Skills audit in public service first step in improving delivery
The Times Editorial: The government's determination to audit senior managers in the public service to establish whether they possess the skills necessary for their jobs is welcome news indeed.
In a remarkably frank interview with the Sunday Times, Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie conceded that public service employment practices had led to people without the requisite skills and competencies being given senior management posts.
''We have serious difficulty at levels of senior management in the public service,'' Padayachie told the newspaper.
''So we have a number of positions - key positions - being occupied by people who may not have the requisite competencies."
Padayachie wants to use the results of the audit to guide him in raising the skills levels of public service managers and alleviating the critical shortage of financial expertise.
He has also vowed to crack down on public servants guilty of misconduct.
His comments appear to confirm that the government is serious in its commitment to move away from "cadre deployment" in favour of the creation of a more professional public service.
There is no reason why all government departments should not function as efficiently as the SA Revenue Service.
But this would require good management, sufficient officials with the requisite financial and technical skills, and discipline, and a genuine work ethic.
Let us hope that the public-sector unions embrace the government's modernisation drive - after all, the wage bill of the bloated public service accounts for about 40% of the national budget - and taxpayers want to start getting more bang for their bucks.
Ultimately, the future of our democracy might well depend on the ability of the public service to deliver services to the poor efficiently.