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SA: Agreement Signed on Service Delivery, Corruption
Source: buanews.gov.za
Source Date: Thursday, October 14, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Oct 14, 2010

Cape Town - Minister of Public Service and Administration, Richard Baloyi, today signed an agreement pledging to create an efficient public sector which would help to increase service delivery by government and boost efforts to tackle corruption.

Baloyi said the delivery agreement, which is part of one of the 12 outcomes adopted by Cabinet earlier this year, would be phased in over four years.

In the agreement, the department pledges to focus on developing more skilled public servants, better business processes, foster a national identity and improve social cohesion.

The implementation of the agreement will be reviewed annually in consultation with the Department for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency.

Baloyi said the new outcomes-based approach was being introduced at a time when access to government services had "improved significantly" since 1994. However, he added that services still needed to be vamped up.

A study conducted by the department in 2009 into service points revealed many people were still travelling long distances to access services.

"This is because government departments tend to plan their service access improvement initiatives in silos and related services of government are often not located in close proximity to one another," he said.

This lack of co-ordination made it difficult for people to access a combination of services in the same area.

The minister said few departments had developed geographic access norms that could assist them in setting targets for improving access, in particular, to reduce the travel distances to their service points.

Added to this, minimum infrastructure access norms had not been developed to facilitate physical access to government service points for women and people with disabilities, he said.

The delivery agreement also specified that departments and other government institutions needed to improve their capacity to carry out the initial investigations, including internal disciplinary processes, which are required before cases are referred to law enforcement agencies.

A new specialised anti-corruption unit, which will be located within the department, would however, strengthen enforcement by co-ordinating various anti-corruption initiatives within the public sector.

The unit will ensure minimum anti-corruption measures in departments are put in place and will focus on ensuring existing anti-corruption legislation is implemented better and more effectively.

In an effort to improve South Africans sense of a national identity, Baloyi said government would develop multiple and diverse campaigns and educational interventions to educate citizens about the Constitution.

"Understanding and appreciating diversity in South Africa is more than about cultural sensitivity and awareness. It must be expanded to educating South Africans about diversity in a broader sense, of gender and race and class and political opinions.

"Public servants must come to understand the rights of citizens and the responsibilities that public servants have towards them as part of a broader focus on the meaning of South Africa's democracy and the challenges of development," he said.

Added to this, the Department of Arts and Culture is planning social dialogue sessions at a municipal and provincial level.

"We envisage that there will be a social cohesion summit early next year during which these topics will generate further practical proposals on how as a nation we tackle issues that affect us," he said.

The outcome agreement also requires the department to focus more on improving staffing through effective recruitment, retention and career pathing, discipline and human resource planning and skills development.

Baloyi said the key challenge facing the public service was to improve implementation by promoting a culture of service excellence, rather than create further unnecessary regulations.

Another output the department will focus on is improving business processes, ensuring that there is a better alignment of supply chain management and improved financial management.

The Presidency, Premiers' Offices, Department of Public Service and Administration, National Treasury, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Public Service Commission and Department of Public Works would all be involved in improving the efficiency, effectiveness and development orientation of the public service.

Baloyi said most of the projects in the delivery agreement had already been budgeted for under the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

However, he pointed out that critical projects set for year one of the agreement, had no funding, and might need to be prioritised for funding in year two. - BuaNews
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