NATIONAL and provincial government departments and other state components have until the end of January to submit reports on the lifestyle audits they have conducted in order to detect fraud and corruption.
According to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), as of April 2021 conducting lifestyle audits in the public service became compulsory for all national and provincial departments and government components.
As a result, heads of department are required, in terms of regulations promulgated in terms of the Public Service Act, to analyse ethics and corruption risks as part of the department’s system of risk management, “… thereby using lifestyle audits as a legitimate management tool to prevent and detect fraud and corruption in the public service”.
“In this regard, a guide to implement lifestyle audits in the public service was issued to guide departments and government components on how to implement lifestyle audits in their respective institutions,” DPSA director-general Yoliswa Makhasi told heads of all national and provincial departments and government components in a circular dated November 7, 2023.
The Public Administration Management Act requires government departments and components to report issues of misconduct emanating from lifestyle audits to the DPSA’s public administration ethics, integrity and disciplinary technical assistance unit, which is mandated to assess and monitor their implementation.
The DPSA has set a January 31 deadline for the submission of lifestyle audit reports for the 2022/23 financial year and offices of the premier are required to also ensure that all provincial departments submit their reports by the end of the month.
The national government is technically assisting provincial departments to implement lifestyle audits and discipline management, with participation in conducting them improving drastically from 47 provincial departments to 89 out of 103 provincial departments in all nine provinces by March last year.
Lifestyle audits include the audit itself, lifestyle review and lifestyle investigation, and can incorporate verification and be triggered by complaints, tip-offs, and reporting.
The reports, which are aimed at senior and middle managers, as well as designated public servants including those employed in finance and supply chain management, must also include steps departments and components have taken to address their findings and recommendations.
In October, President Cyril Ramaphosa updated Parliament on the progress on his 2018 commitment to conduct lifestyle audits on members of his executive.
”Currently, the process of conducting lifestyle audits on members of the executive is not legislated; therefore, in order to legitimately obtain the information of individual members in order to conduct the lifestyle audits, members of the executive had to grant consent in writing,” he said.
Ramaphosa said his administration considered using entities such as the State Security Agency and the Special Investigating Unit to conduct the lifestyle audits and outsourcing to an external audit firm or consortium of experts and closely project manage the roll-out of the audits.
”The Presidency is using both options – the pre-investigation phase which is the first phase of the lifestyle audit will be conducted by an external service provider,” he said, adding that he anticipated that the project would be concluded by the end of March this year.
At Eskom, 11 Eskom officials were red-flagged through lifestyle audits and referred for disciplinary proceedings, with seven found guilty, two found not guilty while another two either resigned or retired.
Last year, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola revealed that in the National Prosecuting Authority, lifestyle reviews and investigations were conducted for all senior management and non-senior management members, including 1 185 random lifestyle reviews for both categories and seven officials were referred for lifestyle investigations.