Govt ‘means business on performance’

15 February 2010

South Africa’s Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation unveiled 12 performance outcomes on Friday, a day after President Jacob Zuma announced in his State of the Nation Address that government departments would be subject to new, strict performance monitoring.

“The work of departments will be measured by outcomes developed through our performance and evaluation system,” Zuma told Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday. “The ministers who are responsible for a particular outcome will sign a detailed delivery agreement with the President.”

In an interview with the SABC on Sunday night, Zuma said regular monitoring and evaluation of the government’s performance was crucial if it was to achieve its delivery objectives.

“In order for us to be able to deliver, we need to give ourselves timelines in everything,” Zuma said, warning that ministers who failed to deliver on their mandate would have to leave.

“They all know nobody is going to sit who’s not doing anything; part of the reason we are giving timelines means you must achieve that. If you don’t achieve it, how could you sit on the job which you are failing to do?”

Performance outcomes

Collins Chabane, Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, said the performance measures focused on education, rural development, health and local government, among others.

Briefing journalists in Cape Town on Friday, Chabane said the expected outcomes were approved at the recent Cabinet meeting, and that all ministers were expected to implement them in order for government to achieve its delivery targets.

A further three outcomes – in the areas of public administration, international relations and the environment – would be discussed by the Cabinet over the next two months.

Bi-monthly reports to the President

As from April, the beginning of the 2010/11 financial year, ministers will be expected to submit bimonthly reports to the President detailing their department’s progress towards achieving the 12 outcomes.

“We want to focus more on implementation, rather than … policy, because that’s where our challenges lie,” said Chabane.

Zuma will now send letters to each minister or group of ministers responsible for each of the 12 performance outcomes. These letters will form the basis of their performance and delivery agreements, Chabane said.

He said the ministers will be expected to form delivery forums that will bring together all parties inside and outside of government that affect the targets contained in the outcomes.

“The delivery forums will develop detailed service delivery agreements that will indicate each party’s contribution to achieving the … outcomes, with typical information on budget contribution, implementation timelines and personnel allocation,” he said.

Chabane said his unit in the Presidency was ready to assist any ministry that needed help in relieving hold-ups in implementing their outcomes.

‘Not based on punitive measures’

The government will not take punitive action against ministers and top officials before considering what resources and skills they might need to achieve the targets, he said.

But while the monitoring and evaluation system would not be based on punitive measures, it was expected that those entrusted with providing services delivered on their mandates.

He added that recent developments that led to a wave of service delivery protests in South Africa necessitated a comprehensive plan to turn around local government. “We want to build a responsive, accountable effective and efficient local government system.”

A different approach to municipalities was needed, and urgent steps had to be taken to address basic infrastructure and services backlogs, as well as low levels of governance and accountability.

Chabane said work was under way on developing intergovernmental agreements on the scope of services, in order to develop a new approach to municipal financing and support.

Source: BuaNews