South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together

Public administration

Public Service Commission
Centre for Public Service Innovation
National School of Government
Public Service Month
Batho Pele
Batho Pele Awards


The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) draws its mandate from Section 195 (1) of the Constitution, which sets out basic values and principles to which the Public Service should adhere to; and the Public Service Act of 1994 (Act 103 of 1994), which gives the Minister of Public Service and Administration the responsibility to establish norms and standards relating to:

  • the functions of the Public Service
  • organisational structures and the establishment of departments and other organisational and governance arrangements in the Public Service the conditions of service and other employment practices for employees;
  • labour relations in the Public Service;
  • the health and wellness of employees;
  • information management in the Public Service;
  • electronic government;
  • integrity, ethics, conduct and anti‐corruption in the Public Service; and
  • transformation, reform, innovation and any other matter to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Service and its delivery of services to the public.

The DPSA has identified the quintessential focus areas that will form part of the overall work of the Public Service and Administration Portfolio over the next four-year period. These will serve as the main strategic indicators that will point to whether the Public Service is effective, efficient and development-oriented.

The DPSA is at the centre of government. It plays a major policy role in establishing norms and standards for Public Service, which ensure that service-delivery mechanisms, integrated systems and access, human resources, institutional development and governance initiatives are responsive to the needs of citizens.

The NDP articulates a vision of a capable and developmental state built through strengthening delegation, accountability and oversight in the Public Service. This vision is supported by Priority 6 (a capable, ethical and developmental state) of government’s 2019 – 2024 MTSF, with which the work of the DPSA is closely aligned.

Accordingly, over the medium term, the department intends to address governance and operational challenges in the Public Service sector, which, among others, include a lack of integration and coordination in services provided by departments; dissimilar experiences of the quality and quantity of government services by the public; departments’ noncompliance with the Public Service Act of 1994 and regulations; and different conditions of service for employees in the local, provincial and national spheres of government, including public entities.

Responding to these and other challenges in the Public Service, over the medium term, will entail intensifying the fight against corruption; developing measures to reduce government’s wage bill; ensuring adherence to Batho Pele Principles; and developing regulations and reviewing key legislation.

Intensifying the fight against corruption

Over the MTEF period, the DPSA will intensify the fight against corruption in the Public Service by promoting a culture of accountability, and ethical and professional behaviour; and strengthening discipline management. The Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit is responsible for the development of guidelines on conducting lifestyle audits.

The guidelines are expected to be implemented in 2021/22. The unit is also responsible for monitoring adherence by designated employees in national and provincial departments to the Financial Disclosure Framework. To carry out these activities, R61.5 million has been allocated over the medium term to the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit subprogramme.

Over the medium term, the DPSA will also provide support to all national and provincial departments to improve compliance with public administration legislative prescripts. On a quarterly basis, each of the line function programmes in the department will contribute information on compliance by national and provincial departments, which will be consolidated into an annual report by the office of standards and compliance.

To carry out these activities, R38.5 million has been allocated over the medium term to the Office of Standards and Compliance subprogramme.

Role players

Public Service Commission (PSC)

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is an independent institution established in terms of Chapter 10 of the Constitution. The commission derives its mandate from Sections 195 and 196 of the Constitution, which set out the values and principles that govern public administration. The commission is vested with custodial oversight responsibilities for the Public Service; and monitors, evaluates and investigates public administration practices. It has the power to issue directives on compliance with personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals.

The NDP sets out a vision for building a capable and developmental state and, in doing so, rooting out corruption by building a resilient anti‐corruption system. Priority 6 (a capable, ethical and developmental state) of government’s 2019 – 2024 MTSF gives expression to this vision.

Over the medium term, the commission will focus on professionalising the Public Service, and monitoring compliance with constitutional values and principles in the service. Central to these focus areas is the commission’s legislative reform project, which seeks to introduce a Bill that will allow it to be supported by a secretariat that is intended to strengthen the commission’s independence.

