Minister Sisulu needs to tackle public service accountability vacuum
Kobus Marais, Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration
17 July 2012
Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu must account to Parliament for her Department’s general failure to monitor the performance of top public servants and its apparent inability to retain senior staff.
It is not sufficient for Minister Sisulu to simply confirm her “awareness” that the majority of Directors-General (DGs) and Provincial Heads of Department (HODs) have not recently been subjected to performance evaluations. As a member of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, I will insist that the Minister should brief us on the “plan” that she will purportedly be presenting to Cabinet on this issue and provide us with more detailed information on which DGs and Provincial HODs are currently flying under the radar.
The Minister’s reply also raises more questions than it answers. Where she does provide figures on the number of DGs and Provincial HODs “qualifying” for performance evaluations, it is clear that almost half of these senior officials have been in their posts for less than a year – and are as such allowed to escape scrutiny.
Recent reports by the Public Service Commission confirm that public service performance, as evidenced by service delivery to vulnerable communities, is poor. If a culture of accountability is not established from the top, this is unlikely to improve.
I will be posing parliamentary questions to Minister Sisulu to get clarity on the following:
- When can we expect to see her plan to improve performance management in the public service?
- Has her Department investigated the reasons for the high turnover of staff in senior positions in the public service and what plans have been put in place to retain skilled staff?
- Which DGs and Provincial HODs have not been evaluated?
- Has her Department investigated the relationship between service delivery and the failure of various national and provincial departments to evaluate the performance of their senior staff? And if so, what were the findings?
The public service appears to have a vacuum of accountability and, unfortunately, this vacuum seems to be right at the top.
It is the mandate of the Department of Public Service and Administration to foster good governance and sound administration in the public service. Minister Sisulu must demonstrate her commitment to this mandate by accounting to Parliament for her plans to address the impasse in accountability.