Western Cape Office of the Premier 2010/11 budget vote speech presented by Premier Helen Zille
23 Mar 2010
Leader of the opposition
Leaders of political parties
Colleagues and friends
Citizens of the Western Cape
Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to present this budget vote for the Office of the Premier. Much has changed since I stood here before you on 19 June last year. At that stage, we had been in office barely a month. The budget I presented was inherited from the previous government. It gave us some room for manoeuvre at the margins, but not enough to make any major shifts and new allocations.
We have spent the last nine months working on a plan to modernise the public administration of this province, with the Office of the Premier at the fulcrum. Some of that plan is captured in the budget I shall present to you today and some of it will be introduced in the next financial year.
The Office of the Premier will be geared to coordinate and deliver our ten strategic objectives across all the departments. These objectives will, in turn, help us to build an open, opportunity society for all in the Western Cape.
Speaker, when we came into office last year, we began the process of assessing the state of the provincial administration. We knew that, unless we got the machinery of government right, we would be unable to deliver on our mandate. Our analysis of the administration revealed the following challenges:
* poor financial management across various departments was seriously undermining their capacity to deliver on their core mandates
* departments were not using public resources to maximum public benefit
* several departments were in financial trouble and did not have funds to fill vacancies at the delivery end of government
secrecy was applied to tender processes and control over spending was weak
* departments were top-heavy, with too many administrators and not enough public servants tasked with actual service delivery.
The Office of the Premiers Strategic plan and annual performance plan is designed to resolve these key problems. This department is thus taking the lead in achieving one of the ten strategic objectives of the province, namely: clean, value driven, efficient, effective and responsive government.
I will today, Speaker, set out how we plan to achieve this objective and how we will assist other departments in achieving the remaining nine objectives. The key functions of the Office of the Premier are coordination, monitoring and evaluation, policy making and implementation and administrative support to the executive.
The work of the Office of the Premier is broadly divided into four programmes: executive and administrative support, provincial wide strategic management, the corporate services centre and the centre for electronic innovation.
The total budget for the Office of the Premier for this financial year is R545.168 million.
Programme one: administrative and executive support
Let me begin with executive and administrative support to the premier, Cabinet and the director-general. This programme receives R80.510 million for this financial year (14.8 percent of the total budget), a slight increase from last year (R77.706 million).
Included as part of this programme are two new initiatives of this administration that we believe will have a direct impact on the lives of the citizens of this province. The first is the appointment of a human rights advocate in the Premiers Office with a special focus on women and children’s rights.
The second is the appointment of a substance abuse treatment and prevention coordinator in my office. He is responsible for the drafting and implementation of a province wide strategic plan to combat drug and alcohol abuse. There will be a greater focus on this key policy area than ever before. The full details of this strategy will be announced in the coming weeks.
Speaker, it is appropriate to announce here a new initiative that will continue this government’s commitment to spend the people’s money on services that benefit the people. We don’t believe that it should be spent on expensive cars, lavish parties and other luxuries that only benefit politicians.
This year, we will produce a new ministerial handbook for the Western Cape Cabinet. This will override the current ministerial handbook produced by national government which currently applies to the national Cabinet as well as all nine provincial Cabinets.
It is the view of this government that the current national ministerial handbook facilitates and legalises a form of power abuse. When it is pointed out to national ministers that spending R1.2 million of public money on a ministerial car is excessive, they refer to the ministerial handbook which allows them to spend the equivalent of 70 percent of their salary on a car. Their argument is: The handbook says I can.
In the Western Cape, no provincial MEC will be able to use this excuse. We will start by reducing the amount that can be spent on a departmental car to a more appropriate amount. The Western Cape departmental handbook will introduce tighter controls over the budgets of the Office of the Premier and each MEC.
It will reduce the scope for spending on items that have no direct bearing on service delivery such as parties, perks and functions. It will also introduce regulations pertaining to the use of blue lights on ministerial vehicles, to determine the situations which constitute an emergency, the only time we believe that blue lights should be used by any road-user, including politicians.
We are also going to review the rules around Ministers hotel stays, flights and house alterations. The rules will be amended so that they are in line with the no frills ethos of this government and our consciences. We cannot call on citizens to take personal responsibility, unless we use the people’s money responsibly and ethically.