Promoting ethical leadership

Over the medium term, the commission will focus on professionalising the Public Service by promoting meritocracy and ethical conduct. This will be done by facilitating and monitoring research, and providing capacity development in critical areas relating to, among other things, ethical recruitment practices, effective discipline management, the strategic repositioning of human resources in departments, and the effective management of continuous employee development.

The commission will also support the establishment of an administrative head for the Public Service, which is a critical step in professionalising the service and managing career incidents of heads of departments. These activities will be carried out in the Leadership and Human Resource Reviews subprogramme, which accounts for 20.2% (R27.7 million) of spending in the Leadership and Management Practice programme over the medium term.

Monitoring compliance with constitutional values and principles

The commission will continue to focus on monitoring the Public Service’s compliance with the constitutional values and principles articulated by Section 195 of the Constitution.

Accordingly, the commission plans to strengthen workforce skills through its overarching monitoring and evaluation system. This is necessary to provide real‐time data to enable the department to make decisions based on evidence. These activities will be carried out in the Governance Monitoring subprogramme, which accounts for 19.9% (R25.8 million) of spending in the Monitoring and Evaluation programme.


For the 2020/21 financial year, the PSC was allocated R297.6 million. Subsequent to that, there was a reduction of R10 million through the special adjustment budget that was tabled in Parliament in June 2020 and R13.8 million reduction on compensation of employees, that was implemented during the Adjustment Estimates of National Expenditure Budget process. The budget of the PSC was, therefore, reduced to R273.8 million, with effect from October 2020.

Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI)

The responsibility for innovation in the Public Sector is vested in the Minister for Public Service and Administration. The CPSI is tasked to fulfil this mandate, which includes establishing norms and standards relating to transformation, reform and 15 innovation to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Service and its service delivery to the public.

Over the medium term, the centre aims to use innovation to solve service delivery challenges. This will be done through initiatives such as the annual Public Sector Innovation Awards, which serve as a means for identifying innovative solutions that can be replicated or upscaled in government institutions. The centre also partners with other government departments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, tertiary institutions, academics and international entities to unearth innovative solutions for identified service delivery challenges.

Where existing solutions cannot be found, new solutions will be developed through these innovation partnerships. These and other related activities are expected to be carried out at a cost of R6.4 million over the MTEF period.

An estimated R1.5 million will be spent on facilitating one conference and four training sessions annually for public sector officials on public sector innovation. The Ideas that Work: The South African Public Sector Innovation Journal is a valuable resource for case studies, projects and academic articles that promote service delivery innovation. The centre plans to publish one edition of the journal every year year, over the medium term, with production and printing costs estimated at R164 000 per edition. The centre will also participate in two global innovation programmes for learning and sharing, and the profiling of South African innovations to strengthen good governance initiatives. These activities will be carried out in the Enabling Environment subprogramme, spending on which accounts for an estimated 47.6% (R29.4 million) of expenditure in the Public Sector Innovation programme.

The centre’s budget increases at an average annual rate of 9.2%, from R42.6 million in 2021/22 to R45.4 million in 2023/24. Compensation of employees is the largest spending area, accounting for 56.7% (R72.4 million) of the centre’s budget, increasing at an average annual rate of 3.6%, from R22.3 million in 2020/21 to R24.9 million in 2023/24.

National School of Government (NSG)

The Public Service is at the coalface of government, and lack of professionalism does not only impact service delivery, it also dents public confidence. Advancing honesty, ethics and integrity in the Public Service is critical if government is to build  a capable state.

Through the National School of Government, government continues to roll out courses and training programmes for its officials, from entry level to senior management and the Executive.

The NSG responds to its mandate by developing relevant training and development programmes for delivery to public service officials at all levels. Through education and training, the school promotes the progressive realisation of the values and principles governing public administration, and enhances the quality of human resource capacity in public institutions. The school uses its trading account as a delivery vehicle for its core output.

Over the medium term, the NSG will continue to focus on contributing towards the fulfilment of the educational, training and development needs of the Public Service. Other specific focus areas include increasing the school’s active online learning interventions, and revising the NSG Trading Account’s funding model to ensure that the school generates more revenue.

