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It has become very evident from the findings of the Auditor-general on the accounts of state departments and entities that a large percentage of senior managers are not complying with the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Treasury Regulations or Public Service Regulations applicable to their departments or entities.
Out of 23 departments and entities that appeared before Scopa in recent months, 19 had Auditor General findings of non-compliance with legal or regulatory requirements.
According to the Auditor General's Report on National Audit Outcomes 2008-09 only 62 out of 152 national departments and entities complied with the required legal and regulatory prescripts. This is a very serious transgression and urgent steps are necessary to ensure that accounting officers and their senior staff understand their roles and responsibilities in terms of these prescripts.
Non-compliance can in many instances be ascribed to incompetence or sheer negligence, but I believe part of the problem also lies in genuine ignorance on the part of officials. Senior officials are often appointed from outside of the Public Service and therefore have no background or understanding of the operation of the Public Service. They often therefore do not possess the required knowledge to ensure compliance with the plethora of statutory and other regulatory prescripts which they encounter from day one in their positions and rather learn through trial and error.
In order to try to address this shortcoming I will shortly submit a draft resolution for consideration by SCOPA proposing to make it obligatory for all newly appointed accounting officers, Chief Operation Officers (COO's) and Chief Financial Officers (CFO's) of departments and entities to undergo comprehensive training/briefing by the Department of Public Service and Administration, in conjunction with Treasury, within 60 days of their first appointment in any such position, on the relevant prescripts contained in the PFMA, Treasury Regulations, Public Service Regulations and any other applicable prescripts.
I will further propose that compliance with the PFMA, Treasury Regulations, Public Service Regulations and other applicable prescripts become compulsory items in performance contracts of all accounting officers, COO's and CFO's in order to better hold these officials accountable.