Presidential Task Team recommends standardisation of procurement

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pretoria - The Department of Basic Education must develop a policy for the standardisation of the procurement and distribution of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM).

The proposed policy must include mechanisms to strengthen contract and risk management, as well as an operation plan for the procurement and delivery of LTSM.

This was among the recommendations contained in the report by the Presidential Task Team set up to investigate the non-delivery and/or delays in the delivery of textbooks and stationery to Limpopo schools in the 2012 school year.

The task team, appointed by President Jacob Zuma, provided a report on Friday. The report made wide-ranging recommendations aimed at both solving the problem at hand and preventing future occurrence.

In noting the report, Zuma has requested Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga give a report back on action taken regarding the delivery of textbooks in Limpopo as well as the catch up plan for affected Grade 10 learners.

Motshekga is to supply a report on what has been done thus far, with regard to the effective procurement, delivery and supply of LTSM to the affected schools as well as the implementation and monitoring of the catch up plan for Grade 10 learners in the affected schools. She is expected to supply the information within 21 days from 21 September.

The President has further asked the minister to request the Public Service Commission to investigate the conduct of the Director General of the Department of Basic Education, with regard to his alleged indecisive response to correspondence received from the publishers in December 2011 regarding the procurement of LTSM for the 2012 academic year.

He should also be investigated for his failure to provide the necessary support for the Section 100 (1)(b) intervention and specifically his interaction with the Administrators appointed in terms of such intervention.

The Presidential Task Team has recommended that the Public Service Commission (PSC) be directed to investigate the Director General of the Department of Basic Education, the Head of Department of Education and the Chief Financial Officer of the Limpopo Department of Education.

The Director General should be investigated for his role in contributing to the delay in the delivery of textbooks with specific reference to his indecisiveness to respond to and act on the letter from the publishers in December 2011 in which he was reminded that the Limpopo Department of Education had not ordered LTSM for the academic year 2012.

He also did not provide adequate administrative support to the Administrators to ensure the implementation of Section 100 (1)(b) and he allegedly interfered and was reluctant to delegate the procurement function to the first two Administrators, therefore further delaying the process to order LTSM for the 2012 academic year.

"The PSC shall fully investigate the matter on the basis of the available evidence and further interviews regarding any disciplinary action that may be taken within 60 days. The recommendations by the PSC shall be submitted to the President," the report recommended.

The PSC, the report continued, should be further directed to investigate the role of the Head of Department of Education and the Chief Financial Officer of the Limpopo Department of Education with reference to:
- failure to fulfill responsibilities of ensuring that LTSM is procured on time and delivered on time for the start of the academic year 2012
- the alleged contravention of the supply management principles during the procurement of LTSM through a service provider without conducting a cost benefit analysis and without due regard to the implications on such a decision both administratively and human resource capacity to manage and oversee the implementation of the Service Level Agreement
- the ability of the province to effectively manage the budget and to have credible information that will serve as the basis for costing and procurement of LTSM.

The PSC should further be directed to investigate the role of the Head of Department of the Department of Finance (Treasury) in Limpopo with reference to the inability of the Provincial Treasury to monitor and remedy the cash flow problems that led to the financial crisis of the province that had a bearing on the provincial department's readiness and capability to order LTSM.

It should also investigate the ability of the provincial treasury to effectively manage the budget and to have credible information that will serve as the basis for costing and procurement of LTSM.

On the support to the Section 100 1 (b) intervention, the task team stressed that it is critical that appropriate political oversight in relation to the delivery of textbooks be carefully monitored by government and to ensure that appropriate risk management mechanisms are in place to enhance efficient and timeous delivery of textbooks.

"Appropriate steps must be taken to ensure that sufficient human and financial capacity is available to support the intervention by developing a mechanism where institutional capacity can be deployed as and when the need arises.

"The said capacity should be located in the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the National Treasury respectively.

Going forward, the task team made broad recommendations to remedy the situation, including that the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, with the assistance of DPSA and Basic Education, should develop and implement a proper monitoring mechanism to monitor the implementation of the catch-up plan for Grade 10, and report to Cabinet on a quarterly basis on the progress of the implementation.

It said the "Monitoring, Support and Interventions" (MSI) Bill that deals with national government interventions in provincial government in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution and provincial government interventions in municipalities in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution be finalised as soon as possible.

The task team also recommended that consideration must be given to making national government intervention in provincial government obligatory, instead of discretionary, where a provincial government fails to fulfill key executive obligations. Such obligatory interventions apply to provincial governments in cases of municipalities failing in their financial obligations - as set out in sections 139 (4) and (5) of the Constitution. These obligatory interventions by provinces in municipalities are based on objective measures of failure set out in the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). A similar set of measures might be considered for national government intervention in provinces.

It said this can be done through provisions in the MSI Bill and/or amendments to the PFMA. It might also be necessary to amend Section 100 of the Constitution to make it more consistent with Section 139.

"For the MSI Bill to be effective, the PSA and PFMA have to be in synergy with it - and this means that the PSA and PFMA may have to be amended. The Public Service Commission Act (PSCA) may also have to be amended. Draft legislation dealing with a single public service also needs to be taken into account," said the task team in the report.

Further to this, a technical team, comprising representatives of the Department of Cooperative Governance, National Treasury and DPSA, needs to work on ensuring synergy between the MSI Bill, PSA and PFMA. Representatives of the Justice and Constitutional Development Department and PME in the Presidency need to be actively conferred with.

"The MSI Bill should be finalised by 15 November to take through the Cabinet process. By this time the necessary amendments to the PSA, PFMA, and, if necessary, the PSCA, should be identified, and considered for further processing by the DPSA and National Treasury to be introduced into the Cabinet process by January 2013," said the task team.

It said in the absence of an enabling legislation for Section 100 interventions, National Treasury, the DPSA and CoGTA must develop an interim governance framework for Cabinet approval by the end of September 2012.

The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, within the Presidency, must ensure that systems in various departments are coordinated and integrated to enable development of a standard set of measurements and deliverables to enhance the early warning capabilities in all three spheres of government, the task team recommended. -

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