The Public Service Commission (PSC) releases the Consolidated Monitoring and Evaluation Report on the Departments of Housing (Human Settlements) for the 2009/10 Evaluation Cycle
3 Dec 2010A. Background
Housing plays a critical role in addressing poverty and remains one of the key priorities of government. Accordingly, the Public Service Commission (PSC) assessed the performance of all the ten departments of housing (one national and nine provincial) given the priority accorded to providing security of tenure and housing for citizens. The Report assesses the performance of the housing departments against the nine values and principles in section 196 of the Constitution, using predetermined indicators and standards. The assessment further checks the progress that the departments of housing have made since their last evaluation by the PSC, compares performance between the different departments of housing, and highlights the challenges encountered and how these challenges are being addressed.
B. Comparison of performance between the previous assessment and the 2009/2010 evaluation cycle
Generally, the performance of departments has improved from when they were first assessed by the PSC, which shows that administrative capacity is slowly being built. However, with the overall average performance standing at 53%, this cannot be said to be good as yet. Improvements in performance have been observed in the Northern Cape as it shifted from poor performance 36% to adequate performance 55%.
During each evaluation cycle the PSC made specific recommendations. Within six months of delivery of the reports the PSC does a follow-up on the progress made with the implementation of these recommendations. The recommendations that are made in the Consolidated report are of a reflection of those made in the individual reports. So, it is those recommendations that are made in the individual reports that should be implemented and not those made in the Consolidated report.
When eight of the ten departments were assessed for the first time in previous cycles, 253 recommendations were made. The most recommendations were made for North West 20% and Free State 6%. The most recommendations were issued in the areas of Human Resources 20%, Accountability 15% and Professional Ethics 14%.
Of the recommendations made during the first assessment 45% had been implemented by the time these departments were re-assessed in the 2009/10 evaluation cycle. The departments which implemented most of the recommendations were the Western Cape 87% and the National Department of Human Settlements 72%. This high percentage of implementation of recommendations is reflected in the improvement of their performance during the re-assessment in the 2009/10 evaluation cycle, namely, Western Cape from 72% (good performance) to 86% (excellent performance) and the National Department from 58% (adequate performance) to 76% (good performance). Four departments implemented less than 50% of the recommendations, namely Eastern Cape 36%, Free State 30%, Limpopo 30% and North West 27%. A large percentage of recommendations not implemented related to principle 2 – efficiency, economy and effectiveness, principle 4 – impartiality and fairness, principle 5 – public participation in policy-making and principle 9 – representivity. Some of the problems in the housing environment such as the perceived unfairness in the allocation of houses and poor participation of beneficiaries in the housing process occurred exactly in these areas.
Below are some of the significant issues emanating from the 2009/2010 evaluation cycle:
C. Overview of perfomance per province
- The average performance for the housing sector for the 2009/10 evaluation cycle was just adequate 53%.
- The best performer for the sector was the Western Cape, which attained “excellent performance” 86%, followed by the National Department of Housing, with a rating of “good performance” 76%. The Eastern Cape 36% and North West 32% received the lowest scores, which is an indication of key weaknesses in management and poor coordination and implementation of systems and procedures within these departments.
- The PSC found that the low scoring departments (below 50%), with the exception of the Free State, were also recipients of disclaimers and/or qualified audit opinions from the Auditor-General for the 2008/09 financial year.
D. Key findings per principle
1. Principle 1: Professional ethics
This principle requires departments to promote and maintain a high standard of professional ethics.
- The average performance of departments against the principle of professional ethics was just adequate 57%, which suggests, amongst others, that departments do not take cases of misconduct seriously. This can impact on their credibility, and may send an incorrect message to staff that departments are not serious about addressing misconduct.
- Five of the ten departments’ performance against this principle was above the average of 57%, with the Free State obtaining an excellent score of 90%. The performance of both the Eastern Cape 10% and KwaZulu-Natal 20% was exceedingly low.
- The overall report shows that management reporting on cases of misconduct remains a challenge.
- Seven of the ten departments’ performance with regard to the sampled cases of misconduct assessed was finalised within the required 20 to 80 working days (three departments failed to submit the necessary information for assessment).
