Pretoria: Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, says government has demonstrated its ability to respond to the needs and concerns of the nation by paying increased attention to its monitoring function.
“As far as monitoring by the Presidency of the rest of government is concerned, there has been an increase in emphasis since 2009,” said Chabane while addressing the Secretaries Association of the Legislative Sector of South Africa (SALSA) seminar in East London, on Thursday.
Chabane said the constant endeavour by government to improve performance monitoring, stemmed from the recognition of shortcomings, such as poor education and health results, relative to expenditure per capita, frequent quality problems with services, and service delivery protests.
“It is also as a result of the findings of the 10 and 15-year reviews that there needs to be an increased emphasis on improving implementation of policies and on improving the performance of government.
“Furthermore, international experience indicates that our work can make a significant contribution to addressing these issues.”
The minister said while all levels of government needed to carry out monitoring and evaluation, this need did not necessarily lead to duplication in the collection of information and reporting.
He said the challenge was to ensure that monitoring and evaluation was complementary across all levels, with the sharing of data and analysis practised as seamlessly as possible.
Chabane said all parties needed to consciously avoid duplication and to cooperate to avoid overloading departments and municipalities with parallel reporting requirements, and to avoid conflicting initiatives.
“In our department, we have stuck to this principle. For instance, we [do not] carry out audits but we use the Auditor General’s information.
“We have not set up new systems to assess the performance of individual departments against their plans; there is an existing system of strategic plans and annual performance plans and annual reports, which is managed by National Treasury.
“We have also not established a new system for holding public servants accountable and for taking disciplinary action for poor performance — there is an existing system in terms of the Public Service Act and Public Service Regulations, among others.”
However, Chabane said they have introduced a number of initiatives, including a focus on 12 government priority outcomes; the assessment of the quality of management performance of national and provincial departments; a new system of monitoring front-line services; a national evaluation system, and a municipal performance assessment tool, which is still in preparation.
These tools represent a major increase in the availability of evidence for policy and decision-making.
Quarterly monitoring reports are also produced and they highlight progress made against the plans at output and sub-output levels, problems and actions to be taken to resolve these problems.
These reports are considered at quarterly Implementation Forums and are then taken to Cabinet Subcommittees and Cabinet.
The minister said in general, departments were very interested in how their departments performed compared to others, and many departments had already implemented improvements in preparation for the next assessment cycle.
The process has also identified areas of management where national policy departments need to implement support initiatives.