The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) is at the centre of Government. It plays a major policy role in establishing norms and standards for the Public Service, which ensure that service-delivery mechanisms, integrated systems and access, HR, institutional development and governance initiatives are responsive to the needs of citizens.
This mandate has evolved over the years from transforming and modernising the Public Service through the development and implementation of policies and frameworks, to providing implementation support to ensure compliance, improve service delivery and strengthen monitoring and evaluation.
In terms of the Public Service Act of 1994 (Act 103 of 1994), as amended, the Minister of Public Service and Administration is responsible for establishing 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
- labour relations, conditions of service and other employment practices for employees
- the health and wellness of employees
- information management
- electronic government in the Public Service
- integrity, ethics, conduct and anti-corruption
- transformation, reform, innovation and any other intervention to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Service and its service delivery 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 focus areas are to ensure that the following is done and made available:
- services rendered with speed
- services easily accessible to citizens
- services provided at lower cost
- appropriately skilled public servants to render services.
- competitive conditions of service for public servants and the achievement of labour peace
- no corruption
- a positive impact on the lives of people and the economy.
The Minister of Public Service and Administration and union leaders launched the Public Service Charter in August 2013. The Public Service Charter is a commitment between the State as the employer and labour, which seeks to professionalise and encourage excellence in the Public Service and improve service delivery. It also introduces service standards in the Public Service, with a call to public servants to meet and exceed them.
Over the medium term, the department will focus on promoting meaningful delegations of authority and ensuring accountability in the public service, promoting public service as a career of choice, ensuring efficient and effective management and operations systems in the public service, and increasing the responsiveness of public servants.
The services carried out by other departments within the vote (the National School of Government, the Public Service Commission and the Centre for Public Service Innovation) provide public service employees with access to knowledge and skills, promote the principles of public administration, and foster innovation in the public service.
Accordingly, 50.3%t (R1.6 billion) of the DPSA’s total budget is allocated to transfers for the operations of these departments over the MTEF period. Transfers and subsidies to departmental agencies and accounts are expected to increase at an average annual rate of 7.9% from R469.5 million in 2018/19 to R589.8 million in 2021/22, mainly due to an additional allocation of R60 million over the medium term to the National School of Government for the introduction of mandatory programmes.
The department was allocated R950.7 million for the year.
The Minister of Public Service and Administration launched the anti-corruption bureau to fast-track disciplinary cases in the public sector. The bureau forms part of amendments to the Public Service Act of 1994.
The amendments also include banning all public servants from doing business with the Government.
Cabinet and provinces have adopted a manual on procedures for recruiting, and/or retaining officials that resign.
Uniform standards will be applied to all public servants across Government.
The bureau will conduct investigations, institute disciplinary proceedings and work with existing law enforcement agencies, such as the Special Investigating Unit and National Prosecuting Authority, and the other related agencies such as the Financial Intelligence Centre and the South African Revenue Service.
Criminal cases will be referred to law enforcement agencies.
The bureau also has to provide technical assistance and advisory support to deal with disciplinary matters in the public administration, while ensuring that the public sector applies uniform disciplinary standards.
A case management system allows officials to monitor the progress of cases to ensure that they are finalised speedily. By 2014, an agreement was already in place with the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that whistle-blowers were protected.
The passing of the Public Administration Management Bill in March 2014 was expected to change the face of the state at national, provincial, and local levels. The Bill was a major step forward in the building of an effective, efficient, and ethical Public Service.
An effective, efficient and ethical Public Service is a central element in the building of a democratic developmental state as mandated by the NDP.
Among other things, the Public Administration Management Bill prohibits public administration officials from conducting business with the State and officials in public administration are required to declare the financial and business interests of their immediate family members.
By prohibiting officials from conducting business with the State, Government is eliminating incentives and opportunities for corruption and unethical conduct.
Community development workers (CDWs)
CDWs link early childhood development centres with programmes of the Department of Social Development. In the area of HIV and AIDS, CDWs disseminate user-friendly information on these conditions and mobilise communities to actively participate in HIV and AIDS-related awareness programmes, including World AIDS Day.
To promote food security, CDWs identify indigent households and mobilise them to benefit from the departments of agriculture and rural development’s food security programmes.
CDWs are agents of participatory democracy. Their functions include:
- communicating information from and about Government and other information to communities in an accessible way
- providing feedback to Government regarding community experiences of service delivery and governance
- providing early warning to Government of any obvious reduction in service standards and performance that could lead to the collapse or significant impairment of overall service functions
- reporting any corruption or irregularity encountered within the sphere of Government, government departments, community organisations or the private sector.
