Govt depts promise to tighten administrative controls

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

By Dennis Cruywagen

Cape Town - The Department of Defence and the South African Police Services have given Parliament an undertaking that they will brush up on management procedures and address loopholes that saw them being criticized by the Auditor-General.

The commitment was given here on Tuesday when the two departments appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in connection with the AG’s performance audit on the use of consultants. According to the report, the Department of Defence spent R10.4 billion on consultants, while the police paid consultants R4 billion.

Both departments were slated for not getting value for money in terms of training and transfer of skills, performance management and monitoring, extension of contracts and the closing and finalizing the of projects.

Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotya and the National Commissioner of Police, Riah  Phiyega, were part of the police delegation.

Commissioner Phiyega said in a number of areas, planning was a challenge, while pricing and contract management was another area of concern. Until recently the police also did not have an internal audit unit.

Committee members wanted more information about the refurbishment of 200 Nyala vehicles and the development and maintenance of a firearms control system.

On a contract in connection with setting up the development and maintenance of firearms control systems to help with the Firearms Control Act, the committee heard that the police did not have the information technology unit at the time to do this. A consultancy was employed. The contract, signed in September 2004 was for R1.03 million, subsequently spread over 17 months with a price tag of R404 million. No contract management was in place; neither were there penalties for missing deadlines written into the contract.

There was currently a difference of opinion between the police and the consultant on whether the contract had lapsed. Meanwhile, the police have called in the Special Investigations Unit to probe if there had been any deliberate breach of Treasury regulations. This report is expected by the end of May.

Commissioner Phiyega said that many of those people who had dealt with this contract were no longer working for the SAPS. However she said the police would take action if required. “We are receiving a report at the end of May. We will deal with the issues. Whatever the outcome of the SIU report, we’ll take steps.’’

The Secretary of Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, gave evidence about nine consultants used by the Defence Force. He had noticed the huge outcry over the money spent on consultants. According to him, only about R500 million and not R10.2 billion was paid to consultants.

A contract with Denel, described as an evergreen or open-ended contract, which lasted for 18 years, was established with Armscor in 1986. With the new political dispensation in 1994, the contract went to Denel. According to the AG the money that went into this contract was R859.9 million.

“It was felt that it was part of in source of government rather than outsource. It was only after scrutiny that we felt we had to revisit the contract. We are in the process of terminating this contract.”

The Denel contract has to do with the specialized skills required for maintaining the South African Airforce’s aircraft. However, by April 1 this year, the SAA will develop its own capacity to do this work internally. Of the 500 people presently doing this work, only about 200 were likely to be retained.

Dr Gulube said that the Department of Defence also did not have an internal audit division. Up to now this function was carried out by the Inspector General. However, an internal audit unit was being established.

He said that the department was working on an action plan to pay attention to the matters raised by the AG. He was asked to submit his action plan, time frames, and overall management plan in connection with the issues raised by the AG.

Committee chairman Themba Godi said: “We expect better from institutions in the security cluster. It’s a matter of concern: let us see your action plan.” –