- The submission of financial disclosure forms before the deadline still needs attention. For example, of the 410 senior managers working for the departments of housing, only 237 58% disclosed their financial interests for the financial year 2008/09 before the deadline of 31 May 2009. The PSC is concerned that the National Department of Human Settlements and Free State did not submit their financial disclosure forms by the due date of 31 May 2009. Their failure to submit financial disclosure forms on time signals a lack of transparency among senior managers at a time of growing concern over the reported widespread corruption found in housing departments by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). In March 2009, the SIU recommended that disciplinary action should be taken against 634 government officials. The SIU, for example, found that these officials were registered as the owners of subsidised housing for which they did not qualify. This constitutes corruption and manipulation of the subsidy system.
2. Principle 2: Efficiency, economy and effectiveness
This principle relates to the departments’ ability to ensure that their limited resources are spent in ways that achieve more value for money.
- The findings of the Report show that the average performance of departments against the principle of efficiency, economy and effectiveness was just adequate (50%), which suggests that departments’ ability to deliver on stated goals and objectives in a manner that is efficient and effective is not optimal.
- The Report notes that Mpumalanga 80%, followed by the National Department, Eastern Cape and Western Cape (all with a score of 70%) were top performers. This level of performance is attributed to amongst others, performance indicators which were formulated in measurable terms as well as clear linkage between outputs reported on in the annual report and targets in the annual performance plans.
- The PSC is concerned that four departments’ performance was below the overall average performance of 50%. These four departments were Limpopo and Northern Cape with a poor performance of 40% each, followed by Gauteng with 20% and North West with 10%.
- The Report also notes that on average the departments spent 97% of their total budget, whilst achieving on average only 48% of their total planned outputs.
3. Principle 3: Development orientation
This principle requires departments to ensure that they, within their respective mandates, drive development orientated projects, and thus contribute to the national effort of government to promote and eradicate poverty.
- The Report shows that the average performance of departments against the principle of development orientation was good 67%, which is encouraging, as it shows that departments are more focused on the implementation of development oriented projects.
- The National Department, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo were the top performers with a score of 100% followed closely by the Western Cape and Northern Cape with a score of 90% respectively. The poor performers were Free State 25% and Eastern Cape 20% followed by Mpumalanga 0%.
- Although departments sometimes have a narrow interpretation of what development orientation means, the PSC found that seven of the ten departments could show beneficiary participation in the design of the projects. Generally project plans were of an acceptable project management standard, whilst Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) were considered by eight of the ten departments. An example cited by the Report is in Gauteng where the Province initiated the development of Municipal Housing Development Plans (MHDPs) to bridge the gap between municipal and provincial planning and to improve and create credible IDPs at local level to reflect national and provincial policy directives and strategies.
- Six of the ten provincial departments have a system in place to record lessons learned and applying those lessons in future projects.
- The involvement of citizens in developing IDPs remains a concern. A 2007 study commissioned by the Department of Housing and Local Government in the Western Cape into public awareness of IDPs shows the limitations of using those processes to measure/define public participation. Furthermore, the PSC found that housing departments do not optimally use the information derived from municipal IDPs and this needs to be strengthened.
4. Principle 4: Impartiality and fairness
This principle states that services should be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias.
- The average performance of departments against the principle of impartiality and fairness was poor 31% due to the fact that only three of the ten departments’ performance could be assessed, namely, Northern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng.
- Seven departments’ performance against this principle could not be assessed because Eastern Cape and Free State submitted insufficient information to make an informed judgment, whilst KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West failed to submit the necessary information despite numerous requests to do so. The national department on the other hand argued that the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) is not applicable to them. This shows a narrow understanding of the scope of the Act.
- The Report notes that only 30% of the departments complied with Section 3 and 4 of PAJA which states that any decision affecting any person or the public must adhere to fair procedures. When it comes to communicating administrative decisions, the Report notes that compliance by departments varied between 10% (no performance) and 30% (poor performance). This means that departments neither provided written reasons for their decisions to affected persons, nor indicated that they have the opportunity to review the decision in court.
- The Report also notes that since not all households who qualify for subsidies are likely to receive the subsidy, with some having been on the waiting list for 20 years or more, a fairer measure than the “first come first serve” approach should be considered. The special categories catering for those considered most vulnerable (aged, people with disabilities) is one such initiative.
- To fast track housing delivery and to ensure a more fair process of allocation of houses, the Report notes the Integrated National Housing Needs Register that has been developed by the National Department, which is aimed at estimating the demand for housing. It has also de-linked the construction phase from beneficiary identification and this means that houses are not built for specific beneficiaries but built and then allocated to beneficiaries according to the waiting list.