Public Service Commission (PSC)
The Public Service Commission (PSC) is tasked and empowered to, amongst others, investigate, monitor, and evaluate the organisation and administration of the Public Service.
This mandate also entails the evaluation of achievements, or lack thereof of Government programmes. The PSC also has an obligation to promote measures that would ensure effective and efficient performance within the Public Service and to promote values and principles of public administration as set out in the Constitution, throughout the Public Service.
The PSC has an obligation to promote measures that will ensure effective and efficient performance within the Public Service and to promote values and principles of public administration, as set out in the Constitution, throughout the Public Service.
The Constitution mandates the commission to:
- promote the values and principles governing public administration
- investigate, monitor and evaluate the organisation, administration and the personnel practices of the Public Service
- propose measures to ensure effective and efficient performance within the Public Service
- give directions aimed at ensuring that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the constitutionally prescribed values and principles
- report its activities and the performance of its functions, including any findings it may make and to provide an evaluation of the extent to which it complies constitutionally with the prescribed values and principles
- either of its own accord or on receipt of any complaint:
- investigate and evaluate the application of personnel and public-administration practices, and report to the relevant executive authority and legislature
- investigate grievances of employees in the Public Service concerning official acts or omissions, and recommend appropriate remedies
- monitor and investigate adherence to applicable procedures in the Public Service
- advise national and provincial organs of State regarding personnel practices in the Public Service.
To be effective, the Public Service has to develop a deeper understanding of the constitutional imperatives and Government mandate of providing a better life for the country’s citizens.
This would make it easier for Government to develop the necessary skills in its human capital to deal with the challenges faced by South Africans across the board.
Government Employees Medical Aid Scheme (GEMS)
GEMS was registered on 1 January 2005 specifically to meet the healthcare needs of government employees. Its mission is to provide all Public Service employees with equitable access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare benefits.
As the second largest medical scheme in South Africa, GEMS remains the fastest growing medical scheme. As at the end of March 2016, the scheme had covered close to 700 000 principal members and 1,7 million beneficiaries overall.
In terms of accessibility; GEMS has made considerable inroads in covering lower level employees, with 45% of Level 1 to Level 5 employees now covered by the scheme. Approximately R1 in every R5 spent on private healthcare is spent by GEMS, and approximately R1 out of every R10 spent on healthcare (private and public) in South Africa is spent by GEMS.
The scheme’s key future priorities include:
- reducing medical scheme costs through strategic sourcing and specialist networks
- promoting member retention
- introducing workplace-based exercise and health programmes for Public Service employees.
Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI)
The CPSI was established to identify, support and nurture innovation in the public sector to improve service delivery.
The CPSI works through partnerships with other departments and state-owned enterprises to, for example, enhance the productive capacity of visually impaired educators by providing data-card devices for them to access teaching material without the use of Braille.
The CPSI runs targeted innovation programmes to support the outcomes of rural development, accelerated service delivery at local government level, as well as human settlement.
National School of Government (NSG)
The National School of Government offers training and development opportunities to public servants at national, provincial and local level of government.
This includes training of new Public Service employees as part of their probation, re-orientation of senior managers and orientation of unemployed youth graduates, preparing them for Public Service employment opportunities.
The school is intended to educate, train, professionalise and develop a highly capable, skilled and committed Public Service cadre, with a sense of national duty and a common culture and ethos.
It will nurture a culture of professionalism and innovative thinking and serve as a catalyst for reform and modernisation, in pursuit of a performance-oriented Public Service. Core training is not outsourced, but is performed internally.
The school provides everything from adult basic education and training to higher education courses, and is registered to carry out the necessary accreditation.
The school runs like a customer-focused business, with participants having to pay tuition fees. It is funded by the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (known as Pseta) and skills development levies are drawn from departments’ payrolls.
All new public servants are required to undergo induction training.
Public Service Month
South Africa marks Public Service Month 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. Public Service Month is a follow-up to and mirrors the UN and Africa Public Service Day, which takes place on 23 June every year.
The Batho Pele Campaign is aimed at improving service delivery to the public.
Batho Pele is a Sesotho phrase meaning “People First”.
From this concept, eight principles were derived and made known in a White Paper as the principles for transforming public service delivery, which 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 who go the extra mile in servicing the citizens. Eligible to public servants across the three spheres of Government, the awards seek to entrench the transformation and professionalisation of the Public Service.
The awards reward excellent service delivery and recognise the contribution by public servants across Government in their service delivery improvement initiatives.