The number of online learning interventions is expected to increase from 34 in 2020/21 to 40 in 2023/24. The school will continue to outsource support services such as information and communications technology, spending on which is expected to account for 10.6% (R15.4 million) of its total allocation for goods and services over the MTEF period. This expenditure is within the Public Sector Organisational and Staff Development programme, which has a budget of R308 million over the medium term.

Due to the compulsory baseline reductions across government, mainly to fund essential services during the COVID‐19 pandemic, expenditure is set to decrease at an average annual rate of 8.7%, from R136.5 million in 2020/21 to R103.7 million in 2023/24.

The school plans to continue revising its funding model to generate more revenue through training projects. Its executive management is responsible for revising this model, with related activities to be carried out in the Management and Corporate Services subprogrammes at an estimated cost of R109.1 million over the medium term.

The budget for the training trading account comprises funds appropriated by Parliament and income derived from cost‐recovery fees charged by the trading account for courses or modules provided to clients.

Transfers to the training trading account constitute 50.4% (R308 million) of the NSG’s budget over the medium term, while the remaining 49.6% (R330.8 million) is allocated to the Administration programme. Activities in the programme mainly involve providing strategic leadership to ensure the school’s functioning, and providing administrative support such as human resources, internal audit, finance and supply chain management services.

Expenditure is expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 4.1%, from R243.4 million in 2020/21 to R214.7 million in 2023/24. This is mainly due to a once‐off allocation in 2020/21 to bridge a funding gap created by COVID‐19 lockdown restrictions.

NSG Training Trading Account

The NSG Training Trading Account carries out its expanded mandate of building capacity in all spheres of government, state-owned entities and organs of state through its training trading account. Over the medium term, the NSG expects to foster collaborations with training institutions, higher education institutions, further education and training institutions, and private‐sector training providers.

In addition, the school expects to offer qualifications, part qualifications and non‐formal education, as recognised by the National Qualifications Framework or the South African Qualifications Authority; and conduct training, examinations or tests that are required for specified appointments or transfers to meet the development needs of any category of employees. The COVID‐19 pandemic has had a direct bearing on the NSG’s plans for fulfilling its mandate, making it necessary to
focus more on online training.

Public Service Month

South Africa commeorates PSM in September each year. It is a regular national event that requires all the national and provincial departments to participate by putting in place activities and campaigns to improve service delivery. PSM is a follow-up to and mirrors the UN and Africa Public Service Day, which takes place on 23 June every year.

The 2020 PSM celebrations took place when the country and the world was battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The celebrations took an integrated government-wide programme of PSM from 1 September – 4 October 2020 across all three spheres of government.

The 2020 PSM was commemorated under the theme; “Growing South Africa Together for an Ethical Public Service.” The theme reinforced government’s commitment to instil a sense of pride in being a public servant and called on government employees to abide by the Batho Pele Principles.

The overall goals of the PSM programme were to:

  • instil and rebuild good ethics and professionalism in how public servants do their work;
  • recommit and rededicate public servants to the Batho Pele Principles;
  • improve the morale and inculcate a sense of pride in being a public servant; and
  • improve service delivery by exposing senior and middle managers to the coalface of service delivery – so that they can identify challenges and develop plans for corrective action.

The Constitution demands that the Public Service, amongst others, maintains and promotes a high standard of professional ethics; promotes efficient, economic and effective use of resources; and is accountable for its actions.

Batho Pele

The Batho Pele initiative is aimed at improving service delivery to the public. Batho Pele is a Sesotho phrase meaning “People First”. From this concept, eight principles for transforming Public service delivery were derived. These are:

  • regular consultation with customers
  • set service standards
  • increased access to services
  • higher levels of courtesy
  • more and better information about services
  • increased openness and transparency about services
  • remedying failures and mistakes
  • giving the best possible value for money.

Batho Pele Awards

The annual National Batho Pele Excellence Awards serve to recognise public servants who are selfless, dedicated, committed and go the extra mile in servicing citizens. Eligible to public servants across the three spheres of government, the awards seek to entrench transformation and professionalism in the Public Service.

Source: South Africa Yearbook 2020/21