5. Principle 5: Public participation in policy-making
This principle states that people’s needs must be responded to and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy making.
- The average performance of departments against the principle of public participation in policy-making was adequate 47% since seven departments performance varied between 0% - no performance (Limpopo) and 60% – adequate performance (Gauteng).
- 60% of the departments do not have a policy on public participation, 30% do not have a system for soliciting public contribution whilst 70% could not provide evidence that inputs from the public are formally responded to or utilised in their policy-making process.
- The departments, with the exception of KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, were neither able to demonstrate the extent to which public contributions are considered in policy-making, nor were they able to show actual examples of records emanating from the various platforms.
- The mentioned factors confirm the PSC’s observation regarding fair administrative procedure that by putting basic systems in place, departments can make a big difference with regard to the adherence to an important value.
- The Report further notes that the Public Sector Housing Developer-led Delivery Model limits beneficiary participation. In the last fifteen years, over 76% of housing projects were initiated and implemented by developers. The de-linking of beneficiaries from the development and construction phase in order to speed-up delivery severely limits the say beneficiaries have in housing projects. Similarly, limited public participation impacts negatively on the broader developmental objectives of the housing programme and compromises broader developmental objectives.
6. Principle 6: Accountability
This principle emphasizes that public administration must be accountable. Accountability involves amongst others, obligation on the part of public officials to account for their performance against deliverables and how public obligations have been fulfilled.
- The average performance of departments against the principle of accountability was good 75%. This is an indication that most departments have put in place good performance management systems, whilst their fraud prevention plans are based on thorough risk analysis.
- Five departments, namely KwaZulu-Natal 100%, Gauteng 95%, Western Cape 95%, the National Department 90% and Northern Cape 90% performed excellently against this principle, followed by Limpopo 75% and the Eastern Cape 65% with good performance. The remaining three departments’ performance varied between adequate (Free State and Mpumalanga, both with 50%) and poor performance (North West with 35%).
- Six of the ten departments, namely, the National Department, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, and Western Cape received unqualified audits. Furthermore, three departments either received a qualified audit opinion (Limpopo and Mpumalanga) or a disclaimer (North West) from the Auditor-General in the 2007/2008 financial year.
- All provinces except Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the North West had performance management systems. A fraud prevention plan was in place for all departments except the Eastern Cape and Free State.
- Housing involves substantial investment, bringing with it substantial opportunity for corruption. Despite extensive approval processes, which span several departments and levels of government, the PSC found that more than 6 000 officials have been found guilty of illegally benefiting from the public sector housing subsidy programme by the Special Investigations Unit in 2009.
7. Principle 7: Transparency
This principle requires departments to report on their actual achievements against predetermined objectives. Accessibility to information held by departments as required by the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) is another aspect tested under this principle.
- The average performance of departments against the principle of transparency is good 68%, which is an indication that departments are generally transparent in reporting on their performance and do provide information in terms of PAIA.
- The worst performer against this principle was North West with a rating of 10% (no performance), followed by adequate performance for KwaZulu-Natal 50%, Mpumalanga 50%, Eastern Cape 60% and Gauteng 60%.
- At the other end of the transparency spectrum were the National Department and Western Cape both 100% as well as Limpopo 90%, which suggests excellent performance. The performance of the Free State 80% and Northern Cape 80% was good.
- The Report notes in relation to access to information that PAIA has not been implemented across the board. The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West met none of the prescripts of PAIA in 2009.
- Only four departments have a manual on access to information in place, whilst none of the departments submitted annual reports to the South African Human Rights Commission for the 2007/08 financial year. Furthermore, four departments did not have the necessary procedures in place to manage request for access to information from citizens.
- The Report further notes that the current format in which data on housing is presented by departments is not very transparent. To enable proper measurement of housing delivery, the number of houses completed should be reported separately from those under construction, the proportion and number of those properties that have been transferred to their occupiers, the value of those housing and the norms around average construction time.
8. Principle 8: Good human resource management and career development practices
This principle states that good human resource management and career development practices, to maximise human potential, must be cultivated. Departments are required to continuously assess employment policies, management practices and the working environment in order to comply with this principle.
- The findings of the Report show that the average performance of departments against the principle of good human resource management and career development practices is poor 39%. The majority 60% of the departments neglected the importance of skills development, which encompasses having done in depth skills needs analyses, providing the necessary skills development training and assessing the impact of training on service delivery.
