Public Works running a tight ship

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma says reforms are being made to improve the supply chain management (SCM), operations and procurement system at the Department of Public Works.

The department has in the past come under fire for shortcomings in its systems, which necessitated the implementation of a stringent turnaround plan.

“As part of the overall turnaround strategy of the Department of Public Works, the department has concluded a detailed review of its business processes, which resulted in extensive business process reengineering to vastly improve the SCM, operations and procurement system. 

“The revised SCM business process to put the department’s SCM on a seven-year reform path began with a phase of correction of inefficiencies to stabilisation (2014 – 2017) and ultimately to standardisation, integration and optimisation of the SCM business process (2017 – 2020). 

“This will ensure that the department’s SCM is fully compliant with the regulatory framework governing SCM and will also be able to meet its business requirements effectively and efficiently,” said President Zuma in a written reply to a Parliamentary question.

The President had been asked by a member of the Congress of the People (COPE) what steps he had taken with regard to the commitments he made that government would clean up the Department of Public Works by curbing and preventing irregular procurements.

The SCM reform initiatives are being done in collaboration with National Treasury’s Chief Procurement Office. Public Works was selected by the Minister of Finance as a pilot site for the implementation of general procurement reforms in the public sector. 

The department has reviewed and re-issued its SCM policy, which promotes stricter governance and compliance. The SCM policy is now reviewed annually. For every SCM activity that is performed, there is a mapped out process flow with activity checklists, templates and reports. Use of these documents now enhances compliance, ultimately reducing irregular expenditure.    

The organisational structure of SCM has also been reviewed and a new structure was developed to meet business requirements. The structure is geared to focus on the support of the various functional streams of the department through the correct mix of skills sets and competencies.  The new structure provides for adequate segregation of duties and thus conflicts of interest will be eliminated.

Thorough checks and balances

The department’s Inspectorate and Compliance Unit is now a key role player in SCM processes prior to the award of every bid or quotation.  This unit verifies that every SCM activity leading up to the recommendation of the bid has been complied with.  Only upon receipt of the approved compliance checklist will the bid be forwarded to the relevant committee for approval.

The department has further developed zero tolerance to deviations and issued a circular that enforces that any deviation is tabled with delegated authority and/or submitted to National Treasury.

The department has also enforced consequence management against transgressors of SCM policies.

The department has embarked on a process to restrict suppliers that have been found to have breached the SCM policy, committed fraud and/or colluded with staff or other suppliers.

“[These] initiatives have had a profound effect in curbing fraud and corruption, which has reduced the element of irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” said President Zuma. –

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