Gauteng uses biometric tech to end EPWP corruption

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) has unveiled a new biometric and facial recognition system that will overhaul the management of the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) in the Province. 

The ground breaking new “Identification Validation System” uses facial recognition and fingerprint readers to biometrically verify the identity of every EPWP beneficiary, record their attendance on site, the hours worked and ultimately generate payment reports. 

Speaking at Lutsinga Infrastructure House, the Department of Infrastructure’s state-of-the-art electronic monitoring hub in Johannesburg, MEC Jacob Mamabolo said the system addresses a range of weaknesses that have plagued EPWP in the past. 

“The Auditor General has consistently highlighted concerns that the EPWP system was not secure enough and that there were too many loopholes allowing the system to be manipulated. There are many crooks who are benefiting from this system, and we need to put an end to this. 

“We have worked for a long time to come up with a solution, and we have now we been able to add another level of technological innovation to our work here at GDID. 

“The facial recognition platform, coupled with the fingerprint data, ensures that we are able to authenticate the identity of every person working in EPWP and detect and prevent duplicates eliminating the chance of ghost beneficiaries being created. You can’t beat this system. It is going to clean up EPWP,” the MEC said. 

In a live demonstration with EPWP beneficiaries, it was shown how beneficiaries will clock in and out at biometric kiosks on all 658 GDID sites across the development corridors of the province. 

The new system is able to enrol a person’s biometric data in less than five minutes and authenticates identity in less than a five seconds. 

The system automatically links approved and contracted beneficiaries to a specific site and locks them out of sites where they are not approved to work. 

The data feeds into the monitoring hub at Lutsinga Infrastructure House, where it will automatically detect if a device is being tampered with, thereby ensuring that the system cannot be compromised.

“Not only does the system allow us to ensure that this critical poverty alleviation programme is not misused, it will also address many of the concerns our beneficiaries have raised. The right people will be paid, they will be paid on time, and disputes about hours worked will be eliminated,” Mamabolo said. 

Streamlined efficiency 

Mamabolo also emphasised how the system will help to streamline administration. 

“In the past, our EPWP facilitators were spending at least three days a month trying to create manual timesheets. This new system will generate timesheets daily, weekly or monthly. This will allow the GDID administration team to spend less time fixing administrative processes and instead focus on the objectives and outcomes of the various EPWP programmes and the improvement of the lives of the people of Gauteng. 

“EPWP provides work and hope to so many of our people, and government must be highly efficient if we are to live up to our people’s aspirations, as enshrined in our Constitution. 

“Corruption, fraud and waste are the enemy of our people and as government, we must sanitise these demons through efficiency. This system allows us to do that,” Mamabolo said. 

The system is not only about time and attendance management, but will also enable GDID to generate more opportunities for beneficiaries. 

“As government we are committed to creating a million job opportunities, and EPWP is also about developing skills to make our citizens more employable. 

“A beneficiary file is created when a candidate applies. The system automatically checks if the candidate meets the criteria of the applicable programme. 

“As DID creates more programmes, and more people are provided with skills, the system will track these skills and when opportunities for employment come up. The upskilled beneficiaries will be marketed to potential employers.  A performance management system is embedded in the platform to track each beneficiaries’ progress.

“From next week, I will be in my orange EPWP outfit, on the ground ensuring this system is installed at every one of our sites,” Mamabolo said. 

The MEC said the EPWP clean-up is meant to ensure that those who are intended to benefit from this programme are able to do so with dignity. 

“They will no longer be at the mercy of those who have been able to hijack the programme for their own corrupt purposes. We are bringing the bright light of transparency, efficiency and accountability to shine into this programme that is all about empowering our people with opportunity,” Mamabolo said. -