Unlocking innovation in the public sector

Minister of Public Service and Administration lindiwe Sisulu. (Lisa Skinner)

Minister of Public Service and Administration lindiwe Sisulu. (Lisa Skinner)

Our government is constitutionally obliged to intervene responsively and timeously with much needed vital services to meet the needs of all citizens of the developmental state.

Our main concern as government has always been whether the public sector is familiar with the needs of the citizens and, most importantly, whether it is better equipped to perform optimally and productively to meet those needs.

We have therefore made it our main priority to build a professional public service that is well-resourced to perform optimally and effectively.

Government is determined to create a harmonious, consolidated and seamless public sector working environment by strengthening, consolidating and streamlining the various inter-governmental systems and processes.

Earlier this year, Cabinet approved the Public Administration Management Bill to address inconsistencies in public sector service delivery norms and standards, to facilitate seamless sharing of the requisite skills pool and competencies to improve inter-governmental planning, delivery and governance across the three spheres of government.

We acknowledge the critical role that public servants play as a vital link between the government and citizens.

To that end, the government will legislate on the establishment of a single public service to assist in creating a uniform body of public servants across the three spheres of government in terms of skills, competencies and expertise.

South Africa needs an ethical, accountable, competent and capable public service cadre. Government has launched a School of Government that will serve as a corporate university for the public sector to train and empower public servants with the necessary skills.

In September 2012, the government launched and piloted a compulsory induction programme to train new recruits in the public service to meet the defined prescripts for compulsory induction.

The government will review the Public Service Act for further amendments. We are also working towards the creation of an anti-corruption bureau to deal decisively with all forms of corruption and misconduct, especially by senior managers.

Other measures will include a ban on public servants doing business with the state and the strengthening of internal capacity to monitor and regulate the excessive use of consultants in government institutions.

The National Development Plan (NDP) spells out the vision for South Africa for the next 20 years and provides a clear roadmap on how we can effectively tackle the many challenges that our country faces.

These include poverty, unemployment (particularly among the youth), the provision of basic services (such as water, electricity, sanitation, housing, public transport), adequate nutrition, education, social protection, quality healthcare, recreation and a clean environment. The NDP echoes elements that have been identified as targets by government in its key priority areas. These, in turn, dovetail into the millennium development goals.

These are daunting challenges which require a public sector that is reformed and ready to embrace change for growth and adaptability. The ideal public sector should be one that promotes and nurtures creative thinking and innovation as key elements to ensure the achievement of the National Development Plan’s vision of a better life for all. Together we can innovate for a better South Africa.

Lindiwe Sisulu is South Africa’s minister of public service and administration

This article forms part of a supplement paid for by the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI). Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by CPSI