance agreements. The compliance rate of HODs filing their performance agreements with the Public Service Commission, as required by the senior management system handbooks stood at 92% for the past financial year; a significant improvement, which we hope to increase to 100% during this financial year.
House Chairperson, the State Information Technology Agency, Sita, is now in the third and final year of its turnaround strategy, which is captured under the theme: Sita today, Sita tomorrow, Sita to the future. Since the Minister's last address to the House, we can report that Sita has a full complement of executive management, in addition to Sita's turnaround strategy, which has included the review of a number of policies and the adoption of a new organisational structure, which is now being populated.
To ensure that the Ministry leverages information and communications technology, ICT, as a strategic resource enabler, a number of projects have been implemented under the Sita turnaround strategy. Sita managed to achieve a 97% reduction in its tender backlog, reducing its turnaround time for tenders from up to two years to 116 days, moving towards a target of 90 days. In the last financial year Sita ensured cost savings of approximately 13%, translating to R250 million in the acquisition of ICT goods and services for and on behalf of the Public Service.
The integrated financial management system, IFMS, has been introduced to replace outdated legacy systems that lacked in interoperability. The IFMS aims to provide centralised solutions to standardised technology and to achieve economies of scale, and also ensure greater efficiency in national and provincial governments, by improving the quality of data; providing access to data; eliminating manual processes; and establishing greater integration. In this financial year IFMS will be rolled out to a minimum of 15 sites nationally.
As part of the turnaround strategy of Sita to support the improvement of the internal efficiency of the Public Service, Sita is implementing the following priorities during the 2012-13 financial year: rolling out integrated IFMS at 10 sites nationally; developing common transversal solutions for government; improving procurement turnaround times and realising cost savings, as I have alluded to earlier on; establishing strategic partnerships with state entities and industries to improve service delivery, amongst others, of eThekwini Municipality; leveraging their broadband capabilities and other industries on enterprise licensing; enabling 10 national government services to be accessed online by citizens; finalising connectivity to Thusong Service Centres; developing national ICT strategies and plans for the Public Service; and also reviewing Public Service ICT plans.
House Chairperson, better management of grievances in the Public Service is critical to us, as this speaks to the very manner in which we treat our employees, the drivers of public service delivery and transformation. Grievance rules for the members of the senior management service, SMS, have been issued, and these include HODs.
The PSC has also conducted a series of workshops where good practices on the management of grievances of employees and precautionary suspension in cases of misconduct were discussed with labour relation practitioners from national and provincial departments with the view to turning the current situation around. This is the beginning of a long journey towards better management of human capital in the Public Service. Within a few months from now we will be able to report on definite tangible spinoffs from this intervention.
The Community Development Workers, CDWs, programme is an important mechanism for bringing government and the people together and in working towards addressing the many service delivery challenges that our people are facing on a daily basis. The CDWs are able to make better use of government services and benefits, and to foster development in areas like Early Childhood Development, ECD, by contributing towards improving the quality of life of citizens. During this past year, we traversed the country to share information with CDWs as part of their revitalisation strategy.
House Chairperson, as we work towards implementing these priority areas, the central question is: How do we ensure that the existing and future human capital of the Public Service is accentuated in our developmental agenda? This question is critical, given that public servants are the ones who are and will be required to drive the transformation of the Public Service.
Some of the questions that we are addressing in order to transform the Public Service in making it attractive enough for people, especially the youth, to regard it as an employer of choice are: What are the government issues that must be addressed in order to provide context conducive to the Public Service being attractive in recruiting and retaining the brightest and the best? Are we recruiting and retaining the best talent? What talent are we really targeting? What talent is critical to the performance of the Public Service? Through what approaches, methodologies and practices can such talent be identified, attracted, recruited, nurtured and also retained?
The intangible assets in the Public Service, such as depth, talents, perceptiveness, skills and a high level of emotional maturity or even the soft skills inherent within the ideal public service cadre are important determiners of the quality of public services that are delivered to the people.
Our developmental agenda sets out a systematic approach to addressing the pressing socioeconomic challenges, ensuring economic growth, creating more jobs and rooting out poverty and deprivation and underdevelopment, with the state playing a critical role. There is, therefore, no doubt that accelerating training and development of a new public service cadre, through the repositioning of Palama into a school of government, is critical in our efforts towards the development of the human capital that the Public Service so desires.
As is known, Comrade Padayachie passed on while on a mission to fulfil obligations of the continent and its people. We would be doing an injustice to the cause if we were to abdicate our responsibility to the continent and the world. In this regard, we will continue to play our part in the African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM, and the Pan-African Conference of Ministers for Public or Civil Service, and any other African Union, AU, initiative that aims to transform and modernise the Public Service.
Our participation in the United Nations system and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, and other multilateral systems carries with it positive benefits for our country and its people. This will continue, of course, within the parameters of our country's International Engagement Framework. Considering everything that we have said in this august House today, I am certain that the cloud of despair is lifting and giving birth to a new season of hope to our people. As I look back on how far we have come with dismantling the wreckage of a centuries-old systematic denial of human rights and freedom, of deprivation and of exclusion, I feel proud of what we, as the ANC-led government, have been able to achieve for our people in the space of 18 years. I rejoice, because today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow looks even more promising, notwithstanding the work that still needs to be done.
House Chairperson, please allow me to convey our gratitude to you for having afforded us this opportunity to address this august House. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the House for working with us in the year that has passed. We hope that we will work even better and more closely in the coming year.
With a significant measure of appreciation, I wish to acknowledge, posthumously, the support and guidance that the late hon Minister Padayachie has provided to the Ministry. I thank the acting Minister for the support and leadership she has demonstrated since she has been assigned to this role. I hope we will benefit from her wisdom and guidance as we attempt to stabilise the portfolio during this difficult period.
To the Ministry of the Public Service and Administration family, I wish to express appreciation for your dedication, diligence and commitment to the work of government. I would also like to thank my mother, who is sitting there in the gallery with her grandchildren, my son, nephew, and a little girl that I have taken in to guide through her life, Penny Chikani. [Laughter.]
Hon Chairperson, thank you once more for this opportunity and, in so saying, I move for the support of this Budget Vote. Thank you very much. [Applause.]