Government in learning mode: Minister

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IOL news may5 collins

Kopano Tlape

Collins Chabane

A process has been started to turn government into a “learning” entity, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said on Wednesday.

South Africa was faced with very complex socio-economic problems for which there were no simple or uncontested solutions, he told the National Assembly during debate on his budget vote.

“For this reason, this administration has started a process of turning government into a learning organisation, which does not just keep doing the same old things in the same old way, regardless of whether or not they are working,” Chabane said.

“We are changing government into an organisation which constantly collects evidence on whether or not its policies and programmes are working, and we use this evidence to inform interventions we make.”

The department's primary role was to change the culture and develop the skills of the public service in monitoring and evaluation.

The idea was for all managers at all levels to regularly monitor and evaluate their own work to improve their performance.

“This is the only way that we will get government to work faster, harder and smarter,” the minister said.

In this regard, the department was engaged in a range of monitoring and evaluation capacity building initiatives.

Chabane said the department had been focusing on monitoring implementation of the economic infrastructure delivery agreement.

This indicated much progress had been made, but that more attention needed to be paid to areas such as the acceleration of the electrification programme, increasing demand-side energy savings, and improving the maintenance of municipal electricity distribution infrastructure.

Further improvements in productivity were required at the ports, and it was necessary to put in place an appropriate pricing strategy for water.

In addition, the sanitation programme would need to be improved and accelerated if the 2014 target of 100 percent access to safe sanitation facilities was to be met.

The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission had been created to accelerate infrastructure progress and to oversee efforts to address these problems.

“We have been contributing to the work of the commission directly and through our monitoring of municipal, social, and economic infrastructure delivery.

“We have also been working with National Treasury and the Construction Industry Development Board, to put in place a mechanism to monitor progress with infrastructure projects at all levels of government.”

The board was now in the process of establishing the projects register, which would serve this purpose, he said.

Chabane said the outcry among small businesses regarding the issue of not being paid by the state within 30 days was justified.

Departments were reporting thousands of invoices which had not been paid within 30 days, and most of the reasons for this related to weaknesses in internal management practices.

“Our expectation is that the focus of Fosad (Forum of SA Director Generals), Cabinet, and the President's Co-ordinating Council on this issue will result in accounting officers paying attention to monitoring and addressing the problems in their own departments,” Chabane said. - Sapa


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