Programme two: provincial strategic management
Speaker, the second programme of the Office of the Premier involves provincial strategic management and finds expression in the five year provincial strategic plan. The focus will be on policy development, implementation support and monitoring, evaluation and review. The latest cutting edge technology, including the dashboard system and geographic information systems will be used for this purpose.
The budget increase for this programme from R26.821 million to R43.886 million reflects this government’s recognition of the importance of policy coordination and implementation. We are moving away from the fragmentation and ad hoc that characterised the administration in the past. We are introducing a project management approach by which we will manage not just the outputs of each department, but the outcomes, the actual impact that the work of this government has out there in the real world.
R15.145 million of this programme is earmarked for the 2010 FIFA World Cup as we shift from the planning to the implementation phase. The focus now will be on hosting a successful tournament and maximising the legacy benefits for the province. In this regard Speaker, we opened the Philippi stadium on Saturday that will be used as a training facility during the tournament, and be used for sport development when it is over.
During the tournament, we will be providing support services to the team base camps to ensure that they meet the requisite standards in terms of accommodation, training facilities and pitch quality. And we are organising public viewing areas, or what we call fanjols, for citizens outside the metropole in Beaufort West, Vredenburg, Worcester, George and Bredasdorp.
We are also moving into the final phase of the marketing and communication plan to leverage the trade, investment and tourism opportunities that the tournament brings.
Programme three: corporate services centre
Speaker, perhaps the most significant shift in this department is the introduction of a corporate services centre that will render transversal corporate services on a shared service basis. R99.619 million has been allocated for this purpose.
The centre will deliver the following functions across provincial departments; human resource management, corporate assurance services (including enterprise risk management, internal auditing and the forensic investigative unit), legal services and corporate communication services.
This is not centralisation as has been suggested in this house. Centralisation happens when the centre begins to control what is happening elsewhere and makes decision for other departments. We are not doing this. We are setting up a streamlined, professional service centre that will assist every department in carrying out their functions and responsibilities.
For example, the human resource component may advise departments on appointment procedures and facilitate the process, but it will not decide who gets appointed. That decision will remain with each department.
Speaker let me illustrate why it is important to adopt a shared service approach. When we came into office, we conducted a survey across all departments to ascertain the ratio of support staff to line function officials. We found that in some cases the ratio was far too high. In one department, Speaker, there was one HR officer for every eight officials. The international benchmark for the public sector is one to 85.
The shared service model aims to change all that. We will begin a phased roll out of the corporate service centre from the 1 April, starting with the enterprise risk management and internal auditing functions. This will eventually include human resources, corporate communication and other services that can be delivered more efficiently at the centre than in each department.
The efficiency gains of this are clear. It is envisaged that around R70 million in savings per annum could be realised through the shared services approach, with 310 extraneous posts being disestablished.
Let me point out Speaker, that the introduction of corporate service centre does not mean that 310 officials will be out of a job by this time next year. A personnel plan has been drafted that will minimise the impact on staff.
We have already embarked on the process of matching and placing existing staff to ensure that we retain as many good employees as possible. All contract staff members that have been working with us for more than 18 months will be treated as permanent staff, for the purpose of matching and placing. We are in the process of conducting competency profiles of staff to ensure fitness for purpose.
Speaker, to take the fight against corruption to new levels, we are increasing the budget of the forensic investigative unit from R6.969 million to R8.780 million so that we can better prevent, detect and investigate fraud and corruption. As I announced in the State of the Province Address last month, we will also shortly be enacting legislation that prevents government employees with private business interests from doing business with government.
We are also looking at ways to publish details of all tenders awarded by the provincial government on a website for the scrutiny of members of the public, the media and members of this House. We believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant so we will allow it to pour into this administration.
Speaker, we are mindful that modernisation has short term financial implications. But we believe its long term impact, beyond the efficiency savings already mentioned, will be fundamental to how we govern. It will help us build a modern government with the right tools to deliver the right services at the right time, with the right mix of competencies to do so. This is the kind of government we need if we are to build an open, opportunity society for all in this province.
