/ 3 September 2009

Senior public service officials ‘more crooked’

It appeared that senior managers in the public service had a ”greater propensity” to commit fraud than employees in lower ranks, the Public Service Commission (PSC) said on Thursday.

It made the remark in releasing figures for employee fraud in national and provincial government departments for the 2007/08 financial year.

That financial year ended in February 2008, more than a year-and-a-half ago.

The commission said 868 cases of financial misconduct were reported for the year, compared to 1042 in 2006/07.

Eighty-two percent of them had resulted in guilty findings.

A third of all the fraud and theft cases reported were from KwaZulu-Natal, which had had problems with social grant fraud.

The proportion of public servants nailed for misconduct who came from the lower-paid salary levels one to eight — 86% — matched their proportions in the makeup of the service as a whole.

But while employees at the senior management service (SMS) level made up only 0,7% of public servants, they accounted for 2,5% of finalised misconduct cases for the year.

”The outcome suggests that employees in the SMS have a greater propensity to commit financial misconduct,” the commission said.

”The PSC is concerned about this trend given that SMS plays a critical role in the promotion and maintenance of sound financial management and are the primary stewards of public resources.”

In addition there had been an increase in the percentage of SMS members at salary levels 13 to 15 found guilty of financial misconduct, from 1,6% to 2,4%.

The commission said the investigative capacity of departments needed to be jacked up.

They should also take stronger action to prevent fraud. — Sapa