Poor showing from Department of Labour

sent to clients 6 October…..

Department roasted by MPs….. 

The Department of Labour (DOL) managed to spend 99% of the money allocated to it in the yearmildred-oliphant 2014/5, but in the same period achieved only 43% of its targets, according to the Auditor General (AG).

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Labour in response has now requested that Minister Mildred Oliphant appear before the committee to explain a dismal track record for the department built up over five years.

The committee was studying its own parliamentary overview of the DOL annual report which presentation also included DOL’s first 2015/6 quarterly financial and tasking targets. The overview was prepared in the light of  the AG’s recent audit of the department.

No better than before

In the first quarter of 2015/6, it was noted by the parliamentary overview that performance was little better than a bad previous year, with DOL spending R778.8m of the annual R2.6bn budget in that quarter, reflecting an under-expenditure of R130m with performance against targets also no better despite complaints lodged last year by the parliamentary PC on Labour.

The position was evident after the committee’s parliamentary financial oversight researcher had analyised the Auditor General’s report on DOL’s figures and perfomance in conjunction with reports from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPA) on the same subject, represented by Phelelani Dlomo of DPA.

Bad history

The sad litany of poor organisation, said Dlomo, went back to 2012 and the R880 000 misspent in a “fruitless and wasteful” manner when a labour imbizo was cancelled at the last minute “due to unforeseen circumstances” in Gauteng.   At no stage over the next 12 month, Dlomo showed, there was little evidence of any marked improvement.

Subsequent failures by the Department of Public Works to “produce invoices for the right year” for new buildings for DOL and failures with inspection and enforcement programmes on labour issues were subsequent reasons for the overall financial misfire. The excuses for underspending of budget in the current 2015/6 first quarter were “slow spending on stationery, office leases and travel, and unfilled but funded vacant positions.

Lumka YengeniChairperson Lumka Yengeni and the Committee were warned by the Parliamentary Legal Advisor that it could not touch upon the issue of the DOL strategic plans because such had been approved by Parliament but what needed to be investigated was the underperformance of employees, since it was at management level that the department was failing on a regular basis.

No show minister

Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, has had a running battle with the main Opposition Party for some time now because of her regular non-appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Labour. In a reply to a tabled parliamentary question on her absence by Ian Ollis MP (DA) that she had “defied and not heeded requests to attend Parliament”, the Minister replied in writing that she had never received any formal invitation, request or summons to attend the Portfolio Committee meetings.

The statement from her Ministry added “there is nothing unusual in parliamentary practice when a Minister is represented by her director general on issues requiring answers on departmental operations and plans.”

“This is not the practice of most Ministers”, said Ollis and added that the majority of Ministers liked toian ollis attend so that they appeared in touch with their departments and are conversant with the issues that their departments.  Without a doubt, he said, this was not the case with the Minister of Labour “who obviously rejected any financial oversight of her department’s performance.”

How bad can it get

Ms. Meisie Nkau of the Auditor General’s office completely supported the parliamentary research and analysis findings undertaken and added “DOL was spending but underachieving”. Opposition members at question time had a field day and asked the auditor general’s office if “DOL was not perhaps the worst department in government”.

Ms. Nkau of the AG’s office replied the DOL was “not the worst department at meeting its targets” but asked all MPs to rather “measure performance of all government departments against the best.”

The questioner, Michael Bagraim of the DA, said that he also suspected corruption in the Compensation Fund and called for a specific report from the Auditor-General’s office on this as soon as possible.

Top down problems

Derrick America (DA) said the accounting officer, DOL, must be held accountable as well. There had been a lack of “consequence management” and what was now evident was the retrogressive nature of the DOL and its entities.

“The Minister must give this committee a commitment as to when action would be taken against non-performing senior managers, who were also tolerating under-performance from their juniors”, he said.

Other articles in this category or as background

Labour : nobody at top biting the bullet – ParlyReportSA

Labour committee ignores strikes – ParlyReportSA

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