Remarks by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Ms Faith Muthambi, during the opening of the Government Information Technology Officers Council (Gitoc)’S Strategic Planning Session, Hunters Rest, Rustenburg
Chairperson and Executive Management of GITOC;
Members of GITOC;
Ladies and gentleman;
Thank you for affording me an opportunity to engage with the GITOC membership today, especially in my capacity as Minister for the Public Administration Service and Administration. Let me also congratulate GITOC for the good work and efforts delivered in the past years. I reaffirm my commitment to support you. Allow me therefore to reinforce the fact that GITOC remains an important ICT support structure of our Government. You should continue to play an important part in advising us on ICT matters pertaining to governance and operational excellence required within all spheres of Government, most importantly, not in isolation from other sectors, including educational institutions.
Ladies and gentlemen;
Technology innovation and the welfare of the country are tightly linked. This is the reason why a significant portion of all economic growth since World War II is attributed to technical innovation. Our role as government, in technology investment and deployment should never be underestimated. Appropriate roles for government in deployment of technology include any actions that assist the private sector in meeting public good objectives that cannot, or will not, be accomplished, by the private sector alone without government participation or leadership.
The point I am trying to make here is that government should be the leader in terms of technology innovation, and not the other way round. Government must take the lead and other sectors must follow. The roles of government in technology deployment includes information and education, technology development, collaborations, policy, and market development.
Technology leadership can be a key driver in maintaining our strong economy and regional economic leadership.
Ladies and gentlemen;
Arising from our current developmental experiences, the South African Government seeks to diversify the economy from all revenue generating, localisation and sustainability sources. Undoubtedly ICT has a vital role to play in this endeavor. As we move towards an era of e-government, the role of ICT in government cannot be discounted, as many of the services we offer would not be available without it. ICT today is an integral part of government, and its role will continue to expand.
Therefore, GITOC as an ICT advisory structure should ensure that Government is not compromised in matters pertaining to procurement of systems, deployment of information security measures, non-adherence to interoperability principles and framework, use of open standard and recruitment of skilled ICT work force. I can assure you that in my capacity as a Political Principal representing Government, this will form part of my delivery top agenda.
Last month I visited the People’s Republic of China, and I was inspired by the way in which the government there is utilizing technology to fasten the delivery of services to the people. The government of China has been hugely investing in one stop facilities, which are similar to our concept of Thusong Service Centers. These facilities are equipped with ICT facilities of the highest standards, and the public servants are also highly trained.
What is important is that the government leaders are also highly trained in such a way that they are able to monitor the services being rendered to the citizens, and are able to take action and instill discipline if there are deficiencies. It is not surprising that China continues to be the fastest growing economy in the world, because of the continued investment in ICT.
During the visit to China, we managed to agree on the renewal and continuation of the memoranda of understanding between our two countries on areas of public administration and human resource development. I have already made a call to our senior officials, that these agreements must be fully utilized to the benefit of our people. Our government officials must use this opportunity to learn some of the best practices from countries that are already advanced. In that way we can be able to meet our own objective of moving towards e-government.
GITOC must recall that one of the top objectives of our government is to ensure that we create a connected Government with citizens, therefore it is upon the Council’s plan of action to ensure that all spheres of Government operate from a common and interlinked ICT plan.
To take advantage of the advancements and applications of ICT, GITOC should bear in mind the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP), vision 2030.
Ladies and gentlemen;
The NDP identifies, among others, the improvement of the quality of public services as critical to achieving transformation. This requires Provinces to focus on identifying and overcoming the obstacles to achieving improved outcomes, including the need to strengthen the ability of local Government to fulfil its developmental role. Planning and implementation should be informed by evidence-based monitoring and evaluation. For example, a strategic partnership with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) is imminent as far as spatial planning is concerned. The latter can be achieved through developed products that will inform societal and economical gaps and furthermore provide proactive monitoring to avert disasters through use of acquired satellite images.
This is a call for GITOC to recognize its strategic role as being one of the transformational, developmental contributor and defender to the ICT agenda within Government. We must all remember that ICT is an enabler for enhancing productivity, raising resilience and fostering greater civic engagement, while offering options for effective delivery of public services. The degree to which ICT can be leveraged in national development strategies and programmes depends not only on the state of ICT infrastructure and connectivity, but also on the human and institutional capacities to effectively use such technologies. This means that our people must be fully capacitated with ICT skills, and this must start with government employees. We must help each other to appreciate change and move with time.
You will therefore agree with me that currently there are human and institutional curriculum gaps in our country as far as ICT programmes are concerned, something that requires an intervention. In order to attain some of the NDP, 2030 imperatives a targeted ICT skills development programme is required within Government. This intervention should not only be focused on Council members but should include other Government Officials and Political Principals, as ICT remains an integral and catalyst for change which requires knowledge across the board.
I urge GITOC in its programme to consider the following:
Introduction of an ICT curriculum at the National School of Government that is meant to uplift and align strategic ICT pillars that are required as knowledge for Government Officials on matters pertaining to Big Data, Interoperability, Connected Government, e-Government, Cybersecurity, etc.
Alignment of Government ICT plan to the 4th Industrialisation Framework
Ladies and gentlemen;
Lastly, we need to recognise that Government cannot do this alone. Therefore, a partnership model with both private, civil society and educational institutions should be encouraged and established for alignment and cost saving measures where possible.
By 2030, ICT will underpin the development of a dynamic and connected information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is more inclusive and prosperous. A seamless information infrastructure will be universally available and accessible and will meet the needs of citizens, business and the public sector, providing access to the creation and consumption of a wide range of converged services required for effective economic and social participation � at a cost and quality at least equal to South Africa’s main peers and competitors.
Given the above, GITOC should play a strategic role in ensuring that public service information products are accessible to all. This can be achieved through cooperation between all spheres of Government and most importantly sharing of best practice between members.
To put some of our ICT interventions in Government to practice, perhaps it is about time that GITOC identifies a project of an integrated nature that will bring all spheres of Government into the mix to achieve the principal of Working towards creating One Public sector model, for example, as a start integrate all Government buildings in order recognise a public sector official at any given point within Government facilities � creation of a single point of truth and monitoring for Government activities.
GITOC must avoid at all cost a situation where Government ICT program is dictated by external forces. You must continue to take lead but do not isolate those with good intensions to contribute and participate in quest to achieve NDP, 2030 deliverables.
I wish the newly appointed GITO Council the best of luck and I commit to support your articulated and sustained ICT plans as and when developed.
I thank you!
Source: Government of South Africa