Programme four: Centre for Electronic Innovation (e-innovation)
Related to the modernisation process, but with its own programme within the Office of the Premier, is the Centre for e-Innovation. That it receives the highest allocation of the four programmes, R321.153 million is testimony to how much we value information and communications technology (ICT) and its central importance in creating a clean, efficient, responsive, value driven government.
The Centre for e-Innovation is responsible for the provision of transversal ICT services across the provincial government. Services include:
* Supporting over 14 500 corporate work stations in over 250 locations
* Maintaining operations for the 19 cape access centres in rural areas which gives people access to a personal computer and the internet free of charge
* Maintaining the Cape Gateway government information portal
* Supporting of over 360 departmental systems, such as the clinical health system which manages patient records and the exam management information system.
The Centre for e-Innovation also supports 40 000 workstations in schools across the province as well as 1 200 school based ICT laboratories. In the year ahead, the Centre for e-Innovation will be responsible for the upgrading of the provincial governments information technology (IT) system to a more technologically advanced one. There is recognition across the board that the current system is outdated, slow, and cumbersome and lacks functionality.
Speaker, there has been a suggestion in this house that the Office of the Premier has flouted tender procedures in the procurement of software for the IT upgrade. This is patent nonsense. It underscores the desperation on that side of the House to taint this government with allegations of corruption.
The facts are as follows. All IT procurement in the province is carried out through existing State Information Technology Agency (SITA) contracts and tenders, in line with the SITA Act. The contract with the new service provider, which is in the process of being finalised, will be part of the master agreement already in place between SITA and the service provider.
The process is fully compliant with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and everything is completely above board. We would be happy to furnish any member of this house with any further information they require in this regard. On that note, I have asked Mr Lance Williams, Deputy Director-General in the Centre for e-Innovation, to brief the chief whips forum on this matter.
There was a question as to why we have not gone the open source route. Because this government supports the use of open source software and we do, in fact, use such software for other purposes, we looked carefully into the viability of open source software for the IT upgrade.
We found that no comparable organisation the size of the Western Cape government had successfully moved to an open source alternative and managed to save money. We found that the skills to support open source software are less readily available than mainstream software and that open source vendors do not provide an integrated end to end IT solution. This makes it more expensive at the scale we are talking about.
Overall, it was felt that going the open source route would have introduced a level of risk and complexity that we could not afford at this time. I should point out that the ICT applications in use by the province extend well beyond office based e-mail, spreadsheet and project management programmes. They are used in hospitals, schools and other places where ICT systems and support are critical for the quality and reliability of service delivery at the coalface.
Again, any member of this House is welcome to peruse the documentation that sets out the business case for and against using open source in the province.
Speaker, besides upgrading our IT platform; the Centre for e-Innovation is introducing a uniform e-filing system that will, over time, drastically reduce the need for paper files. Besides the significant environmental benefits, the e-filing system will enable project managers to locate and access any file immediately, files will be available for more than one manager to work on concurrently and files will not simply disappear or get lost.
It is far more difficult to manipulate or lose an electronic record than a paper file. These may sound like minor interventions, but the difference they will make over time will have a real impact on service delivery.
We are also at an advanced stage of the roll out of the provincial dashboard or IT based project management system. I have outlined the benefits of this system to the house before, so I will not repeat myself here. But I can report that the Cabinet and senior managers now have access to the system. By the end of the month, all departments will have captured and uploaded all project-related information for use by 1 April.
The dashboards will be available for use by Members of this House and the broader public in the coming months.
Speaker, the budget I have presented today is small in comparison with our biggest departments. And we intend to keep it that way. We do not intend to streamline other departments, only to create a bloated bureaucracy at the centre.
Having said that, we are confident that the funding available for the Office of the Premier and the manner it has been prioritised, will help us achieve our strategic objective of clean, value driven, efficient, effective and responsive government.
Sharing services, upgrading the IT infrastructure, fighting corruption and wasteful expenditure, the project management approach and all the other initiatives I have outlined today will, jointly and severally, take us a step closer to our goal.
Cell: 083 229 2539
Tel: 021 483 6062
Issued by: Office of the Premier, Western Cape Provincial Government
23 March 2010
Issued by: Western Cape Provincial Government
23 Mar 2010
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