- The PSC found that all ten departments had a recruitment and selection policy in place, which varied in quality. The quality of the North West’s policy was the worst, lacking fundamental requirements of a good policy.
- The PSC also found that seven departments had a work place skills plan. However, four of these seven plans were not based on a thorough skills need analysis.
- The main reason for departments’ poor performance against this principle was mainly due to departments not following the most basic requirements for good human resource management, namely, ensuring amongst others, that the recruitment and selection policy complies with good practice and that vacancies are filled within a reasonable timeframe.
9. Principle 9: Representivity
This principle requires that the public service workforce should be broadly representative of the South African people. An objective is to ensure that a dynamic work environment is created in which the diverse workforce can reach their potential instead of just meeting numerical targets.
- The average performance of departments against the principle of representivity was poor 37% due to the absence of an Employment Equity Policy and Plan in most departments, and the non-reporting to management on the progress to achieve employment equity targets.
- The findings show that all departments, except Western Cape 63%, exceeded the national target of 75% for blacks at senior management level. Furthermore, none of the departments were able to meet the national target of 50% women at senior management level.
- The performance against the target of 2% for people with disabilities was generally poor. Only the National Department 2.7%, Limpopo 6% and Mpumalanga 4.5% were able to exceed this target.
The PSC recommended the following:
Principle 1: Professional Ethics
Professional Ethics - Senior managers should give pro-active guidance in response to management reports on cases of financial misconduct, especially on cases that drag on unnecessarily.
Principle 2: Efficiency, Economy and Effectiveness
Departments should in future ensure that all outputs, performance indicators and targets are measurable in terms of quantity and time dimensions. Further, departments should consistently report in their Annual Reports on actual performance against the same indicators and targets predetermined in their Strategic Plans.
Principle 3: Development Orientation
Departments should put appropriate project management measures, such as clearly defined objectives, budget projections, and service delivery indicators and targets in place for development projects. The implementation of projects should be closely monitored against these measures to ensure the achievement of objectives, and the success of projects.
Principle 4: Impartiality and Fairness
Departments should utilise the Basic Implementation Strategy: Promotion of Administrative Justice Act as a guideline to compile a PAJA implementation plan for the department.
Principle 5: Public Participation in Policy Making
Departments should utilise the Step-by-Step Guide to Holding Citizens’ Forums issued by the PSC as a toolkit for facilitating public participation in policy-making.
Principle 6: Accountability
Departments should put in place a formal performance monitoring system to monitor programme performance on a monthly basis. Challenges must be addressed by implementing corrective measures based on monitoring information. The various reporting tools such as quarterly reports should be integrated into the performance management system. This will enable departments to detect deviations timeously and thereby contribute to management and service delivery improvement.
Principle 7: Transparency
Departments should ensure compliance with all the requirements of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000).
Principle 8: Good human resource management and career development practices
Departments should prioritise and monitor the filling of vacancies to ensure that vacancies are filled within an average period of twelve weeks. Departments should also establish a data base that reflects accurate and credible information on training needs in the department and data on training and development activities.
Principle 9: Representivity
Departments should amongst others, develop a monitoring mechanism to ensure that Employment Equity (EE) targets are met; revisit the EE figures of all their organisational components and occupational categories, to ensure that EE objectives are applied in all sections of the department; and engage with organisations representing people with disabilities to consider a targeted recruitment approach for this group.
The Consolidated Monitoring and Evaluation Report on the departments of housing (human settlement) evaluates and scores the performance of departments against the nine constitutional values and principles governing public administration. The picture which is emerging is one of departments struggling to institutionalise sound administrative practice, which will allow them to manage and realise proper policy outcomes. The challenge facing the public housing sector is not a lack of instruments, mechanisms and institutions to manage policy outcomes, but the institutionalisation of systems and a performance culture, as well as the capacity and will of all staff members to implement the policies and systems. On the positive side though, given that the performance of all except one department have improved when compared to an earlier assessment by the PSC, systems and processes are slowly being built.
For enquiries, please contact:
Mr Humphrey Ramafoko
Tel: 012- 352 1196
Cell: 082 782 1730
Mr Ricardo Mahlakanya
Tel: 012 352 1070
Cell: 079 769 7955
Source: Public Service Commission
Issued by: Public Service Commission
3 Dec 2010
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